LTH Home

Mexico City

Mexico City
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
     Page 1 of 3
  • Mexico City

    Post #1 - March 22nd, 2007, 7:21 pm
    Post #1 - March 22nd, 2007, 7:21 pm Post #1 - March 22nd, 2007, 7:21 pm
    Dear LTH -

    In September, Mrs. JiLS and I are planning a week in Mexico City. This is the first time since ... gasp ... June 1997 that I have actually been able to take off an entire week from work for a vacation (and that vacation was made with an earlier and different wife), so not to thrust too much responsibility for my happiness upon you, dear LTH, but know that this really needs to be a spectacular trip, for a multitude of reasons. We are staying right in the heart of town primarily because of a great deal we received, but are happy to make our way to any corner of the city you dear folks may recommend. Thanking you in advance,

    VTY,

    JiLS
    JiLS
  • Post #2 - March 22nd, 2007, 7:27 pm
    Post #2 - March 22nd, 2007, 7:27 pm Post #2 - March 22nd, 2007, 7:27 pm
    Near the Zocalo is one of my favorite restaurants in the world: El Danubio - for mariscos.

    Bill/SFNM
  • Post #3 - March 23rd, 2007, 12:03 am
    Post #3 - March 23rd, 2007, 12:03 am Post #3 - March 23rd, 2007, 12:03 am
    I didn't take any notes (shame on me) but there were a few episodes of Mexico One Plate at a Time last season where RB visited nice looking spots in Mexico City, from simple to fancy.

    A bit of cursory searching shows no signs of these being packaged for purchase or rental. Shoulda been taking notes. Maybe some diligent LTHer has saved back episodes?

    Ah, some references on the Frontera Kitchens website... the tacos al pastor at El Farolito from the Quest for Fire episode looked really good...

    Tortas from Sport Torta from the episode with a lucha libre theme.

    For a more upscale meal, he made a few visits to MP where he seems to be good friends with chef Monica Patiño.

    In general, I definitely got the idea that I'd really like to visit Mexico DF before long...

    those are things that rung a bell skimming the episode guide. I only really started watching the show last year... this current season seems all focused on the Yucatan, and I think is still in new episodes, but perhaps if you keep an eye on the program guide (or set your DVR) you might catch some of these in reruns before your trip...
    Joe G.

    "Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
  • Post #4 - March 23rd, 2007, 7:01 am
    Post #4 - March 23rd, 2007, 7:01 am Post #4 - March 23rd, 2007, 7:01 am
    Joe, it's funny you should mention those episodes of Rick Bayless' show. I've only seen maybe three episodes of that series, and they included the Mexico City shows you note above. And, it was in large part because of those shows that I took an interest in seeing Mexico City, which previously had been off my travel-planning radar. I'd like to get to some of the very attractive-looking neighborhoods RB visited for the show; but I, too, did not take notes! Hopefully others here were better students...
    JiLS
  • Post #5 - March 23rd, 2007, 7:45 am
    Post #5 - March 23rd, 2007, 7:45 am Post #5 - March 23rd, 2007, 7:45 am
    Wow, Jim, you definitely need a vacation. The last time I was in Mexico City was too long ago to be helpful, but extramsg has a great series of posts on his trip there two(?) years ago. Here are the links:

    Intro:
    http://www.extramsg.com/modules.php?nam ... le&sid=650

    Mercado La Merced:
    http://www.extramsg.com/modules.php?nam ... le&sid=656

    Mexico City street food:
    http://www.extramsg.com/modules.php?nam ... le&sid=677

    Mexico City traditional restaurants:
    http://www.extramsg.com/modules.php?nam ... le&sid=887

    Mexico City alta cocina:
    http://www.extramsg.com/modules.php?nam ... le&sid=894

    Mexico City sweets:
    http://www.extramsg.com/modules.php?nam ... le&sid=915

    have fun!
    Amata

    p.s. don't miss the museum of anthropology and archaeology in Chapultepec park.
  • Post #6 - March 23rd, 2007, 10:00 am
    Post #6 - March 23rd, 2007, 10:00 am Post #6 - March 23rd, 2007, 10:00 am
    Coincidentally, Victor and I just took a long weekend in Mexico City a couple weeks ago; I have been meaning to post on it, but got derailed and then got sick. You are staying in a fabulous location--easy to get to everything. We stayed abt a half-mile further up the same street, closer to Chapultec Park.

    We loved our visit to Mexico City (first time) for many reasons, but chiefly the food. We did not have a bad meal, or bad service, for that matter. In the Zona Rosa (not far from your hotel), you should not miss Fonda El Refugio, which is a traditional Mexican place, been there for decades, and offers dishes from throughout Mexico. We went there our first night and did not order very adventurously, but very much enjoyed everything we tasted.

    First full day, our concierge, sensing we liked more authentic stuff, sent us to an old diner-ish type place in the historic center, Cafe La Blanca. Zero atmosphere--well no, that's not accurate. It was fabulous atmosphere, in the way that Manny's has a fabulous atmosphere. Here we had chilaquiles for the first time. Now, these are different than the ones I have seen described on lthforum. They are not mixed with eggs. It's chips, sauce, cream, and magic, topped with shredded chicken. Amazing! After this, we had chilaquiles at every opportunity. Always a little different, and always delicious.

    But never with eggs.

    Spent the day around the historic center, mostly gazing at Diego Rivera murals. Amazing! And highly recommended.

    Dinner, we tried Izote, in ritzy Polanco, which was good, but on the whole our most expensive and most forgettable meal. It is owned by a chef who returned to Mexico from the States, and features unusual twists on traditional dishes--basically, it's fusion. And I guess we felt like we didn't need to be in Mexico City to have fusion. Plenty of fusion in Chicago.

    Next day (Saturday) we headed to the outlying neighborhood of Coyoacan to visit Frida Kahlo's house (the blue house, if you've seen the movie) and Trotsky's house. Both very much worth seeing. Ate at a Oaxacan cafe along the central square, Los Danzantes. Again, had chilaquiles. Fabulous. And Mexican hot chocolate. We became very very happy.

    Then we headed over to San Angel for the Saturday Bazaar. You should not miss this if you are there on a Saturday and you want crafty souvenirs. Very high quality stuff. We had an afternoon pick-me-up at a restaurant in the same building as the bazaar. Appetizer assortment, guacamole. Yummy.

    Breakfast, next day, El Cardinale. Now, due to schedule and so forth we didn't make it to the original, which is in the historic center and is probably the best place to go, but for our money, you can't go wrong with the one in the Sheraton opposite Alameda Park. On a Sunday morning, it was full of local folks (not just tourists), which tells you something. And the food was really really good. Victor had the eggs with ant eggs, being adventurous, which he ended up regretting just a bit (ant eggs were bigger than he expected--I guess Mexican ants are larger than ours). I had (again) the chilaquiles! Only regret was that I ordered them with steak, which greatly reduced the number of tortilla chips served (rather than shredded steak on top, analogous to the the typical shredded chicken, it was an actual steak, with chilaquiles on the side). Still, they were delicious. So was the hot chocolate.

    Then off to the anthropology museum which was very worthwhile, and dinner was at the Yucatecan restaurant Los Almendros, in Polanco. Lovely atmosphere; really a beautiful place. And delicious food. We had the appetizer sampler AND the dinner sampler, so we got to have lots of tastes. Standouts were the relleno negro, and the pibil pork, and a chicken cutlet dish I can't remember the name of anymore.

    Also, I have not harped on this because I am not much of a drinker, but Victor was thrilled with the tequila and the margaritas. These are typically not frozen, and served like shots, rather than like American-style cocktails. I am not a margarita fan, but I did like these margaritas. Everything absolutely fresh. They also do this thing where they serve a shot of tequila with a chaser of cocktail sauce, which Victor found intriguing (well, he found it more intriguing before I told him it was cocktail sauce).

    In short, you can't go wrong foodwise in Mexico City, and--depending on your interests (art, shopping, lucha libre)--you are sure to find other things to enjoy there. Even before we left, we were thinking about ways to return, and also to visit other parts of Mexico, whose food and crafts intrigued us.

    For timely and interesting information on visiting Mexico City and checking out its restaurants, do a search on the NY Times website; there was a "36 Hours in Mexico City" article a few weeks ago and within the past year or so, Mark Bittman did a restaurant roundup. Also, Rick Bayless had a piece in the Saveur 100 this year, naming Mexico City as something like "best food city in the world." He particularly cited a fresh food market, but unfortunately we did not get a chance to check it out.


    Fonda El Refugio
    Liverpool 166 Zona Rosa
    Mexico City, MX 06600
    Tels: 207 2732 525 8128
    525 5352 Fax: 207 8802

    Cafe La Blanca
    5 de Mayo #40

    Los Danzantes
    Plaza Jardín Centenario no. 12 Col. Villa Coyoacan
    C.P. 04000, México D.F.
    Phone: 5658-6054 / 5658-6451.
    Fax: 5554-2896
    E-mail: tigre@losdanzantes.com.mx
    Website: www.losdanzantes.com.mx

    El Cardenal
    (in the Sheraton Centro Historico)
    Av. Juarez 70
    Colonia Centro
    Mexico City, D.F.
    06010
    Phone: +52 55 5518 6632 33

    Los Almendros in Polanco
    Campos Eliseos # 164
    5531-6646 / 7307)
  • Post #7 - March 23rd, 2007, 2:49 pm
    Post #7 - March 23rd, 2007, 2:49 pm Post #7 - March 23rd, 2007, 2:49 pm
    I can't add much to the food information above. But if you have any interest in early 20th century history, socialism, political intrigue you should be sure to get to Trotsky's home. It is pretty much as it was when he died, with photos of him with Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and the like as well as pictures of him gardening and working. Fascinating and weirdly touching. Not far from Frida Kahlo's Blue House which we didn't get to b/c of rain and lack of time. For a huge city it is incredibly easy to get around --great public transport and a lot of places to walk. Enjoy.
  • Post #8 - March 23rd, 2007, 6:01 pm
    Post #8 - March 23rd, 2007, 6:01 pm Post #8 - March 23rd, 2007, 6:01 pm
    I really reccomend you hop in a cab on either Saturday or Sunday and go to the burb of Coyocan. It's only about 15 min outside of town and a very cheap cab ride (make them use the meter!). They have one of the best Mercado's I've ever been to...and I've been to Oaxaca, Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa... The Mercado is down the street that runs left, away from, the large Church at the top of the main square. The mercado has a TON of cooked food options, it's not all 'raw' food. Huge Civecheria located at the front corner. Venture inside for goat head tacos, chorizo grilled to order, oysters on the 1/2 shell, coctailes... It was my FAVORITE Mexico City experience.
  • Post #9 - March 25th, 2007, 1:28 am
    Post #9 - March 25th, 2007, 1:28 am Post #9 - March 25th, 2007, 1:28 am
    Dinner, we tried Izote, in ritzy Polanco, which was good, but on the whole our most expensive and most forgettable meal. It is owned by a chef who returned to Mexico from the States, and features unusual twists on traditional dishes--basically, it's fusion. And I guess we felt like we didn't need to be in Mexico City to have fusion. Plenty of fusion in Chicago.


    I'll offer a STRONG dissenting opinion here. I think my meal at Izote is one of the best I've had in the world. I've eaten plenty of mid- and up-scale Mexican in Mexico and the US (including several in Chicago). This is definitely the best I've had. The flavors are very true to their roots yet the dishes use high quality ingredients and are executed near flawlessly. It's not just flash or an attempt to be creative for creativity's sake. It's about using the knowledge, ingredients, and techniques from Mexican cuisine without limiting oneself to a stale repetoire. They're doing the same thing Mexicans have been doing for millenia. (Note that the Aztecs used to have runners who would bring them rare and favored ingredients from all over mesoamerica.) Also, I think Izote is a good value. You get **** quality food at ** prices. We're talking about a very knowledgeable Mexican chef in Quintana who has written several excellent Mexican cookbooks, not some French or German transplant in a hotel restaurant on the beach somewhere. This is real Mexican food.

    btw, another place I really like, one of Bayless's favorites, El Bajio, now has multiple locations, I believe, including one, perhaps, in the Polanco district. Its original location up north is a bitch to find even if you are in the neighborhood and grab a taxi. I think they do best with antojitos.

    I wouldn't in general pay too much attention to guide books for food. Don't be afraid to just go down a side street and look for a popular place. I suggest not taking too many cabs. Instead, take the cheap, busy, stuffy, and extensive Metro and walk from here to there. Plus, much of the best street food is near Metro stations. There's no better way to get a feel for a city and see things you wouldn't have otherwise seen than by walking.
    Unintentionally retired early by the pandemic, but without the golden parachute.
    Formerly Mi Mero Mole
    Formerly Zapapizza
    Formerly Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen
    Artisan Jewish Deli at Home Cookbook
  • Post #10 - April 11th, 2007, 9:56 am
    Post #10 - April 11th, 2007, 9:56 am Post #10 - April 11th, 2007, 9:56 am
    There's also this piece from this year's Saveur 100:

    http://www.saveur.com/saveur-travels/ca ... 50663.html
  • Post #11 - April 11th, 2007, 12:06 pm
    Post #11 - April 11th, 2007, 12:06 pm Post #11 - April 11th, 2007, 12:06 pm
    I returned Monday from a 4-day weekend in Mexico City, where I lived for 6 years. I took some photos I've yet to refine and write a report that I intend to post in this "Beyond Chicagoland" section - reviewing a couple (or several) of restaurants; I'll probably get around to doing that later in the week.

    I really enjoyed extramsg's prior series of reports on the market and street food. In the meantime (until I post those reviews/photos) - you can refamiliarize yourself with the city as it presently looks by having a look at some of the many Mexico City photos I've uploaded to online albums:

    http://community.webshots.com/user/billmasterson
  • Post #12 - April 18th, 2007, 5:44 am
    Post #12 - April 18th, 2007, 5:44 am Post #12 - April 18th, 2007, 5:44 am
    The five days I just spent in Mexico City provided a number of culinary highlights and lowlights.

    Highlights

    Bazar Sábado, in Coyoacán (a suburb just a few minutes and a cheap cab ride from the city).
    Inside this market of locally-crafted goods is a courtyard with a sit-down restaurant which we didn’t try, and a more informal “fast-food” stand where you order at one counter, pay at another, and pick up your food/drink directly from the cook/ bartender in the outdoor kitchen. Among the dozen or so excellent beer options, I got a bottle of Indio and then watched for a few minutes, as my quesadilla de flor de calabaza was prepared. I was lucky enough to be in Mexico during prime squash blossom season, so this was the first of what would be several flor quesadillas I tried. All were good, but this was the best. The tortillas were extremely fresh, as evidenced by both the hand-pressing I witnessed and by the delicious taste. The flor was very generous, and enhanced by a very light application of cheese and cilantro which I added from the multitude of accompaniments available (including raw onions, avocado clices, and several salsa varieties.)

    Mercado de la Merced
    Our hotel concierge and cab driver both warned us not to go to this place. “Dirty,” “Overcrowded”, “Seedy” were words they used to describe it. But I had read that this was the largest open market in Latin America, and one of the better sources of fresh fruits and veggies, so I was not to be dissuaded. The market is a feast for the senses, with scents of fresh fruits and vegetables and a number of crowded cafeteria-like counters with some serious cooking behind them, sounds of live poultry and pigs for sale, and the sight of what must have been thousands of people wading through the immense market which takes up the equivalent half a square mile or so (most of this space is non food related: toys, cheap jewelry, knockoff brand underwear, etc.). I was here for the fruit, and was not disappointed. Advice: bring your own knife and plenty of napkins. From three different stands, we bought a giant papaya, a mango, and a guanabana. After each purchase we found some space to stand away from then masses (not easy) and made a big mess trying to expose the flesh of our fruit, and a bigger mess actually consuming it. By the end my face and hands were a sticky mess of sweet, rosy deliciousness. I’ve had plenty of papayas and mangoes before, but none were as intensely sweet and pleasantly-textured as these. I had never had a fresh guanabana before, and this was a true revelation.

