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Oaxaca, Puebla, and Cuernavaca Areas

s
sethfoodie Dec 1, 2008 09:43 AM

Hello,

My wife and I are planning a culinary tour of Mexico in early January. We will be traveling through the areas near/in Oaxaca, Puebla, and Cuernavaca and would love some restaurant suggestions. We want authentic food of the region and not anything touristy. Also, if anyone knows of any culinary guides or people we could hire to guide us through the local markets that would be great as well.

Thank you

Seth

  1. Veggo Dec 1, 2008 02:09 PM

    You may still find a few chiles en nogada in Puebla; although late in the season. And if you are lucky enough to catch a clear day to or from Puebla, the view of "Popo" is awesome. Las Mananitas in Cuernavaca (Sunday brunch in particular) is considered by many to be among the top restaurants in Mexico; a must while you are there. Buen Provecho!

    1. b
      barb1 Dec 2, 2008 09:50 AM

      first let me say I love Mexico and have been just about everywhere in the country and have been going there since the early 80's, but I have to say you don't go for the food.... Especially if you don't know the area. We have been to Oaxaca many times and if it is still there look for a restaurant called El Piedea It is near the 2nd class bus station and has been there for many years, Ask the tourist office. Crowds don;t mean good. food with the locals, it means good prices. Have breakfast in the markets It is a happening, Go to the El Presidente for the show and buffet The property is beautiful and very romantic.If you are lucky you will hear the quartet that stroll around the restaurant in the afternoon. Stayed in Las Manaitas and thought the food was ok. Very beautiful, If you can spend the bucks stay there, the rooms are beautiful and the property is spectacular. Puebla is nice and you can't go wrong with tacos and rotisserie chicken

      7 Replies
      1. re: barb1
        Veggo Dec 2, 2008 11:50 AM

        Respectfully, for decades I went to Mexico from northern climates principally for the weather. I now live in Florida, where I have palm and citrus trees and 2 hammocks, but I still go to Mexico frequently - JUST for the food (and friends). It is SOOO good.
        Last Sunday morning on my way from PDC to Coba, I picked up 3 tacos para llevar outside Akumal. One chicken mole, one pulled pork, one a battered, cheese filled jalapeno with black bean sauce. 20 kilometers down the road, as I licked my fingers, I wanted to go back and do it again. Best $2.70 I have ever spent.

        1. re: Eat_Nopal
          b
          barb1 Dec 3, 2008 06:32 AM

          we use Diane Kennedy cookbooks and most of the time our dishes come out better then the average restaurant in Mexico, Have driven from nyc to the Yucatan and back twice, stopped in Ciudad Victoria for gorditas,traveled by bus to just about every colonial city in Mexico, the tacos and antijitos are usually tasty but fine Mexican cuisine is hard to find. There was a great Yucatecan restaurant that my daughter actually had a wedding reception in, the sisters had a fight and the food got bad. I find the restaurants are not consistent ,
          I have been to most of the Michelin 3 stars in France, most recently traveled though Spain going to the finest restaurants there. Feel that I do have some food knowledge

          1. re: barb1
            Eat_Nopal Dec 3, 2008 08:50 AM

            Where are you getting your restaurant suggestions from Frommers? Give me a break, yes its true the nicer restaurants tend to be inconsistent (as they are in many tourist places).... and its true that the best cuisine is in people's homes (which btw, I am surprised you have traveled so extensively in Mexico and haven't figure out how to get invited to someone's home... in what is essentially the most hospitable large country on the planet?)

            Finally, If you have nothing good to recommend about Oaxaca you should basically turn in your CH badge and never allow yourself to be seen again.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal
              b
              barb1 Dec 3, 2008 09:30 AM

              who made you the food critic of all food critics, why are you so defensive? I have an opinion and just because it doesn't coincide with yours that doesn't make me wrong. Why do you want to turn this into a pissing contest? I have been to many homes and many friends have been to my home. I am considered a good cook by the people that have been there. I have no problem with street food, but that is not gourmet eating,

              1. re: barb1
                Veggo Dec 3, 2008 11:43 AM

                Respectfully, barb1, you started the "pissing contest" with your harsh comment to me that "Maybe your expectations are a lot lower then (sic) mine". Eat Nopal and others here are well aware that the best Mexican food is prepared in private homes by live-in cooks. I am an American who has enjoyed that privilege in Mexico over the years. There is no point in sticking it in the face of tourists who will never have access to it.
                Some street food is amazingly good, with untold toiling, time, and pride invested. And EN, gracias como siempre, con un abrazo.

