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A week in Monterrey- looking for recommendations

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I've been through the archives and pulled together the following list from a bunch of older posts. Any updates, comments, recommendations, warnings? We're pretty adventurous eaters, from Boston and New York, and price isn't going to be a major concern for this vacation, but good food (of course!) is.

La Nacional (local northeast mexican food)
Pacifica (seafood)
El Tio (traditional family food)
Gran San Carlos or El Rey del Cabrito (cabrito al pastor)
La Catarina (Mexican Gourmet Restaurant with a large selection of wines and tequilas)
Pangea (French Fusion)
Casa Grande (Mexican Food)
Guacamaya (Gourmet en Mexican Food)
Los Arcos (Mexican style Sea Food, try the aguachiles)
Señor Tanaka (Gourmet Japanese, don't go with out reservation)
Louisana (Gourmet)
El Gaucho (argentinean food, GREAT meat)

Foods to look for: cabrito, guacamole, queso con chorizo, atropellado, machacado, taco azul, tacos de trompo, bistek, barbacoa, chicharron,or arrachera, turcos(meat empanadas)

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  1. Please read this State Department travel warning for Mexico before you go:
    http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa...
    Scroll down for the section on Monterrey and Nuevo León in general.

    Although many people think that these warnings are exaggerated, I assure you that this one is not. In fact, the majority of this entire Mexico travel warning is written with a very light--in some instances, TOO light--hand.

    Having said all that, enjoy the food and the city!

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

    3 Replies
    1. re: cristina

      Thanks, I'm aware of those recommendations. Any food suggestions? I know you're the resident expert.

      1. re: Chris VR

        <blushes>
        Unfortunately, I am not familiar with dining in Monterrey--I've only traveled through that area on the way to central Mexico. When you requested 'warnings', I posted the US State Department's newest one--it was just published yesterday. I guess that's not the kind of warning you wanted! :^ )

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

        1. re: cristina

          Heh I was more thinking of the "oh for the love of all that's holy, don't eat THERE, they use Velveeta in their queso con chorizo" sort of warning, but I can see how my post could have been misinterpreted :)

    2. Have you already come? if not let me know, I could give you a lot of suggestions, I lived there for 6 years and still visit, at plaza 401 in calzada del valle every single restaurant is great, el Muelle (great seafood, seafood tacos, aguachile, tuna tostada), La Felix (Mexican Gourmet Cantina Style, Mole Lasagna, Little Pambazos, Cheese Fondue with pasilla chile, etc), Bardot (French Cuisine, really good but small portions), Silvanos (Very good Italian Food), Kampai (one of the best Japanese food restaurant in the city, the sashimis, roca shrimp and thai spicy roll, are all great), theres also an argentinian one but i havent tried it and theres also Cerveceria, its a cool sports bar,also this plaza is "like" (haha) the hippest place in monterrey right now.

      For typical cuisine you cant miss el Rey del Cabrito but you should be adventurous, (try criadillas)

      For a great breakfast theres Machacado con Huevo and the best place is going to the airport in Los Garcia...

      mmm what else, Amalia in Hotel Habita is super hip, very pricey and good, is international gourmet...

      For tacos go to Gyros in centrito and ask for Cubanos or Gyros with lamb.

      Confirming with you La Nacional is really good ( artichoke, roasted beets, fideo tacos, ribeye chicharron "THE BEST", toro steak(tuna belly), etc)

      If you want more info let me know or if it is useful since im more than 2 weeks late haha

      1 Reply
      1. re: ricardo Valenzuela

        Thanks! We won't be there until July and I really appreciate you taking the time to make recommendations!

      2. Following up after my visit... we ended up needing to stay close to our hotel because my friend was recovering from surgery and not able to go too far. So unfortunately we weren't able to try any of these recommended places. However, we still ate surprisingly well! All of these places are right around the Hampton Inn Monterrey/Galerias-Obispado, Avenida Gonzalitos 415 Sur Obispado.

