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Best eats in Mexico?

huangsandra May 27, 2008 08:22 AM

I am planning a 7-10 day trip to Mexico in late August and would love to hear where you think I should go to experience the best or most interesting local culinary offerings. Places that have been suggested to me so far: Mexico City (a day or two, as a cultural stop and jumping off point); Mazatlan; Oaxaca; Pueble/Tlaxcala; Tepoztlan; I also saw a chain on CHOW on Hermosillo that made me want to go. Given the short trip, I imagine I wouldn't want to make more than three stops, and might prefer two if there are areas that will keep my stomach thrilled for more than a few days. Thanks!!

  1. DiningDiva May 27, 2008 08:39 AM

    Mexico City hands down. You can spend 7-10 days there and barely scratch the surface, both culturally and culinarily. There is so much to do, so much to see and so much to eat. A day or two in Mexico City really isn't sufficient to give you any kind of flavor or idea about the city or the people. It has such vibrancy that seems to reveal itself in bits and pieces as you explore and snoop around. And it's a lot like Alice's Restaurant...you can find just about anything you want in D.F. :-D

    Puebla is in close proximity to D.F. it would be easy to do a day or overnight trip; plus they have good and interesting food there as well. You can day trip to Tepoztlan too and climb the pyramid, take a look around the town, but I'm not sure you'd find a whole bunch of good chow to make a longer trip that meaningful. But there are some nice B&Bs in Tepoztlan and if you adhere to a New Age belief system, overnighting there would probably be quite pleasant.

    Mexico City/Oaxaca is also a possibility. You could easily do 4 days in D.F. and 3 in Oaxaca, or 5 days in each city and begin to get the flavor of each one. (Fly into D.F. and out of Oax.)

    Relax, enjoy your trip and try not to cover too much territory in too short a period of time.

    3 Replies
    1. re: DiningDiva
      huangsandra May 27, 2008 09:05 AM

      Thanks so much for your advice, DiningDiva. I've also been digging into the Mexico boards (overwhelming...) and found some great postings from you to a similar thread/question by rotary11, so I am seeing something beginning to take shape. Though what I'm really learning is I need to carve out time in the future for a much longer trip.

      Do you have any advice on cooking schools? I found a "Casa Crespo" in Oaxaca, and "Mexican Home Cooking" in Tlaxcala (around Puebla?) online--there were many cooking schools online but these somehow jumped out at me. If you have heard of these or can recommend others in Oaxaca or Mexico City, that would be great. I am a pretty serious cook, so would prefer something very hands-on/authentic, as opposed to just fun/touristic.

      1. re: DiningDiva
        huangsandra May 27, 2008 09:21 AM

        Hm, my response didn't seem to come through...trying again.

        Thank you so much for your advice, DiningDiva. I also dug deeper in the Mexico Board and found a great thread started by rotary11, where you also shared a lot of great information and advice. I think for now I'll try to work out a Mexico City/Oaxaca timeshare (and start looking at my calendar for when I can plan a longer trip).

        Do you have any recommendations on cooking schools? Two that seemed interesting online were: Casa Crespo (Oaxaca) and Mexican Home Cooking (Tlaxcala/Puebla). Are opinions of these? Others you know and love?

        Also, what part of town would you advise staying in in Mexico City? I am a big walker and I'd love to stay in a more local community or at least one with local character.

        1. re: huangsandra
          DiningDiva May 27, 2008 10:31 AM

          Try this link. It's a little old, but if you scroll down some you should find a long list of cooking schools in Mexico - http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servle...

          Seasons of My Heart just outside Oaxaca is wonderful. Susanna Trilling is a marvelous instructor and it's definitely hands on. We made quesillo from milk just out of the cow that was spectacular. Talk about playing with your food! Also google for Casa Segrada in Teotitlan del Valle. They used to do cooking classes but I'm not sure if they still do. I think they've moved more in the direction of riding and yoga than cooking. Also Pilar at Las Ollas in Oax does really good cooking classes.

          la Villa Bonita and Cocinar Mexicano are both located in Tepotzlan. I am not sure that they offer day classes, they seem to offer more week long cooking experiences than individual classes.

      2. cristina May 28, 2008 07:15 AM

        "Best eats"...you mention "best or most interesting local culinary offerings". I think where you go and what you eat depends on how you define your terms. Are you looking for high-end alta cocina mexicana? Are you looking for perfectly prepared regional indigenous fare? Are you looking for white tablecloths, china, and fine silverware, or are you looking for real-deal food that you won't find in your country of origin?

