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Guatemalan road trip - Need suggestions for the Mexico segment

rworange Aug 10, 2009 12:39 AM

I'll be driving from the SF Bay Area to Guatelmala and would like some suggestions for the Mexico leg of the trip

We will be entering Mexico at Matamoros and taking 180 to Acayucan and cutting shortly after to 185 to Juchitan. From there we connect to 200 which will get us into Guatemala.

For those not familiar with the whole road I'll mention some towns along the way. If you have been to any of these and know of good eats I'd be really interested
- San Fernando
- Soto La Marina
- Libermiento (to avoid downtown Tampico)
- Tuxpan
- Alamo
- Panpantia
- Nautia
- Cardel
- Paso del Toro
- La Tineja
- Sayola
- Matias Romero
- La Ventosa
- Zanatepac
- Ariago
- Tapachola
- Hildago

My Guatemalan husband and inlaws have driven this route a number of times and those are the towns they stop in most often.

However, I'd like to be able to contribute some suggestions of restaurants, markets, etc along the way that they may have missed.

This trip will take place anywhere from October 2009 to April 2010. I'm adopting his children and it depends on the US and Guatamalan governments at this time as to when those papers go through. No kids on way down. Three teenagers on the way back up.

I'll be researching the route as well and adding to this post as I find possibly interesting stops. However, I appreciate all the help I can get.

Here's some maps to refresh anyone's memory
http://www.maps-of-mexico.com/mexico_...

States we will be passing through: Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas.

Of course, the objective is to get there and back ASAP, so unless something is amazing I wouldn't want to get too far off the main roads. As cliche as this sounds, we like everything ... anyway, in Mexico I feel safe saying that.

We will be in travel clothes, so dress up places probably are places we wouldn't go.

Thanks for everyone's help ... I hope.

  1. r
    RST Aug 10, 2009 07:56 AM

    I spent a bit of time a couple of months ago in the Isthmus (and before that trip, earlier this year in Juanuary) and can tell you that food both in the northen Isthmus (Acayucan, Oluta, Sayula etc) as well as in Tehuantepec/Juchitan is pretty much blow-your-mind-away. But this seems like a very circuitous and round-about way of getting from SF to Guatemala: clear across Texas, then down through the whole coastal length of both Tamaulipas and Veracruz before cutting across the Isthmus to reach the Soconusco. Within Mexico itself, it also seems to me that following an inland route within Veracruz from say Poza Rica through (perhaps) Martinez de la Torre to Xalapa to Tehuacan through the fast and excellent highway to Oaxaca (city) would get you to Guatemala faster and more efficiently. But maybe I am wrong. At any rate, the road from Oaxaca (city) to Juchitan seems to me to be far more challenging to drive than the road from Acayucan through Matias Romero. Your list of places seems to have been plucked willy-nilly off a map: there doesn't seem to be any specific rhyme and reason for the choice of these stops: for instance, Cardel today could be considered a kind of "suburb" of Veracruz (city). (In addition, there are a couple of misspellings on your list that might make it hard for people to recognize these names: Papantla of vanilla fame, Sayula etc) At any rate, once you have determined your route I would be glad to comment on what to look for, worthwhile short detours, even the best times to arrive at each town to get to the best food (e.g. the 5-6 zacahuil vendors at the Poza Rica market sell out by mid-morning). In almost all Mexican towns, there is morning food, there is midday food, there is late afternoon food and then there is nighttime food, so timing is everything!

    RST

    18 Replies
    1. re: RST
      rworange Aug 10, 2009 08:51 AM

      No. The route is set in stone and not open to negotiation.

      This is the way the family goes. This is the way they have gone for decades. This is my first time and there is no way I am going to discuss alternate routes. The towns that are mentioned are from the famiily and I don't know enough why they were mentioned.

      So anywhere along the route those towns or other.

      But let me state strongly ... very strongly ... the route is NOT open to negotiation.

      This is not a vacation. This is a moving trip where we go to pick up the kids and drive back with their stuff.

      Timing is going to be the luck of the drive. We may arrive at any location at any time of the day on the way there or back.

      Now, if I come off as looking like I know something about the route on this trip and make some nice food recs, they might be open to taking a diffferent route in the future.

