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Apr 6, 2008 08:51 AM

Mexico City Quandary

I have the pleasant quandary of having to decide whether it's feasible, or even worthwhile, to breakfast at El Cardenal Centro (or in the Sheraton Alameda); then later, have a late lunch at Bar La Opera.

What I really want to know, is there more to La Opera, eg, good food, than the much acclaimed bullet hole in the ceiling and the atmosphere?

We'll only have one full day in Mexico City before flying to the U.S. On our return we plan to stay again in Colonia Roma Norte for two nights, where we already have specific dining plans.

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  1. I did not eat at La Opera but had a drink there. The food I saw did not look that great. I think you would be better off eating at the original El Cardenal and then having a drink at La Opera later on. I thought the breakfast at El Cardenal was really quite good and the atmosphere and people watching were also worth the experience. Also worth checking out is the candy store of 5th de Mayo- Celaya. Excellent candies. There are several good restaurants located in the centro. If you have not checked it out it might be worthwhile just flipping through "Good Food in Mexico City: A Guide to Food Stalls, Fondas and Fine Dining" by Nicholas Gilman for some ideas on a place for comida.

    1. Food at la Opera is nothing special, they have very good snails in chipotle sauce and a nice watercress salad with alioil, but it's a better place for a drink. For lunch you could go to Hosteria de Santo Domingo for a late lunch or to Salon Corona, both in Centro Historico and very popular with the locals.

      6 Replies
      1. re: mjs

        Gracias a magfoodguy and mjs. We will definitely go to El Cardenal, on Calle La Palma, Centro. We'd been to La Opera once for drinks, and it was fun, but after reading about it lately, it seemed heavy on tradition and ¿quien sabe? on the food.

        We also once had an evening meal at Hostería de Santo Domingo, where I ordered the specialty, Chiles En ogada, and *did not* enjoy it. It was lukewarm, excessively rich and impossible to eat more than a third of it.

        I know where the Salon Corona is, and may check it out.
        (Also, there's a small northern Spanish restaurant on Rep. de Uruguay at, I think, Bolívar. It's part of the Ultramarinos store next door. I once peeked in and was intrigued by the blackboarded menu. It looked Asturian. This may be my chance to try it.)

        I have ordered Nicholas Gilman's book, but it's waiting for me back in the States, so I won't be able to read it until we get there.

        1. re: Anonimo

          As far as i know Chiles en Nogada are served at room temperature or slightly colder.

          1. re: mjs

            That's right, mjs. Chiles en Nogada are never served hot. Room temperature or colder is the rule. Excessively rich is also the rule!


            1. re: cristina

              I'm aware of the "lukewarm rule". but that doesn't mean that I have to enjoy the dish.

              1. re: Anonimo

                Of course you don't and it was not my intention to imply it.

        2. re: mjs

          I just ate their in Feb and I wouldn't go back for the food. It's better than it needs to be, considering everything, but it's not great. The best thing is to order late night snacks with your drinks.They have a wonderful plate of sardines and avocados and other good snacks that go with your booze.

          El Cardenal was as good as I remember but the lines and wait are silly.

        3. We had a very enjoyable breakfast yesterday at El Cardenal, Palma Nº 23, Centro. As reported by others the pan dulce is extra good, and accompanied by natas, is heavenly. The service is very attentive, and the style is with flourishes.Don't miss the chocolate caliente; it is subtly superior to many that we've tried.

          I'd report more, but we have a flight to catch.

          1. A quick update on Restaurants in the Centro Historico/Alameda area.

            Hosteria Santo Domingo was disappointing. Everything we ordered was deep fried and breaded. The Chiles en Nogada was tasty, but very rich. Share it among four or five people as an appetizer.

            Las Girasoles was very good. Good service, excellent food, lovely atmosphere. More like a country in than a city restaurant, but only one block from the Bellas Artes.

            Cafe Tacuba was also very good for traditional Mexican food. Lovely room, strolling musicians, and very pretty waitresses in colonial dress.

            Had breakfast at VIPS on Cinco de Mayo. What a great formula! Too bad Walmart doesn't bring this to the US. The food was very fresh, tasted like home made. Reasonable prices and very good service. This one was in a very pretty art nouveau room.

            Sanborns at Casa Azulejo. Mob scene. Food was ok, but I felt like I was one of 1000 diners.

            2 Replies
            1. re: dharma

              I appreciate VIP's best (which is a glorified Denny's, IMO) when heading home from the Morelia Airport, having dropped off a friend for a 6 a.m. flight; too tired to fuss over food. VIPS fits the bill: clean, swift, efficient, palatable but unexciting. They also give discounts to Seniors carrying the Mexican national INAPAM credentials. Plus ample free parking. El Portón is related and similar in style. (I've only been to El Portón once.)

              For chain restaurants of that type, I prefer Bisquets, Bisquets Obregón, at least the mother restaurant in Clonia Roma Norte, D.F.
              Otherwise, it's the nadir of banality.

              1. re: dharma

                In the Centro I like: Las Sirenas (behind the cathedral with a lovely balcony), Opera Bar (but not for food, just drinks), Cafe Tacuba is lovely but I hate the food, Sanborn's is very beautiful. Musts are either the Gran or Majestic Hotels or the Holiday Inn so you can get a great view of the Zocolo (we like breakfasts at the Majestic and dinners are surprisingly good at the Holiday Inn). Los Girasoles and Meson del Cid are both excellent. If you like pasta the Hotel Gillow has very good ones (and their pate is quite good too).