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Blue Heron

Mexico City Dining

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Am dying for the "update" on this trip. What no remarks on the dining scence?

Was away in "El Norte" for the holidays and missed this very long list of places to eat -- we need the report!

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Funny you should say that. I JUST finished updating my blog and then was heading over here to post some photos. I'm working on it today.

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I'm not sure where to begin, except to apologize for taking so long to post my report. You know, life gets in the way.

I've already written very detailed reports on my blog, Sour Cherry Farm, but I'll recap here and provide you links. (To see all the Mexico posts, you should click on the archives for November and December. Now that they've been up for a couple weeks, I back dated them to reflect the actual days of the trip.)

The first few days of my trip were in Cuernavaca and Taxco, so I posted on those threads first.

Here's Cuernavaca. Here's Taxco.

I had five days of dining in DF, and three of them were at high-end places.

Aguila y Sol.

This place pissed me off. We were tired and weary from traveling. We'd been to an all-day wedding Saturday, walked all over billyhell in Taxco Sunday, and drove in from Taxco and settled in our studio apartment Monday. By Monday night, we were looking for a relaxing, pleasurable experience.

It was like dining with the hairs standing up on the back of your neck. The pace was maddeningly quick. The flurry of waiters around the table was distracting. And the rest of the customers were so straighbacked and serious we couldn't relax. Finally, after a margarita that we didn't really order (it was pretty much forced on us), we started to feel better and I took out the camera.

I only got this shot and a couple more off —

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— before the waiter came over to tell me that photographs were not allowed. I was surprised, and now very annoyed. Our every move was scrutinized.

You know what? The food was actually very good. But I had such an unpleasant experience that I would never go back. On the way out, I asked for a menu so I could remember our dinner better. The hostess refused. "It's not our policy."

Here's my full report. (Which, apparently, has made someone named Beatriz quite upset.)

Pujol.

Oh my. My favorite. It was wonderful. The food was inventive, playful, delicious — and the atmosphere was relaxed and the pace easy.

It's a small room, spare but not sparse. The food is teetering on avant-garde, but is still grounded. I got the cocoa-crusted venison and my husband had the tongue. All the food was spectacular and the service amazing.

gallery_2325_4284_5369.jpg

Sour Cherry Farm goes to Pujol.

Tezka.

I liked Tezka, and would definitely go back. But I think I'd like to go with more people. The restaurant's decor and atmosphere is very austere, while the food is anything but. I think a livelier table (or maybe just more customers) would help make up for that difference.

This dish —

gallery_2325_4284_13132.jpg

— was unbelievable. Each and every vegetable sang a note clear as day, yet they all played so nicely together in the bowl.

Unfortunately, I took so long to write up more report — here it is — that some of the details are foggy.

So those are the high end.

We took the advice of eGers and made a trip to Azul y Oro (clicky) on the campus of UNAM. Wow are we glad we did.

Here's that hot chocolate everyone is raving about:

gallery_2325_4284_14362.jpg

The food was terrific. I loved my cream of cilantro soup. We also had tortilla soup, duck ravioli with mole and cochinita pibil. All the flavors were true and you could tell the food was prepared with love.

Other meals:

Sanborn's in the House of Tiles. I can't help it. I love the restaurant — it's like an old friend. I was so pysched to take my husband there. We had breakfast, and the meal held us until dinner!

gallery_2325_4284_1053.jpg

Tapas at Capicua. We wanted a pick-a-little, talk-a-little meal and this really fit the bill. Was it the best food ever? No. But it was good to be in a casual spot that's popular in the neighborhood. And the serrano ham was great.

Drinks at El Hijo de Cuervo in Coyoacan. Fun people watching on the square. We wanted to go to Los Danzantes (there's a photo on that post I'm linking to), but they wouldn't give us a table just for drinks, so we went across the park.

