Mexico Travel Tips: When My Friends Visit Mexico

When you write a blog about Mexican food and travel within Mexico, you’re bound to be asked for recommendations by… well, EVERYONE. I’m talking family, friends, coworkers, friends of friends, blog readers, complete strangers—it really runs the gamut. But it’s a true source of joy when you share Mexico travel tips with people, and they send you thanks in the form of a video, a photo, a tweet (or whatever else) to let you know they’re thinking of you and appreciate a recommendation that has improved their experience while visiting Mexico.

In the last week, I’ve received two such messages that I wanted to share.

Several years ago, I mentioned to my friend Ramon and his wife how much I love El Globo, a bakery chain that makes one of my favorite kinds of pan dulce—garibaldi. They’re a little upside-down poundcake-like treat that’s bathed in (usually) apricot jam and rolled in white nonpareils. You can even make garibaldi at home with my recipe. A few days ago, while they were in León, Guanajuato, they sent this video while visiting an El Globo location there.

A few weeks ago, another friend told me she’d be traveling to Mexico City on business and needed some recommendations for places to go for breakfast and dinners when she was able to go out on her own. I sent her a list of some of my favorite places near where she was staying and she shared this photo when she visited Churrería El Moro.

  • Have you taken my travel or dining advice in Mexico? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below, tag me on Twitter or Instagram @MauraHernandez, or tag The Other Side of The Tortilla on Facebook with a photo and note to let us know where you went and what you ate!

Wordless Wednesday: Cielito Querido Café in Mexico City

Cielito Querido Café Mexico City

Last week while we were visiting Mexico City, we checked out a new coffee shop we hadn’t seen before called Cielito Querido Café. Not only is the coffee some of the best we’ve tasted in Mexico (even their café de olla passed my test), but I also loved their cute, cheeky to-go cups that poke fun at Starbucks. Like Starbucks, they have the normal assortment of coffees, espresso and frappes, but they have a host of other offerings on the menu that are muy Mexicano, such as chamoyadas (in no less than four flavors), additions to your café con leche that include cajeta and rompope, chocolate caliente con chile and a house-made horchata. The snack offerings didn’t disappoint either, with selections such as muéganos, palanqueta, molletes, panqué, pasteles and galletas.

I was surprised to learn that the quickly-growing Mexican chain has more than 30 locations in Mexico City as of July 2013 and that I hadn’t stumbled upon one before. I went looking for some more information after a friend on Instagram mentioned that the company is looking to expand to the U.S. (and possibly to Los Angeles) and and found this story on NBC Latino with a great slideshow so you can get a feel for the ambience of Cielito Querido Café. We’ll definitely be back again the next time we visit.

  • Have you been to Cielito Querido Café? What did you order? If you haven’t been, do you think you’ll try it out next time you’re in Mexico City? 

Wordless Wednesday: A new book for my collection

México Sano by Pia Quintana Beristain

Each time I visit Mexico City, I end up going home with my suitcase full of books that aren’t available in the U.S. Lately, my bookshelves are looking rather full (despite thinning my library when we moved) so I’ve been a bit choosier about which books I take home since I’m running out of places to put them. I always browse the cookbook and culinary history sections for books that are new since my last visit. Yesterday, I made a stop at the bookstore nearby José’s parents’ house. This book caught my eye because there are tons of books in Spanish about Mexican cuisine and using traditional ingredients, but not as many that highlight healthy recipes. It’s the latest acquisition for my extensive collection of books about Mexican cuisine. I can’t wait to cook my way through it!

If you want to try your luck looking for it, the book is called “México Sano” and is written by Pía Quintana Beristain.

  • Do you like to buy books in Mexico? What kind of books do you look for that you can’t get in the U.S.?

Wordless Wednesday: Tengo alas pa’ volar

In December 2012 during a visit to Mexico City for the holidays, I had a chance to once again visit La Casa Azul, the home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, which is now the Museo Frida Kahlo. I visited specifically to see a new exhibit called “Las apariencias engañan: los vestidos de Frida Kahlo” (which runs through January 31, 2014 and is a must-see exhibit for any serious Frida fan).

In the museum, there are several displays of Frida Kahlo’s personal journals, filled with artwork between the pages of her thoughts. There’s a famous quote of Frida’s from one of her personal journals which reads: “Pies para qué los quiero si tengo alas pa’ volar.”

It means: “Feet, what do I need them for if I have wings to fly.” As I flew over Ciudad Universitaria in early January on my way back home to Chicago, I snapped this photo of one of my favorite views of the city and added the words.

Frida Kahlo quote "Pies para qué los quiero si tengo alas pa' volar"

  • Do you have a favorite Frida Kahlo quote? Share it with me in the comments below!

Alambre de la Patrona

I haven’t written much here about my favorite taquería in Chicago, La Lagartija, but have always widely recommended the place to anyone who asked me in person, on Facebook or Twitter about where to get an authentic Mexican meal in my hometown. I wasn’t exactly trying to keep it a secret, but it’s definitely a gem and I always appreciated the neighborhood charm and the way that the meseras and owners always remembered us and greeted us like family. I have so many photos stowed away of memorable meals we ate there, and it was the only place in Chicago where we’d regularly eat tacos al pastor.

But one of my favorite standby meals there, the alambre de la patrona, is both succulent and super easy to recreate at home. The owners are from Mexico City, and this dish on their menu is actually a version of a popular dish at one of our favorite taquerías in Mexico City, El Charco de las Ranas. This dish is sometimes known as alambre de chuleta and is best served with warm tortillas, but you can skip the tortillas if you like and just eat it with a fork.

alambre_de_la_patrona_tacos… 

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Lunch at El Cardenal in Mexico City

Whenever we visit Mexico City, I always hope to visit El Cardenal—a restaurant with a focus on classic Mexican cuisine.

On one of my first visits to Mexico City, I ate lunch with my future suegros at the Alameda location in the Hilton downtown (although at the time, it was a Sheraton). It was there that I was introduced to chongos zamoranos, a traditional dessert made of milk, sugar, cinnamon, and rennet, used to curdle the milk. Since then, we’ve always gone to another location in the Centro Histórico (Palma #23, between Cinco de Mayo and Francisco I. Madero; opened in 1984) that has a stunning French-Porfirian facade and stained-glass windows bearing the restaurant’s namesake bird, the cardinal.

Aside from dessert, my favorite thing on the menu there is an appetizer—a molcajete filled with queso fresco, avocado, salsa verde and cilantro that’s served with warm tortillas. So simple, yet the dish is so satisfying and representative of El Cardenal.

José has been visiting his parents this week and ate lunch at El Cardenal a few days ago. He sent these photos to share here on The Other Side of The Tortilla. I hope you like them as much as I do.

Queso fresco with flor de calabaza and jalapeño, wrapped in a banana leaf

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Lunch at El Cardenal in Mexico City

  • Have you ever been to El Cardenal? What is your favorite dish on the menu?
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