Once Upon a Time in Mexico

Chef and author Joanne Weir's gluten-free Mexican recipe

It started with a little tequila.

Chef and author Joanne Weir, who is known mostly for her Mediterranean cookbooks, penned a book on the south-of-the-border libations in 2009. After serving a margarita from the cookbook to restaurateur Larry Mindel, the idea for Copita Tequileria y Comida, her new Mexican restaurant in Sausalito, California, was born.

Copita is entirely gluten-free, eschewing flour tortillas for homemade corn ones (Weir, coincidentally, has a gluten allergy). The restaurant's kitchen turns out 24-hour carnitas tamales, a stew-like tortilla soup, and quesadillas with homemade chorizo and potatoes, among other simple, from-scratch dishes.

We tried Weir's recipe for aguachiles (see the recipe), a dish she fell in love with on a trip to Puerto Vallarta. The dish marries flash-boiled shrimp with a purée of fresh lime juice, serrano chiles, cilantro and cucumbers. Served on a bed of avocado and sliced cucumber, the shrimp are refreshing and spicy, with a hint of sweetness.

Much like the restaurant's beginnings, it's quite spirited.