We arrived at this beautiful Colonial city by direct, very comfortable ADO luxury bus from the TAPO terminal in Mexico City. Here again, do not rely on a taxi driver to know the address of your hotel. Enough said on that issue; by Oaxaca, I finally learned!
With only two nights and one-and-a-half days, we scarcely time to skim the surface of the gastronomic delights on offer within the historic center, let alone time to venture to Cholula and the outlying region. So I have only very brief notes to offer:
LAS RANAS. Very short walk from the Zocalo, tucked into the courtyard of a Colonial building, Las Ranas announces itself by the glistening spit of pork turning at the entrance.
You know what to order: Several varieties of al Pastor, depending on the wrapping (flour tortilla or corn tortilla--both with pineapple, or “Arab” bread, reportedly a cross between pita bread and a flour tortilla, but you’d be hard pressed to find much difference between this and a flour tortilla and which is served sans pineapple).
Tiny distinctions aside, these are al Pastor of the first order: Charred edges, a bit of fat, succulent pork, served with excellent salsas-- but certainly include a helping of Frijoles Charros, as these red beans, with lashings of pork, are fantastic. Price for a meal of 1 Gringo with Flour Tortilla and Cheese, 1 Arabe, 1 Frijoles Charros, 1 agua de jamaica, and one Coke: $80.
For all I know, restaurants like these may be a dime a dozen in Puebla, which seems to be a food city of the highest order. But this is a place I did visit, and one I would return to, again and again. Fellow diners appeared to be locals; sports on tv screens; helpful but efficient service. (Not sure if servers speak English, though) I wanted to return here again, and again and it was only the idea that I “should” branch out that kept me from dining here at every meal.
Note that there are two Las Ranas, facing each other diagonally across Avenida Poniente. We ate at the branch closest to the Zolcalo; you may have to peer to find the names of both on their awnings. And (this is obviously obvious to many, I am sure) if you remember that Poniente refers to “west” and Oriente to “east,” and you will be on your way to orienting yourselves in Puebla. Opens at 12pm.
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