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Candelaria is Coming

Candelaria_Anais_Martinez

© Anais Martínez

Two years ago I got hooked on Candelaria. It started with a trip to Talavera street in the Merced where my friend Arturo educated me about the tradition of the baby Jesus and the year’s most popular “outfit.”

“Some years it’s been soccer player baby Jesus or immigrant baby Jesus, You never know what will be all the rage,” he said as we passed store after store of Jesus dolls.

You can’t truly understand this holiday until you walk Talavera — an entire street dedicated to baby Jesus figurines and the various accouterments that accompany them during the Candelaria holiday in Mexico.

It’s a holiday born of many other holidays and like everything here, touched by a particular Mexican blend of popular culture and deep Catholic devotion.

Candelaria, or Candlemas in English, is most often celebrated with a blessing of candles and a celebration of light.

In the Christian tradition it represents the baby Jesus’ baptism, 40 days after his birth. According to Hebrew law this was the time required for a male child to rid himself of original sin and be pure enough to receive his soul (girls take a little longer – 60 days). It was also the length of time needed for the Virgin Mary to be purified after giving birth. On this day, Mary took her newborn son to be presented in the temple for the first time.  It is said that when a man named Simeon beheld the Christ child in the temple, he declared him to be the light of the world.

An alternative version of the holiday is the Midwinter Festival or the Festival of Lights, a pagan celebration of the halfway point between the dark of winter and promise of Spring’s warmth, where lit candles are used to welcome the beginning of the agricultural year and chase away the dark death of winter.

Candelaria Tianguis Mexico City

©Anais Martínez

The holiday is celebrated around the world in various ways. In France, family members make crepes while holding a coin in their hand for good luck in the coming year. In Spain, towns host parades and outdoor festivals with dancing, music, and food. But Candelaria in Mexico is celebrated like no other place on earth.

Preparations for the holiday begin on December 24th. On Christmas Eve, the baby Jesus is taken out of his box, rocked, and sung to. He’s then placed in the manager of the family nativity scene. On Three Kings Day, January 6th, when across Latin America children awaken to toys and presents left by the three Magi, families and friends get together to eat Rosca de Reyes, a traditional sweet bread with candied fruit on top. Baked into the rosca is a tiny baby Jesus figurine and the person who gets this figurine in their slice of cake, besides a potential broken tooth, is bestowed the honor of being the baby Jesus’ padrino or godparent. It is then their responsibility to purchase the baby Jesus his brand new outfit and accessories for his February 2nd presentation at the Candelaria mass.

If the baby Jesus has suffered some wear and tear from last year’s celebration, locals head to the Hospitalito del Niño Jesús (The little baby Jesus Hospital), a  repair shop in La Merced.

Baby Jesus First Aid

Karina and Miguel Angel have had the hospitalito for 11 years and they pride themselves on being one of the only workshops in the neighborhood open 365 days of the year.

Antique baby jesus head

© Anais Martínez

We work all through the night during this season, resting for a few hours each morning,” Karina tells us, “in a couple days we are going to have to start turning people away, or we will never finish all the niños by Candelaria.”

She reminds us that these dolls are family heirlooms, whose sentimental value makes them worth repairing instead of replacing.

Their workshop is a simple set up of tables under an awning in one of the Merced’s crumbling vecindades.  Tucked into one corner of the courtyard is their baby Jesus clothing shop where you can buy hand-knit caps and pajama sets. They bring out some of the worse cases to show us — a badly burned baby Jesus rescued from a fire, one with a spiderweb of cracks across its belly, and an antique baby Jesus head, whose eyes roll back when you as you rock it up and down.

baby jesus candelaria mexicoJust outside their door Talavera street is overrun by the Candelaria outdoor market bursting with every kind of imaginable outfit and accessory that you could want for a small, porcelain baby Jesus. There’s the strictly religious Niño del Sagrado Corazón (Sacred Heart Jesus) and the Santo Niño de Atocha with his staff and drinking gourd. Alongside them are the slightly more secular Niño de Suerte with his golden coins and glimmering skeleton skull and Aztec baby Jesus dressed in a flashy indigenous traje. Last but not least are the hugely popular baby Jesus MDs and baby Jesus selección oficial (for all you non-soccer buffs out there, he looks like the photo to the left) . You can dress your baby Jesus as your favorite saint or your favorite soccer player but Karina from the hospitalito says that local priests are cracking down and will now refuse to bless the babies unless they dressed properly.

