A quick fine-dining tip: always start with a salad. Not only will it provide pre-atonement for the caloric sins you are about to commit, it will also help set your expectations. In the same way that the opening scene of a movie will let you know if you are in for brilliance or boredom, the salad will tell you if you are in for a memorable meal or a miserable one.
The beguilingly simple jicama and green mango salad at Mita’s sets the tone for what will almost certainly be the most flavorful meal in the city. The jungle-green mango is slightly sweet, slightly chewy, and balanced perfectly by the crunchier, tarter jicama. Simplicity never tasted so good, and neither did mango, this side of the tropics.
Vibrant simplicity has fueled proprietor Jose Salazar’s superb Latin American restaurant—named in honor of his Colombian grandmother—since its opening in 2015. Such simplicity shines through in the brochettes, skewers of harissa-rubbed chicken thighs that stand peerless above the entire flock of chicken dishes in this city.
But this isn’t simplicity shorn of creativity. That’s not enough to land a restaurant on our list, let alone in the top spot. Salazar’s and Executive Chef Tim McClane’s subtle creative touches abound, like in the ginger-hibiscus marinade for the black grouper ceviche (part of a daily rotation of ceviche offerings); or the truffles, mushrooms, and artichokes that luxuriate the hummus in the Alcochofas Y Hongos (artichokes and mushrooms). That dish was the brainchild of Chef McClane, who came over from Bouquet in 2021. There’s plenty of room for such inspiration on Mita’s menu. It’s reworked as many as six times a year, with minor tweaks occurring on a nearly monthly basis. The classics, I’m told, stay put. Although on a menu like this, I’m not sure how one even begins to make such designations.
501 Race St., downtown, (513) 421-6482, mitas.co
See the full 2023 Best Restaurants list here.