    Litoral Restaurant/ Bar
    Unfortunately, we did not discover the Condesa neighborhood until the day before we left the city. The streets here are lined with the sidewalk cafes of a mix of Mexican and international restaurants. Condesa seemed to be a neighborhood largely of young professionals who like to have a good time in relatively casual settings. It reminded me somewhat of Greenwich Village. We chose this place among the dizzying array of terrific options because it was the most crowded (usually a good sign), and the seafood-focused menu represented a nice fusion of traditional Mexican dishes with modern twists. To start we shared tacos de jaiba, which were simple as could be – perfectly fresh crab meat inside taco shells from three types of masa, fried to a greaseless crisp and served with guacamole and pico de gallo. Sopa de mariscos was the highlight of the meal. When I’ve tried this dish elsewhere, it has relied heavily on broth made from dried shrimp. That’s enjoyable enough, but can’t compare to the freshness of this seafood stock, which was enhanced by the balanced addition of pureed chiles, adding complexity and just a touch of heat. Various types of very fresh fish were cooked to order – bouillabaisse style - in the broth, and each was perfectly done. We also had the “tournedo de atún”: melt-in-your-mouth very rare tuna steak served cold with candy-like caramelized onions, atop a very nice (though there was too much of it) orange sabayon. Delicious. For dessert we shared helado de turron, which I learned is a Spanish nougat-like candy. It was served with fresh dates and really ripe, delicious strawberries.

    El Tizoncito
    I’m told there are a few of these taco joints, which claim to have “invented tacos al pastor”. I don’t know about the accuracy of that claim, but the signature dish was indeed terrific. Juicy meat, crispy bits of pork, sweet pineapple, fresh cilantro, and hand-made tortillas. At 85 cents each these tacos are one of the best bargains around.


    Lowlights:

    Izote
    Having read so much praise of acclaimed chef Patricia Quintana’s place, I was really looking forward to this. Sadly, the food didn’t come close to the hype. While the caldo de flor de calabaza was outstanding, everything else suffered from what I thought were ill-conceived combinations and over-seasoning to hide lack of freshness. Crema de elote – a corn soup with poblano oil – tasted more like egg nog. It was so loaded with nutmeg that if it also had corn I was fooled. The pescado del dia – huachinango served atop sautéed huitlacoche swimming in saffron cream – just didn’t work. The huitlacoche, which can have such a robust, unique, and delicious flavor, was spoiled by the overzealous use of the pungeant epazote herb. The fish was a little dry, and the pool of saffron cream – while tasty – did nothing to bring the core ingredients of this dish together.

    El Danubio
    This was the worst meal of the trip by far. I’ll spare you the details, but the service was extremely rushed bordering on rude, most of the food was overcooked, and the dessert tasted like pudding out of a jar. While many guidebooks, and some food-site posters recommend this place highly, I suspect they are reporting on Danubio’s heyday, which I can confidently say has passed.

    Bazar Sábado
    Plaza San Jacinto 11, Colonia San Angel

    Mercado de la Merced
    Merced Metro Stop on #1 Green Line

    Litoral Restaurant/ Bar
    Tamaulipas 55, esquina Montes Oca, Colonia Condesa

    Tizoncito
    122 Tamaulipas, Colonia Condesa
  • Post #13 - May 10th, 2007, 11:22 pm
    Post #13 - May 10th, 2007, 11:22 pm Post #13 - May 10th, 2007, 11:22 pm
    During which period of September are you planning to visit Mexico City? The month is the "Fiestas Patrias" time of year (especially the 15th & 16th) and many activities are planned.
  • Post #14 - May 11th, 2007, 11:33 am
    Post #14 - May 11th, 2007, 11:33 am Post #14 - May 11th, 2007, 11:33 am
    We will be there the first week of September.
    JiLS
  • Post #15 - May 11th, 2007, 11:59 am
    Post #15 - May 11th, 2007, 11:59 am Post #15 - May 11th, 2007, 11:59 am
    You probably already know this - but just in case - you'll be there during the annual Chiles en Nogada period. This isn't a dish I typically seek out, but when I'm there during September I do end up having it at least once. Thus far El Pato restaurant, very near the intersection of Paseo de la Reforma and Insurgentes in Colonia Juarez (a 15 minute walk out of the Zona Rosa district) serves the rendition I've liked best . . . huge chile's. El Pato is an older, traditional restaurant (the interior probably hasn't been changed a bit in the past 40 years) - catering mostly to businesspersons.
  • Post #16 - May 19th, 2007, 3:21 pm
    Post #16 - May 19th, 2007, 3:21 pm Post #16 - May 19th, 2007, 3:21 pm
    Jim (or anyone planning travel to Mexico City),

    If you don't have it already, I highly recommend you pick up the current (May 2007) issue of Saveur. There is an excellent feature on El Mercado de la Merced in Mexico City.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #17 - August 23rd, 2007, 8:11 pm
    Post #17 - August 23rd, 2007, 8:11 pm Post #17 - August 23rd, 2007, 8:11 pm
    Just bumping this because we are heading to Mexico City September 1, and wanted to seek any other recommendations or suggestions. Thanks, all!
    JiLS
  • Post #18 - August 23rd, 2007, 10:34 pm
    Post #18 - August 23rd, 2007, 10:34 pm Post #18 - August 23rd, 2007, 10:34 pm
    Not really Mexican food, but Tezka sounds quite good:

