Xokol Restaurant celebrates the “communal ritual” of dining

Xokol Restaurant celebrates the “communal ritual” of dining

Mexican architects ODAmx and Rubén Valdez designed a restaurant with an ash-colored interior inside a former mechanic’s shop in Guadalajara.

Now located in the Mexican city’s Santa Terre neighborhood, Xokol began in 2017 in a small space with just four tables and room for 16 people.

Charcoal gray restaurant with long dining table
Xokol occupies a former mechanic’s shop converted into a restaurant

In 2020, the restaurant moved to this larger building, where the goal was to maintain as much intimacy and communication between diners and chefs as possible.

“Xokol is a restaurant where dining becomes a communal ritual,” ODAmx and Ruben Valdez said in a joint statement. “The architecture of the space serves as a catalyst for a reinterpretation of Mexican culinary traditions and a communal dining experience in which there are no boundaries between diners, staff, and food preparation.”

Hundreds of ears of corn hung above the dining table
The interior is lined with dark gray plaster to create an intimate atmosphere, while corncobs hung above add the only color

The restaurant’s interior has a simple, monastic quality thanks to the dark gray plaster covering the walls and ceiling, and the black clay ovens on full display in the open kitchen.

“These muted tones highlight the naturally rich color palettes of the dishes,” the architects said.

A long dining table with a light hanging above it
The 15-metre-long dining table creates a communal atmosphere for guests to share the experience

The exterior of the concrete workshop building was left largely untouched, except for layers of long steel panels that were added across the garage door entrance to guide guests inside.

A 15-metre-long oak table runs the length of the double-height interior, allowing 48 seats to be seated simultaneously and share the experience.

Traditional komal ovens made of black clay
Traditional black clay Komal ovens are on full display in the open kitchen

Suspended above the table is an industrial pendant lamp that runs its attractive length, emitting a soft glow over the place settings.

Above the center of the dining area, a large skylight is covered by a metal grill from which hang hundreds of ears of corn – providing the only touch of color in the monochromatic restaurant, along with the dishes served.

A network of shelves containing glass jars
In the back, a network of shelves holds glass jars for fermenting ingredients

The kitchen extends beyond the counter on the other side of the building, toward the back where a network of shelves hold jars for fermenting ingredients.

The staircase wraps around a totemic stone sculpture by local artist Jose Davila, up to the mezzanine level that overlooks the dining area.

All materials used in the project were sourced locally, and the dining table, pendant lighting and shelves were made by artisans from Guadalajara.

“Since its beginnings, Xokol has aimed to preserve, restore and share Mazahua’s culinary traditions with a wider audience in a contemporary way,” the architects said.

Shadow cast from the shelves above the table, with light from the windows above
The simple, dark interior has a monastic quality

“The architectural project acts as an enabler of this goal as every design decision has been thought through to achieve it,” they added.

Xokol has been shortlisted in the Restaurant & Bar Interior category of the 2023 Dezeen Awards, alongside a Toronto seafood restaurant designed by Omar Gandhi Architects, a brick-vaulted taproom in Poland designed by Projekt Praga and three other projects.

A staircase up to the mezzanine level winds around a totem statue
A staircase up to the mezzanine level winds around a totem statue by José Davila

Guadalajara, Mexico’s second-largest city, is a hotbed of architectural talent and has a thriving food scene.

Other restaurants with gorgeous interiors in the city include Veneno, designed by Monteon Arquitectos Asociados to resemble an archaeological site, and Hueso, whose Cadena + Asociados is lined with thousands of animal bones.

Photography by Rafael Palacios.

Project credits:

building: ODAmx and Ruben Valdez
The carpenter: Joselo Madirista
Artwork: Jose Davila

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *