In 2006, Julien Zattara, a Frenchman, met Alejandra, a Mexican, while they were both studying cooking in Lyon at Paul Bocuse Institute. Julien and Alejandro became fast friends, sharing sharing tequila shots and traveling together to attend a wedding in Mexico.
They decided to open a Mexican restaurant in 2006 on rue Mouffetard in the Latin Quarter, serving cuisine inspired by recipes from Alejandro’s grandfather. Expanding their brand and business, they started a food truck in 2013; followed by harvesting their own peppers in 2014 to make their own special salsa Gallo; creating their own beer in 2015; and opening a new restaurant on Faubourg Saint Denis in 2016.
My friend and I went for lunch on Saturday at 12:30. The interior–wicker lamp shades, light wood picnic benches and tables, midnight blue-tiled walls and vintage black and white photos–made me feel as though I was at Mexican café on the beach in Tulum, Mexico rather than on the gritty Faubourg Saint Denis.
My first barometer for authenticity when it comes to Mexican food is the guacamole; if the guacamole passes the test, then it’s usually smooth sailing for the other dishes to come. Chunky and not super spicy, the guacamole at Bocamexa passed the test well, but the quality of corn chips could have been elevated a notch or two.
Next up was the most popular dish at Bocamexa, Tacos a Pastor. Pastor is a particular preparation of spit roast and marinated pig served with fresh pineapple, and brought to the streets of Mexico in the early 1960s by Lebanese immigrants. The flavor of the little bits of pork were piquant and sweet at the same time, and the pineapple was the correct complement to the pork.
We shared a well-stuffed burrito with marinated chicken, chorizo sausage and grilled peppers and onions. Again the taste and freshness was authentic, so Bocamexa passed my rigorous tests for Mexican food and came out a winner. On top of that, Bocamexa offers gluten free dishes and vegetarian selections.