I’m back in NYC, but last weekend, David and I took a short trip down to Mexico City (DF for short). It was hectic, tiring, and nerve-wracking at times (beware the shady cabbies!), but also incredibly fun and delicious.
The first day, after quickly checking into our clean yet extremely modest hotel in Roma, we jumped on the train to Coyoacán to visit La Casa Azul, the Frida Kahlo Museum (also the house she shared with Diego Rivera). After the museum, which by the way was gorgeous but also very cramped as we were packed in like sardines, we took off to find some eats in the neighborhood, and man, did we find lots.
First up was Mercado Coyoacán (supposedly frequented by Frida herself) which was filled with vendors selling everything imaginable, edible and not. We settled in at Tostados Coyoacán which had mounds of seafood and meat on display to choose from for tostado toppings. Ordering was simple. We simply ticked off the meat we wanted on a menu, dim sum-style.
We ordered shrimp (MXN $35 / USD $2.75; pictured above), chicken (MXN $25 / USD $1.96), and pigs’ foot (MXN $25 / USD $1.96). All were good, but nothing mind-blowing. Just good, simple food. If I had to pick, the chicken was the best because, in general, chicken outside of the US just tastes better. As for the pigs’ foot, it tasted like gelatin with an extremely mild pork flavor.
We had better bites outside the market from the street vendors. The street food in DF is ridiculous. I always thought Korean people were the most food crazy, but I think Mexican people might just be as, if not crazier. There’s street food everywhere in Mexico City. The streets of Coyoacán is a great example of this. There were tacos, tortas, and Mexican sweets every which way we went.
Right outside the market there were lots of esquites (similar to Mexican-style corn on the cob, but off the cob and boiled and sauteed) vendors, but I opted for grilled elote (MXN $18 / USD $1.41). There was boiled elote too, but I prefer grilled.
Grilled and then slathered with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, and red pepper. As I’ve written before, I like elote better in New York because it’s made with sweet corn rather than glutinous/starchy corn, but when in Mexico, elote must be eaten, and the elote we had was tasty; charred, creamy, and cheesy with a little bit of heat.
Sweets were even better. On the the way to the market, we saw a lot of people eating these fried tube-like things filled with what we thought was ice cream. Later we discovered it wasn’t ice cream at all, but fried pastry shells filled with sweet meringue called gaznates (windpipe in Spanish; pictured above left). It was really good. The shell was crunchy, not too thick, and the meringue, light as air. One gaznate from a street vendor outside the market was MXN $10 (USD $0.79). And if tubes aren’t your thing, the sweets also come in taco and cone form.
Our favorite from the night, however, were the churros (above right) we had south of the market at a tiny shop that simply had “Cafeteria” stenciled in paint on the front. On the menu were regular churros covered in sugar and also churros rellenos, churros with filling. David ordered one churro relleno with strawberry cream, and I ordered plain churros (MXN $35 / USD $2.75 for both). Both were amazing. Although I would have preferred if David had ordered chocolate or cajeta as the filling, the strawberry cream tasted more like jam than the artificial pink ooze it looked like. In addition, the strawberry cream was freshly piped upon order so there was no soggification. New York churro shops, take note! This is how it’s done! My plain churros were equally fantastic; crunchy with the tiniest bit of softness at the center and each appropriately sugar-coated. Churro perfection. We had churros at a more well-known shop two days later, but we liked these much better.
If you ever visit DF, visit Coyoacán. What we ate was probably 0.000000000000001 percent of what the neighborhood offers. We had plans to go back, but weren’t able to because of our schedule. I have a feeling we’ll be returning shortly, and if possible, hungrier.
Ignacio Allende (b/n Malintzin and Xicoténcatl; map)
Mexico City, DF, Mexico
Ignacio Allende (b/n Cuauhtémoc & Moctezuma; map)
Mexico City, DF, Mexico