By Cristina Alonso
November 18, 2014
Cedric Angeles

You’ve probably heard this by now: Mexican cuisine is having a moment in the spotlight, with everyone from Noma’s René Redzepi to Mission Chinese Food’s Danny Bowien marveling at its mysteries. But Mexican food is far more than a trend. The culinary traditions in Mexico come from centuries of shared wisdom and recipes, from ingredients that have been around since pre-Hispanic times, and innovation that comes from a long history of myriad international influences.

Putting all these factors together is no easy feat, but Mexican chefs have mastered it just as they’ve mastered the combination of ingredients in their kitchens. Though narrowing down the top-chef list to just five is very difficult (honorable mentions go to Quintonil’s Jorge Vallejo, Biko’s Mikel Alonso and Bruno Oteiza, and MeroToro’s Jair Téllez, to name a few), this selection should give you a pretty fair idea of the gustatory creativity happening not just in Mexico City, but all over the country.

Enrique Olvera

Culinary Institute of America-trained Olvera has been one of the indisputable leaders in the renaissance of Mexican cuisine over the past couple of decades, thanks to his painstaking attention to detail and his creative approach to the country’s native ingredients and traditions. Olvera’s style is perfectly showcased at Pujol, his flagship restaurant in Polanco.

Daniel Ovadía

At age 21, Ovadía stepped into the spotlight by serving updated Mexican classics at Paxia, which almost a decade later remains a local favorite. His mini-empire now includes Mora Blanca (inspired by the meals he ate as the child of European immigrants); neighborhood lunch hangout Peltre; a catering company; and Serendipia, a gourmet store.

Ricardo Muñoz Zurita

Dubbed “the anthropologist of Mexican cuisine,” it’s little wonder Muñoz Zurita was named Best Chef for Traditional Mexican Cuisine in Travel + Leisure Mexico’s 2010 Gourmet Awards. You can experience his classic yet inventive dishes at four restaurants: Azul Histórico, Azul Condesa, Azul y Oro, and Azul Antojo at Mercado Roma.

Elena Reygadas

From the kitchen of her lovely, airy Colonia Roma eatery, Rosetta, Reygadas has been dishing out sophisticated yet approachable Italian specialties like creamy burrata and handmade pastas, plus amazing bread you can (and should) take home from the bakery. This year, she was honored with the well-deserved title of Latin America’s Best Female Chef at the Latin America’s 50 Best awards.

Eduardo García

This Guanajuato-born chef cooked alongside Eric Ripert and Enrique Olvera before opening Máximo Bistrot Local, where the menu, based on fresh and seasonal ingredients, changes daily. García’s goal of supporting the community informs every part of his business—whether it’s sourcing food from local purveyors to using napkins handmade by Oaxacan artisans.