Archive for the Mexico City Category

Mexico City – Barrio Roma Norte

Posted in Mexico, Mexico City, Roma Norte, State of Mexico with tags , , on February 8, 2017 by gannet39

Barrio Roma is the neighbourhood to the south of Juárez where I was staying. It’s a big district so it gets divided into Roma Norte and Roma Sur. It’s where I’d probably choose live if I ever happened to migrate to Mexico City as it’s quite nice and presumably safe. And of course there are some very good bars and restaurants here…

Google map here.

Maximo Bistro (Advanced B+), Calle Tonalá 133, www.maximobistrot.com.mx

This is perhaps the best place in town; refined but unpretentious. I came here in desperate need of some good quality food after three weeks of eating not particularly well. Both Mexican and European, particularly Spanish, influences are evident in the food which is fresh and seasonal.

It’s supposed to be hard to get in to without a reservation, but I managed to get a table on a Saturday night by arriving just as they opened at 6.45. The duty manager was a bit uppity at first but he let me in after a bit of negotiation (I promised to be out by 9pm which was ample time) and became even warmer for some reason when he saw me taking pics of the food (a secondary benefit of being a blogger).

I choose a table outside on the pavement but halfway through my meal a heavy rainstorm arrived which prompted the waiters to unfurl the awnings. I didn’t mind as it was quite atmospheric to sit under the awning and watch the torrential rain pound the street just a couple of metres away.

I started with a Caipirinha de Durazno; a Brazilian cachaça rum cocktail made with peaches. It was nice but could perhaps have been a little stronger (A-).

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First I was given some complimentary aubergine and cabra goat’s cheese (B+) with some nice bread (B). After this, eight oysters which were great (A), served with a salsa which was less so (B).

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The Sauvignon Blanc went pretty well with them (B-).

For the main, some delicious Lechon Confitado (confit of suckling pig) presented on (hallelujah!) a warm plate (B+) and served with a potato puree (B+) and Salsa Tatemada or ‘charred’ salsa where the chillies have been char grilled (B).

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The house Cabernet Merlot suited this well (B). It was from the Valle de Guadalupe in California Baja.

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After this I had some Mexican cheeses which were of equal quality (A/B) to anything I’ve had from Spain. There are a few differences though as many cheeses in Mexico (eg Manchego) are made with a mixture of cows’ and goats’ milk rather than sheep’s milk. In Spain all three are used.

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To finish, some excellent homemade ice cream with raspberries and blackberries (A).

Overall a very good experience. Definitely the place to come if you are in need of some mollycoddling.

Riveira del Sur (Intermediate A), Chiapas 174

I first came to this large neighbourhood venue at the behest of my old acquaintance Hamish who I hadn’t seen for at least ten years. He moved to Mexico City from Manchester, via a stint in New York and opened his own restaurant serving Mexican food with himself in the kitchen. Amongst other things he is now a food writer so I was very happy to put myself in his knowledgable hands.

While catching up on each other’s lives, he ordered some choice tacos and gave me an introduction to mezcal, his favourite Mexican liquor.

Hitherto I’d only drunk tequila and avoided mezcal, believing it to be inferior. Hamish put me right and explained that, while bad mezcal does exist, the good stuff is much more of an artisanal product, had more varieties and generally tasted better. I wasn’t about to argue.

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Tequila can only be made from Blue Agave, whereas mezcal can be distilled from one of more than forty different types of agave.

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We tried three different ones from a distiller called Espirituosa from Oaxaca which has very colourful bottles.

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Also Maestro Tequilero Tequila Blanco Clasico, a clear tequila that gets good reviews.

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The salt of choice for glass rims is Sal con Gusano de Maguey, or Salt with >Maguey Worm. Also known as Mezcal worms these are usually red (Gusano Rojo) but other varieties exist. They can also be put into the bottle to add flavour.

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I was too busy chatting to notice which mezcal was best or make notes about the food but everything was very good as I recall.

We had Kibis (left in the picture below) which are small meatballs (of Lebanese origin, now very common in Yucatan) made with bulgar wheat and a mix of fried meats and served with a yogurt and mint sauce.

Also Pescadilla de Cazón (right in the picture); fried corn flour pockets stuffed with dogfish, accompanied by Chiltomate, a traditional Yucatecan tomato sauce.

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Taco Lechon Asado; a roast suckling pig taco with red onion.

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Taco Poc Chuc; a Yucatan recipe of grilled pork marinated in citrus.

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So, a good spot to sample the delights of Yucatan with an extensive range of bottles on the bar. It would be interesting to go later in the evening when it becomes a busy card school.