You have to dress the niño Jesús as a child, because he is a child.” says Karina, nino de la suerte mexico city merced“And dressing him as a saint is like having the boss sweep the floor.”

On the big day, February 2nd, families will bring their niño to a Candelaria mass and have it blessed for the coming year. They often bring along beeswax candles to be blessed as well. Mass is followed by a celebration with tamales and atole, also provided by the baby Jesusgodfather or godmother.

The Merced’s Candelaria market reaches a fever pitch a few days before February 2nd when residents can be seen gingerly carrying their baby Jesus to the market and selecting just the right clothing to ring in the new year. It’s not something you can afford to miss.

If your interest is piqued and you want to dig deeper,  Eat Mexico is running tours from now until the 2nd of February. You will eat and drink your way through the holiday preparations and learn more than you ever thought possible about this very special Mexican holiday.

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Local Beer On Tap: Mexico City

beer for MCSEvery time I’m asked for a topic-specific list of suggestions for visitors coming into town I get inspired to write up a post. I figure if someone is asking, someone else is thinking about it.

So when I was recently asked about finding local beer on tap in the city I started writing a mental list.

Beer making has had a long history in Mexico and hit a serious boom during the prohibition years in the United States. In the late 1920s, when the beer industry here started to consolidate, Cervecería Modelo (or Grupo Modelo) and Cervecería Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma became the only two games in town as they bought up smaller producers, holding on to an almost complete monopoly until the last 15 or so years. Since then the craft beer movement has been slowly gaining ground and market share. While craft beer’s commercial presence is no where near as strong as the big guys or craft beer producers in the US, it’s no longer difficult to find an intensely hoppy Mexican IPA or a creamy Mexican stout.

Here are a few places I’ve found that I think all you beer drinkers out there will like.

La Crisanta (Av. de La República 51, Cuauhtémoc) wins my vote as the best place to get craft beer (so far) in the city.  They are the only brewery making beer in the Centro Histórico, of which they produce 8 different types of ales. They have an additional 29 beers on their menu, about half of which are Mexican and half are from around the world. I find the staff to be friendly and knowledgeable about their list, and happy to explain the nuances of each type of beer they offer. They’ll even set up tours of their production area with some advance warning. The only issue I have is that the brewery itself has a limited production, so there are times when you go and they don’t have any more of the La Cristana brand beers. If you are lucky enough to stop by when they have some, I am partial to their red ale, Por No Estar and the their brown, 78.

The tiny El Trappist (Álvaro Obregón 298, Condesa) is packed to the gills on the weekends. The servers are happy to help you select from their over 300 brands of bottled Mexican beer on rotation throughout the year. The bar offers two seasonal beer-opener-lydia-carey-mainbeers of their own, a summer blend, usually an IPA or triple Ale, and one around Christmas time (it’ll be here in a week!) that is normally a stout or porter (for all that chilly Mexico City weather). They also have around 150 imported beers and always a Mexican brand on their one solitary tap.

Escollo (Calle Querétaro 182, Roma Norte) is one of my new favorites, they have all eight of their beers on tap, including a couple IPAs, a blond, a stout, and a porter. They have another 15 craft beer brands in bottles, all of them Mexican, and 120 mezcal brands. Their staff is enthusiastic about everything they sell and will talk your ear off about both mezcal and beer and their production in Mexico. The food is even good — Mexican favorites like tacos, tortas, and sopes, and some interesting twists like tuna carnitas and strawberry-tilapia ceviche.

Despite the fact that the majority of Mexican brands they carry are big-name craft beer producers (and that it’s a chain) El Deposito World Beer Store (Various Locations throughout the city) still has quite a variety. The Roma location has 10 different beers on tap at a time, a mix of national and international brands. They currently carry 39 brands (of all different styles), 30 international and 9 national.

