Rare wines and Mediterranean vibes
Claim to fame: Bringing a new gastronomic vibe to the Juarez district’s Asian-tinted restaurant scene
Reason to go: Baja California produce meets refined Mediterranean techniques
To look out for: A well-curated list of natural wines from Mexico and elsewhere
A true trailblazer of Baja California cuisine, Chef Jaír Téller opened Laja, his flagship restaurant in the Valle de Guadalupe winelands, back in 2001. Some seven years later, with MeroToro, he introduced Mexico City to the flavors of what’s now known as Baja-Med cuisine; its ingredient-focused offerings instantly became the Condesa neighborhood’s biggest draw. At Amaya Téller continues to explore the Baja-theme with “Tasty Food, Rare Wines”, as its slogan promises.
Téller’s family owns a rustic little winery in Tecate, Baja California, a place better known for its beer production. Here they make wine with native yeasts and without the help of any sulfites or additives. Bichi, or “naked” in the dialect of Jair’s Sonora hometown, is perhaps Mexico’s first solid natural wine of note. These sometimes challenging quaffs have yet to reach popularity here, it takes time to understand their drinkability and the philosophy behind them. The Téller family is defining certain standards, and setting an example by crafting things in an alternative way. Bichi, and the beverage list’s other natural wines are sublime pairings for Amaya’s food. A fresh but smoky grilled lettuce with hummus and Idiazábal cheese, and a blue corn tostada covered with a lemon-dressed fish mark the beginnings of a casual, yet well-executed and flavor-driven meal. The dishes, neither too big, nor too small, are designed to be shared; round up your friends and bring an appetite.
Amaya is a luminous space with colorful murals, exposed brick and poured concrete add an industrial feel while tiled flooring conjures an air of countryside rusticity.