Several months ago, a new friend mentioned she had a favorite restaurant in Polanco. I pride myself on keeping up with the latest restaurants, but she threw out a name I didn’t know: Dulcinea
. The friend said it was kind of casual and cute, and she went there at least twice a week for fish tacos. She also said it was in Polanquito, which is the local name for the area south of Masaryk, encompassing Julio Verne, Oscar Wilde and Virgilio streets. It’s crammed with trendy restaurants and shops. My friend Martin and I had lunch at Dulcinea a few weeks later, and I liked the place right off the bat. While some of the restaurants in Polanco seem a little too hip (like, could I even go here without my heels on?), Dulcinea seemed casual and chic, like a little bistro you'd find on the beach in Tulum
. Sky blue cushions decorated the seats and a chalkboard menu hung on the wall. Homespun touches adorned the tables: napkins looked like tea towels, trimmed in blue. Thin pewter plates reminded me of the type we used to take camping when I was a kid. Photo above by Martin de la Torre
The menu had a list of traditional Mexican plates, jazzed up with a creative twist. (Shrimp with hibiscus-flower mole, for instance.) Most items focused on the coast, with several seafood dishes to choose from. Martin, who'd been to Dulcinea before, suggested the empanadas de plátano to start. I'm a huge fan of the empanadas de plátano at El Bajío
, and really, that was my only point of reference in the savory-banana-appetizer cannon. These were different: fluffy, croquette-like nuggets of plátano sat drizzled with crema, stuffed with a thin layer of beans. The banana tasted just as it should -- sweet, piquant -- but was a tad too dense. I wanted more beans to even things out a little more. Then again, the plate was so pretty that I almost didn't care.
Next up, the asparagus con chicharrón de queso. Usually chicharrón de queso is a crispy sheet of fried cheese -- it's often served at taquerías to accompany tacos. Dulcinea's version was slightly more elegant: a napkin of fried cheese had been wrapped around a bundle of asparagus. It looked like something you'd find in the countryside in Europe somewhere, yet the chicharrón de queso made it entirely Mexican. The greens were limp and sweet and almost buttery.
For my main plate I chose the hibiscus-flower mole
with shrimp. I was a little scared it would arrive as this gloppy, cloying sauce (like an over-sweetened agua de jamaica
in mole form) but it wasn't. The sauce -- a striking, cabernet color -- was both sweet and salty, without weighing too much on either side. It was so good I wanted to lick the plate. I did, pretty much.
After the meal we managed to get a few words with Chef Lucy Acuña. Turns out she studied at the Culinary Institute of America
in New York, and she was a chef/instructor at the University of Anahuac
for 15 years. Everything at Dulcinea is prepared fresh everyday, she told us. They've only got certain quantities available daily, and when they run out, they run out. Even if you don't live in Polanco, this place is worth seeking out. INFO Dulcinea
Oscar Wilde 29 tel. 5280 8909