      There is also the reality of Mexico. I worked in DF for a year For all I know, for political reasons, this might be the best route to take. My husband just said with a knowing smile once we get to Mexico, he's doing the driving .. and I'm known as the best driver in the family. For all I know they might have friends or relatives along that route. Will know more after this first trip.

      1. re: rworange
        Veggo Aug 10, 2009 10:33 AM

        Unless you get to Veracruz or near it for some large fresh shrimp, most of the route is a gastronomical wasteland, I'm sorry. Your route is a through a very beautiful but very poor part of Mexico. You can get great valencia oranges and green coffee beans in Veracruz state, but that doesn't feed you. And with all the hassles you will enjoy in Matamoros, you can't get to Veracruz in the same day. I know those roads. Even if you take the new cuota road, 180D, to Sayola, there is nothing on it. Same for 200. Bring a cooler with ice, bread, and cheese.

        1. re: Veggo
          rworange Apr 11, 2010 12:00 PM

          Far from a wasteland

          Mexico: I80 Matamoros to Vera Cruz
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/700708?tag=main_body;topic-700708

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7002...

          Still have more to write as of this post

          1. re: rworange
            Veggo Apr 11, 2010 02:45 PM

            I read your links- the beautiful area still fits my definition of a culinary wasteland. Roadside pollo asada has been your best meal?
            The ubiquitous blue plastic bags on the banana clusters retard ripening and lessen the need for refrigeration on their way to distant markets. Clever science, actually, but unsightly in the wild.
            Vanencia oranges are past season now, but you should be finding wonderful pineapples at great prices.
            Keep an eye out for local versions of pupusas stuffed with chicken (not much of it) and served with curdito, and also chalupas de pollo with pickled onion and avocado.Y que ni una llanta sera disinflada!
            (And may none of your tires become flat )

            1. re: Veggo
              rworange Apr 13, 2010 10:11 AM

              Already long gone from Mexico. I guess we just disagree The rest of the trip

              I85 Vera Cruz – Zuchitan de Zaragoza then Route 200 to Tapachula
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/701144#

        2. re: rworange
          r
          RST Aug 10, 2009 12:26 PM

          Actually, I kinda answered my own query about the chosen route when I remembered that the mountain road from Oaxaca (city) to Juchitan seemed to me far more challenging than the (to me) flatter road through Matias Romero and La Ventosa. Of course it makes sense because essentially, the route skirts the entirety of the Mexican central highlands (and all the scenic twists and turns this implies) to take advantage of the flat and fast coastal roads. Why the entry has to be through Matamoros (instead of say Laredo) is still a mystery to me ;0)

          Well, this route takes you through some of the most mind-bogglingly rich and little-explored gastronomical areas in all Mexico. I am not going to annotate every town on your way but here are a few broad suggestions. Assuming you clear customs in Matamoros by 10 (most people recommend going past border control early in the a.m.), you should easily make Tampico for a late lunch (and remember lunch in Mexico is approx 2 to 4) and forging ahead to make it to Tuxpan/Poza Rica or even Papantla for the night. This means waking up to a breakfast of zacahuiles from the markets in Tuxpan or Poza Rica or even Papantla :0) The sequence and approx driving times going n to s is this: Tuxpan-(1 1/2 hr)-Poza Rica-(1/2 hr)-Papantla. Poza Rica is the most industrial and modern; Papantla is the most charming of the three. If it is a Sunday, you might consider trying to make it all the way to Papantla by late afternoon because they often have the Totonac voladores perform high over the beautiful plaza, which will fill up festively with families out for the ritual afternoon stroll. The Mercado Hidalgo in Papantla is just off the main square with some superb fondas on the second level and a row of atole/tamales vendors seated in front selling typical local items like tamales de cuchara ("so wet that it has to be eaten with a spoon"). This is all Huastec/Totonac country and if you keep your eyes wide open you might luck out finding roving vendors (usually very young girls, usually about 10 or 11) in the markets selling pulacles (accent on u), an ancient Totonac tamal, wrapped in hojas de papatla, and stuffed with small black beans, flor de colorin (in January/February) also called gasparito, pieces of the spiny chayote called espinosos, and ajonjoli molido. This will pretty much blow your mind away. El Tajin is very close is very much worth a morning's detour.

