“As much as we think we know and love it, we have barely scratched the surface of what Mexican food really is. It is NOT melted cheese over a tortilla chip. It is not simple, or easy.”
– Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown
The plan was to get fat in Mexico. I wanted to gorge on tacos and chilaquiles and whatever else I could find.
Then I got food poisoning and that plan came to an abrupt end. It was torture walking around the city with all the aromas from food vendors and restaurants while contemplating what my stomach could handle.
But I managed to find some delicious food on the days that I could actually eat in Mexico City.
It all started with a torta at Tacotento — I was desperate for food and found the pedestrian mall along Genova. This is a great popular area for locals and tourists with a ton of restaurants and bars, and it was right by my hotel.
Torta pastor was the right choice, though it was a lot more food than I expected. This is a grilled pork with onions, cheese, avocado, and probably some other things. It was a little spicy, greasy, and savory. It was a wonderful combination and introduction to Mexican cuisine.
On the morning before meeting my friend for a tour around Mexico City, I wandered around the neighborhood and got a bite to eat on the street. I chose a street taco vendor that had a police officer as a customer — I figured that’s the safer bet as a vendor wouldn’t want to sicken the police. There were options — I understood the chicken, pork, and beef — and I chose the one that I didn’t recognize, which I think was chorizo with onions and who-knows-what. It was just enough to get me to brunch, particularly as my friend was running late.
As I had more time to wander around the neighborhood before meeting my friend, I came across Washington Plaza and a few little outdoor cafes. The one that got my attention was La Rifa, which specializes in chocolate drinks, like delicious chili hot chocolate. The area was quiet and welcoming, and the stone mugs for the hot chocolate made the experience even better. I enjoyed this place so much that I went back to try the cardamom hot chocolate as well.
At Cafe Nin, I found a beautiful restaurant that specializes in pastries. If I lived in Mexico City, I would be there often. This place gets crowded on the weekends, so it was best that I arrived well before my friend to get a table.
I ordered the one thing on the menu that I didn’t recognize at all — fried eggs with a sort of thick tomato sauce. I don’t know what else was in it, but it was delicious. And with a little coaxing, I tried Cafe Nin’s specialty, the guava roll.
I’m not much for pastries or desserts, but when something is specialty I’ll make an exception. This was a great exception to make.
Later in the evening, my friend took me to a popular taco place called Tacqueria Orinoco on the way back to my hotel. I don’t know why, but I decided to order three, which might not have been the best decision, but it was so good. There are no photos of the tacos because I devoured them a little too fast. On the bright side, my friend said I eat tacos like a real Mexican.
On my last day in Mexico City, I had what can only be described as a heavenly lunch after my visit to the National Anthropology Museum in Bosque de Chapultepec (grasshopper park). As I was about to exit the museum, I spotted a sign for the restaurant — it was hidden down the stairs and off to the side (and the sign was rather small). I decided to at least check it out before taking the long walk back to the subway station.
Sala Gastronómica at Museo Nacional de Antrolpología is wonderful — the outdoor seating area makes it the perfect location for brunch. The interior was well designed as well, but who cares when the outdoor area is beautiful.
Despite feeling significantly better on my last day, I decided not to tempt fate with the choices Sala Gastronómica had to offer. I was there just in time to order from the breakfast menu and took advantage of the fruit plate with yogurt and French toast with agave syrup.
I did not expect such a large plate of fresh fruit (I was expecting more yogurt and granola though). And fresh figs on the French toast was absolutely amazing. It made me wish I could’ve ordered everything else on the menu.
I had a few other meals in the city after I returned from San Miguel de Allende, but they were nothing to write about.