One of my favorite local joints is a billard bar called Lucille. On tap is beer from the Cosaco brewery, another of one of our few local beer makers. Cosaco only sells by the keg, so if you want to try their beer you’ll need to check out Lucille (Orizaba 99, Roma Norte), Toscano Cafe (Orizaba 42 Roma Norte), or one of the many restaurants around town where they offer it.  You can get a rojo (red), porter, or güera (blonde).  Lucille also has Tempus and Minerva craft beer on the menu, two of Mexico’s  mainstream craft breweries.

I will admit to being disappointed by Fiebre de Malta (Rio Lerma 156, Cuauhtémoc) in the Centro Histórico, I felt like the beer was a little meh and the staff laissez faire about working there. I only add it here because it has a set of fans that I don’t want to ignorela_tienda AND they have 24 beers on tap at any given moment, the most of any other bar I mentioned, 18 national brands and 6 imported brands. If you want to get a wide range of tastes they offer a sampler platter of 8-10 beers for around 150p.

Lastly, if you’re happy to just buy beers and take them home to enjoy in your own personal bar, I recommend La Belga (corner of Querétaro and Orizaba, Roma Norte), a tucked away beer shop in the Roma with 300 brands, 40% Mexican, 60% international.

If you think I’m missing something good on this list, let me know so I can go “research”—it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

@MexCityStreets

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Welcome to Tijuana

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Even I need a break from writing about Mexico City some times and so for the past few weeks we road-tripped through Baja California, enjoying the clean desert air and fish tacos. I wrote random stories down on my yellow note pad, instagrammed my vacation bliss and tried to unplug from all my other technologies.

Tijuana turned out to be one of the more complicated and fascinating places we visited. Landing there, in a world between worlds, was a particular jolt to start off our vacation. It’s a border circus, the streets contrastly filled with characters like the visibly inebriated man we saw carrying around a charred, taxidermied bull head and the group of San Diego golfers with matching polos and Titleist hats; immigrants living in limbo and tourists simply passing through.

In the course of a day we saw a one-man rave to the music of a free samples stand outside a Waldos store, a midget singing with a begging dog whose sign read “Thanks for your help. May god bless you. Please don’t touch me,” hipsters with a pet bunny in a playpen, a guy in a wheelchair being pushed across the Tijuana river bridge with two giant puppies on his lap and a donkey painted as a zebra. We also experienced the eerie walk across the border, spent over an hour looking for the entrance of the Mamut bar and ate some smoked marlin tacos that I will never forget.

Despite the burgeoning culinary scene and exquisite craft beer that have brought hipsters, foodies and high society types to Tijuana, it remains a spontaneously odd and spectacularly bizarre town.

I took a few photos for prosperity and wanted you to see them.

 

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My neighbors – Sr. Ruiz

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When Sr. Ruiz married his wife in 1948 she was only 16. They couldn’t find anyone to perform the service because of her age. People said it wouldn’t last, that they weren’t ready, that they were too young. They ended up being married by a justice of the peace in a small, crowded office located in what is now the Parque Delta mall parking.

That was 67 years ago.

“Married 67 years, that’s a lot to put up with don’t you think?” He asks.

“For her,” I answer and his responding laugh is drown out by the passing semi trucks that barrel down Baja California avenue.

I am standing outside his key shop with another neighbor, bent over trying to catch the words of this 91-year-old locksmith. His voice is low and throaty and when he wants to say something he considers scandalous he lowers it even more. We strain to catch it all but he never notices.

“I don’t know why you want to talk to me,” Sr. Ruiz says, “they already wrote a book three years ago, it’s all in there.” He’s talking about Edgar Tavares Lopez’s book Colonia Roma. Turns out that Lopez interviewed him for that book and then came back a few years later to hear more of his story. He’s quite the long-term Roma resident star, having had his shop in the Roma since he arrived in Mexico City in 1945.

DSCF5176When Sr. Ruiz came to apprentice at a plumbing shop on Medellin street, the street’s famous market didn’t even exist yet. He remembers a fish shop beside where he worked, which I was sure was the same family that has the Miramar Pescadería inside the market, as their son José told me they used to own a shop across the street until the market opened and they moved in there. When I asked José’s father about it later, he told me that Sr. Ruiz taught him how to drive up near Toluca, where they used to go trout fishing. But they are two old men, and I’m not sure who’s memory is correct, according to Sr. Ruiz he doesn’t even know how to drive himself.

