D.F. Food List
In three weeks I'll spend a long weekend (4 nights) in D.F. and was wondering what are some "typical" dishes from this area of Mexico that I should try. If in Boston everyone says go for the clam chowda, in Texas/North Carolina it's BBQ. I'm open to anything (even bugs) but I'd like to keep the price under $50US per meal.
I'll be staying at Sheraton Centro so Restaurante Cardenal is on the list but I'm unsure of their specialties.
Just wanted to say thanks for all the great recs. An unfortunate event happened within the first 30 mins after I stepped outside of the airport and that really let a lot of steam out of my sails (and cash out of my pockets and bank accts!!!) so I was only able to get to Cafe de Tacuba for breakfast one morning. I had the chicken tamales w/ a cafe con leche and everything was fab. Although I stayed in the Sheraton not a single time did I get down there for breakfast. There were too many "suits" in there for my liking so I went to a little spot on the backside of the hotel. Can't remember the name, sorry. And for lunch everyday I would try different taco stands. My fave was tacos de suaperro con papas y chorizo y cactus. Then I'd wash it all down with a Sangria. One day I also found a place that gave me a half of pollo asado with a big stack of tortillas and salsas for 180MP. That's under $2 for that meal!!!
I'm going to try to get back down there in September and this time I'll protect my wallet better and also try more "famous" restaurants.
Even if you don't eat there, don't miss a visit to the Mercado de San Juan. It's been a food market area since before the conquest. Go to the street behind your hotel, and you'll see a telephone tower shaped like an urn. Go there, about six or seven blocks south, the door is right across the street from the tower.
Actually I think there are many dishes that represent Mexico City and the surrounding communities extremely well.... with all the influences from elsewhere people forget that Mexico City & the Anahuac valley have some of the best native cuisine anywhere in the world.
Here is my list of typical / highly unique dishes of DF (in no particular order):
> Duck in Mole Verde (Duck was domesticated for the Aztec & Mexica palace cuisine & harvested in the Xochimilco area for at least 1,000 years)
> Lamb Barbacoa (From Tlapahuija in Michoacan to Pachuca in Hidalgo and all the towns in between in Mexico State.... this is underground pit cooking country... with Lamb generally being king)
> Huitlacoche, Huazontle, Quintoniles (Amaranth Quelites) & Nopales are all quintessentially Anahuac Valley foods.
> Ant Larvae, Spirulina, Acocil, Fresh Water Shrimp & Charales, are also quintessential ancient dishes common to the peoples that lived off of Texcoco lagoon
> Mixiotes & other wrapped steamed foods are some of the greatest pride of the region.
> Salsa Borracha and Adobo Borracho... the use of Pulque (traditionally), Beer or Wine (more contemporary) in braises, steaming liquids, mixiotes & soups.
> Some classic dishes invented in Mexico City during the 20th Century:
>> Enchiladas Suizas
>> Bistec a la Tampiquena
>> Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs
>> Tacos al Pastor
>> Caldo a la Tlalpena
>> Caldo Xochitl
A Few Contemporary Classics created by Mexico City chefs:
>> Duck Carnitas with Blackberry Salsa
>> Filet Mignon in Huitlacoche Sauce
>> Foie al la Poblana
>> Quail in Rose Petal Mole
With enough time I would have absolutely no problem coming up with hundreds of quintessential DF & Anahuac dishes.
Mexico City is the country's great melding pot, the one spot where you'll find the disparate parts of the country represented like in no other location. What you're going to see is restaurants and food vendors offering choices which represent their home communities in Mexico (other than the D.F.). The food scene very much reminds me of Chicago, a city where you can sample the food representative of so many different cultures.
I don't think there is one dish or food that can be said to be "typical" of Mexico City; tacos al pastor come close to being what you're looking for, though. The tacos al pastor debates remind me of the arguments in Chicago, by and between Chicagoans and persons from other parts of the country - over which of the cities traditional hot dogs, Italian Beef sandwiches and pizza are "authentic," "best," etc.
