Narrow stairs lit with candles lead to Emilia, a charming restaurant in the Cuauhtémoc that opened late 2018. The space is light, perfectly illuminated, and everything else is stone, wood, and leather. A square kitchen is at the center of the place. It is surrounded by a bar where the chefs serve the tasting menu that changes daily according to the available products.
The dishes are colorful and perfectly plated, while the drinks and wines are carefully chosen one at a time. Behind the bar, there are a few tables for two, where (very soon) the service will only be à la carte, and at the extremities, you’ll find a couple of large tables, where the chef decides what will be served.
Everything is exquisite, from the crystal glasses (that weigh nothing) and ceramic dishes to the service. And although every detail is perfectly attended to, Emilia’s atmosphere and overall experience is rather relaxed. Far from lounge and bossa nova, the music may well be anything from a$ap rocky to the xx. The door is always closed, creating an intimate space.
The kitchen is led by Lucho Martínez: partner —with the group Edo Kobayashi (Rokai, Tachinomi Desu) —and chef. Inside the kitchen, he and his team move light-footedly but always in a hurry. Martínez serves the diners himself and strikes up conversation. He has a tattoo on his wrist that says Emilia, which is the name of his daughter, who was born on the same day they signed for the space. The anecdote makes perfect sense because in Emilia, you can feel the friendliness and simplicity. Their dishes may seem extravagant, but the reality is that nothing is too complicated.
Here, the food is the result of experiments. Every day the menu changes. In fact, Emilia is called a “product kitchen,” which means that from a product, like an onion for example, a dish is born. From sea urchins or escamoles comes a complete dish that has nothing to do with the traditional or “common place” way of preparing them. The producers, says Lucho, “represent projects that we believe in—friends and people who fairly treat those who work with them.”
Lucho Martínez has been working in the kitchen since he was 14 years old. He made a go at culinary school but soon left. Apparently he can’t stay still, and this spirit is felt in the open kitchen, where you can see everything. After abandoning his studies, he went on to work at Quintonil, Máximo, and Mia Domenicca.
The wines, beer, and alcohol at Emilia are also ever changing. You are given the option of choosing your own drinks or letting yourself be taken care of and opting for their pairings. Contrary to the new restaurants, at Emilia, they are more about the classic wines, but there are also natural wine options. There is no sommelier because they believe it takes away from the prominence of the product.
The ingredients, which give rise to creative mixes, are perhaps the most special aspect in Emilia’s kitchen. In a single night, we tried everything from mushroom powder, deep-sea shrimp, and Chicatana ants to chervil (a cousin of parsley), ricotta, and lemon balm ice cream. Without a doubt, Emilia is a star on the 2019 Mexico City culinary front.
Other articles that may interest you: