A few years ago I took a long weekend trip to visit a friend in London. We found cheap flights to Dublin and headed there on a whim. After a long day spent at the Book of Kells and a few pints at the Guinness factory, we headed to the Temple Bar district. Totally rowdy and packed with people, we walked and walked, searching for a restaurant. To this day I can’t explain why we picked a Mexican place (the Guinness pints had something to do with it). As one would expect, it was not very good. The guacamole was some of the worst I’ve had. But, as they say, you can’t appreciate the best if you haven’t seen the worst, and by that rule, I can tell you this recipe is top notch.
As far as Mexican restaurants in NYC go, Dos Caminos holds the standard for happy hour. They offer some great specials, and their prickly pear margarita is like a tequila fruit slushie, in the best possible way. It goes down easy and almost as quickly as their guacamole.
The key to great restaurant-style guacamole? Great avocados. Living on the East Coast, sometimes avocados that appear to be ripe will be sad and brown inside. Spoiled Californians can skip this section, but us outside of the avocado growing zone have to be choosy when shopping. Look for avocados that give a little when squeezed. Not a lot, like a water balloon, more like an orange. If you can manage to plan out a few days in advance (this is a rarity in my household), buy them firm and allow them to ripen on the counter. Or buy them ripe and they’ll keep for a few days in the fridge. I’ve read a few tips on other signs of ripeness and quality besides the squeeze test, but that’s what’s worked for me. Worst case, scoop around the offending brown flesh or blend it all in as long as it tastes good.
In restaurants, guacamole is often served in a molcajete, the heavy, black volcanic stone bowl perched on four little legs. Similar to a mortal and pestle, the rough texture of the molcajete helps in grinding the ingredients together. You do not need this bowl at home. I happen to have a mortar and pestle (1 point for husband against my claim to be a kitchen minimalist), so I used it, but smashing the ingredients vigorously with a wooden spoon will do the trick.
15 minPrep Time
15 minTotal Time
- 2 teaspoons minced white onion
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves
- 2 teaspoons minced jalapeno, seeds and veins removed*
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 2 ripe avocados, cut in half with pit removed and cut crosswise*
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped tomatoes
- Add 1 teaspoon onion, 1 tablespoon cilantro, 1 teaspoon jalapeno and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl and, using the back of a spoon, mash together.
- Scoop flesh from 3 avocado halves into bowl, reserving 1 half to add later.
- Add lime juice and mash avocados until mostly smooth.
- Add remaining onion, cilantro, jalapeno, tomatoes, and avocado. Stir until combined.
- Check seasoning and add additional salt or lime juice as needed.
- Serve immediately or cover tightly with plastic wrap until ready to serve.
*When chopping jalapeno, wear gloves or be prepared to sting your eyes for a few hours if you happen to rub them (this always happens to me!). Remove all seeds and membrane for mild guacamole or leave a few in if you like a little spice.
*I like to cut avocados in their shells to make it easier to scoop out, and to provide some chunky texture for the finished dish. Holding an avocado half in one hand, use a knife to (carefully!) slice the avocado in 1/4 inches on an angle. Then turn the avocado 90 degrees and make crosswise slices. When you scoop out the avocado, this magically makes equal size diced pieces.