I recently returned from a 16-night visit to three cities in Mexico (Mexico City, Puebla, and Oaxaca) and will share my brief, mostly food-related impressions here. Before I begin, I’d like to thank Cristina (who I had the pleasure of meeting in the DF; more on this in additions to this thread), DiningDiva, Anonimo, and all of the others who contributed to the several planning threads that I posted before the trip.
One important tip I will offer, based on my own experience, is that one should not depend on taxi drivers to be familiar with your destination, even if that destination happens to be a fairly well-known hotel, restaurant, or sight. We saw no GPS in any taxi, nor did drivers volunteer to phone for directions. We spent about half an hour extra in the airport taxi, for example, trying to find our hotel. The best scenario is to have a map and be at least marginally familiar with the route to your destination, or else check with someone at your hotel, who might relay the information to a hotel taxi driver. We tended to hail taxis on the street, but we also used a few slightly more pricey radio taxis from our hotel. We got lost quite often in both types of vehicles. But on the bright side, we only had one accident in a taxi the entire week!
Now on to the food comments; prices given in local currency. I booked Pujol through OpenTable; others accepting reservations were booked by phone, mostly in advance of my arrival. I will add to this thread as time permits.
Most of my choices were generated by Chowhound and by assorted local, Spanish-language food sites; GOOD FOOD IN MEXICO CITY, a paperback by Nick Gilman, is also recommended, especially but not exclusively for casual eating.
Unfortunately, my partner did not share my enthusiasm for street and market food, so most of our experiences were at restaurants across the price spectrum, rather than the most informal eateries.
DULCE PATRIA. We stayed at Las Alcobas in Polanco, so I had booked our first comida at this restaurant, inside the hotel. Attractive contemporary dining room with attentive service. We ate lightly, sharing appetizer of Quesadillas Multicolores, (MP$146) a quartet of savory empanada-like pastries. The accompanying salsas were excellent and thought the quesadillas were tasty enough, they were nothing special. (Wish I had done more research on recommended dishes, here and elsewhere). Zucchini Blossom Soup ($128) with Turmeric Cream, on the other hand, was fabulous in both presentation (Dulce Patria excels at presentation and each dish was visually spectacular) and in taste. I thought about this soup for several days afterwards; even in a land of remarkable soups, this one stood out.
I skipped the main course, but my partner was very pleased with the “Baroque” sections of chicken breast sections rolled round a savory blend of caramelized fruits, robed with an exquisite black mole, and accompanied by a pressed cube of fideos. ($294)
An array of filled rolls, baked in house with pork, mole, cheese and pimento, and black bean, were quite good. English menu available. With one beer and one agua de guanabana, spiked with dried coconut shards, the total for this light lunch was $806, or about US$59 before tip in late October.
EL HUEQUITO, Calle Bolivar location in the Centro. Bite for bite, El Huequito’s taco al pastor, ordered with salsa and without onions, devoured on the street (they do have a dining room) was probably the best food I put in my mouth the entire trip, with a great textural contast between the charred ends, the pork itself, and the edgeing of fat. At $14, it was certainly the best value for money. How I wished we had had the time to return for more of the same, and to sample other items from their fairly extensive menu. (The al pastor I tried at El Tizoncito in Condesa was not in the same league; lacked the burnt ends of El Huequito, for one thing).
See two photos attached.
EL TURIX, Avenida E. Castellar, near Goldsmith. There was a line trailing out the door each time we walked past this quintessential hole-in-the-wall and, after eating there I can understand the reason. There are two things on the menu: Sopa de lima, and cochinita al pibil, the latter offered with three types of wrapper and explained by the helpful owner and lone staff member. They were out of the sopa de lima.
Cochinita pibil, ordered in taco form, as good as its reputation. Minimal counter space.
Three tacos of cochinita pibil=$42. Open daily from 10am.
DULCINEA, Oscar Wilde, 29, just off Ave. Pres. Masaryk. We were looking for a light meal very close to the hotel and this popular, casual eatery with modern Mexican food and a few “international” dishes (they call themselves “cocina urbana”) was suggested by the concierge. Trio of Angus sliders at neighboring table looked very good. We ordered two soups: Flor de Calabaza very good but paled beside version at Dulce Patria, across the street. My chicken-based soup (forget the name, but shards of chicharron gave it heft and enormous flavor), was superb. Another dish that I thought about for days after eating. Good spot if staying in the area, but I would not make a detour. Friendly; full bar.
Photo below is of street-fronting counter at El Huequito; photo top is a cook at the grill at same location, with bola of pork in the background.