Kitchen confidential: Michael Lewis, Mono Loco


Mono Loco's Michael Lewis and his oysters

The secret to great cooking is... constantly honing your craft. It's about going to other places around town, other places around the world, fine-tuning your menu, changing up ingredients. You always have to be trying new things.

The secret to success in the restaurant business is...  being humble. Once you own a place, you feel like you've made it, but moving to San Francisco was a humbling experience for me. You realize your s*** does stink just like everyone else's, and you learn to listen to feedback from other people in the kitchen and from your customers. Just thinking a dish is great doesn't make it one.

The secret to making Mono Loco's oysters is... not being afraid to experiment with your pico de gallo. The cucumber works well, but so does jicama, so does a lot of fruit. Let your creative juices flow, because pico's very forgiving.


Mono Loco's oysters

6 Virginia oysters

Panko (a Japanese wheat bread crumb)



2 avocados

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup heavy cream



Lime juice

2 English (seedless) cucumbers

1 ripe tomato

1 yellow pepper

1 red pepper

1 Poblano pepper

1 handful cilantro

1 pinch of sugar

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

6 tortilla chips


-Seed, core, and dice the cucumbers, peppers, and tomato. Mix with cilantro, sugar, plus salt and pepper to taste. Add vinegar last and let sit for an hour to allow the flavors to mix. This is your pico de gallo.

-Dice the avocados and mix with the sour cream and heavy cream, plus salt, pepper, and lime juice to taste until creamy, to make an avocado crema. Pour a little bit of the crema on top of six tortilla chips.

-Soak the oysters in the buttermilk, dip them in the masa and panko mixture, and fry for 2-3 minutes.

-Put one oyster on top of each chip, top with the pico de gallo. If you want a little extra spice, sprinkle with a little chili powder. Serves four to six.