Spending a month in Mexico City - Worth Booking Fine-Dining In Advance?


#1

If so where? Is Pujol a must-book-in-advance kind of place?

Where else are must-books?

I’m going mainly for “street” food, but also want to try the breadth of fine-dining in MC since it’s so obscenely affordable.


In Search of Lunchtime Pasta, from Disappointing to Excellent - Knead & Co., Pasta Sisters, Cento Pasta Bar, Bulgarini, Factory Kitchen and Drago Centro
#2

A bit on the outskirts of the City, I would definitely make time for Nicos. Not fine dining, and no reservations needed, but I think it’s a destination kind of place.


#3

Love having brunch on the patio in Cuernavaca at Las Mananitas hotel…hour or two, outside of Mexico City.

There is a restaurant in a cave at Las Grutas…on the way to Acapulco but eat and do a cave tour…stunning!
There is one at the pyramids too.

Make sure you eat helados at Teotihuacan, on top of a pyramid.

And as always, check out our beloved Bill @streetgourmetLA.com
He has great places to eat street food in Mexico City.

He was just nominated for a James Beard in Journalism!!

www.streetgourmetla.com
http://lasmananitas.com.mx/restaurant-3/?lang=enen


#4

any reviews yet?


#5

So-so. I had a few good times with friends before they left, but then I succumbed to illness from somewhere. Nothing I ate looked particularly dirty or anything so idk how it happened. I am just now coming out of that illness, but that’s why I wanted to be here for at least a month, so that being sick for a week wouldn’t destroy my entire trip. I also have had a lot of work to do anyway.

However, I’ve still had some interesting experiences in terms of food. I made it to my first high-end place last night: Rosetta. Slight damper was that that suckling pig with pink mole was horrible, but the chef felt it was made correctly so wouldn’t take it off the bill lol

Oh well, it was great otherwise at least mostly. I ate cocopaches, which are some kind of deep fried bugs that were delicious plated in nasturium flowers and bits of kale with avocado mousse. They were better in the nasturium flowers though as the kale didn’t compliment the flavor as well as the flowers.

I had two pastas, one was a really intensely vibrant parnsip ravioli that was kind of weird, idk what the broth was, but it was incredibly acidic and intense, I guess pretty interesting though.

Then a sea cockroach pasta with cucumber. I thought it was a mistranslated word, but I guess it is not. The sea cockroaches were marvelous though, like more savory lobster. And the pasta itself perfectly cooked. Amazing flavors. One of the best pastas I’ve ever had I think incredibly enough.

The suckling pig was… weird. The skin was not really crispy, and the pig had that uric acid smell of like cheap pork that makes me want to vomit. Plus it was mostly fat, and the pink mole had so much peppercorn in it that it just decimated the palate. Truly horrible… I was shocked.

I sent the pig back and got this tuna dish that sounded great, and was absolutely incredible. Barely seared tuna was better than most of the fine steaks I’ve ever had. So succulent and savory. It had smoked figs, and crunchy spelt that made the dish really fascinating in terms of smokey, sweet, savory…the broth with the dish was also incredible adding just the right savor. There was also a bit of mint and some olives that added other interesting salty and herbacious notes. Overall just a spectacular dish though, the kind of thing you have dreams about eating.

I sopped up all of the broth with the bread I had, which was also great. Bread here is like on France’s level of excellent as restaurants… so crazy.

Then I plunged into two desserts. One happened to be the most adventurous dessert on the menu. Mamey fruit layered over an airy cream of its own stalk, and a sorbet of the same fruit, with a powdered version of some kind of typically alcoholic sweet drink that acted as a savory crumble… I sort of had a mild allergic reaction, but not super bad, and it tasted amazing, as well as like nothing I’d ever had before. Almost like strawberry laffy taffy… but better.

I wanted to finish with something I rarely get that was more comforting, a strawberry rhubard crumble tart with ginger ice cream. The ginger ice cream was very strong in ginger, so awesome for me as I love ginger. The tart was like a perfect strawberry rhubard pie and just eminently comforting and delightful. Perfect execution.

I had plenty of interesting dessert wine and a half bottle of fantastic Abruzzo as well. The whole meal takes place in a Spanish castle/mansion, and by candlelight only. Really something.


#6

So all of the above was just Rosetta. On to some other smaller adventuring.

