Eating in Mexico City:
Joy for the palate, from-day-to day
By Olivier Bourque
For Mexicans, cuisine is a way of life. Proof: For the diversity of its natural ingredients, its techniques and rituals, its sense of community and its impact on sustainable development, the Mexican cuisine is acknowledge by UNESCO, as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity asset.
In the capital, there are so many food counters, the taquerias, which are small stores serving fresh juice, and whose itinerant cooks season the meat while listening to very loud music...
In Mexico City, in the old Aztec capital where the past meets the present, the choices are not lacking.
What is the culinary specialty of Mexico City?
Certainly the tacos. But in the megalopolis, there is a spotlight: the Taco al pastor. The Mexicans marinate pieces of pork and agglutinate them on a pin for a slow cooking. Then, they cut the pieces which will go in the taco.
There are a few variants, but generally, pork is topped with salsa verde (green) or salsa roja (red), onion, Oaxaca cheese, a good handful of coriander, sometimes small pieces of pineapple and, of course, lime.
Forget the tacos you have eaten in all-inclusive resorts which surround the coastline: Those of the capital are the best of all. The tacos are hot, a bit crispy, the ingredients are fresh, and sauces heighten the taste. Happiness for only a few dollars.
We cannot advise you one place or the other. Tacos are available everywhere. And there may be a hundred different choices: with guacamole, shrimp, frijoles (black beans puree), marinated beef, etc.
Pozole soup at the Casa Tono
Another classic of the Mexican cuisine: Soup! Go during the evening. Locals love to sit down in front of a large bowl to enjoy a broth full of flavors. You may crack for the sopa de tortilla (tortilla soup, with broth made from hot peppers, decorated with avocado portions).
But another soup stands out favorably: Pozole. A wonderful friendly and large place to eat it in the capital remains the Casa de Tono, in Zona Rosa district (144 London St.).
Essentially, pozole is composed of a broth sometimes with tomatoes, large chunks of chicken or pork, corn, radishes and salad. My Mexican friend Pepe accompanies the soup with tortillas or tostadas, sour cream and pepper sauce. A true delight.
Fond of the ceviches…
It is often forgotten, but seafood is also a mexican specialty. With the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico, off the Caribbean Sea and of the Pacific, the country has developed a teeming gastronomy with the products of the sea.
In Mexico City, which is a former drained lake and an ocean of concrete today, the most popular dish remains the ceviche: Pieces of raw fish cooked by salt, lemon or lime.
In the different markets of the capital, you can eat this succulent dish for a few dollars, including the very nice market of Coyoacan, South of the city. They include shrimp, scallops, onions, tomatoes, avocado, coriander, lime. To be savored with tostadas or small crackers.
Eating on the street is also a national sport in Mexico! Please do not hesitate to order a fresh fruit juice for a handful of spare change.
Another pearl to discover: The tlacoyos, which are maize cakes, usually blue, on which they spread Oaxaca cheese, strong sauce, frijoles and cactus. These are not found everywhere, but you can find some among street vendors near the Bosque de Chapultepec, the largest park of Mexico City.
Within the park, another classic: The chicharonnes, potato chips made from fried pig skin. It will cost you only 50 cents to taste them with lime juice and spicy sauce.
The Mexicans love desserts! Everywhere, you will find small bakeries bursting with sweet rolls, croissants with caramel… There is a lot of choice!
A good address: The Coffee Tacuba (28 Tacuba St.), a beautiful restaurant with spectacular stained glass windows. When the windows are open, you can hear the Orgues de barbari e players.
Under any pretext, you must not miss churros (pastries in a bean shape, often sprinkled with sugar and stuffed with caramel) and hot chocolate, thick enough... Unforgettable!
As you are there, indulge with enchiladas. Very caloric, but so comforting.
In the evening, Plaza Garibaldi direction: To hear the mariachis, all dressed in white and pale blue. Drink a Tequila, a Mezcal or a Corona.
Listen to the street vendors in the popular neighborhood Tepito. In the far distance, the rumor of the city.
An intoxicating relaxation in the heart of the city.