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Good eats in Puebla, Mexico: On the Gastronomic Route

So, I am pretty sure that by now you have realised that my recent trip to Puebla wasn’t just about exploring a relatively untouched-by-tourists archeological site.  Or learning about (and buying) beautiful ceramics.  Or even just about learning how to make authentic mole with Chef Alonso Hernandez.  No, this trip to Puebla coincided with the recent release by the Mexico Tourism Board of their new “The Gastronomic Routes of Mexico” programme.

Mexican cuisine is famous around the world for its distinctive ingredients, rich heritage and incredible diversity. Traditional Mexican cuisine was, in fact, one of the first cuisines or national food offerings to receive UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity status. Through this new programme from the Mexico Tourism Board, international and domestic tourists alike are invited to explore the many unique flavors of Mexico, from the vineyards of Baja California to the cacao plantations of Chiapas.

Traditional Mexican sweets plate at Hotel El Sueño, Puebla.

The Gastronomic Routes were developed out of the “Routes of Mexico” programme which highlighted Mexico’s cultural attractions. Eighteen Gastronomic Routes covering Mexico’s 32 states offer even the most well traveled gourmet new culinary experiences. Each route is unique and has been designed to showcase the best and most distinctive traditional dishes and ingredients of the region. Each Route will be supported with a Gastronomic Guide including suggested itineraries, hotel and restaurant recommendations, key sites, gastronomic events, information on cooking classes, vineyard tours and local festivals and tour operator details. The Gastronomic Guides will be available in English from Summer 2012.

Our trip to Puebla was designed to showcase some of the best the region has to offer, beyond mole poblano and I have to say that for a “gastronomic destination” this trip did not disappoint!  Here are a few highlights, starting with the food on offer at our base hotel, the Hotel El Sueño in the heart of Puebla.

“Green juice” (made with cactus pad juice!) at the Hotel El Sueño, Puebla.

Chilaquiles con salsa verde Hotel El Sueño Puebla

Chilaquiles: lightly fried corn tortillas topped with green or red salsa (or mole sauce!) and simmered until the tortillas start to soften.  Pulled chicken, avocado, cheese (queso fresco), Mexican sweet cream (crema) and beans are served on top of the tortillas and sauce.

Chalupas at the Hotel El Sueño, Puebla

Chalupas: A platter of tostadas (deep-fried masa corn fritters) topped with red or green salsa and filled with beans, shredded chicken, beef or pork, chopped onions and sometimes queso fresco.

More chilaquiles from La Quinta Luna hotel in Cholula:

Chilaquiles con salsa roja at the Hotel Quinta Luna, Cholula

A highly recommended fine dining experience awaits you at El Mural de los Poblanos restaurant in the centre of Puebla.  Featuring striking murals by Antonio Álvarez Morán, located in the courtyard of a 17th century mansion in the historic center of  Puebla, El Mural features traditional Cocina Poblano (cuisine from the Puebla region).

My favourite dish of our tasting menu? Pan de elote – a sweet cornbread pudding served with a lovely crème anglaise.  Surprising and outstanding.

Pan de Elote at El Mural de los Poblanos, Puebla

If you visit El Mural, you’ll definitely want to try the escamoles – fried ant larvae served with corn tortillas and spicy salsa. I swear you can’t tell they are ant eggs. The gusanos – grubs – caused quite the stir at our table of bloggers! (I declined these….)

Gusanos – grubs – in the spotlight at El Mural de los Poblanos, Puebla.

With a wide selection of mezcal and tequila and an impressive wine list, El Mural is somewhere you’ll want to visit at least once during your stay in Puebla.

For another elegant dining experience, you’ll definitely want to dine at Meson Sacristía de la Compañía.  After our mole class, we headed to the restaurant where we were fortunate enough to try another tasting menu. I am a huge fan of the tasting menu – I’d rather a lot of little dishes (even though sometimes they aren’t so little!) than one big one – more variety!

Top: Chalupas, Mole tasting platter
Bottom: Mole Poblano, Cremitas
Meson Sacristía de la Compañía, Puebla

Another standout dish came from the Casa Reyna hotelSopa de Esquite (corn on the cob soup). The white bits floating are not queso fresco as I first thought, but mayonnaise. And the red bits? Chili flakes. Yes, this soup has quite a kick!  I’m looking forward to trying to recreate this one soon!

Sopa de Esquite at Casa Reyna, Puebla

These are but a very FEW highlights of what we ate in Puebla.  You’d need another week or so to really take it all in (literally!). But don’t forget to check out the food and drink shops as well as the restaurants – and especially don’t miss the Calle de los Dulces (yes, Sweet Street!!) where you’ll find all manner of tasty treats!