    http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=105860
    Unintentionally retired early by the pandemic, but without the golden parachute.
    Formerly Mi Mero Mole
    Formerly Zapapizza
    Formerly Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen
    Artisan Jewish Deli at Home Cookbook
  • Post #19 - August 29th, 2007, 1:26 pm
    Post #19 - August 29th, 2007, 1:26 pm Post #19 - August 29th, 2007, 1:26 pm
    Rick (Bayless) just posted a blog about Mexico City. It looks like a lot of the places have been covered here, but maybe there are one or two additions:

    http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguide ... y-tra.html
  • Post #20 - August 29th, 2007, 10:26 pm
    Post #20 - August 29th, 2007, 10:26 pm Post #20 - August 29th, 2007, 10:26 pm
    figmolly wrote:Rick (Bayless) just posted a blog about Mexico City. It looks like a lot of the places have been covered here, but maybe there are one or two additions:

    http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguide ... y-tra.html


    Not too much new there. I'm surprised he didn't note that El Bajio now has a Polanco location. The original is a pita to find.
    Unintentionally retired early by the pandemic, but without the golden parachute.
    Formerly Mi Mero Mole
    Formerly Zapapizza
    Formerly Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen
    Artisan Jewish Deli at Home Cookbook
  • Post #21 - August 31st, 2007, 10:25 am
    Post #21 - August 31st, 2007, 10:25 am Post #21 - August 31st, 2007, 10:25 am
    I have some thoughts about Mexico City to pass along:

    A "do not miss" place which I often recommend is Mercado de Alimentos San Camilito, located adjacent to Plaza Garibaldi (Mexico's principal center for Mariachi musicians)(http://travel.webshots.com/photo/2075872210051388507EaPCvv). The Mercado is a block-long building in which you'll probably find 30+ small restaurants situated side-by-side. Some of the restaurants specialize birria/pozole or other offerings, and some serve only desserts. This Mercado is open from mid-morning to the early hours of the next day.

    La Fonda del Recuerdo has become my favorite "comfort" restaurant when I share a good meal with close friends; both the food and the live music are excellent. The restaurant features food as one finds in the Gulf Coast State of Veracruz - both meat and fish. (http://fondadelrecuerdo.com). This location is no more than a 10-minute taxi ride from the Angel of Independence monument near the Zona Rosa.

    If you have interest in pastry (even if you don't) you'll enjoy Panaderia Ideal, probably the largest and best-known bakery in Mexico City; there are a couple of locations in the Centro Historico district. (http://travel.webshots.com/photo/2694657940051388507ysgFGL). This is a take-away place, no seating nor coffee to help wash-down the excellent pastries.

    Though "touristy" to a degree, both Café de Tacuba and Sanborn's Casa de los Azulejos (where Pancho Villa and Emilanio Zapata sipped coffee) restaurant can offer enjoyable experiences - mostly "mood setters" as compared to especially good meals. I prefer the coffee shop (7 a.m. to 1 a.m.) at Casa de los Azulejos to the dining room. Weekend afternoons and most evenings, Café de Tacuba has period-costumed musicians strolling through the restaurant playing their music - and I particularly enjoy the restaurants rendition of Pechuga de Pollo en Mole Poblano (house-prepared Mole Poblano). Many well-heeled city residents visit the Café for coffee and biscuits/rolls in the evening (the restaurant is open for breakfast/lunch/dinner and has been in that location since approx. 1911).

    For an unusual meal you might want to try La Fonda de Don Chon, which features pre-Hispanic fare. I don't have interest in that particular cuisine but friends of mine who live in Mexico City do and they've visited the restaurant frequently and have good things to say about it; it's in the Centro Historico district of the city.

    If you crave caffeine, head to Cafe La Habana, serving it's special coffee since the early-1950s. This is probably the city's best-known/most famous cafe.

    For purchasing small gifts to bring home with you, I suggest you head to Mercado La Ciudadela situated not far from the Metro Station Balderas (Linea 1 of the Metro/Subway). I've found this market to offer a particularly good selection of both high-quality handcrafts from many parts of the country, as well as inexpensive "trinket" gifts to bring home.

    And if you want to view (and maybe purchase) some quality artwork: I've found the special artisan market at Jardin del Arte (http://travel.webshots.com/photo/1100632853051388507qXgJGg) to be far superior to the Bazar Sabado in San Angel (which is overrun with tourists). The market at the Jardin is Sunday-only, best time to visit will probably be between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. The park location is very near the intersection of Avenidas Paseo de la Reforma and Insurgentes.

    Mercado de Alimentos San Camilito
    Plaza Garibaldi
    Avenida Eje Central
    Metro Station: Garibaldi
    Walking: 1/2 mile N. of Palacio de Bellas Artes/Alameda Central

    La Fonda del Recuerdo
    Bahia de las Palmas 37
    Colonia Veronica Anzures
    Website: http://fondadelrecuerdo.com
    Tel: 5260-7339 (reservations advised on weekends)

    Panaderia Ideal
    Calle Republica de Uruguay 74 (and Avenida 16 de Septiembre 18)
    Colonia Cenetro Historico
    6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

    Café de Tacuba
    Tacuba 28 (almost at corner with Calle Allende)
    Colonia Centro Historico
    Tel: 5512-8482

    Casa de los Azulejos
    Calle Madero 4
    (at Callejón de la Condesa, maybe a two block walk from Palacio de Bellas Artes and Eje Central)
    Colonia Centro Historico

    La Fonda de Don Chon
    Regina 160
    (at Calle Jesus Maria)
    Colonia Centro Historico
    Tel: 5542-0873

    Café La Habana
    Morelos 62
    (at Bucareli)
    Colonia Centro
    Metro Station: Juarez

    Mercado La Cuidadela
    Avenida Balderas and Calle Ernesto Pugibet
    Colonia Centro
    Mexico City
    Metro Station: Balderas (or Juarez)

    Jardin del Arte
    At corner of Calles Sullivan and Serapio Rendon
    Colonia San Rafael
    (a 1 block walk NW of intersection of Paseo de la Reforma/Insurgentes intersection)
    Sunday late a.m./early afternoon
  • Post #22 - September 3rd, 2007, 9:00 am
    Post #22 - September 3rd, 2007, 9:00 am Post #22 - September 3rd, 2007, 9:00 am
    Just wanted to report in from Mexico City and thank one and all again for the many suggestions. Today is a working day for me, but I'll begin implementing many of them tonight and over the next few days! :)
    JiLS
  • Post #23 - September 8th, 2007, 4:14 pm
    Post #23 - September 8th, 2007, 4:14 pm Post #23 - September 8th, 2007, 4:14 pm
    The Report

    We got back Friday night from Mexico City. Thanks again to all those who made recommendations; we couldn't try them all, but those we did, we were very happy with.

    Saturday night, the plane landed around 7:00 p.m., and by 8:30 we were checked in the Hotel Emporio (very nice business-oriented but hip and friendly to tourists, too; I recommend it). We walked to the Zona Rosa (the nearest neighborhood to the hotel) and, after poking about a bit and realizing we were just too tired to be critical, wound up at Luau for some exquisite Meso-Ameri-Chinese. The look, the feel and the menu of your favorite Schaumburg Chinese though stepped up a notch with a compact indoor koi pond (well-tended, by the way). What made Luau special? Great service and prices, first. And second, the food. We ordered a "dinner for 2" combo (number three, 149 pesos a head) that included the best -- hands down -- shrimp in lobster sauce I have ever eaten. The shrimp were of a quality that would be used for a shrimp cocktail at any number of spots in Chicago; actually, probably better than most in my opinion, because they had that "wild" Gulf flavor that is sapped out of even the biggest (and most expensive) prawns that mostly get served around here. And the other highlight, a dish that I normally never even consider, was a sweet and sour pork that, again, was the best I can recall trying. Why? First, the pork was far more flavorful and not the washed-out, fat-free "other white meat" version we are used to getting here. Second, the fruit was amazing, especially the pineapple. This pineapple reminded me of why I love real pineapple and never eat it here. Yet another example where great ingredients plus simple preparation equals "Wow."

    So, that was our first night. We had five more of them, which I'll report about in turn. And then there were the lunches, no? It ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous (but all was good). Stay tuned.

    Luau
    Niza 38
    Mexico City 06600 Mexico
    +52 5 525 7474
    JiLS
  • Post #24 - September 9th, 2007, 4:30 pm
    Post #24 - September 9th, 2007, 4:30 pm Post #24 - September 9th, 2007, 4:30 pm
    Sunday began early; like kids, we couldn't sleep from excitement. We kept it simple for breakfast, hitting the VIPS (think Denny's or the late, lamented Wag's). Lousy coffee, decent sweet rolls and breads, a so-so omelet for Mrs. JiLS and a pretty good plate of chilaquiles for me (as others have noted, no eggs included; that must be a Chicago thing?). Lunch at the hotel; a decent enough buffet, and the convenience and general competence of the food is another reason I recommend Hotel Emporio, because when you are tired and sunburned (even on a cloudy day, at 7,400 feet, I am doomed), you sometimes just want that.

    Sunday dinner was at the storied Hacienda de los Morales, an enormous -- and, this Sunday, largely empty -- old-school establishment that is part restaurant, part banquet hall, part culinary museum. In this establishment that must seat 750 or more, we and three other tables were the only guests. Never mind; the hosts and staff were utterly professional, even if it was apparent they were losing money by the minute keeping the place open for this measly crowd. To the food. We opened with cocktails (Manhattans. Yep. That was a theme or challenge for us; who can make a decent Manhattan in Mexico City? Morales did O.K.; Luau the night before also did O.K., for the record, but the best were yet to come) and appetizers consisting of an obscenely large portion of Serrano ham and melon balls for me (on the mild side from my experience, but flavorful enough) and a crema de queso con uvas soup for Mrs. JiLS. Here we bumped into the one service problem we had here and most places we dined in Mexico City -- namely, the food was brought out at break-neck speeds. In fact, our main courses were brought out by the secondary server while we were still only half-way through the app's, then discreetly hustled back to the kitchen by the main server when he saw we were being rushed. It all worked out O.K. So, for the main course, I went with the Sunday special, mutton barbacoa "Texcoco Style," which consisted of a nice, big plate of plain old, muttony-tasting mutton with a gravy boat full of salsa borracha (or "drunken sauce"), served with a nice side of black beans and very high quality tortillas. I was quite pleased with this simple preparation. Mrs. JiLS had the carne asada, which was served a perfect "media rojo" with tasty accompaniments.

    For dessert, we both had the flan, which was good enough, but honestly, I feel spoiled by the uber-flan served here in Chicago at Dorado, which has rendered even this classic and perfectly-executed rendition of the dish irrelevant for me.

    Bottom-Line: Hacienda de los Morales is a classic restaurant with the service, attention to detail, beautiful setting and better-than-average (if not stellar) food that a place like this needs to stay in business. Would I go back? Not likely, at least for my next two or three visits to Mexico City, given the plethora of other options. But I'm glad I went once, and part of me says that it would have been a better experience if the place had been packed and I could have seen the very professional staff somewhat taxed but, as I would wager is the case, competently handling the crowd without breaking a sweat. It was apparent they have that in them.
    JiLS
  • Post #25 - September 11th, 2007, 7:50 pm
    Post #25 - September 11th, 2007, 7:50 pm Post #25 - September 11th, 2007, 7:50 pm
    Monday:

    Lunch at Sanborns on 5 de Mayo (in Centro Historico). As others have pointed out, the main attraction here is the beautiful building. That said, they did a fine job with the cebiche, enchiladas and hamburguesa. Actually, that hamburger was a highlight. Definitely in the "30's Style", thin burger, cooked just over medium rare, and served with a small order of very well fried papas. Not the now-typical American tribute to excess in burgers; very fine.

    Dinner was at Izote. Definitely, this was the highlight of our dining experiences from a food-only perspective (although our total enjoyment factor was just as high at two other places I'll be highlighting later). Bottom-line, Izote is clearly in the same category/style as Bayless/Bahena/et al. in Chicago, but is also, in my limited and humble opinion, much better than them. Or at least it was on the one exquisite meal we enjoyed. After a smart little amuse of bite-size cheese tarts, we moved on to a trio of ceviches, one a traditional mix with tomato and avocado, another consisting of small scallops in a teriyaki sauce, the third a very simple but delightfully flavored mix of white-meat fish in lime juice. Every other table during our dinner ordered this trio, so it's obviously a house favorite, and with good reason. Our other appetizer was a plate of seasoned pork quesadilas, which were delectable, interestingly crusted in a light layer of salt and served plain and simple (and in quantity; five of them was too much, actually). Mains included the much-storied lamb steamed in banana leaf, which was all extramsg has said and, I will add, a lot better than the barbacoa I was served the night before at Hacienda de los Morales. I should have taken notes earlier, but Mrs. JiLS and I apologize that we can't recall, one week later, her entree; but rest assured, it was excellent. Dessert consisted of an overwhelmingly almond-flavored frosted almond cake, on my part, and a trio of sorbets with a splash of tequila on her part. Topping off the experience was the excellent service. Even on an off night, and early (7:00 p.m.) by Mexico
    City standards, we were treated expertly and with wit and grace by the staff of Izote. Although the restaurant is really quite small and more of a bistro setting, it is elegant and relaxing and serves amazingly good food. What more could you ask for? We almost went back for a second dinner during our 6-night stay, if that says anything. Why do I rank it above the Chicago Mexicans? Partly, the ingredients, which were just better tasting to me, and maybe that's an unsurmountable obstacle for Chicago restaurants; I don't know or care to speculate further on it. Part of it also was the lack of pretension in the menu selections and presentation. Most of the menu items are just very, very well-prepared versions of very typical Mexican standards, with an emphasis on superior ingredients, consistency and elegant presentation and service befitting the snooty-pants setting in Polanco, of course. Anyway, I just liked Izote better.
    JiLS
  • Post #26 - September 12th, 2007, 6:48 pm
    Post #26 - September 12th, 2007, 6:48 pm Post #26 - September 12th, 2007, 6:48 pm
    Tuesday night went from the maddening, to the ridiculous, to the sublime. Here's what happened. Based on (out of date) info in guide books and a website that ought to be taken down, we were looking forward to a memorable evening at "Pasta Jazz." After a lengthy and expensive cab ride through the Condesa, arriving at what should have been the right address, we were informed by a neighboring shop owner that "They closed two years ago." That plus the rest of our long cab ride back toward our hotel were the maddening.

    Then for the ridiculous. Walking through the Zona Rosa Saturday night, we had spied a steakhouse that looked like a nice option for a night when we wanted comfort food, and following the Pasta Jazz debacle, that's what we wanted. Thus, we stroll blithely into Angus Butcher House. What do we know; we're just two innocent tourists. So what that the hostess' decolletage was a bit liberally displayed; that all the waitstaff were ladies of 24 years or younger; and that there was the one young lass in the two-piece leather bikini cowgirl outfit with no apparent job description ... hmmm ... well, we're already committed here. Taking our table, we see that, yep, Mrs. JiLS is the only female customer, and I am the only male who is not on a business trip with a cadre of lusty, high-fiving laddies (and the only one keeping my hands firmly away from the waitstaff - if studies show touching her customer gets a waitress a higher tip, I imagine these ladies are easily paying the rent every night). Yep, in the red light district of Mexico City, we'd wandered into the on-deck circle for the strip clubs, where male hormones are spiked with plates of red meat and plentiful eye candy before heading off to ... more fruitful pastures. (Ah, well. Innocent lambs that we are, we also once wandered into the only gay bar in Knoxville, Tennessee, just because it (The Rainbow Room :roll: ) looked "quiet.")

    So, Angus poured about the best Manhattan we encountered on this trip (not a surprise, maybe). And the sopa verde with lots of fresh seafood was quite delicious, as was the spinach salad (plenty of muy macho bacon on top). The steaks, a real disappointment. Priced like Gibsons, sourced like Jewel. Although they made a big deal about the provenance of the beef, it was really just what I would call Select grade, with lots of fat and gristle. Bottom-line, folks, don't go to Angus for the steaks. But you probably had that figured out already.

    For dessert, Angus offers numerous table-side preps, and we had the strawberries flambe -- meticulously prepared by our lovely hostess -- that were actually remarkably good. Add to this that, before our dinner was over, a really fabulous jazz quartet began playing in the bar, and there we ascended from the ridiculous to - yes - the sublime. I'm not kidding on this aspect of the dinner; the musicians were just fantastic. It was like the Playboy Club, circa 1962. We were all smiles upon leaving Angus; our lost "Pasta Jazz" experience replaced by a mind-bending mixture of hacienda, Hooters, Sizzler, Sabatino's and Birdland. And no, we didn't continue the evening at any of the fine gentleman's establishments that dot the Zona Rosa, but then, we weren't the targeted audience for that (as Mrs. JiLS instructed me). :wink:
    Last edited by JimInLoganSquare on September 12th, 2007, 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    JiLS
  • Post #27 - September 15th, 2007, 8:58 pm
    Post #27 - September 15th, 2007, 8:58 pm Post #27 - September 15th, 2007, 8:58 pm
    A few final notes from our trip to Mexico City:

    Wednesday afternoon found us at Cafe La Blanca in the Centro Historico, recommended by others above, and rightly so. No, it is not fancy, and no, it is not a culinary revelation. But it's a darn nice lunch counter. I also made this my chance to sample chile en nogada, as it was an option on the 65 pesos lunch menu, which also included a mushroom cocktail (imagine a Mexican shrimp cocktail with mushrooms substituted for the shrimp; very nice), the chile en nogada (nice mix of pine nuts and raisins in the ground beef filling, not overly sweet sauce, and of course, the price was right), and a postre of choice, which I actually chose to skip, being a bit full. Mrs. JiLS had a great chicken soup to start (she remarked, rightly, about the general wonderfulness of the soups we ate on this trip, this one being a very mild but satisfying broth, with plenty of meat and enhanced by a meager spike of fresh lime juice, self-applied). Her enchiladas verde con pollo were also quite tasty. Fine, almost formal service sealed the deal; Cafe La Blanca (at the sign of the cow) is the place for lunch next time I find myself in the Centro Historico.

    That evening we had a forgettable experience at an Italian restaurant in the Zona Rosa; I won't get into any detail here, it wasn't worth mentioning.

    Thursday night we splurged with a true fancy-pants dining experience at Elago on the Lago Mayor in Chapultepec Park. This was the dining highlight of the trip, if not the food highlight, which was Izote. But here was a restaurant with a 35-foot high glass wall, overlooking the man-made lake and dancing waters fountain of the Lago Mayor, teams of hyper-efficient and engaging wait staff, elegant presentations of classic foods, and topped off with a musical floor show of a jazz trio and Mexico's (evident) premier Sinatra imitator (best version of "Night and Day" I've ever heard live, hands down). Elago is clearly a place for business dinners (a massive table of 30+ patrons, clearly celebrating a closing or some such business achievement, enjoyed itself that evening), and the architecture, the fancy ingredients, and the whole setting are clearly intended to wow; and it succeeds. High-class ingredients (sebiche with scallops the size of your thymus, foie gras atop the fillet mignon; you get the idea). And the Manhattans were top notch; we actually had to have two of them, they were just that tasty. In sum, Elago was the Pump Room blown up to Olympic proportions with a million-dollar view tossed in for effect. But, then, observe the following.

    The entry-way itself is worth the price of admission; imagine walking into a forty-foot gold-leaf tepee, if you will. But, imagine as you leave your pricey, exclusive, snooty-pants dinner with solid gold Sinatra manque crooning from the floor of Xanadu, and as you sink your tipsy, overstuffed, fancy-pantsed posterior into one of the over-over-stuffed suede couches in that gold-plated aviary of an entry-way while waiting for your cab, you get the pleasure of watching the hostesses entertaining the 10-year old son (or little brother, or nephew ...) of one of them, whom they clearly are baby sitting at the restaurant. What are the odds of that happening at, say N9ne (a restaurant Elago reminds me of in many ways, although Elago is probably twice as good), or any other comparable restaurant in Chicago? I loved the fact that this hip, suave, grandiose restaurant not just tolerated this, but took it for granted, even. Hooray for them! Wish Chicago could be more like Mexico City, huh?
    Last edited by JimInLoganSquare on September 15th, 2007, 9:36 pm, edited 4 times in total.
    JiLS
  • Post #28 - September 15th, 2007, 9:12 pm
    Post #28 - September 15th, 2007, 9:12 pm Post #28 - September 15th, 2007, 9:12 pm
    Thanks for the reports, Jim. I really enjoyed them (as you might have been able to tell from the use of a memorable line as the tagline).
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.
  • Post #29 - September 15th, 2007, 9:24 pm
    Post #29 - September 15th, 2007, 9:24 pm Post #29 - September 15th, 2007, 9:24 pm
    Mike G wrote:Thanks for the reports, Jim. I really enjoyed them (as you might have been able to tell from the use of a memorable line as the tagline).


    Well, thank you, Mike. Although my notes have been more impressionistic than empirical or analytic, I hope nevertheless they have formed the proper impression; namely, that Mrs. JiLS and I had a splendid time in Mexico City, that the dining experiences were central to that experience, and that recommendations found here at LTH were well-appreciated, if not necessarily followed with complete scrupulousness. But, then, I relish being the first here to discover Angus Butcher House. Humbled by your praise, yet proud of my achievement.
    JiLS
  • Post #30 - September 15th, 2007, 9:27 pm
    Post #30 - September 15th, 2007, 9:27 pm Post #30 - September 15th, 2007, 9:27 pm
    Yikes, that website is like what I see when I wake up after being Mickey Finned in Tijuana.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
    New episode: Soil, Corn, Cows and Cheese
    Watch the Reader's James Beard Award-winning Key Ingredient here.

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more