        Next to the hotel was an H-E-B and a small shopping mall. We bought groceries at the H-E-B (discovered cajeta and Glorias!) and made a bunch of meals in our room using the hot plate and hotpot I had brought. The store-branded potato chips (tasted like they had been fried in lard) were particularly good.

        There is a place that just said "Tamales" next to the H-E-B that we got takeout from twice (5 pesos per tamale). The pork was our favorite. We also tried beef, chicken, pork in chile verde sauce, cheese and pepper and a sweet one. We liked them all with the exception of the cheese and pepper, which seemed to be all pepper and no cheese. No English spoken here.

        On the second floor of that shopping mall is a food court. We went twice to Xalisco for their posole rojo, which was really delicious and such a bargain at 25 pesos for a heaping bowl. We had both the carne and pollo and both were great. We tried a few other things there but nothing as good as the posole. The first time we went there was a man at the counter who spoke some English, the second time we were there the woman didn't speak any. when we ordered for takeout, they very kindly spent about 5 minutes bagging up all the condiments/toppings as well (radish, onion, oregano, spicy red sauce, limes and probably some more I've forgotten).

        We took a shuttle one day to Galerias Mall and ate at the restaurant inside Sanborns department store. This kind of dining has mostly died out in the U.S. so it was fun for a nostalgia kick. My friend's flautas were OK (although she really liked the chicken inside) but my Tacos de cochinita pibil were really good. It was savory, slightly spicy stewed pork rolled in a thick tortilla and topped with picked onions. No English spoken here. We discovered late in our trip there was also a Sanborns with a restaurant inside the mall right next to our hotel but didn't go there.

        One day we asked the shuttle driver to take us to one restaurant but he told us there was a better place. We were up for it and took his advice, but he must have been getting a kickback because Restaurant Regio was not particularly good. I had the cabrito pierna (baby goat leg) and since this was the only time I've had it, I don't know if this was typical or poor preparation, but it was very dry. I liked the taste well enough but it was so dry it was hard to enjoy it. We also had guacamole which was good. My friend ordered filet mignon and this seems to be a different cut than what we think of as filet mignon in the US. It was more like brisket that hadn't been cooked long enough. Very tough and also came almost raw, although I am sure I conveyed that she wanted it done medium. They took it back and cooked it more but i was still on the bloody side and tough. The servers were very nice and they did have a menu for us in English. I don't recall the prices here, but it wasn't inexpensive.

        Across the street from the hotel was El Gran Pastor and we enjoyed our first meal there so much, we went back for a second. At our first meal, we had guacamole, queso flameado (melted cheese with chorizo on top, rolled up and sliced) and Arrachera, which is a very tender marinated flank steak. We loved it all. The beef was well marinated and flavorful, and also tender. We liked it so much we ordered it again the second time we were there, with onions this time (Arrachera Encebollado). We ordered the Atropellado, which is a local dish which was sort of stewed beef with tomato, onion and I"m not sure what else. It was really good. We also ordered Ajuga Ribeye, which sort of translates to Needle steak. I'm not sure why that name, but what we received was a cut of beef that was very flavorful and tender, attached to a rib bone. No English spoken here. It was not inexpensive, about 265 pesos for the arrachera and 305 for the Aguja but well worth it.

        I didn't go there but some friends of ours went a few times to Italianni's and said it was some of the best Italian food they'd ever had. Another friend who was part of that group and is from New York City said it was fine, salty and really nothing special compared to what she's had in the US. Different strokes!

        Due to our circumstances (as well as safety concerns) we weren't able to really explore Monterrey but the people we met were all very friendly, although there is very little English spoken. Given our limitations, we felt like we ate really well and enjoyed most of what we got, although I do wonder how much better we would have been able to eat if we'd been able to go to some of these recommended places.

        1. I just went to El tío and everything from the traditional menu was excellent, we had the arrachera, cabrito, guacamole, tuétanos, queso fundido and the conserva de naranja con queso as dessert.