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Puebla, Oaxaca & DF updates (esp. El Naranjo, Oaxaca)

First, thanks for the excellent recs on the boards. My wife and I are taking the week-long cooking class at Mesones Sacristia, and then splitting a week btw DF and Oaxaca.

Any update on whether El Naranjo has re-opened or the whereabouts of Iliana?

And, if anyone has any more rec's or wants to give their faves another shout-out, I'm all ears (or eyes).

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  1. My boyfriend and I were just in DF for a few days. We ate a lot of tacos- our favorites were at El Caminero on Rio Lerma by the Sharaton.

    I also recommend having a drink with some snacks at the Condesa DF hotel. We loved their guac w/ pomegranate seeds and their fried, stuffed zucchini blossoms...great soups, too. The best thing about it is the atmosphere, which is clean, minimalistic, and tranquil- just what we needed after roaming the streets all day.

    This is not food related, but if you've never been to DF before, you should do the Turibus. It's really informative and a great value at only 100 pesos/adult.

    1. I ́m in Oaxaca right now. According to Susana Trilling, Iliana has closed up and left town for good. She ́s now in Santa Fe. A pity, but there ́s plenty of fantastic food to behad here. Have a great time, and I ́ll be posting a full report sometime next week. One quick recommendation, check out El Topil in the Plaza Alcalá, a cute little place run by a grandmotherly woman who cooks fantastic and simple traditional oaxacan dishes. She ́s very sweet, will cook anything you want to order, and will happily chat with you about the city, the food, her restaurant, etc.

      3 Replies
      1. re: OakTownHound

        absolutely concur on El Topil
        esp if she makes lentil soup (it's a special)
        the quesadilla double is so perfect with herbs and cheese...she does a more rarified version of the food you get in the mercados

        1. re: OakTownHound

          Is the Oaxaca Inn still open and how about teh Camino Real, I like their restaurant there

          1. re: OakTownHound

            I am from Oaxaca and would like to be in touch with Chef Ileana de la Vega. Anyway you can send me her contact info in Santa Fe?
            By the way...try Los Almendros in Colonia Reforma. Great Guisado de Guias!

          2. You will master the perfect chiles en nogada while in Puebla?

            1. As reported up post, Naranjo is closed for good. If you walk by it, you might actaully walk right by it like we did the first time, it's been painted over by grafitti and the ensuing 'clean up' operation.

              1. Thanks for the tips everyone. I am in Oaxaca right now, having finished a week cooking in Puebla. Great learning experience--the secret is roasting the base ingredients in a comal without oil (we bought three). Chefs Alonso, Raul and the acknowledged "owner" of the cocina, Sarita were generous with their time and ideas. Full report to follow.

                No chiles en nogado this time because we are out of season.

                1. I'm in Puebla right now. Got in last night. At 9 a.m., the whole city center was aswarm with early morning food carts offering the most wonderful and unique items. Last night, the 28th, was the date of the monthly celebration of San Judas Taddeo, who has a shrine within San Agustin church at 3 Pte and 5 Sur. I was hoping to make it in time to catch the man who runs a splendid night time food cart with a large range of typical Pueblan snacks (pelonas, chanclas, guajolotes, molotes etc) outside the church every month on this night. I didn{t make it to Puebla on time, but managed to see him at his storefront on 5 Pte. this morning for the second (this one of molletes, open-faced sandwiches topped with quesillo and ham) of my three breakfasts. For early lunch, I went back to Las Poblanitas at the Carmen, arguably the best place for cemitas in the whole city. This cemita is without a doubt one of the great sandwiches of the world! (for more on cemitas, see my old posts on Chicago Board). Heading to Xalapa tonight, then Xico, then the nahua village of Zongolica. Then to the Feria del tamal in Coyoacan (will write separately about this later), then towards the other direction (Iguala, Teloloapan etc)


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: RST

                    Richard... please know you are deeply envied.

                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      Yes. I too bow with obsequious hunger and jealousy. (I only believe in 5 of the mortal sins)

                      1. re: Veggo

                        Me three. Please do not neglect Las Ranas and their al pastor tacos al arabe, if for no other reason than I must know that someone out there is enjoying it for my sake.

                  2. El Naranjo is closed at present and Iliana and her family have moved to Santa Fe. They are scouting a location to open a new place in the US. El Naranjo has a new owner who will keep Iliana's recipes and menu along with some new stuff. He plans to reopen around June 1.

                    1. I am currently in Oaxaca and El Naranjo is supposed to re-open this week. Hopefully the flare up of demonstrations will not preclude. We are all anxious to get there tonight but have heard rumors it may not be open until tomorrow. We, unfortantely, are heading to Puebla in the morning. Will advise.

                      1. i just found out right now from this board that el naranjo closed and iliana has left oaxaca.

                        it sucks because i am planning a trip to oaxaca right now and i wanted to take her cooking class :(

                        since that wont be possible i was wondering if anyone can give me info on any other cooking classes that are available in and around oax city?

