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Trip Report - Mexico City / Oaxaca / Veracruz

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My wife and I recently returned from traveling for two months in Mexico. Needless to say, there was some good chow to be had. Here's a summary.

Mexico City

First I want to plug two books that we really found useful while exploring the city - "Mexico City: An Opinionated Guide for the Curious Traveler", by Jim Johnston, and "Good Food in Mexico City: A Guide to Food Stalls, Fondas and Fine Dining", by Nicholas Gilman.

We had cerveza de barril, tacos de guisado (mole verde was our favorite), and a coctel de pulpo at Salón La Corona in the Centro Historico. It is a fun, active little place that has been there since 1928.

We enjoyed candied limes stuffed with coconut from Dulceria de Celaya on 5 de Mayo.

We attended a tamalada and mescal tasting organized by the local Condesa/Roma Slow Food convivium where we had a nice meal and enjoyed meeting the local "foodies".

At El Tizoncito in Condesa we had tacos al pastor, which they claim to have invented. These days they have a hard time claiming much street cred - what with logo-emblazoned staff and a flash-heavy website. Still, their tacos were very good.

We sipped cheladas while riding the lancha colectiva in Xochimilco and had some great barbacoa de borrego and conejo al carbon at a place called El Mirador overlooking the canal at Embarcadero Nativitas.

We had huaraches for the first time at El Huarache Azteca, just north of the Mercado Jamaica. We had a fantastic one topped with longaniza, nopalitos and queso fresco.

We reveled in the ubiquitous availability of fresh-squeezed juice. We usually opted for orange, but we also tried a few others - mamey juice (which had a very interesting sweet flavor and thick consistency), and a combo called "El Vampiro" which contained beet, carrot, celery and orange.

Oaxaca

A highlight of our stay in Oaxaca was a class at Susana Trilling's "Seasons of My Heart" cooking school. The morning was a fantastic visit to the Wednesday Etla Market that was well worth the price of admission alone. We tasted all sorts of treats from the vendors, including a range of amazing tamales, cheeses (quesillo, queso fresco and requesón), steamed yucca root with honey, nicuatole, chocolate atole and tejate. The class itself was also great - we made pipián, tetelas, sopa de ajo, mole coloradito and budin de chocolate. Highly recommended.

We had some great seafood at Mariscos La Red - good ceviche and tacos de camarón, and pulpo "a la Red" (an interesting dish with big chunks of octopus cooked with jalapeños).

We had a few cosy breakfasts at Café Brujula - good coffee and a nice atmosphere.

We had a nice dinner at La Biznaga. Self-dubbed as a "Cocina Mestiza", they serve a slightly upscale take on Oaxacan cuisine. The setting is very nice - a spacious open courtyard with a retractable roof. Aside from a bland sopa azteca, everything we ate was very good.

For part of our stay in Oaxaca, we had access to a small kitchen. We shopped each day at the "El Merced" market, where we learned about the local meats from a friendly carniciería (fantastic chorizo!), and got mole cooking tips from the lady who sold mole paste.

Veracruz

We were only in Veracruz for a few days, and never really "got" the place. We didn't manage to find a good seafood place that seemed to be patronized by the locals. They recently shut down the downtown fish market and the seafood scene doesn't seem to have fully recovered.

We had two great breakfasts at a place called Antojitos Lolita. They served a full contingent of Mexican breakfasts, including several we'd never seen before - huevos veracruzanos (fluffy scrambled egg wrapped in corn tortillas and flooded with black bean sauce, topped with spicy chorizo and jalepeños, drizzled with crema and sprinkled with queso fresco) and huevos cubanos (fried eggs with black bean sauce, fried plantains and meaty pieces of bacon).

We also enjoyed café lechero at Gran Café de la Parroquia. You are served a glass partly filled with strong coffee. The waiter then clinks on your glass with a spoon and another roaming waiter brandishing a kettle comes by and artfully pours a tall stream of scaldingly hot milk into your glass.

And of course in every place we stayed, the local family-run comedors offered a selection of cheap, filling, tasty and often interesting ''comidas corridas'' - only available in the afternoons, most often from 2-4pm.

We posted several dozen picture-filled entries on our blog about the trip. If you are interested, you can find an index of them here:

http://menuinprogress.com/2008/03/mex...

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  1. Great photos.

    I would also add that both "Mexico City: An Opinionated Guide for the Curious Traveler", by Jim Johnston, and "Good Food in Mexico City: A Guide to Food Stalls, Fondas and Fine Dining", by Nicholas Gilman are must reads.

    I second the candied limes stuffed with coconut from Dulceria de Celaya on 5 de Mayo.

    We found a great taco play in Polanco close to our hotel- Tazos Tacos or Taco Tacos. Something like that.

    Anyway. Thanks again for sharing the photos.

    1. I am going to Veracruz on business in August and was thinking of taking my family with me. We will fly into Mex Cty, and are considering driving from Mexico City to Veracruz, Veracruz. Any info you can provide concerning road conditions, availability of fuel and food, interesting sites or stops along the way but mainly I am interested in safety and security of driving between the two locations. Will drive back to Mex Cty at the end of my business week and fly back from Mex Cty to DFW. Any info is appreciated. What about service availability in case vehicle breaks down or have a flat tire?

      Raul Martinez

      3 Replies
      1. re: rauljoel

        Roads are good, fuel is available, driving is safe, there are lots of places that fix flat tires.

        1. re: rauljoel

          The network of toll roads called "cuotas" are first class. You'll be traveling on 150 through Puebla, and you will enjoy a spectacular view of "popo" ( Popocatepetl ), the snow-capped mountain emitting volcanic steam. Great restaurants in Puebla, and then you'll be in shrimp heaven in Veracruz.
          A fleet of service vehicles called the "green angels" cruise the highways and perform free roadside service. (How well I know the term "llanta desinflada" -flat tire)
          It will be a pleasant and scenic trip- buen viaje!

          1. re: rauljoel

            Raul.... there is soooo much to see in that part of the country... as Veggo noted you would likely take MEX 150 for the most direct trip to Veracruz and some great scenery through Puebla etc..... on thing I would suggest is that you do a bit of a loop so that you at least get to see more of Veracruz than just the Port / Boca del Rio area.

            After Puebla you can take MEX 140... stop at Zacatepec.... then the Xalapa-Coatepec area... then near the coast take MEX 125 to Zempoala.... and come down the coast on MEX 180... on the way back you can do MEX 150 the entire way.... or go south on MEX 180 to Alvarado & the Sotavento region.... stopping in Catemaco (make sure to get your Limpia here).... up MEX 182 to Tuxtepec & Zinacatepec... roll in to Tehuacan (stop for the requisite hot springs dip)... then roll in through the Southeastern side of Puebla on MEX 140