I think it’s genuinely fascinating how good bread here is. I mean at least when you are at a “nice” restaurant. Complimentary bread is alive and well here it seems. I find it funny that isn’t not like France in that there don’t seem to be little spots with great bread for like $1 that just sell bread like bakeries in France where you can just grab a baguette.

My meal at Contramar was way more straightforward than Rosetta, but the bread basket was incredible. I stole half of it because I couldn’t eat it all and wanted to eat more later, but apparently Mexicans do not believe in taking food home with you unless you manage to stuff it into a bag… this is very frustrating for me since I hate wasting food, and would prefer to be able to try more places. But whatever, epitome of a 1st world problem.

Anyway, take a look at all this free bread, all absolutely incredible quality:

The tuna tostadas were absolutely insane. A well-deserved reputation as one of the best dishes in this city I imagine. Perfect tuna, and just completely delectable and addictive with the hint of chipotle mayonnaise and crispy onions.

The filet contramar was lovely, but I wonder if the whole fish is better because it wasn’t necessarily like insane, just kind of nice fish, half with parsley butter and half with abodo paste, with a lovely spinach on the side.

Street food can be an exceptional experience as well, although I find it kind of crazy that tortillas aren’t handmade for tacos here… overall the funny thing is there are better tacos in LA on average than here. Although some of the meats here are better, the lengua at Los Cocuyos is ridiculous.

A plate of campechano, suadero, and lengua tacos from Los Cocuyos:

A better shot of the lengua fresh carved off of a huge block of roasted tongue (quite the site to behold), probably the best lengua I’ve ever had, you can see how thick-cut it is:

I recently ate at the supposed #1 al pastor place, El Visito:

Tacos:

Gringa (flour tortilla + cheese and extra meat/pinapple):

Great fresh salsa and sweet guacamole:

Salsa and guac is more where the taquerias shine; in terms of al pastor, seems to me like Leo’s in LA legitiamtely bests the best here, which amuses me. Leo’s almost makes salsa that tastes almost the exact same as the actual al pastor salsa here. But the gringa was a nice option to have.

Tonight I ate tacos arabes, made with pork which is kind of funny. Pretty good, decently spicy sauce like the falafel stands in NY, and good toppings. We have great ones with lamb in LA, but these were very good and fun to eat from El Hayito:

Oh, and as I was coming out of being sick there is a great 24/7 place called Casa de Tono that I wish we had in LA. I know where to get better pozole in Santa Ana, but this is very good for very cheap, and available 24/7 (among many other things), really great, and with many types of salsas, and a super tangy sauce that can be squirted into it as well:

Crispy tortillas fried fresh with many salsas:

Absolutely amazing flan as well, with cajeta, this was a real treasure:

Overall, things are very good in Mexico City. However, it must be said, it greatly saddens me that tacquerias don’t make their own tortillas here. Right now I think LA has a stronger taco game in many respects. I wasn’t expecting that after reading the lambasting of LA’s taco scene in that recent article… seems like LA is ahead of Mexico, at least this part of Mexico, in its taco game in many ways, at least in terms of caring about tortilla quality and its impact on taco flavor profiles.


#7

Thanks for the write-up. Those tuna tostadas look like a friggin’ delight.


#8

They are a magnificent delight indeed.

The tuna at Rosetta was even more so though, as was the sea cockroach pasta. They really know how to do tuna down here!

Btw…I just learned that CALA in SF is the Contramar people! Wow!


#9

I am curious about the sea cockroach - do you know if it was sea slater or sea roach (or which Mexican name they used on the menu) ?


#10

They literally use the words “sea cockroach” on the menu, I took a picture of it haha At first I thought it was some sort of euphemism.


#11

Interesting day today.

I went walking really early, before dawn, so I could go to Pandaleria Rosetta for pastries, and juice, got a baguette with butter and ham, too. Whew, France-level stuff in many ways.

Jugo Verde, a great green juice spiked with pineapple:

Bollo de romero, a rosemary roll that is also kind of sweet, truly delectable. Such an interesting use of rosemary.

Baguette with ham and butter, a tasty French treat with a very acidic salad, quite tasty, though maybe needed more butter.

Then I got pastries to go, which were just incredible. A pastry cream and jam combo, an absolutely perfect cranberry scone, maybe the best scone I’ve ever had (I plan to smuggle at least a dozen home with me), and a croissant stuffed with fig jam that was just awesome:

I stopped for espresso and got some pan de elote that this coffee shop makes as well, really nice, fluffy, sweet, and airy, utterly pleasant.