On Medellín there was also a shoe repair shop, a barbershop run by a kid about Sr. Ruiz‘s own age at the time, and a billiards bar upstairs that became the workers’ hangout in the afternoon.

When Holiday on Ice came to the Estadio Nacional, located where the lanzador statue and the government offices next to the Lopez Velarde park are now, it was the first ice skating show Mexico City had ever seen. Sr Ruiz built the tubing underneath the rink.

According to him, that was back when a lady was a lady.

“The women, they used to wear their skirts to here (he points to just below the DSCF5179knee) and their stockings were perfect. Not like now where you see them on the metro with their skirts up to here and their pants all ripped up.

We used to go the movies or to the Estadio Nacional or to the circus and 12 hours later they looked just as perfect as they looked at the beginning of the day, after getting up and down and even riding the metro….perfect.”

The stadium, he tells me was also used as an office in the Bracero program, a deal struck between presidents Roosevelt and Camacho to send Mexican workers to the United States to stave off the WWII labor shortage. Sr. Ruiz’s uncle went there to get his papers before he left to work across the border.

Above his workshop door, in a small space between the frame and the doorjamb are several tiny jars with white crystals, a scattering of salt and a few cloves. Beside them, a few pieces of slowly drying garlic. He has more than one kind of protection against mal intent.

“I walk around with my hand like this (he shoves half his hand in the side of his waistband) like I am in pain, but really I’m holding on to my pistol, I have it right here…” he points inside.

“So you think the neighborhood is very dangerous?”

“The whole city,” he replies, eyes raised, like I’m a naive moron.

I opened my mouth to contest but he and Jaime have already moved on to reminiscing about the inauguration of the Plaza de Mexico in Colonia Noche Buena, just a short distance from Colonia Roma — the biggest bullfighting ring in the world.

I remember it was a Tuesday, February 5th, 1946, on the bill were Luis Castro Soldado and Manuel Rodriguez, Manuel Rodriguez won it with the second bull.”

The two men bond over sports; Sr. Ruiz remembers the stats of every Mexican baseball player in existence. Jaime comes by the shop to discuss the most recent game, as he’s has been covering Mexican baseball in local newspapers for over forty years. Sr. Ruiz and his wife used to go to all the games… until his wife was hit in the face with a foul ball. She now, rightfully, refuses to go, so he settles for watching the games on TV.

For 91 the man has the energy of someone half his age. He opens his shop every day and sits in its tiny entryway waiting for customers, chatting with the neighbors that pass. But this is an era that he has his complaints about – how young people no longer want to learn traditional trades, but simply type away at their machines and how the days of musical trios is long gone.

“Back when you could get a girl to fall in love with you by serenading her,” he tells me wistfully. Back when the tram rode up and down Baja and our colonia was just a little sleepier, its elegant architecture still with the half shine of a not-so-distant past. Before we leave I promise I’ll be back with some keys I need made, and that then we can talk some more. But he just waves me off and walks inside, mumbling that he has nothing to say.

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Monday in Mexico City

For the next installment of my weekly what to do lists, I’m working on the toughest day of the week. Here’s my list-in-progress for Mondays in Mexico.

Courtesy Christie Pham Photography

Courtesy Christie Pham Photography

Most museums are closed on Mondays so as a tourist it’s a good time to organize an alternative tour (like those from Eat Mexico for exploring street food or Journeys Beyond the Surface for culture and history) or head out to visit one of Federal District’s more far-flung attractions (think the floating gardens of Xochimilco or Teotihuacán’s massive pyramid).

Chocoladetruffels_LindtIf you really can’t kick the museum craving,  MUCHO (the Chocolate Museum – 11am to 5pm) is open Monday to Sunday … and who doesn’t need a little pick-me-up on this first day of the week? Set in a beautifully restored 1909 home in Colonia Juarez, don’t miss the chocolate wallpaper, Willy Wonka- style and the kitschy displays of women grinding cacao on a metate. They also have a small cafe below the museum where you can sample different kinds of chocolate from all over Mexico or buy some to take home with you. It also just happens to be one of my list of six Mexico City museums that won’t make you want to kill yourself.

