The takeaway after a meal at Nixta is of an experience filled with the bright and complex flavors of regional Mexican cuisine. Each season is showcased to their fullest here and I was fortunate to sample the fruits of the bounty of summer from executive chef Tello Carreon.
On a day that topped 107 degrees (not accounting for the heat index), a chilly libation was in order. The Catorce is a boozy, stirred cocktail that showcases both mezcal and fernet-vallet, a fernet made in Mexico featuring intensely bitter and woody tones. Ancho Reyes chile liquor provides a pleasant lingering heat that pairs well with the smoke of mezcal.
Our starter was the most beautiful black bean hummus you've ever seen. A creamy base of mashed black beans was topped with a mild chile oil and garnished with fresh herbs, edible flowers, crisp cucumbers and radishes, serrano peppers, pickled onions, whole black beans and queso fresco (fresh, mild white cheese) and served with fresh yellow and blue corn tortilla chips.
Everything on the menu here is exquisite, but the star of the night for me was the shrimp tostada plate. If you've never had shrimp poached in chorizo butter, it represents an incredible sybiosis of flavors - sweet shrimp with spicy chorizo. But, what I enjoyed most of all was the mouth feel for this dish - each ingredient (except the perfectly ripe avocado on top) was made into the roughly same size shape. This was delightful to bite into, as it allowed you to experience the distinct textures of crispy lettuce and succulent shrimp equally. The tostadas also had a light chile lime dusting that added a bright citrus pop.
Oaxacan-style chicken tamales with tender, spiced chicken come served in banana leaves with a green pipian mole made with pumpkin seeds and serrano peppers that is rich and lightly tangy and spicy.
Expertly seasoned roasted duck cartinas are accompanied by a medley of house-made salsas: a mild guahillo that is earthy, mellow and sweet; a creamy salsa loco with avodado, black beans and serrano peppers; an avocado tomatillo salsa travels up the hot scale a bit and a scorpion pepper salsa lives up to its name while still retaining plenty of flavor.