Drinks and snacks overlooking the Zocalo at the Holiday Inn. What a view! What terrible food! It's worth it, though. Especially at Christmastime with all the lights. Mira:

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Drinks at La Opera in the centro. What a cool old place. We didn't eat here, but we liked the rococo, late 18th century feel.

Tenampa in Garibaldi square. We wanted to go to Cafe de Tacuba for dinner, but it was closed on Friday night. (The inauguration scared enough people that DF was very empty that night.) So since our plan was to head to Garibaldi after dinner at Cafe de Tacuba, we just went and ate up there. It was nothing special. Except, of course, for the mariachi bands!

Drinks at the Condesa DF. Thanks, Ruth, for this suggestion! We loved being above the trees. And the hibiscus margies were a bit hit.

Rojo Bistrot. I'm surprised that we ended up here, because I feel like it's not really "DF," but in a way, it is really DF. I like visiting the neighborhood spots and seeing how people who live there dine day-to-day. The food was quite tasty and we had a lot of fun.

The cheese and pate plate-salad thingy:

gallery_2325_4284_12254.jpg

I know there are so many place I didn't get to. I'll have to go back!

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I'm surprised you had such an unpleasant experience at Aguila y Sol; I have found the service quite good, in fact MORE laid back than normal - and I also hate pushy over-zealous service. Give it another try sometime. On the other hand, I find the food at Pujol somewhat pretentious...

As for Rojo Bistro and the "not Mexican" idea: While not the international city that NY, Berlin, Prague, etc. are (thank God), our DF does have, and always has had, an element of melting pot cultures (especially French and Spanish) and the "new" Condesa is one of them. Sometimes these "international" places can seem like poor imitations of the originals (as can the "French" bistros in New York as well) but when you live here, they can be a welcome respite from "la tradicional". And some of them, such as Bistro Mosiaco, are quite good on their own merits. Don't get me wrong: my first ten or so years in Mexico I REFUSED to set foot in a non-Mexican restaurant!

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Sure. If you insist on strictly "Mexican", you'll miss out on Tezka.

I decided that Mexico City is a great cosmopolitan city, like the one I live in. I eat in French restaurants here, so if the taste strikes me I'm not going to avoid them in the DF.


Edited by Sneakeater (log)

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If I'm in Mexico City, I will eat Mexican in all the forms of it that I can find and will avoid French unless it has a particularly Mexican touch that I can't find elsewhere - but then I don't live there. You can bet that if I did, I would eat whatever was good whatever the influence.

Elizabeth, thanks for your report and the links to your blog. I did not have the chance to experience Aguila y Sol for myself, but I concur with your view of Pujol.

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I'm surprised you had such an unpleasant experience at Aguila y Sol; I have found the service quite good, in fact MORE laid back than normal - and I also hate pushy over-zealous service. Give it another try sometime.

It's a deal.

On the other hand, I find the food at Pujol somewhat pretentious...

Of course, it could all depends on your mood. Mine was much better the evening we went to Pujol.

As for Rojo Bistro and the "not Mexican" idea:  .. they can be a welcome respite from "la tradicional". And some of them, such as Bistro Mosiaco, are quite good on their own merits. Don't get me wrong: my first ten or so years in Mexico I REFUSED to set foot in a non-Mexican restaurant!

That's kind of what I figured. I'm glad I went.

I decided that Mexico City is a great cosmopolitan city, like the one I live in.  I eat in French restaurants here, so if the taste strikes me I'm not going to avoid them in the DF.

My thoughts exacto!

Elizabeth, thanks for your report and the links to your blog. I did not have the chance to experience Aguila y Sol for myself, but I concur with your view of Pujol.

Thanks for reading Doc. Glad you liked it.

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Thank you so much for giving us that update!

I always tell my friends and visitors that if they come they have to stay for at least 4/5 days minimum. That is exactly enough time for just a "smidgen" taste of what this city has to offer.

So much more and so little time!

