MeroToro: Must-Visit Restaurant in Mexico City

Chef Jair Téllez surprises palates at this Mexico City restaurant.

MeroToro is located in Mexico City's posh Colonia Condesa.

"Mero" is grouper; "toro" is bull. Put them together and you have a splendid "surf-and-turf"-themed restaurant opened four years ago by Gabriela Cámara and Pablo Bueno of the popular Contramar.

 The place may be located in Mexico City's posh Colonia Condesa, but the vibe is relaxed (bare tables and slat-backed chairs; open kitchen), and the inspiration comes from far to the northwest, from Baja California, and Cámara and Bueno have secured the services here of one of that region's most accomplished chefs, Jair Téllez of Laja in the Valle de Guadalupe, Baja wine country.

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Téllez (pleasantly) surprises palates in the Mexican capital with fresh ceviches, risotto with bone marrow and red wine, birria (a spicy stew usually made with mutton or goat) of clams, and a delicately cooked grouper (of course) on a bed of puréed cauliflower. Tellez's signature dish, though, shows that he has both feet on the ground: pan-fried pork jowl with lentils and a poached egg. Plus, the excellent sourdough bread may be unique in Mexico.