Then I trekked many miles to go to this place for chilaquiles, but while huge portions, they were very bland with stale chips that weren’t properly soaked, really disappointing =/

Ok side bread and warm salsa, but nothing compared to the fresh rolls at El Maque:

Some nice orange juice in a cool glass though:

Dinner was much more of an affair as I ended up at Merotoro, supposedly a top 50 place in all of Latin America.

Incredible scallop aguachile, simple, perfectly spiced, delicate, and awesome, especially with the habanero salsa they provide on the side. I had a great glass of champagne with it.

Pork jowl, almost a mini porchetta, with poached egg, brussel sprouts, broccoli, and I think some thick black mole beneath it all. Really pleasant, perfect execution. I had an utterly fascinating Fauno from Baja that was buttery with tobacco and tar on the back palate, a sensual yet intelletual wine that paired brilliantly with this dish.

Mackeral was a huge cut, perfectly cooked, with salty greens, and a yogurt sauce, really just perfect execution again, and spectacular flavors.

The waiter paired the mackerel with a red chilean wine, one of the best wines I’ve ever had. Whoever says no red wine and fish has never been to Mexico/Chile obviously.

I doubled up on desset. Macerted cookies and strawberries with simple good vanilla ice cream was super pleasant with very fresh strawberries, creamy ice cream and cunchy, savory cookies:

Fresh mango draped over sorbet of itself with some type of sauce was a lovely end to the meal, cool, fruity, and simple.

I had two dessert wines, one Austrian and one Mexican too haha

All told, with 5 classes of wine, a bottle of sparkling water, 3 dishes, and 2 desserts plus a hefty tip I still spent like $115.

An impeccable meal to be sure, though I am not sure I ate anything as exciting, daring, or enthralling as I did at Rosetta. Maybe I just prefer to live on the edge. But it was a very comforting meal with zero faults, and the wine was incredible, and the price practically unbeatable.


#12

Pujol

Pujol is fairly annoying because you have to make choices for 3 of 6 courses, which sucks. I hate having to make choices, and I feel like I missed out on a lot because of that nature of how it works… seems silly to me.

Oh well, it was still a nice meal overall.

The menu presentation with a genuine wax seal was awesome:

The menu:

Snacks:

Corn dough, cheese, and bone marrow, kind of dry, and not that impressive, but alright. I am not sure how something with bone marrow and cheese ends up so dry though…

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Asparagus chileatole was interesting, though maybe not exactly delicious, unusual and creative displaying the chile blend nicely against the vegetal heartiness of the asparagus.

There was a chia tostada with avocado mousse, tasty little bite that showed off the chia well.

By far the best snack, probably the best thing in the whole meal was smoked baby corn in coffee, chile mayo and ant powder smoked in a small fire of husk in a pot at the table. Tangy, zippy, and acidic, yet sensual, creamy, and utterly divine. So awesome.

Crudo of abalone in its own shell with tomato sauce was interesting, fairly crunchy, pleasant enough:

I had a chamomile margarita to go with the snacks, quite good:

Probably because I mentioned I had just eaten there, but got some rose from the owners of Merotoro, very good:

First course of my own choosing was chorizo chicken liver with chopped up sweetbreads and huitlecoche plus avocado. The huitlecoche was very large and chunky. Parts of this seemed not fully seasoned, and the huitlecoche wasn’t as funky as I am used to. Overall it was an inventive, pleasant dish and the liver was perfectly done. The sweetbreads were just about non-existent though, which was very sad.

Then the famous suckling lamb taco with a cactus tortilla, squash blossoms, and avocado mousse. Really good taco with all of the elements being distinctive, yet coming together in a very savory, and delectable way.

Great salsa to go with it, super balanced and not spicy:

However, I like spicy, so I got some habanero salsa to go with it. Was good, but less balanced than the other salsa sadly. Habanero salsa at Merotoro showed way more finesse in using habanero.

So then I moved on to an egg in a super light fried tortilla, with refried beans mashed with grasshoppers… this was a mistake to order, I should have gotten rabbit. The taste of grasshoppers was not noticable, and it basically ended up tasting like a really nice beans/egg/tortilla dish, not bad, but completely pedestrian and not really that interesting. I should’ve sent it back but it didn’t seem like a valid complaint I guess… there wasn’t exactly anything “wrong” with it, great execution, just not exactly very interesting. The beans and eggs at Fonda Margarita for like $3 had better depth of flavor, so to me this was a huge fail, even though it didn’t taste bad or anything. I hate myself for passing up rabbit now. Again, super pissed that I had to make such a choice as well, ruins the entire vibe of this kind of meal.