Almost every day of the week there is a tianguis, or open-air market going on Broka Farmers Marketsomewhere throughout the city. Here’s a list of the markets in the Delegación Benito Juarez for you to take your pick from. On Mondays in the Roma you will find a tiny farmers’ market hidden inside the Broka Bistro on Zacatecas street. The market is small (about a half dozen vendors) but you can buy organic wine, farm fresh eggs, veggies, chutneys, kambucha and lots of other prepared foods. I haven’t been able to get a good fix on what time it starts, but it’s in the afternoon and lasts till about 8pm.

And of course there are all the city’s indoor markets where Monday is a big day for buying and selling. Check out the Merced for a sensory overload or the smaller Mi Mercados scattered throughout the city.

It can be a quiet day for eating and drinking since many places are either closed or lock up early. Avoid Reforma and the Centro and head out into a more neighborhood street scenes such as Alvaro Obregón en La Roma, Tamulipas in La Condesa, Hamburgo and Londres in La Zona Rosa or Torres Adalid in La Navarte. Or take in a show, there’s lots of local theater for Spanish-speaking audiences.

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Sunday in Mexico City

I’ve been challenged by a friend to write a series of guides to the different days of the week in Mexico City. While I freely admit that my insights are limited to a few areas of the city, I thought it might be fun to do. So I’m starting with my favorite day: Sunday.

Coffee at HomeFirst a confession. Most Sundays you’ll find me at home in my pajamas with coffee and the newspaper. I like to venture down to the barbacoa stand on Tehuantepec and only sometimes make it to the bakery for sweet chocolatín. Sunday is the day of rest, after all.

But Sunday is actually an amazing day to be in the city if you can muster the energy to shower and leave the house. Not only does less traffic make the air just a little more breathable, but everyone is out and about — sitting in parks, eating with family, and just generally enjoying the day. It’s a great day to people watch at Río de Janeiro plaza in Roma Norte or stroll through Mexico City’s Chapultepec park.

Sunday Tianguis in Del Valle

Sunday Tianguis in Del Valle

Downtown you’d be remiss in not checking out the weekend Tianguis beside the Jardín the Arte, the small park behind the Monumento de la Madre. La Lagunilla is also a must-visit, with its aisles of antiques,  cheap clothing and overflowing food stands.The farmers’ market Mercado del 100 (9:30am to 2:30pm) sells organic strawberries, sustainably-raised trout and local cheeses at plaza de lanzador in Roma Sur near the Centro Médico metro stop and there’s another small tianguis where Monterrey and Obrero Mundial meet in colonia Narvarte that’s famous for their mixiotes… BUT Sunday in Mexico City is not really complete without barbacoa. On this, the Lord’s day, you will find barbacoa (roasted lamb or goat tacos) stands everywhere you look. The meat is traditionally cooked in an underground pit and covered with agave leaves to seal in the juices, then you slather it with a variety of delicious salsas my favorite being smoky chipotle and wrap it in a blue corn tortilla.

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If you’re overwhelmed by the street stand choices you can always head to El Hidalguense in Roma Sur, a well-established favorite for barbacoa and pulque curados. Sundays are also great for eating in one of the city’s many indoor markets where you will find families gathered together for Sunday lunch. If you are a pozole lover, check Casa Licha in Colonia Justo Sierra, for some of the city’s best guerrero-style white or green pozole.

Biking Reforma on Sunday afternoon

Biking Reforma on Sunday afternoon

This is definitely a day to take on the city by bike. Reforma is blocked off to vehicular traffic from 8am to 2pm every Sunday and visitors can rent bikes free for three-hour shifts from the handful of bike rental stands you’ll see set up on the sidewalk. You’ll need to bring a passport as a foreigner (that you have to leave with them as a deposit for your bike) or two forms of ID if you are local.  The first Sunday of every month you can join the 55-kilometer ride that takes you all over the city. Here’s a map of the route. 