Tacos Nena (Elementary A), Mérida 218, on the corner with Chiapas

One night Hamish and his girlfriend brought me to this street kitchen which is one of their favourite places to get tacos.

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It’s a family business that’s been operating for more than twenty years and they now have a reputation for serving the best tacos in Roma.

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They are only open after 7pm and you might need to wait a short while for a table. You would definitely need to speak some Spanish.

And that’s it for Mexico! Next, homeward bound!

Mexico City – Chapultepec – Museo Nacional de Antropología – The Olmecs

Posted in Chapultepec, Mexico, Mexico City, State of Mexico on February 7, 2017 by gannet39

As I mentioned in my previous post on the Aztecs, the Museo Nacional de Antropología (closed Monday but open every other day from 9am to 7pm) is so large, you won’t be able to see it in one go, or even five goes, so you have to choose wisely.

I only saw the Aztec and the Oaxaca Area displays. The latter includes the Olmecs who are a favourite of mine, due to their amazing sculptures of large stone heads (see the very last picture).

Click on a photo to go to full screen slideshow mode (recommended).

So much fascinating art, I can’t wait to go back to see the other exhibits.

Should you need it, here’s my Google map.

Mexico City – Chapultepec – Museo Nacional de Antropología – The Aztecs

Posted in Chapultepec, Mexico, Mexico City, State of Mexico on February 6, 2017 by gannet39

Chapultepec, more properly called the Bosque de Chapultepec, is Mexico City’s biggest park, and in fact the largest park in Latin America. In pre-Columbian times it was a retreat for the Aztec rulers and now it serves a similar role as a green lung for the capital’s populace.

Along with other institutions it contains the marvellous Museo Nacional de Antropología (closed Monday but open every other day from 9am to 7pm) which is one of the most interesting museums I’ve ever been to. Google map here.

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However, it’s so big that I only saw a fraction of what was on display. As I had to work, I only arrived at 5pm and given my limited time (it closes at 7pm) the guy at the information desk recommended that I just see the highlights which, according to him, were the Teotihuacan, Aztec and Maya rooms.

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In practice though, I only saw the Aztecs and the Oaxaca Area displays (see next post for the latter). In fact I spent 2.5 hours in just two of the twelve rooms on the ground floor, and there are another ten rooms on the second floor! In short, choose wisely and give yourself plenty of time!

Click on a photo to go to full screen slideshow…


Amazing stuff don’t you think? See my next  post for the Olmecs (also amazing).

Mexico City – Colonia Centro – Eating & Drinking

Posted in Centro, Mexico, Mexico City, State of Mexico on February 5, 2017 by gannet39

Colonia Centro is the official neighbourhood to the east of the eastern end of Paseo de la Reforma and south of the Centro Historico. There seems to be a lot of good bars and restaurants in this area.

Los Cocuyos (Elementary B+), Calle de Bolívar 57

I came to this tiny hole-in-the-wall taqueria on the first night I arrived in Mexico. It’s a Lonely Planet top choice and also features in the Mexico City edition of Anthony Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations’ TV show (at 12.54).

They specialise in beef tacos, particularly offal. All the space behind the counter is taken up by a big chopping board and a large cauldron of various cow parts simmering away.

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The menu lists such delicacies as Cabeza (head), Ojo (eye), Tronca de Oreja (ear), Trippa (tripe), Lengua (tongue), Sesos (brains), Trompa (snout), Cacheta (beef cheeks), Maciza (a cut from the shoulder), Suadero (a thin cut between the belly and the leg) and Longaniza (a spicy pork sausage). All the tacos cost around 15 pesos (about 50p).

I went for the Campechano, a mix of beef and Longaniza which turned out to be a safe bet (B+). The bloke behind the counter hoiked the relevant parts out of the cauldron and hacked them up with a large machete before presenting them tenderly on top of two tortillas dessed with raw onion, coriander and green salsa.

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I also liked the Lengua (B). I had a few others but was too busy chatting with some friendly locals to keep notes. As I recall, they all scored around B though, which means they were fine.

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El Huequito (Low Intermediate B+) Calle Bolívar 58, www.elhuequito.com.mx

Another taqueria, although you can sit down in this one, right next door to Los Cocuyos. El Huequito also features on Bourdain’s ‘No Reservations‘ (at 14.45).

Since 1959 the ‘Little Hole’ has been famous for its Tacos al Pastor which is considered to be the emblematic dish of the capital.

According to this article, this particular taco was inspired by the Shawarma which was brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants in the 1930s. It differs only in that the meat is pork rather than lamb.

