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Questions on Mexico City & Puebla

We are leaving on Mon. Jan. 14th for a two-week trip through Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Puebla. Needless to say, I'm very excited for my first trip to Mexico (going to TJ w/ college buddies doesn't count)! The archives have been immensely helpful, but I have some specific questions:

1. What are some good eateries between the Alameda Central and Zocalo areas, mainly for lunch, dinner, and snacks? We aren't big breakfast people but enjoy good coffee and light pastries/bread in the morning. I mainly do not want to fall into bad tourist traps around the main sites.

2. What are your favorite eateries in Puebla? I jotted down a few notes: Meson de la Sacrista; cemita in the mercado; Camino Real; Las Ranas for al pastor.

If you have any suggestions for Oaxaca, please add them to this ongoing thread:

I already have a pretty good handle on the restaurants around Polanco, Condesa, Roma, and Coyoacan in the DF that I want to visit, but please add any tips you think would be useful. Thanks so much for your help, and I'll be sure to report back!

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  1. I was in Mexico City in September and stayed in the Alameda Central area. I will sound like a broken record, but give the restaurante El Cardenal inside the Sheraton across the street from the Alameda a try for the fresh Mexican pastries and chocolate. I gave a review here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/445526

    They make the bread in house and you'll see the baker taking the bread out fresh from the oven. It's a little fancy and a little stuffy, but I'd ignore that and enjoy the food there. I never went there for dinner, but the menu looked promising since they recreate Mexican specialties from different states. Mark Bittman reviewed the sister restaurant in the NYTimes a few months ago in the Sunday Travel section. You can search for his review too. Only caveat is that you should get there early since the place gets packed for breakfast.

    Don't go to Sanborn's for the food. I remembered it fondly since I used to love going there as a teen and went there in September, but I guess my tastebuds have developed a bit.

    The Museo de Arte Popular is worth a stop for the shop alone. It is behind the Sheraton del Centro Historico and 1 block from the Alameda Central on Calle Independecia and Revillagigedo. Down on the very same block I found a small torta place that had won many awards declaring it the Best Torta in DF (at least that's what the plaques on the wall stated). It's a tiny little place and you have to stand at the bar to eat. The tortas are very simple, small and made a great little snack. I had 2 for lunch. The place is across the street from a theater.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Mari

      One note - by "bread" I meant Mexican pastries or pan dulce that's typically eaten in the morning with your coffee or chocolate.

    2. Mexico City:
      I've mentioned before the Taquería Tlaquepaque, Calle Independencia # 4, just west of Eje Central 3 (San Juan de Letrán or Lázaro Cárdenas, about 1 or 2 blocks south of Ave Júarez. It's a great place for tacos, quesos fundidos and more. It's best during a busy evening, when it gets rolling, and the taqueros are a show to behold.

      Then there's the famed Churrería El Moro, on Eje Central 3, at the corner of Rep de Uruguay. You don't go for the churros, which are variable in quality, but for the hot chocolate. It's avilable in, IIRC, 3 styles. Mexicano, Francés and Español. The Español style is like eating hot, intensely chocolately pudding. It's open 24/7. Our best experience, in the many times we've been there, was at 7 p.m.

      1. Tezka - expensive, but exquisite - Bruno Oteiza is the chef, but Juan Mari Arzak (Arzak in San Sebastian) is the chef/owner. On Calle Tacuba, the Cafe Tacuba for breakfast - food is good, but it is a local see-and-be-seen place that was a favorite of Frida Kahlo's. Las Girasoles - on Calle Tacuba - the tamarindo margaritas, and the duck breast in mole de zarzamora (blackberry). El Cardenal, but the original one, upstairs, one street west of the Plaza Mayor.
        The Bar La Opera is MANDATORY & NON-NEGOTIABLE - the ensalada de berros, the tripitas, and the bullet hole still in the stamped tin ceiling that Panco Villa put there. This is the power politico hangout on the Calle Cinco de Mayo. Going east down Cinco de Mayo on the south side of the street is the Dulceria de Celaya - a 150 year old Art Nouveau jewel box of a candy shop. Oh, and any of the food stands between the Metropolitan cathedral, the Templo Mayor and the Palacio del Gobierno ... especially at night. And behind the Cathedral, the Bar Las Serenas. The roof garden is beautiful and the view panoramic and intensly historical.
        I have been to Izote, and though the meal was good, it was still a disappointment.

        3 Replies
        1. re: theabroma

          Are the food stands only there at night? I could have sworn when I ate in the area the last time it was right in front of the Cathedral, and it was still light out when I was seeing stands but it WAS summer. I'm sure I have a picture of vendors with the cathedral in the background, still a bit sunny...

          Anyway, I just went this weekend and saw no stands there at all...I think we left the area around 5:30 without noticing any.

          1. re: NancyC

            Theabroma wrote:
            "Oh, and any of the food stands between the Metropolitan cathedral, the Templo Mayor and the Palacio del Gobierno ... especially at night."
            The key word was "especially".