:laugh:

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For an up close view of how Chef Enrique Olvera works his magic go to www.international-iacp.blogspot.com. For more info on his workshop ( and you might consider doing the trial membership) go to www.iacp.com and lookthrough the annual conference guide, this year its in Chicago.

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I just returned from my yearly visit to Mexico City. This time I ate at the following places:

1) Mero Toro, Amsterdam 204 (Condesa, at Chilpancingo) 5564-7799. New restaurant from the Contramar owners. I only tried the appetizers. All of them were quite good, but the "callo de hacha" seems to be their signature appetizers and it is superb. Nice, airy location.

2) El Hidalguense, Campeche 155 (Roma, near Mercado Medellín), 5564-0538. Great place to try lamb barbacoa, made the traditional way. They also had escamoles and gusanos de maguey. They open only Fri-Sun for comida. It is a fonda.

3) La Veracruzana. Medellin 198 (Roma, at Chiapas), 5574 0474. Another fonda, this one specializes in seafood. Very good giant shrimps al mojo de ajo. OK fish fillets. Open daily for comida.

4) Pablo el Erizo, Montes de Oca 6 (Condesa, at Tamaulipas) 5211-9696. Another seafood place. Excellent tuna sashimi, nice grilled octopus and also nice escolar fish (?) in mezcal and red pepper sauce. Pleasant sidewalk tables.

5) El Bajio, Alejandro Dumas 7 (Polanco) 5281-8245. A few years ago I went to the original (and then only one) location on Cuitlahuac and it was a great experience. Naturally, this was not the same, although the Mole Xico con Pato is still a great dish.

6) Zefiro, San Jeronimo 24 (Centro, near Isabel La Catolica Metro station) 5709-7983. This is the restaurant from the culinary school at the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana. Very nice place, excellent service by the students. I had the special menu of the day with nice appetizer, very good soup and OK main dish.

7) Contramar, Durango 200 (Roma) 5514-3169. This time I skipped my favourite pescado a la talla. Instead I had crab tacos a la mexicana and esmedregal fish (is it jack fish?) tacos al pastor. Both were really good. I was there early to avoid the crowds, and the service was excellent.

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This thread has been dormant for a while so I thought I'd post my recent experience and see if it might revive a bit. I spent 3 days being charmed by almost everything in the Condesa.

I arrived in the late afternoon and after unpacking and a short nap, I needed food. I was staying at the Villa Condesa (really great little B & B) and asked the owner to make a recommendation within walking distance. Without hesitation she said I "must go" to Azul Condesa. So I did.

Azul Condesa was already on my short list of restaurants to try, I just didn't expect to be there less than 6 hours after landing in D.F. :laugh: The food was good to very good. Azul Condesa often offers a special menu that focuses on a particular area (such as Veracruz) or ingredient (such as mango). The night I was there they were spotlighting the Yucatan. Both the regular and special menus offered an array of interesting choices but I ended up ordering the Sopa de Lima and Poc Chuc from the Yucateco menu.

The soup was delicious and the aromatic juice from the lima added an interesting acidic edge. Poc Chuc is thin pork marinated in sour orange juice, vinegar, achiote, salt and pepper and was probably developed to help preserve meat before refrigeration. The pork in the Azul Condea Poc Chuc was a thin pork chop which I desperately hoped would not be tough, and it wasn't. The meat was tender enough, not dry and overcooked, with a nice flavor from the marinate. Unfortunately, the accompaniments on the plate didn't quite live up to the pork. The black beans were actually quite good, but the avocado was under-ripe, the pickled onions overly salty and what the heck that large quarter of an unpeeled orange doing on the plate. While the dish worked and was good, it could have been better executed. I rounded out my meal with a chocolate and coffee pyramid shaped cake with a pretty sauve raspberry sauce and a well made cappuccino. Add the Don Julio reposado and my entire meal, including tax and tip was an even $500 pesos, or about $45.