If you yearn for the chaos of a plaza overrun by clowns, balloon vendors and kids eating ice cream, you will love Coyoacán on a Sunday. Check out one of their many churros and chocolate shops or eat at one of my favorite restaurants, Los Danzantes, with outside seating right on the plaza. This is NOT a day to see Frida’s house, the lines will be down the block and you will regret wasting your precious Sunday hours. The Coyoacán park and nursery Vivero Coyoacán, is a great place for a soccer game or a run, but they don’t allow food into the park, so forget the Sunday picnic. I prefer weekdays in Coyoacán, but lots of people LOVE Sundays.

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Lots of museums are open on Sundays as well, which makes it a great day to get some culture. Also check out the kids in the Monumento de Revolución fountain and have a craft beer at Crisanta right on the plaza (10am to 10pm). It’s a low-key partying night although you can find pockets of activity, mostly outside of downtown in some of the more popular surrounding neighborhoods — enjoy it, Monday craziness is just around the corner.

UPDATE:

We recently discovered a great organic market on Sundays in Del Valle (Nicolás San Juan #616). They have vegetarian breakfast (chilaquiles, omelets, French toast) in their cafe on the top floor and a bevy of stands selling organic produce, frozen meat, honey, veggies, eggs and more downstairs. The market feels very community-centered. Don’t miss the tile mural at the top of the stairs.

 

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Thanks for your help!!

DSCF3423Thanks SO much to John Kramer, Susan Kramer, Emma Butler, Molly Blakemore, Ceil Carey, Monica Carey, Alecs Montes, Erin Johnson, Tamar Hayrikyan, David Hayrikyan, Bob Stone, Fernando Sánchez Cuadros, Fernando Mata Rosas, Anais Martínez, Maria & Chris Anderson, Susan Page, John Lawrence, Jennifer Ungemach, Francisco Peyret, Rose Mcloud, Laura Tillman, Leticia Tejeida, Jeremy Faust, Alicia Willcook, Ana Luiza Moraes Patrão, and Ercilia Sahores for helping me raise money for my new guide, Mexico City Streets: La Roma. I am deeply touched by each of your contributions.

 

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BBQ Fix

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So I think I found my new bbq fix, and it’s only a few blocks away from my house. Porco Rosso opened up on the corner of Zacatecas and Orizaba and then almost as quickly was closed down. They just reopened a month ago and as I have been telling everyone, I’m both happy and sad. Happy that it’s delicious and sad I didn’t start up my own barbeque restaurant years ago when I had the idea (but no more money that I do now).

The wrap up?

Pros:

*picnic-table ambiance

*delicious ribs — crispy on the outside, juicy in the center, they were the star for me

*great pulled pork with bits of fat mixed in for flavor

*magically fried onions (who knows how they make them)

*summery location right on Luis Cabrera park

*Pedro, the uber-friendly owner

*deep-fried Oreos and banana splits for dessert

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Cons:

*Lemon ice tea — I LOVE sweet tea, but all that lemon makes it more like lemonade.

*confused staff — there was some confusion and delay with our order, the waitress didn’t know how to follow them on twitter, the guy working the register couldn’t answer our question about the ribs (someone else helped him out), the ordering/picking system needs a little smoothing out… but hopefully they are still just working out the bugs.

*cramped space — they are waiting on a permit to expand into the rest of their lot, once they do it will be much roomier and pleasant, until then it’s a little tight on space.

*UPDATE: Now that I have been several times to eat here, I have to admit, everything could be a little hotter for my liking.

As you can see the benefits far outweigh the negatives and in my opinion is better than both Pinche Gringo and Los Po’ Boys, the two other barbeque places I have tried in the city.

Got a better place? Send me a comment and I will check it out. Till then I am off to Porco Rosso to get the meat sweats.

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The New Roma Guide — Coming Soon!

Hey Readers,

If you like this blog you will LOVE my upcoming guide to living in the Roma. I need your help to make all these hours of research and writing pay off. Please help me raise money to design, print and publish my new guide! If everyone that follows this guide simply chipped in 10 bucks I could make my goal!

Click on the link below to donate to the campaign!

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My Indiegogo fundraising page!

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The Best of Breakfast – La Roma

IMG_20141010_151914579Now that my guide to living in the Roma is in its final stages of editing, I’ve had several people ask me…. “So what is the best ___ in the Roma?”

I have eaten in so many restaurants, gotten my hair cut at so many salons and meandered through so many boutiques that you might think that much of it became a blur after a while. You’d be right… but there were stand outs.

