Mexico City: Food is Love

One of the things I was most looking forward to before visiting Mexico was the food. DF did not disappoint. We ate at a few restaurants, which ranged from a few bucks cheaper than NYC prices to comparable, but street food is definitely the way to go. A local directed us to Coyoacán after a visit to La Casa Azul. It was a paradise of food vendors and we wandered around sharing several different items. In general, I skipped vendors that had lackadaisical food safety practices, looked for groups of locals, and followed my nose. I didn’t spend enough time eating the same things at different places, so rather than compare, here are my favorite things I ate. I also didn’t have a chance to eat at Pugol, recognized on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013 list by San Pellegrino, but my eyes popped out of my head as my friend described the tasting menu, so next time for sure. Yelp hasn’t branched out to Mexico yet (my friend joked that Mexicans don’t believe in it, but I suspect it’s tricky to specify the lady selling corn under the blue tarp). Another thing that hasn’t caught on is Instagraming everything you eat; we definitely stuck out as five cameras came out before eating just about anything.

In no particular order:

Tlayuda– I’ve never seen this in the States before. A crisp, oblong tortilla, with a layer of beans, onions, nopales (prickly pear cactus, almost has the flavor of okra or green beans), from Oaxaca.
Esquites– Corn, but not the ubiquitous sweet corn, this variety has a very large kernel. Like elote, we had it with lime, chile, and cojita cheese. But esquites comes in a cup, with the delicious pot liquor from the corn. I haven’t seen this in the States, either, but I’m told I can find it on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens.
Nieves– Literally, snow. Think of the best Italian ices. Flavors range from fruity to creamy, and the best we had were from Tepoznieves. We paired a fruity watermelon with a creamy Mil Flores, a blend of spikenard (an aromatic), gardenia, lily, white chocolate, and almonds. Incredibly delicious.
Paletas– Popsicles, but again, the flavors ranged from fruity to creamy. Best came from a paleteria called La Michoacana.
Tropical fruit– Fresh cut fruit, enhanced with lime, salt, and chile. My favorite was the combination, which had watermelon, pineapple, papaya, and mango.
Cajeta– Similar to caramel, but made from goat’s milk, so it has a mild tartness. Eat it on toast or ice cream.
Churros– Real churros, fresh and hot, not like the ones people sell around NYC. These were filled with cajeta.
Potato chips– Fresh potato chips, served with chile and lime. Dorilocos is a version made with Doritos, but that just seemed silly.
Torta– A sandwich with layers of beans, cheese, and meat, grilled to order. The guy near the corner of Isabel la Católica and 5 de Mayo made mouth-watering tortas.
Chile en nogada– A poblano chile filled with ground beef, raisins, topped with a white walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds: a great combination of sweet and savory in the colors of the Mexican flag. We went to La Hosteria de Santo Domingo, at the recommendation of locals. The dish can easily be shared.
Oaxacan omelette– We ordered a selection of breakfast items at Café El Popular and shared them. Everything was delicious. I ordered the Oaxacan omelette, filled with Oaxacan cheese and bathed in a red chile sauce. The cafe con leche was rich and strong. The waitress asked you to say when for the coffee, then poured the milk from up high, just to the rim of the glass.
Quesadilla– A thin corn tortilla filled with well-seasoned meat and cheese, not the bland flour tortilla and fillings you get in the States.
Concha– A sweet bread in the shape of a shell, with a thin glaze of sugar on top. We wandered to a hole in the wall bakery, Fruity Pays, after noticing the smell of sugar in the air.
Pulque– Agave that is fermented, not distilled (like tequila or mezcal). It has that fermented taste, a little sour, and is sweetened with fruit. I had blackberry. It’s a delicious drink, very refreshing and filling. I haven’t seen this in the States either, but I hear you can find cans of it in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Margarita– I was surprised how hard it was to find a decent margarita. The best was at an upscale cocktail place called La Casa de Las Sirenas. They even had a nice selection of Cuban rums.
So little time, so many delicious things to eat. ¡Buen provecho!

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