          Setting off from Poza Rica or Papantla by midmorning, you should be able to make Veracruz (city) for a quick spin through the city and for lunch. There's stuff on eating in Cardel, Veracruz and even Alvarado further down the coast in a separate thread started if I remember correctly by DiningDiva. From there you can take the fast highway, or alternatively take a detour to see charming Tlacotalpan, ending the night in the Tuxtlas or if you really have to forge ahead, in Acayucan/Sayula area. The market in San Andres Tuxtla is so packed with extraordinary one-of-a-kind produce and prepared foodstuff, one could almost claim that the cuisine of this micro-region is its own separate cuisine. Just the range of tamales available alone will take your breath away-at least 6-7 different kinds, and all unique: the tamales de presa wrapped in hojas de berijao, the marvellous chanchamitos, the multi-layered tamales de capita (virtually a masterpiece of artisanality). Then there's all sorts of weird and wonderful things: the spiny chocho, the tiny and mysterious frijolillo etc etc

          In Acayucan, of course, you MUST have popo ;0)

          From Acayucan, it's a straight shot to Juchitan. Juchitan market by day is a marvel. Juchitan market and plaza by night has, for me, arguably the greatest single collection of nighttime street food in all Mexico: everything from the incomparable bu'pu to tamales stuffed with iguanas (best in January when they are fat and filled with eggs), the superb Juchitecan garnachas, whole roasted chicken (and in Tehuantepec, when they talk of an oven, they are referring to the tandoor-like comiscal), extraordinary fish dishes (shredded manta ray salad, little skweres of grilled ombligos de pescado etc) to all kinds of endangered species I would best not mention here etc etc etc

          From Juchitan, it is a straight shot through the Soconusco (and there are some sweet little towns here, e.g. Cintalapa) to Tapachula and Guatemala.

          RST

          1. re: RST
            rworange Aug 10, 2009 12:48 PM

            Thanks so much for taking the time and pointing out the foods to look out for. Mmm ... iguana tamales. I know the husband is itching to make this trip around Christmas, but we are dependant on the paperwork. Who knows though, we might be there prime-time for iguana

            Do you recall any other good reports besides DiningDiva's along that route?

            I can hardly wait till Places is up again so I can put together some lists.

            1. re: rworange
              r
              RST Aug 11, 2009 08:06 AM

              This route from SF to Chiapas is really quite straightforward and logical. I was struck by its simplicity and elegance after I took a good look at it. You drive across to Texas through the break in the continental divide (and you can't do this in Northern Mexico bec of deserts and the Sierra Madre) and THEN follow the curve of the shorter of the 2 Mexican coastlines. Whudduthunkit. I bet you it's the fastest and most efficient way of doing it.

              Some quick notes:
              Poza Rica is modern but not unpleasant. It is not unbearable if you end up having to stay there although Papantla is the more charming town. Zacahuil is Huastec (but although also made by non-Huastecs, e.g. Nahuas etc in the Huastec areas). Roughly, and broadly, Huastec country is east and north of Tuxpan and this is where you will find not just zacahuiles but also quite easily find wonderful Huastec specialties like bocoles (have a plate of bocoles, scrambled eggs and dried meat for breakfast and you will never want anything else for breakfast again) . Papantla is the very epicenter of Totonac culture but there is at least one zacahuil vendor in the morning. As far as I know the largest contingent of zacahuil makers anywhere is in the Poza Rica market. And there is a specific reason for this: the city is large enough to support the 6 or so vendors here. I wrote a bit on this subject on the private email discussion list a number of you are on and copy this material here:

              In large cities with markets where there's zacahuil being sold publicly, this is what happens, or this is "how" I think it happens. (And incidentally, I think that zacahuil-which of course is intended to be consumed and enjoyed by a large crowd during fiestas etc-can be "sold" ONLY in large markets, i.e. is commercially viable where you have a constant stream of potential clientele walking by and where you would be guaranteed to sell through your entire zacahuil by the end of the day. There's no reheating zacahuil of course.)

