Gruppo Apapacho, the red-hot team behind LA Cha Cha Chá, Loreto, and Za Za Za, is among the principal players leading a revival of Mexican fine dining in the greater Los Angeles area. Jorge Salim Vilches, president of Gruppo Apapacho, and chairman Javier Hernandez Pons’s latest pair of modern Mexican establishments, attached to the new Mercado González in Costa Mesa, will offer alta cocina (Mexican haute cuisine) by centering regional plates from the Mexican states of Yucatán, Puebla, and Oaxaca. “It’s like the cuisine you’d find in Mexico City like El Cardenal, but in a more contemporary design,” says Salim on new masa-focused restaurant Maizano and bar Entre Nos.
On the right-hand side of the Mercado’s comedores, or restaurant stalls, an elegant revolving glass door entrance opens into Maizano’s minimalist dining room, decorated in earthen tones accented by Mexican curios and Indigenous cookware. There are 60 seats between Enre Nos’s dozen or so bar stools, a small patio, and the main dining room. It’s a Mexican restaurant typical of Polanco, Roma, or Condesa without the cliches often associated with upscale Mexican restaurants north of the border.
Salim, Hernandez, and their other partners have achieved rare success for Mexico-based restaurateurs, following the seemingly overnight success of LA Cha Cha Chá in 2021, which came as a pleasant surprise. “We took some time to figure out why we are successful after Cha Cha Chá, because it happened so fast, and now we understand it,” says Salim. On the heels of their runaway hit in the Arts District, they followed with Frogtown’s Loreto and Za Za Za, both focused on Mexican Pacific coastal seafood and now the group has set its sights on southern Mexico, where corn is king.
Using fresh masa from the adjoining Tortilleria La González, the maiz section of Maizano’s menu includes memelas topped with refried beans and cheese, chalupas (lightly fried corn tortillas dressed with salsa and shredded chicken), and sweet molotes (fried masa fritters). From the Yucatán, black bean stuffed panuchos covered in cochinita pibil are one of several masa-based antojitos that are both approachable and pretty on the table. Entradas include a ceviche tostada, a duo of spicy aguachiles, and a loaded, savory plate of fideo seco (dry pasta soup) cooked in a chipotle-tomato stock and piled with chicharrónes, avocado, and crema. Classic Mexican soups and stews include sopa de tortilla, sopa de Lima from the Yucatán, and mole de olla, an oxtail stew inspired by Central Mexico.
Highlights from the platos fuertes also feature many of Mexico’s greatest hits, like mole negro, huachinango mextlapique, an Indigenous relative of the tamal for which fish is steamed in a corn husk, and pescado a la talla, grilled fish off their Loreto menu. For dessert, try the espresso-flavored carajillo tres leches, a milk cake spiked with Licor 43 that’s a riff on the popular after-dinner drink at Mexican restaurants. Though Maizano’s menu is not available at Entre Nos (which means “between us”), food from the market can be enjoyed at the intimate bar where Mexican standards — margaritas, palomas, beertails, and themed mezcal flights — are the perfect accompaniment to a date night of Mexican bar snacks.
Salim and Hernandez brought a kitchen team from Mexico City to execute this style of Mexican fine dining, represented by destinations in CDMX like Nico’s, El Bajío, and Azul Histórico. “It’s the kind of high-end Mexican food that’s easy to come by in CDMX, but we wanted plates like mole to be reasonably priced,” says Salim. For the restaurant group that can’t seem to miss, offering exciting — and exacting — Mexican cuisine in the mid-price range makes for an ideal dinner spot after shopping at the Mercado.
Dinner service at Maizano will run Wednesday to Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; bar service at Entre Nos runs Wednesday to Sunday from 12 p.m to 4 p.m with a truncated bar menu and from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. with a full beverage menu.