Eat, Drink, Market with Julian Medina of El Verano Southampton
Julian Medina, the Executive Chef and restaurateur whose inventive Mexican eateries have been circled on the NYC foodie map for years, recently celebrated his elevated Upper West Side dining spot El Fish being named one of twelve new NYC restaurants featured in the Michelin guide for 2023.
You’ll be glad to know he’s also the culinary mind behind Southampton Village’s El Verano, which has re-energized the corner of Jobs Lane and Windmill Lane with Medina’s playful style that melds time-honed tradition with modern flair.
“We bring something fresh, something different for the area … a lot of big names wanted to take this spot, but they gave it to me,” said Medina. “This is a great location. It seems like the spaces that were here before had the corner curse, like ‘oh that place is cursed even the best chefs fail.’ I got together with a landlord who was very involved in picking who he wanted to bring in, he saw what I could do, and he said [a high-end Mexican concept] is what I want.”
The lease was signed in the spring, and Medina quickly transformed the previously drab space into a breezy, vibrant corner eatery that perfectly captures the Mexico City-born chef’s refreshingly unique takes on upscale Mexican cuisine.
“Here in Southampton, the approach was to bring in a few classics from all my restaurants and add in the seasonal, the farm-ingredient dishes,” said Medina about El Verano’s season-specific menu items. “I’ve been in the Hamptons a lot of years and I love to go to farmer’s markets.”
While he grows plenty in the private garden at his Quogue home, Medina relishes mining the East End for the freshest ingredients – tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, corn, local fish, Chinese broccoli, watermelon, carrots – to thoughtfully weave into the complex flavor profiles of his Mexican roots.
Says Medina: “We love to support local … everyone is asking if i’m staying open all year round, the idea was always to stay open all year round, you need to be reliable.”
On top of keeping El Verano open year-round, he’s also about to open another eatery on 2nd ave and 94th street named Soledad after his grandmother. “It’s gonna be Mexican, but the approach there is going to be different … I’m doing recipes from my grandmother and my mom — a lot of homestyle recipes and I’m going to take them and make them my own,” he said. “It’s going to be flavors that remind me of my childhood in Mexico City.”
Dan’s caught up over the weekend with the former contestant on Iron Chef America’s Mexican Chocolate Battle to chat about his favorite places to eat, drink and market across the East End.
Julian Medina’s East End Faves
They don’t do restaurants, but I’ll go to the farmer’s market and get stuff from them. They grow Chinese broccoli and fresh ginger that you don’t see everywhere, they do winter melon that in China they make a soup with. Their tomatoes are beautiful. I buy crops from them, too, for tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, berries, zucchini, blackberries, jalapenos, and squash.
25180 Peconic Road 48, sangleefarms.com
I love Francois Payard. I go to visit him there in Southold as much as I can. He’s just an amazing chef, I know him for many, many years and we’ve become close … I love the North Fork in general, the wineries, there’s more restaurants for locals. At Southold Social the steak au poivre is just delicious, in summer all the crudos that he does they’re really good, but obviously the desserts, they’re like wow, oh my God, he’s probably one of the best pastry chefs in NY, that’s for sure, everything that he touches is delicious and he does it very well.
56125 Main Road, Southold, southoldsocial.com
When I go to the North Fork I have to stop at Briermere’s for pies. My favorite is the cherry cream pie. My God! My daughter Olivia likes the fresh strawberry one. They have the best pies. When it’s blueberry season they have fresh blueberry pies, they have coconut pies, they have chocolate, apple, you name it.
4414 Sound Avenue, Riverhead, briermerefarms.com
Here in Hampton Bays, I’ll go to Canal Cafe. It’s right next to the water. Not a lot of people know about it, it’s more local, you sit next to the water near the marina. They have boats, they get their own fish: fluke, black sea bass, tuna, you name it and they cook it and it’s a special for the night. They serve everything on paper plates and plastic silverware, and plastic cups for your wine or your margarita.
44 Newtown Road, Hampton Bays, thecanalcafe.com
Sonny’s Village Prime Meats Shop
For me, this place makes the best sandwich. They make their own roast beef and I like mine with mayo, lettuce, tomato and provolone – seriously you should go and try that there.
495 Montauk Highway, East Quogue, sonnysprimemeats.com