By Laura Koster
Authentic, upscale Mexican cuisine. Where do you find it on the Main Line?
It hasn’t really existed until last week’s opening of Xilantro, Luis Marin’s new upscale Mexican restaurant in downtown Wayne. Having much success with his traditional Mexican concept Sarape (locations in Chalfont, Horsham and Blue Bell), Marin and current business partner Joel Solomon, are taking things up a notch with this sophisticated restaurant and tequila bar.
And modern it is. Xilantro glows with its clean design of whites and lime greens, standing out among North Wayne Avenue’s classic shops and traditional eateries.
“Xilantro is representative of the high Mexican cuisine of Mexico city,” Marin told me recently. “We’ve been talking about this restaurant for a long time. Many customers would travel to my other restaurants from the Main Line area; we knew there was a need here.”
Xilantro opened officially on May 31, and too impatient to wait for a dinner reservation, we stopped in for a lunch this past Saturday. The bright, relaxed atmosphere is paired with refined culinary presentations and dishes rich with earthy Mexican flavors like mole and chipotle.
We started out with the Xilantro Especial margarita – a combo of Herradura Silver Tequila, lime juice, cilantro, chopped jalapeno, mango nectar and sour mix; served on the rocks with purple salt. With a menu of more than 100 tequilas as well as Mexican beers, wines, cocktails, and yes, even a “skinny margarita,” there’s plenty to taste from.
And while I’ve yet to meet Xilantro’s Chef Juan Pablo Quiroz, a CIA grad, one taste of his Grilled Pulpo Tacos (octopus) and I’m hooked. Served in corn tortillas with melted cheese, pickled red onions and a squeeze of lime, these tacos were divine. (Lunch only, FYI.) We also tried the Chicken Enchiladas with a complex mole sauce, served with beans and rice.
Marin has based many of his restaurants’ dishes on family recipes, and he worked alongside Quiroz to develop Xilantro’s progressive fare. What to order during dinner? When I asked Marin for his personal favorites, he recommended starters like the Tuna Tar Tar, with shallots, chives, lime juice and chipotle mayo. For mains, look for Filete Tlaxcala, a center-cut filet mignon with chorizo and chorizo sauce, Chihuahua cheese and corn tortilla; as well as the Grouper en Papillate, with shrimp, epazote aroma, lemon-lime, jalapeño peppers. Click here for full menus.
Find Xilantro at 103 North Wayne Avenue in Wayne or online at www.xilantro.com, as well as by phone at 484.580.8415. Xilantro is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, as well as a traditional Mexican Sunday brunch.