        If it's the latter and you want to try the kinds of Mexican food that you don't see anywhere but here, you might want to try someplace other than Mexico City. Granted, there are a zillion choices in Mexico City, but hunting them down will take more time than you have.

        If the choice were mine, I'd travel to the highlands of Michoacán. Fantastic regional food specialties abound, accommodations are excellent, and the weather in August will be heavenly.

        For lots of information about regional Michoacán food and culture, please click on the link. If you need more information, please feel free to contact me.

        Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

        6 Replies
        1. re: cristina
          huangsandra May 29, 2008 07:01 AM

          Cristina, I am definitely interested in the kinds of local/regional/indigenous food you can't find elsewhere. No high end alta cocina or white tablecloths needed, though I will try it if it's wonderful. I'm perfectly happy squatting streetside (I used to live in Hanoi). Thank you for sharing your site--I am already excited by the Posole recipe and plotting how I will get ingredients (the chilies in particular) back to China with me.

          1. re: huangsandra
            Eat_Nopal May 29, 2008 10:22 AM

            I guess the strategic decision might be how many regional specialities you want to try vs. the level of perfection you want. More specifically... you will find a lot of Mexican regional cuisine represented in Mexico City.... it may not be the very best versions... but you certainly would taste Veracruz, Campeche, Yucatan, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, Guerrero etc., in Mexico City without losing much travel time... or you can go to the source and experience the best... but less of them.

            Personally.... there are 500 or so regional specialities that I find the most compelling...so I have a hard time narrowing down the places & dishes you should have on your one trip....

            1. re: huangsandra
              cristina May 29, 2008 11:26 AM

              Then travel to Mexico City if you must, but leave a day or two for Morelia. It's a four-hour inexpensive and very comfortable ETN bus trip from the DF Observatorio bus station to the Morelia bus terminal. Late August is a stupendous time to be in Michoacán.

              My email address is on my profile. Let me hear from you and I'll take you places to eat that you would otherwise never find.

              Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

              1. re: cristina
                RevImmigrant Jun 1, 2008 05:53 PM

                Cristina, what's the altitude in Morelia? Thank you.

                1. re: RevImmigrant
                  cristina Jun 1, 2008 08:45 PM

                  Right at 6400 feet above sea level. Wonderful climate, gorgeous colonial city, excellent museums, good symphony, good chamber orchestra, wonderful regional and alta cocina food!

                  Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

                  1. re: cristina
                    huangsandra Jun 3, 2008 05:31 PM

                    Sounds wonderful. I think we will do a few days in Mexico City, 2-3 days in Puebla (considering the Mesones-Sacristia cooking school...any opinions?) and now, a couple of days in Morelia. Cristina, I will email you offline for Morelia advice!

          2. t
            topawers Jul 23, 2008 08:02 AM

            Hey, I saw your post and I think I can give you some advice. I am originally from Mexico City (a chilango), but I currently live and work in Chicago. DO NOT GO TO HERMOSILLO IN AUGUST, my mother's family is from there, I go every year for Christmas and I used to go in the summers when I was young and it's one of the hottest places in Mexico. I don't think you would ever want to go to Hermosillo since it's nice and all, but nothing special, there are 50 better places in Mexico to go to before.
            Go to Oaxaca if you can, Morelia, Queretaro, Guanajuato, Zacatecas and San Miguel de Allende. Puebla, too.
            All these places are three hours away from Mexico City, at the most.
            Now, in Mexico City, you might want to spend more than two days. There's a lot to see and live, it's a wonderful city with a lot going on. Disregard everything bad they can tell you about it and spend some time in it.
            As for eating, if you go to Oaxaca, La Casa de La Abuela, Los Pacos, El Asador Vasco (Spanish-vasque) and Los Danzantes are great.
            In Mexico City:
            Haute Mexican Restaurants.
            La Taberna del León (my favorite in the City)
            Aguila y Sol
            San Angel Inn
            El Cardenal
            (the last two are a bit more traditional in the food than the 1st ones)

            Casual Mexicans and seafood.
            Círculo del Sureste (yucatecan)
            (the last two are located in the historical center of the city and are more lunch than dinner spots).

            Spanish. The best Spanish restaurants outside Spain may well be in Mexico City, try one.
            Bakea (french/vasque)

            Some great author cuisine restaurants.
            (the last two have some Spanish/Mexican touches in them. Pujol is magnificent)
            Have lunch at a Cantina.
            El Mirador de Chapultepec

            There's more, but those are the ones I can think from the top of my head. Anyway, that will cover you for like 3 trips to Mexico. Enjoy!

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