Tiara Darnell, an African American female entrepreneur from Washington, DC, has brought a taste of home to Mexico City with the opening of Blaxicocina, the first and only successful soul food restaurant in the country’s capital city of more than 16 million residents. With a culinary journey that spans cultures and generations, Tiara’s flavorful creations are finding a warm embrace among both Black Americans and curious locals.
When Tiara first arrived in Mexico City in 2021, she says that she quickly realized that her beloved Old Bay seasoning wasn’t as common in the area as it was in her hometown in Maryland. She said it sparked the idea of opening Blaxicocina using recipes handed down by generations, according to DCist.
To bring the flavors of home to Blaxicocina, she relied on a surprising source: her mother. She brought her bulk-sized containers from Restaurant Depot, meeting her need for Old Bay seasoned fries, among others. What’s more, the restaurant also offers other dishes that embody the heart of soul food like fried chicken, cornbread, carrot cake, and sweet tea.
However, crafting authentic soul food in Mexico posed unique challenges. Ingredients crucial for traditional recipes were hard to find. The cornmeal for her cornbread and the coating for fried green tomatoes had to be painstakingly crafted from scratch, the Mexican way. Collaborating with local farmers, she even sparked the growth of collard greens, a soul food staple not commonly found in Mexico.
Blaxicocina transcends its role as a restaurant; it’s a hub for a growing community of Black Americans who’ve chosen Mexico City as their new home. The restaurant even has ties to a “Blaxit” movement — a departure from the U.S. in search of a better life abroad. For Tiara, the decision was driven by a desire for a higher quality of life and escape from systemic racism.
Tiara’s inclusive approach extends beyond her menu. She’s striving to integrate with the local community, working with Mexican vendors, staff, and contractors. Her aim is to enrich the community rather than exploit it, fostering cultural exchange and mutual respect.
“Mexico City definitely feels like home. I have a really great community around me. I have friends that are family at this point, and I just feel really connected here, culturally, socially, in a way that I just didn’t in the U.S,” she said.
Be sure to follow Tiara and her restaurant on Instagram @Blaxicocina
Also, you can support the business by going to its location at Caleta 554, Narvarte Poniente, Benito Juárez, 03023 Ciudad de México, CDMX.