                1. re: Veggo
                  Eat_Nopal Dec 3, 2008 12:51 PM

                  Salud mi amigo.

                2. re: barb1
                  Eat_Nopal Dec 3, 2008 12:51 PM

                  "first let me say I love Mexico and have been just about everywhere in the country and have been going there since the early 80's, but I have to say you don't go for the food."

                  Lets see... the OP did NOT say he wanted to take a 3-Star Michelin tour of Mexico, he said he wanted a CULINARY tour of Mexico. If you think the only foods that qualify as CUISINE are to be found in Michelin Starred restaurants then you really don't belong on Chowhound. That is not what J. Leff is about, that is not what the CH Manifesto is about... and most importantly that is not what we - the communitiy of serious, highly contributing Chowhounders are all about.

                  Second, while I do not expect to hold every CHer to the "RST" standard... so many of us who post about Mexico or any other place... go into great detail about what we DID find. For example, my friend Veggo can tell you where to get the best Conch ceviche along the Mayan Riveria, or best Red Fish grilled over Banana leaves in some podunck fishing village of the Northern Yucatan. And your humble servant can at least suggest a couple of places to find some great Pompano in Hoja Santa etc., The pitiful contributions & recommendations by you and dismissive tone would indicate you have never had any of the food that serious CHers might find interesting.

                  Third... you can make the argument - if you are so compelled - that Mexico's best restaurants aren't comparable with Michellin 2 or 3 restaurants in France or Spain... but even so, they might still be of value to someone interested in a CULINARY tour of Mexico. Even if Izote is less consistent, not as elegant etc., as say Guy Savoy... someone might still find the Ahi Tartare stuffed Roasted Poblanos with a Black Bean-Avocado Leaf sauce mildly interesting, no? Instead, you dismiss the entire country's restaurant culture because YOU don't have the good sense to stay away from AVERAGE, touristy / "clean" restaurants.

                  Fourth, any Cow or Barn Animal can walk into Guy Savoy or El Bulli and realize it is a very elegant, first rate experience. But, Chowhounds know how to find the little, humble places that produce individual dishes / bites that much anything served at the glitzy high end places. Certainly, the last time I was at a Michelin 2 Star.. I didn't eat anything that surpassed in complexity, ingredient quality or sheer deliciousness the best of street / mercado / fonda foods in Mexico. The whole thing about being a CH is that we can appreciate the Michellin Starred experience & food... but aren't swayed to the point we are blinded by it.

                  Fifth, we are talking about Puebla, Oaxaca & Moreles hear... the heart of Mexico's greatest gastronomic offerings... not some bleak rusting industrial town in Britain... I don't know how anyone can tour the area and not have at least one insightful recommendation... whether it be the Trout Farms in Malinalco, the gazillion Mushroom dishes in Temoaya, the Duck dishes from Almoyola del Rio etc., etc., etc.,

          2. The Chowhound Team Dec 3, 2008 01:46 PM

            We've removed some attacky, personal comments that are inappropriate and off topic on Chowhound. You are of course welcome to make any suggestions you have for sethfoodie, but please remember that we're here to rate the chow, not the hound.

            Thank you.

            1. DiningDiva Dec 3, 2008 03:00 PM

              Sethfoodie, it's been a long time since I've been to Puebla, but only a few years since I've been to Cuernavaca and Oaxaca.

              There are quite a few threads on Oaxaca so I think if you search this Mexico board you'll come up with quite a few options. For sure check out the Abastos and 20 de Noviembre markets, they're a food shoppers dream come true. The 20 de Noviembre market covers 2 buildings (not to mention being surrounded by outside vendors as well) and the 2nd building houses all kinds of fondas and food stalls. You can get a very good and economical meal in there. The nieves vendor in the 1st building (i.e. closest to the zocalo) is excellent, has outrageously fun and interesting flavors and the nieves are safe to eat as they're made with purified water. Remember to take normal precautions to protect yourself from becoming the victim of a pick-pocket. I've never experienced that problem, this is just a reminder not to let yourself get too distracted that you forget your valuables.