Borrachitos, Calle de los Dulces, Puebla

Borrachitos: “Drunken” fruit jelly candies.

Camotes de Frutas, Calle de los Dulces, Puebla

Camotes de Frutas: Soft flavoured caramel-type candies.

Rompope in the Calle de los Dulces, Puebla

Rompope: A drink like eggnog made with eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla. Other flavouring ingredients can be added including coffee, pecans, almonds, walnuts, cinnamon, pine nuts or berries.

True flavours of Puebla in the Calle de los Dulces, Puebla

Disclosure: My trip to Puebla, including transportation, accommodation and all meals, was sponsored by the Mexican Tourism Board. I was not required to post about this trip and was not compensated for doing so.  All opinions are my own.

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22 Responses to Good eats in Puebla, Mexico: On the Gastronomic Route

  1. Marina@ Picnic at Marina July 9, 2012 at 00:55 #

    Thanks for the tour, lovely meals, some of it I haven’t heard of until now. :)

  2. Mr. Neil July 9, 2012 at 07:29 #

    Damned hungry. Me.

  3. Winnie July 9, 2012 at 09:00 #

    So informative…I learned so much about the foods of Puebla in this post, Mardi!

  4. idiosyncratic eye July 9, 2012 at 09:08 #

    I’m huuuuuuungry now! ;)

  5. All About Puebla July 9, 2012 at 12:22 #

    Yum. Looks like you got a delicious taste of Puebla! One note: Those chalupas at El Sueño (which has a fabulous spa) seem odd to me. I’m glad you tried the more traditional ones at Meson de Sacristía, too. Let me know when you’re back in town, and I’ll introduce you to even more local fare! ~Rebecca

  6. Geoff July 9, 2012 at 17:49 #

    It looks to me like the murals alone would be worth a visit to El Mural de los Poblanos.
    I think for most of us, Mexican food (at least down under) is not thought about too much – you may occasionally go to a Mexican restaurant… but what I think this post shows is there is considerable variety in Mexican food.
    I think the whole idea of a “gastronomic route” to be excellent, particularly if the idea – as you say – encompasses accommodation etc.
    To be honest, I’ve not really thought about visiting Mexico, but your visits and subsequent posts are persuasive.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite August 19, 2012 at 07:08 #

      Yes you would really enjoy it – the people are friendly, the scenery gorgeous and the food is good!

  7. Colleen July 10, 2012 at 13:21 #

    I’m getting hungry just looking at your photos! Those chalupas look delicious and worth the trip to Mexico.

  8. amelia from z tasty life July 10, 2012 at 18:43 #

    The Gastronomic Routes sounds so amazing: two great things in one: food + travel! It is wonderful that you are getting to experience the richness of this area, so many ingredients and preparations that are usually unusual in the standard Mexican fare. There is no better way to discover a culture than through its customs and foods. The cactus pad juice sounds so intriguing.

  9. Jen Laceda @ Tartine and Apron Strings July 10, 2012 at 20:48 #

    Puebla has always been on my radar, although I’ve always wanted to visit other places first, such as San Miguel de Allende…But you just put Puebla on the map for me! I want to go! And The Gastronomic Route is definitely something I’d love to follow! My interest in Mexican food and culture is just beginning to blossom! Their tourism board is definitely doing a great job with Mexico’s PR. All their tv ads are tempting me to pack my bags! I think we are considering a family vacation to Mexico…totally doable for our family of 5!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite August 19, 2012 at 07:06 #

      Yes, Mexico is certainly a place friends of mine have enjoyed with friends and you would definitely love the food!

  10. Mary Hirsch July 14, 2012 at 10:11 #

    Mexico is certainly not at the top of my List but you make it sound pretty appetizing.

  11. Jocelyn December 10, 2013 at 13:48 #

    Do you happen to know of any good breakfast spots?

    • Mardi Michels December 11, 2013 at 10:45 #

      Jocelyn, both the hotels mentioned here (El Sueño and La Quinta Luna) offer breakfast – not just for those staying at the hotel.

  12. Rebecca December 11, 2013 at 11:41 #

    Jocelyn: The hotels are indeed lovely, but if you want to try a local diner, we like Café Aguirre on Calle 5 de Mayo, a half-block from the main square. The tortas de huevo con chorizo are delicious, and they have lots of other very affordable breakfast fare on the menu.

    • Mardi Michels December 11, 2013 at 11:47 #

      Thanks Rebecca for chiming in – Jocelyn, she’s the “go to” person for Puebla info – and thanks for the recommendations! Sadly in our whirlwind trip we didn’t have much time to try anything else (or any room in our tummies!) but I’ll add this to the list for next time!

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