              Probably around 7p.m. or 8p.m. maybe earlier, the entire package is buried. When I asked a vendor if it is hard to make, she says no. But it is hard to keep the fire/heat at the correct intensity. The thing is kept underground overnight perhaps 10, perhaps 12 hrs. This would take us to 6 or 7 or 8 in the morning. Zacahuil is sold by portion. If I remember correctly in either P10 or P25 portions (or something like that-I have to check my notes) You get a bigger slice and more of the meat with P25. It's done when it's done and the vendor leaves unless she's got some side things (a clump of chiles from her plot of land, some tomatoes etc) to finish selling.

              More later. Gotta run.

              RST

              1. re: RST
                r
                RST Aug 11, 2009 12:08 PM

                Sorry about the interruption. But the point of the rambling above is this: if each zacahuil renders 80, maybe 100+ portions, this means that (given 6 vendors at the market) some 500-600 people consume zacahuil each morning in Poza Rica. That's not counting other zacahuil vendors elsewhere in the city that I don't know about. I guess I was trying to establish the "conditions of possibility" for such a product and perhaps also the specialness of its availability in this market. You can see that even if a Huastec in Los Angeles or Chicago or St Louis or N. Carolina manages to dig a backyard pit and evade the authorities, there's still no guarantee of a ready market for 100 portions of zacahuil on any given morning. This makes its appearance in the US quite unlikely in the near future. This said, smaller (25-40 portioned) zacahuiles can also be prepared in a kitchen oven relatively successfully-as they do at La Huasteca in Xalapa.

                The menu items throughout this region will seem very foreign to you at first if you are more acquainted with Central Mexican menu terms. Please do not be discouraged by these and give these unusual dishes a chance: many of them are quite delicious! You will see meat/chile stews called chilposos or chilpozontes, pascales/pazkales (which is meat stewed in pumpkin and/or sesame paste), tlapaniles of local heirloom beans, and almost everywhere up and down the coast, guatape (or huatape) which would correspond to Central Mexican chileatoles or which we could perhaps categorize and describe as a kind of very light stew (a soup?), usually of shrimp, thickened slightly with masa. Some of these are in Zarela's Veracruz book in case you feel like familiarizing yourself with this cuisine before you go.

                One delicacy to look for along the northern Veracruzan coast is dried mullet roe called huevas or specifically huevas de lisa, which might be prepared in a kind of fish roe omelette (torta de hueva). The best place to pick up dried mullet roe however is in the Juchitan market (on the other coast). I managed to smuggle in (are they even illegal to start?) several slabs the last time and have made sensational use of them everywhere (the very pricey) bottarga di muggine is called for in a recipe: simply shaven and drizzled with olive oil, tossed with pasta etc etc

                The advice above re San Andres Tuxtla is good only if you have the time. The Tuxtlas require some detouring (specially bec of the terrain). The faster highway to Acayucan goes through Cosamaloapan. A compromise would be to continue south through Alvarado, turn to head towards Tlacotalpan and then continue southwards to the fast highway. The Tuxtlas require a whole volume: there's tremendous food in the three towns of the Tuxtlas ranging from street food (tegogolos in Catemaco etc) to market fondas to "nice" but informal cenaduria-type places to truly excellent regional restaurants specializing in the local cuisine.

                Feel free to ask questions as you firm up your plans. But you might have to bribe me first with the promise of a pound of Soconusco cacao when you get back ;0) ;0)

                RST

                1. re: RST
                  r
                  RST Aug 27, 2009 11:30 AM

                  And if you DO decide to follow the Papaloapan upriver from Tlacotalpan, and do decide to stop in Cosamaloapan (where I am at the moment), you MUST go and eat the local specialty called tapixte at Restaurante Anita (it´s on Ocampo, but everyone knows where it is). Tapixte is always "de pollo", the version made with beef is called (confusingly) barbacoa (although it has nothing to do with what "we" understand by barbacoa). Both use the large leaves called hopjas de pozol as wrapping (in fact as double wrapping, to prevent leakage) before the package is steamed like a tamal. The chicken in tapixte takes a sauce of the small wicked local chile called chilñpaya, jitomate, cebolla and loads of the heavenly aromatic acuyo (hoja santa). The barbacoa on the other hand takes a dried red chile (guajillo) sauce and lots of aguacatillo leaves. The tapixte I just had was so good I nearly fainted in happiness. This is a place I would consider something like what Michelin calls "worth the journey, worth the detour" despite the lack of all amenities. The tiny place is dripping with charm however-with well-worn tiled floors, mirrors in old intricate carved frames, beautiful old hand-carved wood chairs.

