If you asked me what was the most that I liked about Mexico, the answer would be exact and concise: its culture. I do not believe that there is a more proud Hispanic American country. Mexico is a country where the people are very deeply connected to their roots. In each dish, in each tortilla and in each bite, you can feel the tradition of their ancestors, the nostalgia of the food prepared by the grandmothers, and the combination of native ingredients grown by their own people.
This mixture of components has made this country one of the epicenters of gastronomy worldwide.
To start the day in the capital as a Mexican, one of the most traditional things you can order for breakfast is a plate of chilaquiles. Although my favorites are those of Fonda Mayora, almost all places have their version. These are corn chips in a sauce of green or red chilies, fresh cheese, cream, and topped with a fried egg. The combination of crunchy, spicy sauce, and cheese savory makes this dish the perfect start to a new dawn.
After starting the day on the right foot, getting lost in the streets of the counties La Condesa and Roma is inevitable. While walking, you will encounter a lot of nature, a mixture of old and modern buildings and many gastronomic jewels. It is almost unexpected, but you can run into coffee shops, bars, taquerías, churrerías, and even ultra-trendy restaurants with rooftops.
Everyone is surprised at how incredible this city is, and the obligatory question is “how is it possible that this city and its gastronomy are first class, and I had never heard of them?”
One of the great promoters of this Mexican culinary movement has been Chef Enrique Olivera and his restaurant Pujols. It is currently ranked as the best restaurant in all of Latin America and is # 20 worldwide. In addition to Enrique, other chefs with high-end restaurants but with very affordable prices and that have driven the gastronomic culture of the country are Elena Reygadas (Rosetta, Lardo, Café Nin), Jorge Vallejo (Quintonil), Eduardo García (Máximo Bistrot, Lalo !, Harve77), Edgar Núñez (Sud777, Comedor Jacinta), and Gerardo Vázquez and María Elena Lugo (Nicos, Fonda Mayora). However, for hundreds of years, the Mexican culinary tradition had been cooking and delighting palates with its rural techniques, ingredients grown in the heart of the country, and recipes of dishes that have survived generations. They have only rescued these customs and popularized them.
A day in Mexico would not be complete without going to a traditional ‘taquería’. In the neighborhood of La Condesa there is a small native franchise that possibly makes one of the best tacos al pastor in the World, El Tizoncito. Each taco is made to order with the right mixture of ingredients in the most precise quantities. It’s an experience on its own. The place does not say much, but every single bite is poetry in motion, with a little of hot sauce. After going here and try their tacos, no ‘taqueria’ will ever be the same.
To neutralize salty and spicy flavors, you have to feed the sweet side of life, and a mandatory stop is Churrería El Moro. This ‘churreria’ has been serving foodies in Mexico City for over 80 years with their homemade ‘churros,’ bathed in a combination of sugars and each one ready to be dipped in the thick dark hot chocolate that’s grown locally.
After a day of exploration through several of the CDMX areas, there is no better way than to end up in one of the best restaurants in all of Latin America, Sud777. Here Chef Edgar Núñez combines modern cooking techniques with purely Mexican ingredients, and the result is spectacularly delicious. Each dish had its personality, attitude, and particularity, so much so that the dry noodle dish must be ordered twice to try to find a word to describe it.
They say that one should always leave the best for the latter. CDMX is full of hidden bars but ready to be found by everyone. One of the most fascinating and of the World’s 50 Best is Hanky Panky. Its location is a secret that only those who get reservations know the address. Once you arrive at the place, the experience only begins. The interior of the site transports you to the Chicago of the ’20s, and its cocktail menu is ultra avant-garde. This modern mixology bar is one of the best ways to end the night on a very high note.
Without a doubt, Mexico has a unique charm and a combination of flavors and colors like few countries in the universe. Its culture explodes in every corner of the nation, its people smile as big as a taco, its streets are full of life, and its history continues to perpetuate through its kitchen.
Paul E González Mangual is an author of four books, founder of FOODIEcations, columnist for Sabrosía Puerto Rico, TEDx speaker, Guinness World Record Holder, whiskey enthusiast, coffee addict, and producer of the Coffee & Chocolate Expo.
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