Restaurant review

Restaurant Review: T’Zunun in Pleasant Hill | Food News

T’Zunun takes diners to the lesser-visited regions of Mexican cuisine.

T’Zunun takes its name from the Mayan word meaning humming-bird. Although there are many Mexican legends about the delicate and colorful creatures, Jesus Wence says the birds’ symbolic role as messengers is what best fits his mission in the popular new restaurant.

“There’s a lot more to Mexican food than people realize,” says the 24-year-old executive chef, son of the family that owns Wence’s restaurant, also in Pleasant Hill. “T’Zunun delivers the good news about the many different dishes of Mexico.”


Not to hit the burritos and combo plates involving huge expanses of rice and refried beans, but that’s not it. T’Zunun, which has taken over space from Mr. Lucky’s on Taylor Boulevard and Pleasant Hill Road, goes above and beyond most Mexican menus in this area, crafting carefully selected ingredients into vibrant dishes that aren’t often served in restaurants north of the border – and sometimes even innovative with local ingredients to produce dishes that could be said to have originated here.

A tlayuda aperitif gives you a taste of how fun it is to come to T’Zunun, where, with the change in ownership, the atmosphere has changed from uptown to exotic glam. The colorful pizza-like tlayuda is constructed from a thick, satisfying blue corn tortilla masa and is beautifully seasoned and fattened with mashed black beans, Oaxaca cheese, avocado and greens. costs.


We ordered ours with mushrooms (rather than chorizo), which had been sautéed to succulent tenderness. Cut into four or even eight slices to share, the appetizer is a serious upgrade from the standard fries and guac.

Seafood on the menu includes a ceviche made with plump shrimp, charred tomatillos, fresh chili peppers, avocado and red onion, plus succulent mussels in a tangy poblano broth, a concoction so good that you’ll want to mop up all of this one with its accompanying bread.

Part of a contemporary and airy interior design that offers an inviting and rustic back porch, T’Zunun’s sleek and stylish bar offers an extensive selection of drinks including beer and wine, some 40 mezcals and 25 tequilas, as well as innovative cocktails.


The bar-restaurant creates craft cocktails with fresh ingredients.

Among our favorites were a Mexican rosé called Casa Madero which paired easily with many dishes and the refreshing cocktail La Paloma, a highball of tequila, grapefruit, lime, agave and sparkling water accompanied by a slice perfect rose of dehydrated grapefruit.

Like almost everything we tried, the dinner entrees (“platos fuertes”) were painstakingly prepared using top quality ingredients. However, portions of some dishes (like Oaxacan-style chicken mole, grilled octopus, and seared scallops) seemed a bit skimpy.


A plato fuerte that was really fuerte was the arroz tumbada. Similar to paella and originally from Veracruz, according to Wence, the rice base of the hearty dish is quite sweet and bubbly, a little spicy and loaded with fresh-from-the-sea mussels, clams, calamari and shrimp.

At the other end of the spectrum, the T’Zunun Ensalada is light and refreshing with freshly picked greens, grapefruit, pear pieces, strawberries, queso fresco and lemon vinaigrette.

The servers at this restaurant are friendly, knowledgeable and plentiful – a credit to the management with low unemployment. Still, even if they were willing to get any questions answered, it would be great if they learned more about food and drink so they could answer without having to do extra laps in the kitchen. . Another critical point is the acoustics. “Loud” doesn’t quite describe the din that builds when the restaurant is even partially full.


Even the tacos are special at T’Zunun.

Like a hummingbird flitting from one delicious thing to the next, T’Zunun even stops at tacos. The will tear the tacos surprise with slices of medium-rare skirt steak, creating a whole different experience from the usual beef taco, with a bit of bacon adding to the distinction.

The tacos al pastor are made with organic free-range chicken rather than pork, and chunks of fresh pineapple enhance the meat. Earthy Wild Mushroom Tacos get a satisfying crunch from fried leeks. While the golden taquitos may sound tantalizing to crab and Brussels sprout lovers, the thick fried wraps of the teaspoons dominated their delicate filling.

The tortillas served at T’Zunun are handmade with gluten-free and non-GMO heirloom corn imported from Mexican farmers who use traditional farming methods that have been in their families for centuries.

“This corn is really special,” says Wence, whose family is from the Mexican state of Michoacán.

Yes, that’s true, and T’Zunun too.