Brunch at Bar Clavel
There's something to be said for the decor and aesthetic of a restaurant. It has the ability to transport you to a different country or different time period. This time, we stepped out of Baltimore and into Mexico.
On our most basic Sunday Funday, we went to the one place in the city that we've been dying to try: Bar Clavel in Remington (the next up-and-coming neighborhood in Baltimore). This family-run mezcaleria and taqueria is exactly what your weekends have been missing.
Driving into what looks like a sketchy part of town wasn't the most fun I've had, but all of a sudden, we spotted this quaint little neon sign that says "bar." We had arrived!
As we walked into this narrow little hallway, we were greeted by the hostess who sat us at a table immediately. I mean, that's unheard of for Brunch! It was packed - families, couples, friends all sat at cozy tables. The decor is so minimalistic but so perfect for the space. The white stucco walls and exposed-beam ceiling really makes you feel like you're in a small Mexican town. And the food solidifies that feeling.
The brunch menu wasn't huge, but it had everything you could want. And the cocktail list was even better. I have yet to meet a mimosa I don't love, but this took my love to a whole new level. The "Los Sagrado" was a pineapple twist on a mimosa, with a hint of spice. The fiance ordered the Mexican version of a Bloody Mary - a Michelada. A cocktail of Mexican beer, tomato juice, creme, hot sauce, and a spicy mexican blend of spices. It was smokey, it was rich, and it was good.
The food was exactly what you could have wanted for a classic Mexican brunch. My go-to brunch item is Huevos Rancheros, so when I saw that on the menu, it was a no brainer. I'm not sure if it was the homemade tortillas or the chorizo-lard pureed beans that made this dish so mouth-watering, but they were undeniably the best I've ever had in the city. I could eat it everyday and never get tired of it. The spices were phenomenal, the portion size was ideal, and the beans... I cannot get enough of them.
Typically, Huevos Rancheros come with refried beans on the side, which is still an option. Or you can get the beans pureed with chorizo and lard, which is what I recommend. The whole plate is topped with queso fresco.
The open-air kitchen creates a sense of being in someone's home, which adds extra charm to the restaurant. Watch the chefs make your food and good luck deciphering out their rapid-fire Spanish!
As we sat and sipped on our cocktails, we noticed a huge vat of blood-red liquid sitting on the bar. You couldn't miss it. And there were others sitting on ledges above the bar. These demijohns were filled with homemade Negroni, that is aged for 500 days. But the real highlight is the wall of artisanal Mezcals - the oldest distilled spirit in North America.
Mezcal is a spirit that originated in Oaxaca, but is made all over North Mexico. The name is derived from it's very literal meaning: Oven-Cooked Agave. Using the heart of the agave plant, Mezcal generally has a very smokey flavor, and is enjoyed straight up. Mezcal hasn't quite reached the popularity of Tequila (which is made from only the Blue Agave plant), but it's gaining popularity as exports are growing!