Don't spend much of your time searching for the "typical," becuase you're not likely to find unanimity about that or even enough opinions for form a quick judgment. Eat what interests you, no matter what others may say about you! ;-)
Thanks for all of your wondergul suggestions. The ant eggs and dried cod (although out of season) are exactly the type of things I'm looking to learn about and try. I've had Tacos al Pastor, Tacos de Cabeza, Menudo, Pollo Asado, etc. from my time in SoCal. But I think those items are more of what a hamburger and hot dog are to American food, right? Pretty unadventurous. Wait a minute, can American food be adventurous?
Anyhow, I'll be looking for my dishes. But please, keep them coming.
Isn't there some type of agave soup or something? And are Horchata y Jamaica big down in DF? I know they can be had all over Tijuana and Cancun.
Don't make the mistake of passing up the pastor, cabeza, asado, carnitas, jamacia or horchata because you've eaten them in SoCal. There may be similarities but it's not the same. Mexico City has some of the granddaddy of all markets, check out the fondas in them and you will find "typical" food, some of which will be very familiar to you, some of it won't. But just because it's familiar should be a reason to exclude it. For example, quesadillas in Mexico bear little to no resemblance to an American quesadilla.
Just don't limit your options unnecessarily.
Thanks for this tip. I wasn't going to pass them up altogether because pizza and hot dogs in Chicago are very different from pizza and hot dogs in NYC. I just wanted to try some dishes that they tend not to have elsewhere like cui en Peru. But I think I'll hang around the fondas and see what they have.
Agreed with DD: recently went to the Mercado Medellín in Colonia Roma Sur. We'd been there before in the Christmas season with an amiga who lives nearby, but then, we ate Romeritos con Tortitas de Camarón, which as prepared there, did not please me at all. This time, we went to Ostionería La Morenita, mentioned in Nicholas Gilman's book on Mexico City Food. As the Ostionería wasn't opened quite yet, I wandered over to the fantastic carnicerías, where auxiliary stands also sold carnitas. We snacked on "tacos de lengua y nana", surrounded by sheets of chicharrón like small awnings. When we got over to La Morenita, we could only manage to eat 1 ceviche, for me, and a Sopa Especial La Morenita for my wife. We ordered jugo de naranjas grandes, not realizing that they'd be served in liter-size containers. It was a good experience, most of which came from enjoying the serendipitious aspects rather than the anticipated ones. On top of that, Mercado Medellín has some of the friendliest people we've met, working in one of the cleanest mercado environments we've ever been to.
Some pictures start here: http://www.pbase.com/panos/image/9618...
Click "next" to see more.
One thing that comes to mind is bacalao (dried cod), which is typically eaten for Christmas Eve dinner. Behind your hotel there's a little torta bar (La Texcocana, I think) that sells tortas de bacalao, as well as other types of very simple tortas. It is located one block from Calle Independecia and Revillagigedo, which is directly behind the Sheraton. Pambazos are also very Mexico D.F.
I stayed at the Sheraton and highly recommend their pan ducle and chocolate for breakfast. They also serve natas, which I'd never had before, but it's like a Mexican-style clotted cream of sorts that you put on the bread. I think El Cardenal changes their menu regularly, but everything I had was very good.
My report: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/478277
Also, close to your hotel is the churreria El Moro for churros, another Mexican breakfast tradition. I didn't make it there, but several people recommended it.
Tacos al pastor immediately comes to mind; sopa de gallina is another.
Mexico, DF is the hub of the nation, so it has foods from every region well represented.
I suggest getting a copy of Nicholas Gilman's book, "Mexico City: A Guide to Food Stalls, Fondas and Fine Dining", available at Amzon.com. It has a few small flaws, but it can be very useful.
By the way, $50 a meal es muchíssimo dinero to spend for a meal of "typical" dishes in Mexico City.
If you don't go anywhere else, be sure to go to El Bajío, which has regional food without Nueva Cocina pretensions, and it's done very well. We have been to the original location, on Av. Cuitlahuac 2709, Col Obrera Popular for comida, and it was very good; and a new branch, at Parque Delta, in Colonia Navarte, I believe, and although the sleek modernism of the room (and flat panel tvs!) put me off at first, the breakfast was outstanding in every way. There's another location in Polanco.