Opened up:

So then the famous moles. The black mole has been cooking for 3 years, the red one is “new” mole. Served with a tasting of tortillas, spinach, sesame, and one I can’t remember… this was a spectacular dish. The 3 year mole was just unreal in its depth of flavor. You can tell it is something very, very special. I wish every course was like this. This was about what I was expecting every course to be at the 16th best restaurant in the world.

I forgot to take photos of the incredible red wine I had with the last two dishes.

As I moved into dessert I was poured this rare tequila, which was bursting with honey, and fire, yet smooth at the same time. I ended up getting completely wasted from it though, so I wish I hadn’t gone for it, but oh well.

Pre-dessert was coconut rice with lychee, very pleasant and simple:

Avocado ice cream with chocolate crumbles, bits of mint, and cinnamon as well. This was amazing, everything about it was perfect: flavors, textures, etc… and the tequila was the perfect pairing with it.

A little shortbread cookie with vanilla cream and shaved coconut was delightful, effervescent, and savory/sweet. Very nice.

A mini roll of churro was absolutely divine. By far the best churros I have ever tasted. Perfectly airy, light, savory, just a bit sweet. Wow.

Chocolate sauce for the churros was strangely acidic and did not really work very well at all. No idea what was going on with it.

Well, overall, it was not a bad meal, but not exactly mind-blowing. But there is nothing approaching bad really, and everything seems very consistent and even. Doesn’t feel like much risk being taken. There were some nice moment though.

I can’t help thinking that the tacos at Taco Maria in OC are better than this famous taco, which is supposedly like the best taco in the world though haha

The alcohol was amazing, despite being wildly expensive for the amount.

Overall, hard to fault the place, but fell below expectations I think, and was very annoyed by having to make choices.

But maybe I am just missing the point or something.

Trying recover from near-black out from the tequila I went to an unbelievable concert in a cathedral and downed liters of water and coffee:

I capped off the night with a milanese torta from a highly recommended place, but I am not too sure if it’s that warranted, as it didn’t seem too special to me compared to the tortas I had at Barraca de Valencia on my first day in DF. It was pleasant though, and helped me check off 2 places on my list in 1 day as I enter my final 2 week run.

Not the worst day ever, but definitely an intense one haha


#13

Barbacoa from hidalgo, imported on weekends by El Hidalguense is absolutely incredible. From a freshly slaughtered sheep buried in maguey leaves in a pit. And I ate tacos of the maguey worms that live in the plants and get smoked with the lamb as well haha

Buttery, crunchy, herbacious, quite tasty really with some beans and salsa in a fresh blue corn tortilla:

The wonderous beans:

A sample of the fresh blue corn tortillas, amazing:

The star barbacoa, so fragrant and smokey; with chipotle salsa, very similar to American BBQ in some ways, but even better with the fresh tortillas:

A cubana michelada to compliment all the sheep and worms:

Earlier I stood in line for an hour to have this famous Torta de Chilaquil from La Esquina de Chilaquil. Perfectly crispy bread, lightly breaded milanese, and chilaquiles that were almost a porridge filling but tasted practically like the best version of the dish I’ve had anywhere, so awesome, and worth the hour in line:

I also went to Lalo and got some upscale Chilaquiles and beans, really, really good. Fine-dining chef doing a common dish:

But the REAL show stopper was the french toast. Holy shit, this is the best french toast I have EVER had. I think the flavors in this french toast might have been better than anything at Pujol. It requires multiple angles to fully appreciate:

Some truly amazing eating lately for not that much money either. I think the barbacoa from El Hidalguense bested the lamb in the Pujol taco hah


#14

Barbacoa looks superb.

I prefer that kind of dining more than the high end stuff when abroad in Latin America.

I feel that’s where the truly memorable stuff is.


#15

Porque no los dos?

Maybe I’m still too high from the 19-course extravaganza at Dulce Patria to understand lol


#16

Porque las comidas tipica es mejor para me.

I try to keep it no more than 1 fancy to 5 mid to low end places. It’s just a lot more unique in the low end. High end places start to taste similar after a while. High end in London isn’t that much different from high end in NYC or high end in Iceland or Barcelona.


#17

Have you ever been to Mexico City?