                  An hour or so farther up the river is the hot dusty city of Tuxtepec which boasts the splendid seafood restaurant called Los Jarochos (it´s on Daniel Soto, very close to the Casa de la Cultura, anyone would be able to tell you where it is). The owner is the gracious Nelva Martinez Graham who shared several of her recipes with Diana Kennedy for her new book on Oaxaca. This is the kind of seafood/fish restaurant that we dreamed about on the thread on Veracruz when we mourned the fact that the old wonderful Veracruzan ways with fish/shellfish seems to have been lost forever in the tourist crush of present-day restaurants along that coast. It´s fish cooked with extraordinary care-and I dare say in the case of Sra Nelva-with love. I want to try one of her preparations with fish roe (huevas de lisa, huevas de nacar) with these were not available. So I started with a plate of tiny sweet pristinely fresh river shrimp about the size of my tiny fingernail, prepared enchilpayados (in a butter and chipaya sauce). Then followed a stupendous whole mojarra wrapped in acuyo leaves and steamed. It was so good I sucked every last proteinaceous morsel out of every crevice of spine, of the head, of the cheeks, and surrounding the fins and tails. Nothing was left of my fish except a neat pile of bones. Both the shrimps and the fish were not cooked one-half minute too long. After the meal, Sra Nelva came out to hear what I had to say about her cooking-she said that she strives every single day to perfect her dishes just a little bit more. This place, again, is what I would call "worth the journey"

                  RST

                  1. re: RST
                    r
                    RST Aug 27, 2009 03:50 PM

                    I am back in my beloved Acayucan (about 1 1/2 hr from Cosamaloapan). Beloved bec I have eaten some of the most unforgettable things in my life in this town. But these are things of the sort that the truly adventurous have to find on their own bec they do not exist in restaurant menus (and as we know the greatest things that one can eat in Mexico are precisely those that cannot be "listed" in guides): I can only point the way (as others like Sra. Diana have, before me) to what might be found and in what season, and where, if one searched hard enough...

                    Specifically I just had a very late second lunch featuring two very local, very regional specialties which are always prepared and eaten only at home. Dona Ofelia at the market who became my friend the last time I was here welcomed me with open arms when she saw me today and immediately said: why, I was just thinking about you because this is the precise week when choschogo is at its most abundant. I had deeply rued the fact that I could not try this flower back in May when I was here and had sworn to be back for it in the rainy season. Well, here I am. Choschogo, which is known only in this microregion of Mexico, is usually featured in the local version of caldo de res (the whole flower is cooked whole, almost like a vegetable). But today, I was given choschogo, quickly parboiled and then capeado. These are fried whole and come out looking almost like chiles rellenos. The second specialty is an herb I had picked up at the market outside the bus station when I arrived: a bunch of azquiote (Smilax sp). I have had (what is almost certainly a diff cultivar of) this herb/shoot already on this trip inclg a lovely simple broth of the tender tips simply chopped up and cooked with diced tomatoes, onions, chilpayas prepared for me in Ojitlan. The texture and taste is almost like that of the tenderest pencil-thin early asparagus. Here, my bunch of azquiote was quickly parboiled, then scrambled with eggs, tomatoes, onion in a kind of a la Mexicana preparation. Just too good for words.

                    Azquiote is one of the two possible foaming agents for the foamed cacao drink called popo which is typical of Acayucan. Popo could be had in the main market (not the one by the station but the one beyond the main plaza) in the morning from two sisters at one corner of this market who sell this (from about 10 onwards) as well as several masa specialties (balls of pozol for the pozol drink, bollitas de elote, diff local tamales). There are also popo vendors by night in the main square.

                    (I am supposed to try some other specialties tomorrow. So stay tuned.)

                    RST

                    1. re: RST
                      cristina Aug 27, 2009 07:01 PM

                      <cue music>

                      You're the top, you're the Tower of Pisa, you're the top, you're the Mona Lisa...

