Not long ago, a well-connected diner at Maximo Bistro demanded that she get the table she wanted on a crowded Friday night. When she was turned down, she picked up her cellphone, called her father—the head of the Mexican Consumer Protection agency—and had the restaurant shut down by inspectors that night. Political corruption is an everyday occurrence in Mexico City. But what happened next was anything but ordinary. Patrons of the restaurant who saw the episode play out were so incensed, they started a social media campaign. Soon 42,000 tweets had been posted demanding that the restaurant be re-opened and the father lose his job. A formal corruption investigation, an unusual occurrence, was soon opened.
So why did so many jump to the defense of Maximo Bistro, when other corrupt acts simply elicit shrugs of resignation in this world-weary city? The restaurant is the deliberately low-key brainchild of a local kid made good: chef and owner Eduardo Garcia who apprenticed both at Mexico City’s famed Pujol (also reviewed on this site) as well as at La Bernardin in New York City. He brings to the eatery a skill set that’s impressive, but also an ethos that says that exquisite food shouldn’t be brutally expensive. So while the fare is as good as what you’d get in world-class restaurants across the globe, the main dishes tend to fall in the $15–$20 range, despite the fact that the fish is often flown in from coast and the plates are usually composed of half a dozen different elements. You might, for example, find yourself dining on perfectly cooked clams with dots of four different sauces enhancing each bite; or a perfectly roasted organic chicken sided by risotto that has a silky muskiness from the foie gras at its heart. Desserts lean towards those you might find in a Parisian bistro: think crackly crème bruleé, pot de crème de chocolate, or (not so Parisian) rhubarb crumble. The first Sunday of each month the restaurant serves up poached eggs with asparagus and truffle oil, paired with French bread and homemade jam.
If you decide to go, reservations well in advance are advised as you’ll be competing with such celebrities as cookbook author and NY Times columnist Mark Bittman for a seat—he was at the next table the last time I was there. Follow them on twitter (@MaximoBistro) to learn about special menus or closings for events.