La Docena: A Celebration of Mexican Seafood
I have always liked La Docena but for a while I didn’t understand it. Over the years it has become a very special restaurant to us. The food continues to be one of a kind, I think the servers are some of the best in the industry and I love going to Punto Sao Paulo. La Docena is one of the most important restaurants from Guadalajara that is also doing well in Mexico City. Oh yeah, and there is that San Pelligrino list. I should say that they are now representing Mexico and not just Guadalajara.
When I first saw the menu at La Docena I thought it was a hodgepodge of regional cuisines: Louisiana oyster bar, an Argentine grill, and some Baja California seafood. Now that I have been back a few dozen times es I see it very differently.Chef Tomás Bermúdez has been around the block. He has worked in some very exciting kitchens on several continents. Rather than try to implement Louisiana cooking in Mexico he uses some of those techniques with Mexican seafood.
At first glance the raw bar looks like a copy of a Louisiana oyster bar. As you look a little bit closer you will see clams, oysters and sea urchins that do not exist in Louisiana. The grill will make any Argentine jealous but they are grilling up just as much seafood as steaks. What Chef Bermúdez is doing for Mexican seafood has earned him a place on San Pellegrino’s list of the 50 best Restaurants in Latin America.
The Best Service in the Industry
When you visit La Docena make sure to try new things. Try the specials. Listen to your servers’ recommendations. I got in a habit of ordering the same things without really looking at the menu. That is great and all but the time I went and took all of our servers suggestions was one of the best meals that I have ever had. We started with the signature grilled oysters with clarified butter ans shallots but followed our server’s lead the rest of the meal.
I have worked in the hospitality industry for a long time and I can spot a great food server when I see one. I ask a lot of questions and respect a server who knows the menu inside and out. They can fluently list off all the ingredients of a complicated plate and still make it sound good. I like it when a server takes the time to talk to you, listen to what you are in to, and then makes the perfect recommendation. Every time we go to La Docena I get those type of servers.
Incredible Ingredients at La Docena
One of the hardest part of dining at La Docena is deciding what your are going to eat. I recommend going to someone so that you can share a bunch of things. There are four or five appetizers that I want to order before I even open the menu.
The crab tostadas are made with a spicy chipotle mayonnaise and a habanero sea foam. Chipotle mayonnaise is ubiquitous in Mexian sushi. I love how La Docena has appropriated that classic Mexicanization of Japanese food. And, that crab is way better than you are going to find in your typical Mexican sushi bar.
The quality of ingredients that you are going to find at La Docena is exceptional. One of the advantages to being full all the time is that you have a rapid turnover of inventory. The Mexican seafood purveyors that supply La Docena are flying stuff in from Baja California as well as driving the local stuff in. The scallops were in the water just 24 hours before they were on your table.
The Best of La Docena
Rather than saying that you need to save room for dessert, you need to same room for the main course. A lot of time we will eat so many appetizers and things from the raw bar that we don’t have room for a main course. I love grilled shrimp so much that I eat them head, tail and all. The paprika butter gets under the shells and will have our licking our fingers.
The grilled young octopus is one of the specialties that we used to order every visit. I have not ordered it in a few trips and I really miss it. We order zarandeado octopus all over the place but the grilled young octopus at La Docena is different, and better.
That cauliflower dish is something that I have been talking about a lot recently. It is something that is so simple but absolutely amazing. It’s half a cauliflower that is fried in butter. It is finished with dried bonito flakes that are grated with a microplane. You can’t eve see them but you can sure taste them. The combination of lemon zest, fish flakes and butter make this the best cauliflower that I have ever tasted.
If you are in Guadalajara you need to give this place a try. Even if you are only here for a few days this is one of the best high-end experiences in town. The old mansion has ambiance, the food is outstanding and the servers are some of the best in the industry. It is no wonder that this successful restaurant group continues to grow is very competitive markets.
If you liked this article have a look at my list of the best restaurants in Guadalajara.