I thought I would give everyone out there a little preview to what they might find in my guide and talk about some of the “bests” that I’ve encountered. I’m starting with my favorite meal of the day: Breakfast.

Best Pastry – Panaderia Lvsitana, Valladolid 76

I haven’t stickied my fingers at any bakery in the Roma that even compares to this little Portuguese heaven. Brioche, pastel de belem, cornucopias… even the pan de chorizo is stunning. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it’s a treasure trove of deliciousness inside.

pan_comidoBest Cup of Coffee – Pan Comido, Tonala 99

They make it French press and they make it strong. Refreshing in a neighborhood where I haven’t run into that many good cups o’ Joe. Second runners up are Cardinal on Cordoba (yes soy milk, no decaf) and the Colombian coffee stand in Mercado Medellin (no soy milk, yes coffee from every region of Mexico).

Best Chilaquiles – Las Tlayudas, San Luis Potosi 13

Ok, so Alex Montes, the owner, is a friend of mine and he’s the one who originally told me their chilaquiles were the best in the Roma, but I wouldn’t have put them on the list if I hadn’t gone and tested out his claim myself. He’s got pasilla, morita, verde, rojo, tasajo, cecina, chicken, etc. The list is never ending and I’m telling you, while there are others in the Roma I like (and that I mention a few in the guide), these are number one.

Best expensive breakfast – Lalo, Zacatecas 173

While there were one too many waiters hovering over the community table for my liking, it didn’t ruin the food orgasm that was my croque madame. I also like that they fed me as much coffee as I wanted and let me linger over breakfast without being fussy, like some high priced places can be.

Best cheap breakfast – Talcoyo & gordita stand in front of Mercado Medellín

This stand is the one located right by the entrance of the non-food section, in front of the parking lot on the Monterrey side. These ladies have lots of rellenos for quesadillas, perfected condiment-ed tlacoyos and searing hot salsas – the perfect breakfast for under 5 bucks.

Best Outdoor seating – Cachito Mio – Guanajuato 138cachito_mio

The bench that transforms into a picnic table, neatly tucked beneath a tree, the roving white dog, and the over-the-top friendly owners that make you feel like you’ve known them all your life, make Cachito my favorite place to sit outside for breakfast. The spinach quiche and organic juice don’t hurt either.

Busiest Breakfast stop – Rosetta Panaderia, Colima 166

Rosetta’s 10 or so bar stools are in constant rotation all day long. Come for the happening scene and stay for the sweet rolls and the aroma of fresh baked bread drifting from the kitchen. (yes, almond milk!)

DSCF1752Best fresh baked bread – Delirio, Monterrey 116

I hesitate on this one because I also LOVE the bread at De la Silva bakery (in the Mercado Roma on Querétaro street), but I still choose Delirio as number one because I think it’s denser and I like heavy, dense farm-style bread. For something a little lighter, De la Silva is your bakery.

Best Vegan/Vegetarian Breakfast – Pan Comido, Tonala 99

Pan Comido wins another category with their vegan and vegetarian breakfast burritos. I also like that you can order organic eggs for 5p extra and that I can end my breakfast with a warm vegan cookie from their bakery next door.

Best Eggs Benedict – Padam, Veracruz 38

These eggs benedict rocked my world – poached eggs with smoked salmon floating padamin a sea of béchamel and sprinkled with dill – what more could you want in a breakfast? I also love the long table out front – makes you feel like you’re holding court at breakfast.

Best Tamales – Doña Emi, Jalapa 278

I know I am going to get lambasted for this since everyone has their favorite tamales, but Doña Emi never disappoints me and there is always enough filling to balance out the overload of corn masa (combined with the atole for a corn-anary) Lomo and olives are my favorite.

pet friendlyMost Pet friendly – Spice Everywhere – Yucatan 147

I have yet to try out the Spice Everywhere new location for American-style weekend brunch, but I did run in to the owner the other day who spent 15 minutes petting my dogs. She told me that they have a huge patio where you can bring pets and every dog gets a sausage. My mutts have been harassing me to go ever since.

Have some breakfast suggestions? Click on the link at the top of this post and send me a message.

@MexCityStreets

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