Travel Tuesday: The real flavours of Mexico City

I love Mexico. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit twice in 2011 – first over Christmas/ New Year with Neil and then again in August for the WeVisitMexico tweetup.  You can see all my posts about Mexico here.  In La Paz, I had the great fortune to meet and spend time with Jesús Catalán Meneses (from the Mexico Tourism Board), an ex-journo turned blogger and very Mexican Taconnoiseur.  Today, he’s here to give you the inside scoop on Mexico City’s best restaurants. Whether he’s writing, researching social media, travelling, cooking or finding the greatest places for tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas, Jesús’ love for Mexico can only be matched by his love of Mexican food.  Having eaten hundreds (perhaps millions) of tacos all around his country, this polyglot who works hard to show the wonderful tourism attractions of Mexico to the world has published several pieces on Mexico City’s street food and Mexican gastronomy. He believes there are many culinary hidden gems in his city still waiting to be discovered and invites you to explore and share. Follow him on Twitter @jcmex.  I figured that today, Día de los Muertos would be a wonderful day to welcome a taste of the real Mexico to my blog.  So without further ado, please welcome Jesús:

“Mexico is famous for having food that enchant the bellies of visitors who try its unforgettable flavours, seducing them forever.  After UNESCO’s recognition of traditional Mexican cuisine (the first ever to be designated this World Heritage status), Mexico City’s already vibrant restaurant scene has developed considerably.

But what about real Mexican home food? Those foods that are cooked with soul and love and enjoyed in the streets by visitors and native Mexicans alike. Food reminiscent of the home kitchen, dishes just like grandmother used to make.  Is it possible to find food like this?  Of course – you can seek out authentic flavours in Mexico City by starting at some of these places:

Fonda las Margaritas
Address: Tlacoquemécatl esquina Pilares (in front of the Church), Colonia del Valle.

A trip in time to the Mexico of our grandparents. Only for breakfasts, this sanctuary still preserves the traditional flavors: of coal, lard and molcajetes (salsa mortars) instead of stoves, oil and blenders. The menu depends on the day (on Thursdays they serve wonderful steaks in pasilla sauce) and consists of classic Mexican recipes that very few housewives still cook nowadays, crowned by handmade thick tortillas. Don’t miss huevos tirados (Scrambled eggs with mashed black beans) with salsa, a wonderful blast from the past for every true Mexican kid! You’ll share the same table with other guests, don’t forget to say ‘Buen Provecho’.

La Casa de Toño
Address: Londres 144, Colonia Juárez.

Perhaps you already noticed that this place’s name means ‘Toño‘s house’, in honor of the man who started cooking in the streets of the old neighbourhood of Clavería using his mother’s recipes 28 years ago. Don’t be surprised to find crowds of people waiting at the door at any time (it is open 24-7), all yearning for the specialty: authentic pozole (corn and pork soup with chile, lime juice, oregano, lettuce, onion and radish) as well as the wonderful sopes and tostadas served there. Don’t miss the way waiters run to get you your order.

Piloncillo y Cascabel
Address: Torres Adalid esquina Pestalozzi, Colonia del Valle.

A mind-blowing concept in the heart of one of Mexico City’s taco epicenters: Narvarte, a traditional middle-class residential neighbourhood. Self-defined as “Mexican contemporary cuisine”, this artsy bohemian recreated the flavours of childhood. Feel like a child once again as you savour soothing Mexican noodle soup with beans and chorizo chunks. The cochinita pibil tacos are excellent and beautifully presented, the blue-corn sopes with cecina (cured meat) are not to be missed.

Mi Taco Yucateco
Address: Aranda 36, entre Puente de Peredo y Vizcaínas, Colonia Centro.
Forget the busy, modest neigbourhood and the small, unadorned space. This is undoubtedly a marvelous temple of great food and pleasure. They say this is the best cochinita pibil that you can find in the city. Run by the same family for decades, the recipe respects the rigourous Mayan tradition, so the meat you are eating today has been seasoned with achiote (spices), wrapped in banana leaves and cooked all night long. Careful with the powerful spicy habanero sauce! After eating here  – not earlier – you can die a happy (wo)man!

*TIP: If you’re already here, walk one minute to El Huequito (Address: Ayuntamiento 21, Colinia Centro), one of the first and best taquerías of the city, where you’ll find unbelievably delicious tacos al pastor, just as our ancesters would have enjoyed them.

Los Tres Reyes
Address: Murillo 94, esquina Ferrocarril de Cuernavaca, Colonia Mixcoac.

This place works better if the previous night you had a bit too much tequila while singing with mariachis (and you woke up with a bit of a headache). It is a colorful oasis in the middle of a working-class district, normally with live music and several underground ovens to cook old-style barbacoa (young lamb’s soft meat wrapped in maguey’s stalk and baked) like very few places still serve it nowadays. Handmade tortillas are blue, and salsas are strong and excellent. Don’t forget to try the lamb consommé: it will make you feel like yourself again!”

Thanks Jesús! What a round up of some more “off the beaten path” (at least for the regular tourist) places. And mmm – aren’t you hungry after reading that? Doesn’t this make you want to jump on the next plane to Mexico City? Jesús and Katja and I were chatting on the tweetup trip and decided that we need to plan a taco tasting tour of Mexico City. I mean, doesn’t that sound like a little piece of heaven right there? Fly to Mexico City and be taken to all the best local restaurants? Put your hand up if that sounds like YOUR kind of vacation! (*raises both hands*)

31 thoughts on “Travel Tuesday: The real flavours of Mexico City”

  1. Oh, these photos make me hungry! We have fabulous Mexican food in San Antonio–going to have to get some for breakfast today (and probably lunch, too!) Thanks for this post.

  2. I’ve never been to Mexico but should I be able to travel there sometime this post is definitely one to remember to re-visit. Thanks Jesús for the wonderful and informative recommendations.

  3. I haven’t been to Mexico City in years. Living in Texas most of my life, I recognize so many of those foods in the pictures.

    Now I’m homesick all over again!

  4. I’ve been trying and trying to recreate some of the meals I tasted in Mexico, and despite having some decent recipes and visiting Mexican markets in Montréal, I still can’t achieve anything close to the fantastic meals I had there… sniifff! Looking at these photos really makes me want to go back! Good job Jesús 🙂

  5. I love your posts on Mexico – especially this one. I have been living here the last year, and there are soo many places to try it can be quie intimidating – but these are some really great tips! Will try to go to at least one of them this weekend! X

  6. Mardi, you’ve inspired me to arrange our first family trip to Mexico SOON! High time we went there and discovered – this is all a great feast to the eyes.

  7. Fantastic first picture of the churros. Wonderful virtual tour of Mexico’s street food (you were lucky to have such a knowledgeable guide), would love to visit one day.


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