Cantina Tio Pepe (Intermediate B), Dolores on the corner with Independencia

I popped in to this traditional bar with my local buddy Hamish for a couple of beers one afternoon. Opened in 1890, it’s the oldest cantina in Mexico City, and it still retains many of its original fittings, including what used to be a urinal running along the bottom of the bar! Some say this is the “cheap cantina off Dolores” that William Burroughs wrote about in ‘Junky’.

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Bosforo (Intermediate B+), Luis Moya 31

My friend Hamish much prefers mezcal to tequila and this is his favourite mezcal bar. It has a hipster feel with modern surroundings, a young staff and a good range of fine mezcals.

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In the past I’ve always steered clear of mezcal because I believed it to be inferior to tequila which is regulated by a professional association. Hamish is not a fan of tequila as he finds it too bland and generic, as well as containing many additives to maintain a consistent flavour. Mezcal on the other hand comes in more varied flavours and its production is generally artesenal.

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Originally tequila was of course a kind of mezcal, but association regulations stipulate that only Blue Agave can be used in its production, as opposed to mezcal which can be produced from as many as forty different kinds of agave. This article can explain more differences.

They generally didn’t have that much taste except for one, our favourite, where an uncooked Capón (chicken) had been hung at the top of the distilling chamber! Apparently the chicken is good to eat at the end of the process.

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Hamish finally won me over, but only after plying me with several examples of the genre. I’m still a fan now, even though my hangover was pretty brutal the next day!

Pulqueria Las Duelistas (Elementary B), Calle Aranda 28

We came here on Hamish’s suggestion so that I could try Pulque, a traditional alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the agave.

To my palate it’s pretty disgusting (D) and I only managed a couple of sips before we left, however the place was absolutely packed out, so obviously a lot of people do like it.

I had the ‘blanco’ version for about 15 pesos. You can get fruit flavours called ‘curados’ as well which might be a bit more acceptable to the European palate. Here they included Avena (oats), Apio (celery), Guayaba (guava), Piñon (pine nut), Tamarindo (tamarind), Zarzamora (Blackberry) and Mamey (a local fruit).

Although this is quite an old place (since 1912) it’s been renovated and painted and the crowd looks very young and studenty.

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Also in this district is El Cardenal www.restauranteelcardenal.com at Juárez 70; a restaurant specialising in traditional foods. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to go but if I’m ever here between February and April I’d be up for trying their Escamoles (ant caviar).

Mexico City – Cuauhtémoc

Posted in Cuauhtémoc, Mexico, Mexico City, State of Mexico on February 4, 2017 by gannet39

Cuauhtémoc is the colonia (official neighbourhood) to the north of Paseo de la Reforma at its western end. It’s a short walk from the Hotel Geneve in Juárez. Google map here.

There’s a good Japanese restaurant Cuauhtémoc.

Rokai (High Intermediate B+), www.edokobayashi.com

Unfortunately I had an upset stomach during my last few days in Mexico City and I’d generally had enough of Mexican food after three weeks of eating little else. I was also craving plain white rice which is very good for sorting out tummy trouble.

A good quality Japanese restaurant was just what I needed and this place, according to the friendly guy sitting next to me at least, is the best one in Mexico. I came twice and thoroughly enjoyed it each time.

The sushi chefs are mostly Mexican and don’t speak Japanese (which I speak better than Spanish), but there was a younger Japanese guy working there who I hit it off with. The restaurant is owned and overseen by an older Japanese ‘masta’, so all is as it should be.

Himalayan rock salt

Himalayan rock salt

A good lunch choice would be the Kai Sen Chrirashi Zushi, a bowl of sushi rice topped with ‘scattered’ sashimi such as, in this case, Akami (dark Bluefin tuna), Hamachi (sea bream), Suzuki (Japanese sea bass), Sake (salmon), Tako (octopus), Tamago (omelette) and Ikura (salmon roe).

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The Negi Toro Don (minced fatty tuna on rice, topped with Japanese spring onion) is also a good choice.

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These were never enough for me though and I added on quite a few items. Once I start eating Japanese food I can’t stop!

I enjoyed this trio of starters including Salmon Ahumado con Esparragos Albinos (smoked salmon with white asparagus), Ankimo (Monkfish liver) and Kaki (oyster) with roe.

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There are some Mexican items on the menu as well. On the second visit I tried a Tamale made with roast aubergine and goat’s cheese which was interesting.

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I think many Japanese sushi chefs would say that meat shouldn’t be served with seafood, but the Sondra beef teriyaki broke that rule.

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I can never resist at least one nigiri of Otoro (Bluefin again but the best cut from the belly).