              There was a recent recommendation for the Casa Oaxaca by Santo Domingo church. Try it by all means, it's quite good, though a little spendy. El Che, close to the Santo Domingo as well, has also been consistently good for steaks, just know that the action doesn't get started at this place until later in the evening, i.e. after 10 pm.

              For upscale dining in Cuernavaca, in addition to Las Mañanitas, you can also try Gaia which is in an old home that used to belong to Mexican movie star Cantinflas, or El Madrigal, or Casa Hidalgo. I'm not a huge fan of buffet service but Cuernavaca has a couple of surprisingly good breakfast buffet places. During the week try the Villa Bejar. The hotel itself is an oddity as it's done entirely in a Moroccan or Arabian style. It's got a fabulous inner patio/courtyard that they set up with all manner of sweet and savory hot and cold food along with a couple of action stations. When I was there one station was doing quesadillas from scratch with a choice of about 6 different fillings, the other was eggs to order, omelet or otherwise. It's a power breakfast location for Mexican businessmen and not on the usual tourist track.

              Also not on the tourist track, and good for Sunday brunch, is the clubhouse at the Tabachine golf course and guard-gated community in the southern part of the city. The clubhouse dining room is overlooks the golf course and is open on almost all sides. It is one of the most scenic and relaxing dining environments I can think of. Waiters are fast, efficient and unobtrusive. Like Villa Bejar everything imaginable is offered, umpteen types of juices, platter upon platter of fresh fruit and breakfast pastries that can only be described as yummy, at least 20 chafing dishes with all manner of guisdos, chilequilas, meats, vegetables, you name it and it's probably on this buffet. I'd give the food a solid "B" though I think the Villa Bejar is slightly better. Why do I mention a golf course clubhouse? Because, for one thing, you'd most likely be the only non-Mexican there, it's a glimpse into how well-heeled Mexicans live and because it's a chance to see multi-generational families leisurely dining and enjoying the day, the food and each other.

              Remember that Cuernavaca is the Spanish language immersion capital of the world, most of the spots in and around the zocalo are geared for the college aged crowd attending one of the language schools. Get out and away from the zocalo and your chances of finding good food increase proportionately.

              1. r
                racheljana Dec 25, 2008 09:51 AM

                I lived in Puebla for a year and was on a BUDGET big time so my suggestions are from that experience. I just wrote it on another post, but I'll copy and paste for this one. Mexico has amazing food (bad service usually, but that's b/c customer service isn't a high priority and the workers' rights really suck, as well as class dynamics). I won't lie, after being in Mexico for a year and a half, I really did miss the variety of the immigrant nation (in my case the US) cuisine selection (Chinese, lebanese, french, indian, etc.), but still think Mexican food is stellar IN Mexico.

                In Puebla, I would recommend a place specifically for comida corrida about 5-10 minute walk from the zocalo. I hope it is still there and the setting is lovely on the cheap. They would often get away from the comida corrida typical stuff and have things like chicken in an orange almond sauce or cilantro creme soup or chayote stuffed with dried fruit and nut cream compote. No kidding all for roughly 35 pesos when I was there a year ago. In addition to the soup, salad, dessert and agua natural.

                The directions are as follows: From the north end of the zocalo, take Palafox y Mendoza east until you reach 4 Norte (about two blocks from the middle of the zocalo). Turn left on 4 Norte. Take 4 Norte until you get to 8 Oriente (a wild street that isn't too safe going westward, but fine right around there- I used to live on this street and loved it, but be careful of the crazy bus drivers). Make a right on 8 Oriente. The place is on the south side of the street (the direction from where you'll be coming), has large wooden doors that open into an orange courtyard with roughly 5 tables, a coffee bar and usually art showcasing. I'll be going there for my annual pilgrimage back to Puebla in just a week!!

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