Jose Luis Hinostroza will likely open Natal next summer.
When René Redzepi, chef and co-owner of Noma, decided to pack up and head to Tulum, where he opened Noma Mexico, his chef de cuisine, Jose Luis Hinostroza (who also worked at Alinea), must have connected to the region. He’s remained rooted to the area since Noma’s brief stint in Tulum, becoming a partner at Arca, a restaurant located in the Tulum jungle. Now, he's preparing to open his own restaurant nearby, which will be called Natal.
As Eater reports, Natal will focus on “pre-colonial Mesoamerican cuisine, techniques, and ingredients.” Hinostroza explains that he plans to integrate “native seeds, grains, nuts, flora, and fauna,” into the upcoming menu. He’ll also be working with a traditional method of Mayan cooking, called the pib, underground cooking pits that will be used to prepare the majority of Natal's dishes. Another departure from traditional dining: Hinostroza will encourage his guests to eat with their hands.
“Almost everything at Natal will be intended... to be finished by dipping or smearing the remaining sauce or cooking juices from the plate, an action that is so [embedded] in the DNA of Mexican cuisine,” he explained.
Able to accommodate 70 diners at once, who will sit at long communal tables and on either chairs or "big rocks", Natal will house as many eight of these pits, which will cook whole pumpkin and oxtail wrapped in banana leaves, among other entrees. Even the beverages—which will include mildly alcoholic drinks made from fermented pineapple rind and the sap from agave plants—will adhere to the traditional standards of Mexican cuisine. Dinner will cost around $80 per person.
The chef hopes that his meals will encourage the “international guest,” to “travel deep into the ‘real Mexico'.”
Hinostroza plans to begin construction on Natal in February—he hired the same designers who created Noma Mexico for his restaurant—with a projected opening date of June 2018.