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I was also introduced to a couple of Japanese beers I’d never encountered before, such as Orion from Okinawa…

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… and Asahi Kuronama black beer.

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A local also insisted I try the Colima which he described as the best Mexican lager. I think he’s probably right.

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The friendly guy who sat next to me on one occasion worked in the food industry and was happy to give me some recommendations for the best restaurants in Mexico City. They included Maximo Bistro which I’d been to (see my Barrio Roma Norte post) and Sud 777 which I hadn’t.

He also warned me off insect eating (a tradition which is having a resurgence) except for the Escamoles (ant pupae and larvae) at El Cardenal which are truly delicious, but unfortunately they were out of season (February to April) when I was there. Having recently eaten wood ants in the UK, which were great, I believe him.

Mexico City – Paseo de la Reforma

Posted in Cuauhtémoc, Juárez, Mexico, Mexico City, Paseo de la Reforma, State of Mexico on February 3, 2017 by gannet39

Paseo de la Reforma is a broad boulevard that runs through the middle of the centre. At the western end it separates the neighbourhoods of Cuauhtémoc to the north and Juárez to the south.

Halfway along the Paseo is the statue of El Ángel de la Independencia; the angel of independence.

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A bit further along is the Fuente de La Diana Cazadora, a fountain dedicated to the hunting goddess Diana.

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The Paseo is home to some of Mexico’s tallest buildings, such as the Torre Libertad (also known as the Torre St Regis)

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Opposite is the unusual Corporativo Reforma Diana office building.

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And a little further along, the Torre BBVA Bancomer.

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Mexico City – Colonia Juárez

Posted in Juárez, Mexico, Mexico City, State of Mexico on February 2, 2017 by gannet39

For both my stays in the capital my employer put me up in a hotel in Juárez, a famous barrio in the heart of Mexico City. (Google map here).

It’s a long, triangular neighbourhood formed by Paseo de la Reforma (see my next post) to the north, Avenida Chapultepec to the south, and Avenida Bucareli (Eje 1 Poniente) to the east.

I stayed at the historic and beautiful Hotel Geneve www.hotelgeneve.com at Londres 130.

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Built in 1907, this hotel is renowned for many reasons. When it opened it was the first hotel in Mexico to accept women travelling alone and in 1910 the first sandwich in Mexico was served here. During the Mexican revolution it was a neutral zone for both revolutionaries and members of the establishment who stayed there at the same time. Famous guests include Winston Churchill, William Randolph Hurst, Charles Lindburgh, Marlon Brando and Gabriel García Márquez. Here’s a video that was made to celebrate its centenary.

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Colonia Juárez also incorporates the Zona Rosa which got its name in the 1950s for being a bohemian area populated by artists and intellectuals.

In more recent times it has become the most popular area for Mexico City’s gay community who frequent the bars around Calle Amberes.

The area west of Florencia is also called ‘Little Seoul’ as many Korean immigrants have located their businesses there.

I’m sure there are quite a few decent places to eat in Juárez. Here’s a couple I can vouch for.

Fonda El Refugio (Advanced B+), Liverpool 166

This is a relatively pricey, formal place just around the corner from the hotel. It was recommended by the receptionist for traditional Mexican food.

Although I’m quite happy to eat street food, this is the kind of place I usually have to come to avoid the possibility of getting tummy trouble which could affect my job.

There are only about half a dozen tables so service is prompt and efficient. The surroundings are simple and traditional.

I began with a stellar Margarita (A).

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I followed with Sopes which are circle of fried ground maize soaked in lime (known as ‘masa’), typically topped with refried black beans, cheese, lettuce, onions, salsa and sour cream. In my case, it was shredded chicken, guacamole and crumbled cheese, with green salsa on the side, all very nice (B+).

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Then the traditional dish of Chile en Nogada, a very big poblano chilli stuffed with picadillo (typically shredded meat with spices) and topped with pomegranate seeds and ‘nogada’, a walnut and cream sauce. It was quite rich but I liked it (B+).

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Finally, Natilla, a vanilla custard (B+)…

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…and a Liquor Agavero, which is a sweet blend of reposado and anejo tequilas and Damiana flowers which are reputed to be an aphrodisiac. It’s a liqueur that I’m particularly fond of (A+), especially with dessert.

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King Falafel (Elementary B), Londres 138

Recommended by Lonely Planet, this is a good place to come for veggies, or if you fancy a change from Mexican food. I love falafel and they do it quite well here (B).
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Please also see my Cuauhtémoc post for a good Japanese restaurant fairly near the hotel, on the other side of Paseo de la Reforma.

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