Honorable Mention: El Pípila: Guardians of Guanajuatan Cuisine
Schwartz and Architecture
A broad community of supporters and 3 tenacious women, graduates of the La Cocina business incubator for women food-entrepreneurs from communities of color, have brought El Pípila to life. This 13-seat sliver of a space draws on the history, textures, and light of the owner’s home of Guanajuato, Mexico, but moves beyond stereotypical translations of Mexican culture by referencing the vibrancy of Guanajuato in a more abstract and modern way. The design received a 2019 James Beard Foundation Award for restaurant design. A charred wood “Granary Door” anchors the space while drawing the eye to a field of depthless colored light. Legend has it that during the Mexican War of Independence, the hero El Pípila routed the Spanish from a stone granary by
setting its wooden door on fire, exploiting the one point of weakness. Our reinterpretation of this door is a metaphor for the owner’s hopeful future, aligning their efforts for independence with the courage of El Pípila himself. A mural inspired by traditional Mexican textiles runs the length of the space depicting the restaurant as a nurturing gathering spot, celebrating the centrality of women to the preservation of Guanajuatan culture.