Talavera

 

Classic Mexican delights in Coral Gables

Talavera Shor Rib

Victoria Pesce Elliott

Talavera, a charming Coral Gables newcomer, is worth a visit any day for its homey Mexican cuisine, classy setting and notably sharp service, but especially on Super Bowl Sunday for crisp, hand-cut corn chips the color of pale cinnamon bark that are utterly greaseless and as authentic as can be. Baskets of them, along with commercial blue corn chips, land on the table soon after you're seated, along with bowls of incendiary green and mild red salsa. Named for the ornately decorated pottery of Puebla, Talavera combines Mexican classics, lesser-known rustic dishes and a few American twists. There's something here for purists and novices, natives and visitors, gourmets and gourmands alike. Instead of taking themselves too seriously, Talavera makes the customer experience paramount.

Ambiance: The hands-on Mexico City team of Eduardo "Lalo” Durazo, Martin Moreno and chef Oscar Del Rivero (Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar) have created a stunning spot. Deep almond-hued booths, walnut-colored wood-slat tables and earthy sisal rugs fill the wide-open space, with outside seating beneath broad awnings.

What Worked

  • Thick, chunky guacamole smashed moments before it hits the table & simply
  • seasoned with lime juice, cilantro, onion, salt and a gentle hi of Serrano chile
  • Fantastic tortilla soup with an unconventional bright green hue and surprising hunks of avocado
  • Refreshing cilantro lemonade
  • Michelada – a kicky beer and lime juice concoction
  • Tangy margaritas
  • Queso fundido - a shallow casserole of gooey Oaxaca and Gouda cheeses with smoky chorizo crumbles, baked until glossy and charred
  • Delightfully tangy and crunchy Caesar salad
  • Bright seafood cocktails with shrimp and overstuffed chiles rellenos
  • The signature huarache - a sandal-shaped wedge of grilled masa layered with black bean puree, lettuce, tomato and a protein -- pleasing with juicy red snapper and guajillo-rubbed beef
  • Molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream
  • A perfectly velvety flan the diameter of a bread plate, festooned with crisp ribbons of cinnamon tortilla

What Didn’t Work

  • A huarache with dry and flavorless chicken
  • Clumsy & dense chicken tacos
  • A "Vegetarian’s Dream” salad drenched in cilantro pesto dressing
  • Salsa fresca with pallid tomatoes

 

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