                      How I love to read your posts, RST. There is no one else who compares.

                      Cristina

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

                      1. re: RST
                        h
                        hotmexi Mar 22, 2010 09:39 AM

                        My grandfather was nicknamed "popo" and he absolutely loved this drink and used to nibble on axquiote picked from the tree in our garden while my grandmother was preparing the popo a mano. If I was lucky, I got to lick foam off the molinillo! We would often go net fishing in the streams near our cottage in Hidalgotitlan (just a stones throw away from your beloved Acayucan) and enjoy the delicate freshwater shrimp prepared a la malinchera...these shrimp are no bigger than a sweet pea and prepared in a style unique to this town and so mouthwateringly delicious. As well, we would often have our criada make tamales de pejelagarto from the fish we caught. A truly magnificent taste experience. We preferred our choschogo to be cooked mantecado rather than capeado. You should try it this way.

              2. re: RST
                cristina Aug 10, 2009 01:15 PM

                I am so filled with envy about just the Juchitán piece of your trip that I have to go lie down for a while.

                Maybe next year I will be able to get there.

                *sigh*

                1. re: cristina
                  r
                  RST Aug 11, 2009 12:16 PM

                  Cristina, I might be back in residence in Juchitan as soon as two weeks from now (I am basically just waiting for airline prices from Chicago to start dropping). You should consider coming to meet me there. We will have gueta binguis in the morning, iguana stew midday, garnachas early evening when the whole row of flower sellers on one side of the plaza become open seating for the food stalls. Then bu'pu to end the night. I would then have the pleasure of (finally) meeting my favorite Mexican food blog writer!

                  RST

                  1. re: RST
                    rworange Aug 19, 2009 07:34 PM

                    Well, I can't wait for Places, so I started a Google Map.

                    As I said, I won't have any say about how and when we get where we get. So who knows, we may need to stop in Tampico. When I was adding that I found this map.
                    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Tampico,+Mexico&vps=2&sll=20.384328,-94.881946&sspn=16.999794,28.081055&ie=UTF8

                    Yes, I know nothing about this person and will do more research about the places mentioned. However some sound interesting.
                    - La Tripa Restaurante de Mariscos.
                    - El Gran Pipian Restaurante de comida Huasteca
                    - Tortas de la barda Las originales
                    - Tripitas Adrian Las mejores tripitas
                    - Tacos del Diario Tacos de Don Fernando, los mejores de bistec.
                    - Carnitas Orta

                    Just so my map had starting and ending points in Mexico, I entered Matamoros. Doing a general search on ... Matamoros Mexico cuisine ... I am just flumuxed by the top of the search which consists of a fast food like Burger King
                    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&am...

                    Any way, will publish the link to my map when I incorporate all the tips in this thread.

                    1. re: rworange
                      streetgourmetla Aug 28, 2009 10:13 AM

                      I can recommend Los Portales in Matamoros for carnes, cabrito, cabrito en su sangre, etc. It's a great place. You should also be able to come across mariscos estio Tampico that serve jaiba rellena, albondigas de pescado,huatape de camaron(shrimp soup), chilpachole de jaiba( a savory crab stew), etc. Tamaulipas has its own unique seafod cuisine and a fine northern carnes tradition. Cabrito al pastor is from Nuevo Leon, but they have excellent cabrito al pastor in Tamaulipas(whole roasted kid).

                2. re: RST
                  rworange Apr 11, 2010 12:07 PM

                  Ackkkk ... we had to stay on route with NO detours. My mouth is watering re'reading this post and I am in despair of all we missed.

                  Still, we ate well, the highlight of the trip was this joint

                  Somewhere in Oaxaca (Route 200): Comedor Lupita tlayudas – the highlight of my SF-Mexico-Guatemala drive
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/700220

                  -----
                  Comedor Lupita
                  Route 200 and I-80, Juchitán de Zaragoza OA Mexico , MX

            2. The Chowhound Team Aug 10, 2009 10:28 AM

              Hi Folks -

              Please help us keep this thread on topic by sharing chow tips on rworange's route, rather than giving non-chowish advice.

