Tuétano. It sounds exotic and it’s fun to say (tweh-tah-noh), but what the heck is it? We overlooked it the first few times we saw it on Spanish menus, having no idea what it was. Eventually, we realized the only way to figure it out was to order it, which we did to our everlasting delight. Now we know…tuétano is bone marrow in Spanish, and whether served as a taco filling or to enhance other dishes, it is very popular in Mexico.
Tuétano has been a traditional food in Mexico for generations and is valued in many cultures around the world as a nutritious, cheap source of food. It is high in vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acids (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which are important for brain development and cognitive health. My husband and I are feeling pretty smart after all of our “research” for this article. I may be using nutritional value to justify our desire to eat more bone marrow, but it is the taste and texture that we really love. Marrow has a rich silkiness that coats your mouth with a sweet, nutty flavor. It’s not often that something that seems an indulgence is actually healthy, in moderation. Being almost 90% fat, some restraint should be used, darn it!
In the United States we had lost track of the goodness of bone marrow until recent years, when it has become a full-on food trend. Paleo dieters are boiling it into their bone broths to reap the nutritional benefits. Foodies are spreading it on toast in trendy restaurants. Yes, we have taken what is an affordable food staple in the rest of the world and made it the next big thing.
Restaurants in Mexico are following along with the American trend and elevating tuétano to high status on their menus. Personally, I’m loving this food trend and the luxury of plates full of the glorious stuff. Here are just a few examples of ways that you will find tuétano served in San Miguel de Allende, along with one in Mexico City that we included because of the sheer audaciousness of it.
We recently discovered 13 Cielos and have become determined to work through the menu of creative dishes, so expect to see us writing more about this restaurant in the future. The family team of Chef Bricio Domínguez and his nephew Chef Juan Pablo Domínguez created a menu of Mestizo cuisine, which in this case refers to a fusion of Mexican food with International cuisines. Their tuétano, however, is presented in the most traditional Mexican way: roasted bones served with corn tortillas and salsas for making tacos. We scooped the marrow, still bubbling from the oven, into warm tortillas and topped it with fresh pico de gallo and a spicy salsa verde. The acid and spice from the two salsas really brought the mildly seasoned marrow to life.
Correo 34, Zona Centro, San Miguel de Allende
As a European bakery and restaurant founded by a Franco-Italian family that has been in Mexico for over 100 years, Cumpanio serves their tuétano in a classic European style. Three split marrow bones are baked with sea salt and garlic, and served with grilled bread. You could imagine sitting at a cafe in France or Italy spooning this buttery marrow onto a slice of rustic toast. The creamy avocado and tomato salsa remind you that you are actually in Mexico.
Correo 29, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende
Located in the beautiful new Live Aqua resort, Zibu Allende is the creation of Mexican Chef Eduardo Palazuelos, who owns several restaurants in Mexico including Zibu Acapulco. Having spent time working in Thailand, Palazuelos has developed a fusion cuisine that he calls Mex-Thai. That Thai influence is seen all over the menu at Zibu, including the tuétano con pulpo al ajillo, a brazen combination of bone marrow and octopus. Two marrow bones roasted in the Josper grill are topped with tender chunks of octopus drenched in a bold garlic sauce. The richness of the marrow is a delicious addition to the lean protein of the octopus. It was served with the most adorable tortillas embedded with squash flowers, along with onions and cilantro on the side just in case you needed to add more flavor to an already grandiose taco.
Calz. De La Presa 85, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende
La Única is part of a restaurant group that also has locations in Mexico City and Puebla. The La Única in San Miguel is a gorgeous restaurant with a bright open courtyard and rooftop terrace. The food is inspired by cuisine from Northern Mexico, including the Pacific coast and Nuevo León where expertly grilled beef is their thing. Tuétano shows up on the menu as either roasted bones (tuétanos asados), or as tacos with filete con tuétano. We decided to try the later, intrigued by the combination of marrow and steak. Buttery roasted marrow scooped onto the top of each steak taco added fat and richness to the much leaner chopped steak. Now I want this on top of all of my tacos.
La Única San Miguel de Allende
Diez de Sollano y Dávalos 14, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende
We come back to Antonia Bistro time and again, for both the view from the rooftop and the creative food. The grains risotto with tuétano was a lovely use of bone marrow. The risotto was composed of a variety of cereal grains with berries and flowers scattered on top. A roasted marrow bone was served to the side. We scraped the marrow from the bone and mixed it into the risotto, producing a dish of interesting textures, rich creaminess, and the occasional sweet tang of a berry. Sadly, I don’t see this dish on the menu anymore so I fear it may be seasonal. I hope they bring it back, because I thought it was brilliant.
Antonio Bistro SMA
San Francisco 57, Centro, Zona Centro, 37700 San Miguel de Allende
This traditional Mexican restaurant is not in San Miguel de Allende, but in Mexico City. We’ve included it here because of the sheer amount of the stewed tuétano…and in the hope that someone can tell me where we can find a heaping bowl of tuétano like this in SMA. When a hot cast iron plate full of sizzling globs of marrow was placed on the table, we were overwhelmed with the decadence of the dish, despite its rustic approach. No need to bother with the bones, just spoon some marrow into a warm tortilla and garnish with a range of salsas, diced onions, peppers and cilantro for the richest taco ever.
De La República 157, Tabacalera, 06030 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico