Mexico City Report

(maria ascarrunz) #1

My sister and i spent 4.5 days in the DF a week or so ago, and these were some of our highlights, in no particular order:

Maximo Bistrot: (restaurant was dark, so no good pics.)
baby corn, roasted, with a hollandaise sauce and parmesan. you can eat the whole tender ear of corn, and sooooo not like those horrible little canned baby corns. one of the best things i ate on the trip.
crab tinga tostada - delish, but a bit drowned out in the sauce.
garganelli with crab, tomatoes, and parm. SO GOOD. garlicky, winey, crabby, perfect.
an eggplant puree that was almost like a hummus, very emulsified, not like baba ganoush. smoky. as a dip for the bread.
we both ordered fish, one called Totoabe and one called Chopo (with clams, too), both white fish, i believe, but i couldn’t find anything about the latter. They were very good but not the standouts of the meal.

Contramar:

Atun tostada - OMG to die for. fresh slivers of tuna, maybe they’re ceviched, but they just tasted like sashimi, on what seemed to be golf sauce on a fried tortilla, with crispy fried onions on top. Heaven! I could have eaten three more of these

Jaiba in butter. just a plate of chopped up jaiba fried in butter served with plain flour tortillas (which i usually don’t care for). simple and absolutely killer.

Contramar’s ceviche de pescado had some of the best leche de tigre I’ve ever had.

We made a reservation to go back, but found out at the last minute that they’d given us a rez at 6:00 p.m. on a Sun. night when they were closing at 6:30 p.m., so we cancelled as we didn’t want to feel rushed.

Pujol:

Incredible meal. we started with an amuse - gordita with wagyu. perfect little bite, that set the scene for a fantastic blend of mexican flavors with a modern sensibility.
next came a giant gourd to the table, emanating smoke in a very dramatic way. they open the top of the gourd at the table, and inside are roasted baby corn! i don’t know who copied who, but it’s a great dish. These were covered in a mayo of chicatana hormigas (ants), and again, you can eat the whole corn. So incredibly good.
another course was so simple, but i can’t stop thinking about it, and recreating it at home. roasted cauliflower with chicken skin chicharrones, an almond salsa matcha, chile de arbol, served with homemade corn tortillas to make tacos out of. I loved this dish so much. something about the tortilla and the sweetness of the cauli - just a great combo.
my sister got the soft-shelled crab with a garbanzo bean flour crust. Also served with tortillas, and also very good, but i’m glad i got the cauli.
sea bass with hominy juice and celery - fresh, light,
octopus with habanero ink, veracruzana sauce, ayocote bean puree with an amazing olive oil.
i got the wagyu steak, rubbed in fennel seeds, with an avocado salsa, served with tortillas to make tacos. fab.
my sister got the pork chicharron with purslane in salsa verde. her pork was so rich i don’t think i could have finished it, and in fact she left the thin bit of skin behind, because it hadn’t been crisped and was difficult to chew. But the dish was still fantastic.
then we each were served their mole - two kinds. the darker was “the mother” - aged 1,265 days, and made with all kinds of dried fruit, nuts, spices, chocolate, etc. incredibly rich and deep, so many nuanced flavors. the lighter one on top was a young mole. wonderful combination.
The mole came with blue corn tortillas with an hoja santa embedded in it. so fragrant! like laurel, rather. wonderful foil to the mole.
desserts were a special one for my sister, for her bday - some kind of strawberry wafer with an orange ice cream of sorts…
I ordered a Nicuatole, which was a creamy corn masa pudding with corn ice cream. good!
my sister got the chocolate tamal, guava soursop and brown butter. she said that the tamal wasn’t great, but the rest was.
they also gave us the best churro ever! in a spiral, so thin and crispy - perfect ending.

the only mar to this dinner was our complete and utter shock at the end when we got the bill - the prix fixe is only $100 apiece, but with alcohol, our bill was almost $400 US. And that’s because the 3 glasses of bubbly we ordered were $45 apiece! they don’t show you the wine list, they just ask what you’d like and then they offer this or that, but they don’t tell you the price! insane! the cocktail, glass of red, and sherry i ordered were all perfectly reasonably priced. This actually put a damper on the meal for us. i ended up tipping less than i would have, and i felt bad about it, but i was truly in shock. i’ve never paid that much for real Champagne, even in France.

Still, I’d go back in a heartbeat, but i’d definitely ask the prices on the booze. The new space is gorgeous, serene, calm, the service extremely warm and friendly.














There was a little food court-type of place near our apartment in the Roma Norte neighborhood. The place is rustic looking, intimate, with perhaps 10 or so stands, and a bar. Very casual, pleasant in the extreme. We had outstanding, super inexpensive dishes there: cochinita panuchos from Cochinita UyUyUy; tuna tostadas and shrimp tacos from Cevichento, and a taco Arabe from Arrachera’s Corner.



We ate so much more, at so many street places and markets, and if anyone wants names, I can offer up most of them. here are some assorted pics.






What a fantastic city, with the nicest, friendliest people ever. Going back for NYE!

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#2

Thanks for the report! You should now do a direct comparison with the tostadas and other food at Cala and tell us how they compare. It is a bit of a letdown to us, that we never made it to Contramar despite wanting to go every time we were in DF. But at the very least the chef is now in our town.

BTW, do the people still call it DF, or now CDMX?

When we went around 7 years ago, when the fx rate was about 1 USD to 10 pesos, the 9? course was about USD$90, which I thought was a steal given what Olvera was doing. I guess us gringos have it good that the FX is now 1 USD to 19. how many courses does your meal have?

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(maria ascarrunz) #3

I went to Cala a week before our trip! It was wonderful but they didn’t have the same dishes. i was going to do a report on Cala, but forgot. I’ll do that soon. Thanks for the reminder.

they do call it CDMX.

our meal had the amuse, the smoked corn in the gourd (those 2 things everyone gets), and then choices for the next 3 courses, the mole (everyone gets), choice of dessert (and my sister got the extra dessert for her bday), and then the churros (everyone gets that also). So, 8 courses. And yes the exchange rate was great for us.

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#4

I forgot to say that it looks like they are still doing a little bit of molecular gastronomy with your meal. They did that with our meal, with some traditional elements showing up in unexpected manners. Though with us a bit of that technique was lost since we weren’t as well versed about the range of Mexican cuisine than their other customers and they didn’t have anyone on hand to explain at the time.

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(maria ascarrunz) #5

that’s a shame, we had at least 2 servers that spoke English (though we speak spanish) who were on hand at all times to describe the menu items. i don’t know i’d call anything Pujol was doing molecular gastronomy, though… just modern techniques on traditional flavors/dishes.

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#6

Was in CDMX last month and must say that for me it is probably the most interesting food city in the Americas. Our focus was strongly centered on street and market foods and antojitos, but for more fine dining we really enjoyed Contramar, and also Nicos in Colonia Clavería for more traditional food, including a magnificent guacamole served on fresh ground blue corn tortillas, and a very unique (to me) sopa seca de natas, which is almost like a lasagna. http://www.nicosmexico.mx/


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(maria ascarrunz) #7

i have to agree re the interesting food in the Americas - Mexico and Peru, but yes, Mexico is intriguing me greatly just now. thanks for the tip - going back at the end of the year!

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#8

I think that CDMX is really sui generis, in that the food – notwithstanding places like Pujol – is completely unique with ingredients and techniques which aren’t found anywhere else. Not only can you have vastly better versions of things you can get elsewhere, but one also has the opportunity to have genuinely new experiences (as opposed to derivative ones). I also love the food in Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, and I think that New York and Los Angeles are good food destinations if mostly for their great variety.

I like the seafood very much in Peru (and Chile), but I haven’t personally loved the food in these places. Just a matter of taste.

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#9

Oh wow. I’m so excited to look up these places! My SIL just invited me to tag along to the end of a work trip to Mexico City. I am really hoping this works out and I can eat my through this city. YUMMMMMM!

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(maria ascarrunz) #10

i’ve been a couple of times since then! feel free to ask me questions.

Note: Pujol takes an advance reservation, so plan ahead!

and don’t be afraid of street tacos and other street food - they are the best! and cheap as HELL. as long as you make sure there are a lot of people frequenting a stand, you can feel safe to eat there. i got sick once on a trip there, but that was because i foolishly ate from a stand that had no other customers.

if you like lamb, you should try this place:

although i also found a couple of street stands doing barbacoa and they were delicious.

a pic of ant larva tacos I had at Hidalguense - superb. they tasted mostly like slightly softer sweet, buttery corn kernels:

and some random pics of other street food. Also, the markets are incredible for food!


Barbacoa street taco


blue corn tortilla stuffed with squash blossom and Oaxacan cheese from Mercado Medallin.

now i want to go back! fortunately, two friends are moving there forever this week and we’ll be visiting them in the future for sure.

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#11

My mouth is actually watering. Wow! I’m super excited and absolutely may reach out to for additional tips.

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#12

Thanks. We’re to be in Mexico City for four nights in August and have reservations both at Pujol and at Quintonil. Anything else we should try the other two nights, and for our lunches, or should we eat at street stands? When you say the markets have incredible food, which do you recommend — for a combination of general experience and food?

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(maria ascarrunz) #13

please do!

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(maria ascarrunz) #14

Mercado Medellin, mentioned above, and also Mercado Coyoacan, outside of the city proper, but very near to the Frida Kahlo Casa Azul (which I thoroughly recommend a visit to.) Mercado de San Juan is split into two different buildings, and the one we went to had all the prepared foods (the other has produce). they’re about a block apart. Warning, though - you’ll find some “odd” meats for sale - very exotic stuff. Also, Mercado Merced. I think those are the only ones I’ve been to.

on the nights you are eating your special meals, I would eat street tacos for lunch - nothing too heavy so that you’re good and hungry for dinner. the other nights - you really should try Contramar for seafood. it’s spectacular. actually, they’re open for lunch too, that’s when we went. They’re only open for dinner until 8:30 on Friday & Sat., the rest of the time they close at 6:30.

August! You’re braver than I - hot!

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#15

Thanks. I may ask you more questions as I think of them.

Unfortunately, August was the only time we could go. We’ll also be in Puerto Vallarta for a couple of days. Any recommendations there? There’s a thread on that town, if you want to post there:

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(maria ascarrunz) #16

nope, never been.

but yes, feel free to ask questions.

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#17

You may regret saying that! But, thanks very much.

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#18

All of my Dad’s fam lives in Mex City. Been a while since I was there.

My family, Syrian jews, do not venture far from their neighborhood
enclave, depending. But I would love some great Mexican food that includes pork, the other white meat

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(maria ascarrunz) #19

Jealous!

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#20

As I said, you’ll regret the offer…

Our schedule is:
Friday afternoon: Arrive; dinner at Quintonil.
Saturday: Museo Nacional de Antropología; lunch at Contramar (thanks to your rec).
Sunday: Frida Kahlo House/Museum; Mercado de Coyoacán; walk the nbd.
Monday: Teotihuacán (early morning through afternoon); dinner at Pujol.
Tuesday: Leave for Puerto Vallarta

So, the questions:
a) The Anthropology Museum looks on the map to be walking distance from Contramar, but the restaurant strongly advised against walking it. We had hoped to spend two–three hours in the morning at the museum, pop over to Contramar, then return to the museum for another hour or so. Is that reasonable, or nuts?
b) We are free Saturday evening and also Sunday from late afternoon onward. Tentatively we thought we’d explore the Centro Histórico in general, and the Zócalo in particular on both evenings. What eating do you suggest there?
c) This may be unfair, but back in your 2017 o.p. you had said you’d be able to recommends names of specific street stands. Any suggestions of places near the places we are going to be, especially in/near Mercado de Coyoacán (or the Kahlo Museum) the Centro Histórico, or Mercado Medellín (we should be able to get there by 4 on Sunday, if there’s strong reason to)?
d) Are there evening food tours or guides that it might be worth using? There’s a tacos after dark tour I’ve looked at but it’s pretty expensive at USD150ish per person.
e) Finally (for now): museums, etc., open 10ish. Are there breakfast places near the Anthro Museum on Saturday or the Kahlo house on Sunday that you suggest? We thought of trying to get into Fonda Margarita before the Kahlo museum, but that might involve too much hopping around from place to place and attempting to pack too much into too short a time.

Please feel free to ignore any (or all) of these questions, if they seem too cumbersome to answer. I partly wrote the post for my own benefit, anyway – to organize the trip for myself. If anybody else has suggestions or criticisms, go ahead. (The HO software is already chiding me for replying too much to @mariacarmen and suggesting I try talking to other people.)

Thanks all.

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