Mexico City is a bustling metropolis that pulses with energy. Drawn to its vibrant atmosphere, rich history and warm hospitality a growing number of travelers are calling Mexico City home.

In Mexico City, people are making a positive impact. Their diverse backgrounds and experiences contribute to the city’s cosmopolitan fabric, fostering a sense of global understanding and collaboration. Through art exhibitions, culinary ventures and community initiatives, travelers engage with the local population and enriching the city’s cultural tapestry. Many bring valuable skills, expertise and entrepreneurial spirit, establishing businesses and creating employment opportunities for locals and fellow expats. 

Tiara Darnell did exactly that. The entreprenuer recently opened Blaxicocina, which is a soul food inspired restaurant. With her vision and unwavering determination, Darnell has introduced soul food to her new home. Captivated by the city’s ambiance and gastronomic fervor, she realized the potential of blending soul food’s soulful essence with Mexican traditions.

Her endeavor exemplifies the transformative power of taking risks. Through her restaurant, she offers an experience that fosters a sense of unity by bridging cultural gaps and creating community. Travel Noire sat down with Darnell about her journey and what’s to come.

Photo credit: Tiara Darnell

Travel Noire: When did you move to Mexico City? 

Tiara Darnell: In the spring of 2021. Before moving, I had traveled to about 40 other countries when I did the Peace Corps. A friend recommended Mexico. I was only planning to stay for six months, but I loved it and decided to stay. Now, I’ve been here for two years. 

TN: How long have you been working to open Blaxicocina?

TD: This is my first restaurant. I have a media background and always enjoyed cooking, but I resisted monetizing my hobby for years. I was afraid I might not love it anymore. Then, you add doing business in foreign country and in my second language, which makes it even more challenging. I started doing “Soul Food Sunday” pop ups mainly out of my apartment in spring 2022 after I was laid off. As they grew, I took a leap of faith to open the restaurant. 

TN: What does Blaxicocina mean? 

TD: It’s a mash-up of the word[s] Black, Mexican and Cocina, which means kitchen in Spanish. 

Photo credit: Vernée Norman

TN: What do you want people to feel when they walk in? 

TD: One thing I love about food is how it brings people together. This space is more than a restaurant. It’s a space to build and create community. During the week, we have co-working hours and have hosted events, such as a Trap Brunch, Black trivia night, and pay what you will dinners for our vendors and the local Mexican community. 

TN: What’s next for Blaxicocina? 

TD: Now, that we have a proof of concept, I’m looking for support scaling up. We’re planning on adding more soul food [and] Mexican fusion dishes to the menu, and hosting more events that engage both the Black American and Mexican communities. It’s really important to me that Blaxicocina take part in and not just take from the neighborhood we’re in. 

This article has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.