              Thank you.

              1. dlglidden Aug 11, 2009 12:58 AM

                Truly weird route, but as you say, none of our business. From Matamoros to the Veracruz city area the food is truly boring and unspectacular. Papantla is a good place to visit, but NOT for the food. And BTW, beyond food, if you haven't seen El Tajín you should make a small detour to visit it; you may not pass that way again. If you're willing to briefly detour to Veracruz city I can recommend a great restaurant there.

                And there are several Sayulas, the one to which you refer is Sayula de Alemán; the Sayula most people know is the town slightly off the autopista (54D) between Hwy 15D and Hwy 200.

                Your route is so specific and odd that I'd be surprised if you got responses from Chowhounds who actually ate in nameable restaurants in the small towns along your route. You might consider also posting your request on the Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree Mexico Branch. You might well get more replies there.

                You don't ask for recommendations for restaurants in Guatemala so I assume you don't want any (though I could supply a few). But if you and your husband know where and what to eat in Guatemala then why don't you know where and what to eat on the route through Mexico where his family has been traveling for a very long time?

                I envy your road trip even though it's not primarily for pleasure. Keep us posted, please.

                3 Replies
                1. re: dlglidden
                  rworange Aug 19, 2009 08:13 PM

                  >>> But if you and your husband know where and what to eat in Guatemala then why don't you know where and what to eat on the route through Mexico where his family has been traveling for a very long time?

                  He wsa born in Escuintla where his parents and children live. So he knows Guatemala and we will probably be eating at home.

                  As I mentioned, the side of the family that arranges the trips are not food savy. We go out to cheap Chinese buffets to celebrate events which makes everyone happy but is not my idea of good eats. I'm sure if there are fast food joints anywhere along that route that is where they stop.

                  However, given Pollo Campero is lovingly mentioned when they talk of home, sure, I wouldn't mind Guatemalan recs. I may take them out to dinner while I'm there. Also, I will probably have time to explore a little on my own once we get home. If not on this trip, defintely on future trips.

                  So, I created this topic on the correct board for any Guatemalan recs you might have.

                  Guatemalan road trip - Guatemala segment
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/646010

                  1. re: dlglidden
                    rworange Apr 11, 2010 12:11 PM

                    Hi,

                    I provided links about the trip further up in this thread. I liked the food which was better than SF Bay Area standards so that might not be saying much.

                    I was intrigued by Vera Cruz the city and hope to get back there. What restaurant did you like

                    Any others would be nice to know

                    There is a really great looking pasteleria shop right on the beach. Unfortunately it was spring break and bumper to bumper so we could not stop. Do you know the name or have you tried it

                    1. re: rworange
                      dlglidden Apr 11, 2010 06:06 PM

                      I just wrote a LONG reply and it was eaten by my computer before I could post. So here is a shortened recap:

                      We also very much enjoyed the city of Veracruz (spent four days there). The best restaurant we ate at (recommended by a foodie on the Thorn Tree) is Trattoria Enoteca Il Veneziano (www.ilveneziano.com.mx/inicio.html). Yes, yes, I know: "You ate Italian food in México!?" Yes, we did. The chef/owner was born in Italy and emigrated to México over 30 years ago—and returns to Italy every so often for reinspiration. The restaurant has great steaks, a remarkable (for México) wine list, and superb fish dishes. My wife claims the meal she had was the best fish she has ever eaten: fresco lomo de robalo horneado en su costra de sal marina (oven baked snook on a bed of sea salt).

                      All the outdoor restaurants on the Zocalo/Plaza de Armas are "fun" but the food is extremely ordinary. There some pretty good restaurants on the malecón that specialize in/feature tamales that are unique—well, semi-unique—to Veracruz. One of them, whose name escapes me at the moment but I can capture it, is reasonably famous and quite popular with both locals and tourists. Their signature dish is chilpachole de jaiba – crab [freshwater] soup/stew, a Veracruz specialty. It was not very good and the crab had not been picked clean of bits of shell. The restaurant was amazingly crowded and very cheerful, but I can't absolutely recommend it.

