While Los Danzantes ranks high in ambiance for a restaurant featuring Oaxacan food, Epicuro’s decor attracts those in Oaxaca craving healthy Italian fare.
Epicuro Café Bistrot offers diners in Oaxaca an alternative to typical Italian restaurant fare found in similar Mexican cities: contemporary Mediterranean cuisine in Oaxaca, prepared using almost exclusively organic produce and free – range meat and poultry, served in a restaurant with exquisite, enlightened ambiance.
While Epiruco styles itself a Oaxacan restaurant featuring healthy and flavorful Mediterranean food, the weighting is on Italy, a natural for owners transplanted to Oaxaca from Italy. Management’s philosophy – stated on the menu – is, paraphrasing: the restricted number of dishes, including daily specials determined at times by last – minute availability of seasonal ingredients and chance procurement of more unusual wild and naturally – fed livestock, assures freshness, uniqueness, and an opportunity to indulge in healthy meals otherwise rarely offered.
Decor & Ambiance at Epicuro Italian Restaurant in Oaxaca
High ceilings, tall plants and well-placed original abstract art by Oaxacan artists provide a smart, modern yet uncharacteristically comfortable dining environment at Epicuro Café Bistrot. Walls are a surprisingly rich tone of green, yet the color works well, contrasting with the minimalist – styled deep maroon wooden tables and chairs accented by striped padded benches. The decor presents an appearance of a restaurant much larger than its actual size.
The restaurant has two focal points: a stone wall with a gently trickling of water, and an open bar. The latter will no doubt attract a clientele seeking a relaxing environment in which to imbibe. With wines clearly undervalued (top bottle price is about $25), there should be no doubt.
Appetizers, Soups & Salads at Epicuro, Downtown Oaxaca Mediterranean Restaurant
Of the five appetizer samplings at this inaugural voyage down the Mediterranean, only one disappointed. The fresh Russian salad was non – descript, an opinion shared by each in our party. However the balance made up for the shortcoming. Perhaps Russia is too distant from the Mediterranean to have an entry on the menu.
The brochettes were a mix of meat with grilled, chopped vegetables over crispy yet soft-on-the-inside thick baguette slices; the fresh octopus and organic potato salad was exquisite, with a medley of flavors enhanced by celery, parsley, and extra virgin olive oil; the eggplant parmesan was a pleasant surprise since it’s rarely if ever encountered in an Italian restaurant in Oaxaca; the ensalada exótica, while not particularly exotic, it nevertheless impressed, with mixed greens, avocado, and grapefruit sections resting on a bed of thinly sliced pear. With such seafood and salad starters, the anticipation has begun to build for a follow – up visit to try the calamari with Oaxacan chile salsa as well as the goat cheese salad. The seasonal vegetable soup and cream
of squash blossom with organic corn will also be on our radar.
Pasta, Meat, Fish & Paella Round out the Selection of Entrées at Epicuro Restaurant in Oaxaca
We sampled two of the four pasta offerings; linguine al pesto which needed salt to perk it up, and a tangy vegetarian lasagna. The other two carb dishes offered this evening were gnocchi with salsa genovese and spaghetti a la carbonara.
The balance of entrees on the regular menu consisted of roast beef, rib eye, chicken, fish filet and a garlicky octopus. The back of the menu mentions rabbit and free – range turkey, but neither was offered this evening. It also states that paella is available Fridays and Saturdays, the second and fourth week of each month; to my thinking a little too complicated unless paella aficionados think it worth the while to keep their calendars updated.
Growing Pains at Epicuro Italian Restaurant in Oaxaca
It’s hard to pull off a philosophy boasting healthy Mediterranean food when you offer Haagen-Dazs ice cream; especially when Oaxaca boasts such a wonderful array of nieves (sherbets) made with real tropical fruit, as well as helados (ice creams) with equally fresh and local ingredients. But there it was on the menu, Haagen-Dazs ice cream along with tiramisu and zabaglione. Perhaps such desserts along with hot chocolate Turin style, are meant to be a drawing card.
The desserts, decor and wine will no doubt keep Epicuro going for a while. But portions in general will have to be increased, and its philosophy either discarded or made consistent across the board; the former seems much more in keeping with an ambiance of comfort and class.
Epicuro Café Bistrot Comida Mediterránea Sana y Sabrosa
Calle Guerrero 319
1 pm – 10 pm
tel: (951) 514 9750