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The Offalo’s Top 5 Bites of The Taste of Mexico 2015

I think I lucked out on my first Taste of Mexico, now in its fifth year.  The evening weather was relatively cool, especially compared to the heatwave we've been experiencing in L.A.  The crowds were lively but not overbearing.

And, of course, the food.  While I didn't love every dish I tried (reasonable given that 30+ restaurants were serving a wide range of Mexican cuisine, with many places offering multiple dishes), some were absolutely outstanding.  While I won't be so presumptuous as to declare these dishes the best of the event, especially since I only tried around 20 dishes, I will say that these are my top 5 bites:

5.  Tacos Punta Cabras' Pork Rillettes Sopes:  Chefs Josh Gil and Daniel Snukal made some very tasty, but not very Mexican, pork rillettes.  They did serve it with avocado and some amazing sopes to bring the dish back to the theme of the event.

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Tacos Punta Cabras' Pork Rillettes Sopes

4.  Guerrilla Tacos' Squid Taco:  While some VIPs got chef Wes Avila's limited quantity sardine tacos, the rest of us had to "settle" for squid, which was excellent as his food usually is.  Strangely the first batch of squid were missing their tentacles, but on my second and third helpings I did get my fill of those wiggly parts.

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Guerrilla Tacos' Squid Taco

3.  Ceviche Project's Tuna & Sea Urchin Tostada:  It almost seems too easy to pick a dish with fresh uni as a top bite, but I can't deny they're delicious.  The tuna was also incredibly fresh.  Chef Octavio Olivas had just returned from Mexico City the night before the event and picked up the tuna from the fish market that morning.

Ceviche Project's Tuna & Sea Urchin Tostada
Ceviche Project's Tuna & Sea Urchin Tostada
Ceviche Project's Tuna & Sea Urchin Tostada

2.  El Coraloense's Changoneado Tostada:  I'm not exactly sure what was in this, but I believe it was a mixture of shrimp and fish ceviche.  Whatever it was, chef Natalie Curie hit all the right notes, with perfect seafood, and especially the spicy peanuts on top.

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El Coraloense's Changoneado Tostada

1.  Chichen Itza's Salbutes:  The hit of the show, almost everyone I spoke with told me to try this, and after I did, I started telling everyone else about this dish by chef Gilberto Cetina, Jr.  The puffiness of the tortilla reminded me almost of croissant--I'm surprised no one's tried to make a hybrid croissant/tortilla and name it the "croitilla"--and it was the perfect vessel for the flavorful ground pork shoulder and beef rib.

Chichen Itza's Salbutes
Chichen Itza's Salbutes
Chichen Itza's Salbutes

For more shots of the dishes I tried at The Taste of Mexico 2015, check out hashtag #offalotom on Instagram.

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