                      John Todd, Jr. lives/lived in Veracruz and often recommends restaurants/street food stands in Veracruz. He's an extremely nice guy, will willingly provide helpful information about the Veracruz area, and can be relied upon. Google him for his really interesting blogs and/or look at his posts on the México branch of the Thorn Tree.

                      And my wife and I are truly enjoying your various posts about your trip down and experiences in and observations of Guatemala. But so far you've only reinforced my experiences with Guatemalan food (NOT "cuisine"). And if we ever get back to Guatemala we're hoping you'll provide us with new places to visit and new restaurants to eat in and dishes to try.

                      dlglidden

                  2. rworange Mar 6, 2010 09:21 PM

                    Leaving in 2-3 days. Any more suggestions?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: rworange
                      dlglidden Mar 7, 2010 11:10 PM

                      I suggest you have a great trip! And report back when you get home.

                      1. re: rworange
                        Kathleen is Cooking in Mexico Mar 9, 2010 07:14 AM

                        Take a small cutting board, a knife, and a dish that will hold a quart of water. When you get to a Mexican grocery store, buy a bottle of Microdyn, a disinfectant for produce and water. The directions for use are on the label. Take advantage of the incredible tropical fruits you will find in the street markets. Also, try the cheap street tacos with head meat -- ears, cheek, nose. They are wonderful if you don't have any food hang-ups. Try everything, even if you don't know what it is.
                        I so envy you!

                        1. re: Kathleen is Cooking in Mexico
                          rworange Mar 9, 2010 09:09 AM

                          God bless you for that microdyn tip. I figured we would pack the cooler in Texas with food for the few days in Mexico. Of course, if we happen on cooked food that looks delicous, we'll go for it ... within reason ... again this isn't a pleasure trip. We have an appointment to make, already lost four days due to the Mexican consulate thing and we need to build in some disaster days Neither one of us can get sick on the road.

                          I figure I'll do little side trips to the surrounding countries for pleasure when i've settled in.

                          However, I've been fretting about water and it would be cool to pick up some fruit that didn't come hermetically sealed by nature such as bananas and oranges.

                          Thanks again. If you ever get down Guatemala way, Esquintla, email me and maybe we can get together. My email is on my profile. We can do a little mini Chowdonw.

                          1. re: rworange
                            cristina Mar 9, 2010 10:25 AM

                            Chica, every *abarrotes* (grocery store) in Mexico sells pure bottled drinking water, in 20-liter, 2-liter, 1-liter, and 500 or 600ml bottles. Ciel is a good brand, as is Santorini. Ciel is made by Coca-Cola; Santorini is made by Pepsi. Don't worry about the water. You will have plenty to drink. One of the things I like to do is buy those individual-size packets (they come in boxes) of Crystal Light to add to 500ml bottles of water. Gives some flavor, no sugar, and takes the boredom out of drinking water. They're available in the USA, but rarely in Mexico--bring some with you, the boxes are small.

                            You can use Microdyn with tap water to purify fruit and veggies, you don't need to use bottled water for that. The Microdyn purifies the water along with the fruit/veggies. Apples, lettuce, cilantro, spinach, mangos, grapes, etc--we eat them all. Don't try to purify berries; they mostly just turn into mush with the 10-minute soaking.

                            I've lived in Mexico for 30 years and can't remember the last time I got a food-borne illness. (Of course now that I've said that, I will be felled tomorrow...)

                            Have a fabulous trip! Wish you could head over to Morelia, but I know you're on a mission. Maybe another time...

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

                            1. re: cristina
                              h
                              hotmexi Apr 14, 2010 01:59 PM

                              My grandfather was nicknamed "popo" and he absolutely loved this drink and used to nibble on axquiote picked from the tree in our garden while my grandmother was preparing the popo a mano. If I was lucky, I got to lick foam off the molinillo! We would often go net fishing in the streams near our cottage in Hidalgotitlan (just a stones throw away from your beloved Acayucan) and enjoy the delicate freshwater shrimp prepared a la malinchera...these shrimp are no bigger than a sweet pea and prepared in a style unique to this town and so mouthwateringly delicious. As well, we would often have our criada make tamales de pejelagarto from the fish we caught. A truly magnificent taste experience. We preferred our choschogo to be cooked mantecado rather than capeado. You should try it this way!

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