                        i would really appreicate it.

                        also: did anyone try any pastry shops that they'd recomend? im a pastry chef (new one) and wanted to try some things.

                        any tips or news will be greatly appreciated!

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: papalotl86

                          I would highly recommend Susana Trilling -- she offers full-day cooking classes at her ranch outside the city, combined with a wonderful market tour in the morning where you shop for the ingredients for the class.


                          1. re: OakTownHound

                            Am going to Oaxaca next week. Is there a page for translating these dishes so we'll know what we're ordering? Thanks!

                          2. re: papalotl86

                            I would also recommend Susana Trilling, as I went twice, but my friends also enjoyed the shorter, in-town cooking class offered by the chef at La Olla:
                            http://www.laolla.com.mx/Oaxaca/sabor... .

                            I am not a huge fan of Mexican breads and pastries and haven't had anything that I've liked in particular in Oaxaca, but I love Mexican ice cream, more like a sorbet called nieve, and paletas, which are the best popsicles you could ever have, with true fruit flavors. I'm partial to the nieves at Chonita in Mercado Juarez, at the Mercado Organico at El Pochote, and the paletas at Popeye (pronounced "pop-ay-yay").

                            1. re: AppleSister

                              The chef at La Olla is Pilar Cabrera and she is an excellent teacher. Her B and B is Casa de los Sabores. Susana is also good.

                          3. El Naranjo is open. Iliana is in Texas now although she was seen in Oaxaca a few weeks ago

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: chilero

                              I heard El Naranjo is no longer Iliana's, but belongs to an American who bought all her recipes, etc. Can you confirm?

                            2. Hello,
                              Good day for everyone, this is Iliana de la Vega, former chef-owner of Restaurant El Naranjo, in Oaxaca Mexico.
                              I left Oaxaca last year, eventually sold the restaurant, I was in Santa Fe for several months, and a couple months ago we moved to Austin Tx, my husband and I are planning to open a restaurant here.
                              IT has been a though year, as has been for everyone in Oaxaca, we are trying to settkle down, and have a life again.
                              I was in Oaxaca about a month ago, as my dear Mom, felt down and had surgery, she is very old, and it was very painful being in Oaxaca again plus the circumstances were not the best, she is doing better now, but while in oaxaca I had no time to enjoy and visit friends , I was taking care of my Mom.
                              We wish a lotof success to the new owner of El Naranjo, and we hope that we can make our dream of a restaurant come true.
                              Best to all of you for your sympathy and care

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: iliana

                                Dear Iliana,

                                I trust you will do exceptionally well in Austin. Please do inform of us when you open your restaurant there. If/when visiting Austin, I will make sure to visit. I have the fondest of memories of my dinners at El Naranjo.

                                1. re: iliana

                                  Dear Iliana,

                                  I've been searching Austin for your restaurant but I have not succeed in finding you yet. Ever since I interned for photographer Mary Ellen Mark and she told me you had the best restaurant in Oaxaca and are now in Austin, I couldn't wait to find you! Have you opened yet? I saw an "El Naranjo" food trailer on Rainey St. but it was parked in a driveway. Is that you? If so, where do you set up? I can't wait to try your food and tell everyone I know!


                                  1. re: iliana

                                    So happy to find this post on you. We were at El Nanarjo several years ago and I ordered your Chiles en Nogado. I had been emailing you years ago and can't remember if you were kind enough to share that recipe with me. I am craving them foe many years and today turned on all my old computers trying to find the recipe; also tried emailing you but the email address was one at EL Naranjo. If you read this and would be willing to share your recipe I would be most grateful. There were 8 people in our party at your restaurant that night and all the food was incredible! It was a real great of a lifetime. Now, my husband and I are retired and getting old but I would really like to try to make these chiles; I know they are time consuming but oh, so good. I will cherish the recipe and any others. Thank you so much. We live in Tennessee now but love Mexico. Thanks again.

                                    1. re: jeanettewoodward

                                      Did you eat your chile en nogada in Oaxaca or Austin, TX.

                                      Illiana relocated to Austin and El Naranjo is now open there - http://www.elnaranjo-restaurant.com/s...

                                      1. re: DiningDiva

                                        El Naranjo of Austin, Texas, is in the news today: my dear friend Iliana de la Vega, the guiding light and steadily creative hand in her kitchen at El Naranjo, is being awarded the Ohtli--the highest award the Mexican government can bestow on a Mexican living outside Mexico. The award comes tonight and is based on Iliana's incredible work to take her own Mexico to the USA.

                                        From left in the photo: Alma Cervantes Cota, Sylvia Ayala, Iliana de la Vega, and me.

                                  2. El Naranjo is being run by new owners. Iliana is in Santa Fe. Someone who'd just eaten at El Topil steered us away, saying it was the low point of his eating experiences in Oaxaca.