            There is seldom a lack of food stands in the Centro Histórico. When we arrived in the afternoon to the Hotel Catedral, on Calle Donceles, 2 blocks north of the Catedral, that street, and Calle Brasil, were packed with vendors of all sorts, including numerous food vendors. We had to pass up the opportunity, alas, as we'd eaten a packed lunch on the bus, and we had an early flight out the next morning. We wanted to be sure our bellies were stable.

            1. re: Anonimo

              Interesting. I genuinely don't recall seeing any (or perhaps not enough to be a noticeable block of vendors, as I saw in the summer), but maybe it had something to do with the opening day of Ashes & Snow. That took up LOTS of space, not just the exhibit area but the several hundreds of people in line...

        2. Thanks for everyone's responses! This helps to focus and orient me A LOT. Please keep the tips w/ their respective locations coming...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Carb Lover

            There are tons of little restaurants on Cinco de Mayo. You must go to the Opera Bar and go into Sanborn's and take a look as it is beautiful. Good restaurants in the area are Los Girasoles, La Sirena by the Cathedral and I like the Majestic and the Gran (which has a buffet Sunday) for the fantastic view of the Zocolo. The food at the Holiday Inn on the Zocolo is surprisingly good too. Hotel restaurants, like the Gillow, Catedral, Donceles have very good coffee shops.

          2. You must go to the Camino Real in Puebla - it is breathtaking, you can eat at El Convento or in the courtyard. I love that hotel. The Holiday Inn is stunning too. Puebla is a beautiful city, there are lots of places in the Zocolo and there is one little cafe where they serve the best hot chocolate in the world, we would wait for it to open in the mornings! I think it was the Cafe Frances. They are very big on tortas de milanese there - they're everywhere!

            3 Replies
            1. re: bronwen

              Since you have mentioned hotels, has anyone been to La Purificadora in Puebla? It's a Legorreta designed hotel run by the same people as the CondesaDF. The web site is horrible and there isn't a menu of their food or drinks. It might be painfuly hip, but it might be worth a stop for a drink to look at the architecture.

              I was in Puebla for a day in September and just stopped at one of the touristy restaurants for chiles en nogada since they were in season, so I can't give you any advice on Puebla other than to try all the typical Poblano candies.

              1. re: Mari

                Hi -
                I have been to la purificadora - im actually getting married there in april so I went to set that all up. The hotel is amazing. Ive stayed at habita and condesa DF en D.F -
                The hotel is great, the food is great - i cant say one bad thing about it. I dont have high expectations for them planning my wedding - and so far, they have been nothing but perfect. I dont have a negative thing to say about the hotel. They gave us a tasting for the wedding - on the house they fed 4 of us - 6 entres each === appetizers, desserts - all on the house - and literally, not ONE option was bad. not one. so i would highly recommend it.
                If anyone has spent time in Puebla, Id love to hear about things you like to do there - b/c i would like to help our guests plan things to do while there..

                1. re: feebee45

                  Definitely don't miss Aguila y Sol in DF.

            2. We had lunch at Meson Sacristia de la Compania last Monday (February 4). People at two tables that arrived long after we did were served before we were. The vegetables on my plate were cold Birdseye Frozen Vegetables -- http://www.birdseyefoods.com/birdseye...
              We will not go back there.

              2 Replies
              1. re: gringo_puma

                Sorry to hear about your bad experience at Meson Sacristia de la Compania in Puebla City. We actually had dinner there about a couple of weeks before you were there and thought the food was solid but not exceptional or particularly memorable. The squash blossoms in our quesadillas tasted fresh enough, but we didn't have much vegetable w/ our mains so I didn't have any "birds eye" experience. The service was very nice and polite, and the atmosphere was lovely, although it was pretty empty for a late dinner.

                I will post the first of my 3-part report (Mexico City, Oaxaca City, Puebla City) hopefully later today!

                Photo of squash blossom quesadillas:

                1. re: Carb Lover

                  On La Purificadora hotel, this and the two other hotels mentioned are owned by the Micha brothers and Grupo Habita. Hip, sleek and ultra chic are some of the words critics have used to describe the hotels, and if thats your style, they certainly will not disappoint. The clear acrylic swimming pool at Purificadora made feel like a guppy that should have worked out first before getting in. And the "closet', also in see through acrylic, had me yearning for a solid wall in the room.
                  But enough of that, on to the food. I would imagine that since Enrique Olvera is now the executive director for the restaurant at Purificadora and the Condesa DF the menu and food quality will certainly be far superior to what it has been.
                  As for other food options, little known fact is that Puebla is home to a very large Lebanese community, the best food is at AHLEN in Plaza Express tel. 211-1160. Then I would try the local mercados (El Carmen and or Venustiano Carranza -- located at Ponienete 16-18 and Norte 3 and 5) for true local eats. This is where the merchants and shoppers all sit down to incredibly good food during the day. Look for the most crowded and see what the kitchen looks like (open to view here is not new) and then enjoy.I'd go for the "cemitas" at El Carmen, this most famous of all Pueblan fast food sandwich, stuffed with meat, cheese, avocado and chiles, usually chipotles are a must.

                  Have to go! have fun.
                  If your afraid of stomach upsets then you'll have to stick to restaurants which limits you to the vast choices elsewhere.