Somewhere in Oaxaca (Route 200): Comedor Lupita tlayudas – the highlight of my SF-Mexico-Guatemala drive
If a movie director ever wants to capture the dream Mexico food stand they should stop at Comedor Lupita. Everything about it is perfect … food, ambiance, setting.
When we crossed into the Mexican state of Oaxaca most of the roadside stands were selling grilled chicken (pollo asada), barbacoa de chivo (goat) with consume and tlayudas.
There were special ovens for the tlayudas which are a baked cracker-like Mexican flatbread.
My friend stopped at the first joint he saw and picked up some average chicken tortas. He was not into food and had zero interest in stopping for tlayudas. Actually he wanted grilled beef (carne asada) and was a bit annoyed by the chicken theme in Oaxaca.
I was damned if I was going to leave Oaxaca without getting a tlayuda. So I sat back a while and bided my time.
We crossed the continental divide again … one of the most dramatic crossings. The highways in the US where I crossed the divide a few times aren’t all that exciting, marked only by a sign.
Here the winding, mountainous road marked with ‘dangerous curve” signs, opened up to a vast panorama of the valley with huge windmills capturing the fierce winds.
Near the foot of the mountains and across from a large pink hotel was Comedor Lupita, the large sign promising barbacoa de chivo con consume and tlayudas.
It is a little past the junction of I80 and Route 200, a little less than half way between Juchitan de Zaragosa and Tapanetepec
I insisted we stop … which was good since this turned out to be the last tlayuda stand on our route. It didn’t help my friend’s patience that the restaurant singled threaded … after they served every thing for one order, then and only then, did they take the next order … and started from scratch … out came the bag of flour, the veggies peeled and chopped, etc
But it was worth the wrath of my friend whom I chose to ignore at that point and let him go off and sulk in the truck. He came up with an excuse for his behavior later to save face and I just let the whole thing go since I got my tlayuda and immensely enjoyed the experience.Besides it was deadly hot …there are times when you have to be smart enough to keep quiet.
Lupita had style. This modest orange restaurant was run by a daughter with her mother assisting.
However, it was freshly painted unlike most other restaurants. Under a thatched palm patio covering were red and white plastic tables courtesy of Coca Cola. The tables had napkin holders in cheery, coordinating colors of various shades of pink and orange.
A multi-colored hammock holding Lupita’s baby was in front. If the little baby started to fuss, her little four year old brother went over to gently swing the hammock until the baby was quiet
The table near us had bowls of barbacoa which looked wonderful.
When Lupita and mama finally finished serving that order, they took mine. It didn’t help my friend’s disposition that part of the tlayuda fixings were delivered on a bicycle by an older gentle man in a colorful Virgen de Guadalupe t-shirt. He delivered a covered clay pot and asked for five pesos for his service.
The tlayuda was amazing. Two large triangular piece of crispy charred flatbread sandwiched wonderful stringy cheese, the type that doesn’t melt much, pieces of chicken black beans, some sort of ground meat and bits of lettuce It came with an assertive, spicy green hot sauce.
It was pleasant sitting on that little oasis of a patio further shaded by mango, palm and other tropical trees, eating this tlayuda masterpiece and listening to large, black tropical birds singing the songs of the jungle.
It ranks up there as one of the highlights of any place I’ve visited in the world.