Azul Condesa is smartly appointed with clean lines and interesting art and fixtures and sports a very contemporary feel. It's located at Nuevo Leon 68, and in spite of the small misstep on the Poc Chuc accompaniments, my meal was delicious and a very fair price for what I got.

The next day I walked forever around the Condesa, where I think a prerequisite for residency must surely be a dog. They were everywhere and they were well trained. As opposed to the previous evening, I knew that I would eat my main meal at Merotoro. It is owned by the same folks that brought Contramar to the D.F. dining scene and the executive chef is Jair Tellez who owns Laja in Baja's Valle de Guadalupe. Having eaten at Laja, and eaten very, very well, I had high expectations going into Merotoro, and all I can say is WOW.

Merotoro is, again, a very modern contemporary space showing lots of distressed wood, glass and metal...along with a very modern, chic and upscale clientele. It was as much fun to watch the people coming into the restaurant as it was to eat the food.

I started with a beautiful risotto made with crab and roasted peppers. The rice was perfectly done, there were flecks of crab throughout and the roasted peppers had melted into the sauce. I was hooked after my first bite; I also ate it as slowly as possible so that I could savor it for as long as I could make it last :rolleyes: . I followed the risotto with roasted grouper, not a fish we see frequently on the West Coast where I'm from. I don't think I've ever had the skin of a fish so well roasted, so crisp, so perfectly seasoned. No rubbery or flabby skin here, it was as crisp as a potato chip, with no hint of overcooking. The fish underneath the skin was tender, moist and utterly succulent. Crispy skin, tender fish, a divine combination. The grouper was served on a bed of pureed cauliflower, a green I didn't recognize but which worked well with the fish and cauliflower and what the menu called papas azul, or blue potatoes. Though I thought the dish could have done without the potatoes, I had no trouble polishing off the entire plate. I skipped dessert in favor of the wedding cake (from Jaso) that I'd be having later that night. Be forewarned, Merotoro is not a cheap ticket. The risottos, fish and a limonada, plus tax and tip set me back about $425 pesos, or about $38 for lunch. But like Azul Condesa, I thought it was a fair price for what I got.

Service at both restaurants was good, though it was a bit warmer and more friendly at Merotoro than it had been at Azul Condeasa

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Sounds like a good couple of meals!

I liked Azul Condesa a lot but I think there's room for it to redefine itself. It's so much nicer a room than the UNAM restaurant but it's new and I think the kitchen is still developing.

My favorite (and i think it's one of those flashes of brilliance that Ricardo brings to the table) is the duck bunuelos with black mole. Talk about plotzing!

IMG_0116.JPG

There were other dishes but this one made me hit high C.

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Looks pretty darn good RG. Not sure if that preparation of mole negro was on the menu or not last week. Perhaps a return trip is in order :wink:

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Kalypso, I'll be your date.

Three stars, kind of like you'd think. The duck was plain, with a crispy deep fried wrapper, then smothered in mole. I loved it. It was kind of too much, but that isn't a real problem for me.

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We did spend a week here a few years ago to enjoy the local cuisine and this time was just a quick stopover mainly to visit Pujol, a high-end authentic local restaurant, but managed to squeeze in Biko, a more international menu using local ingredients. Surprisingly, the result turned out to be the opposite of what I had expected - our lunch at Biko was outstanding and the dinner at Pujol wasn't good at all.

Below are extracts of the meals:

Biko

Foie gras 100% cotton candy: The dish was blurred by a cloud of candy floss on top. Our server then poured in pineapple juice, creating a series of sparkling noise coming out from the sparkling candy at the bottom! The foie gras mousse was coated with some tiny crunchy seeds and paired with wedges of pineapple that was dehydrated reducing the acidic juice but leaving the exotic fruit flavour behind. Amazing dish!

Duck & soy: It wasn't the sauce that was made with soy sauce; it was this thin paper leaning on the duck! The duck was soft and moist; the soy sauce paper was light with a deep savoury flavour; and the tamarind sauce had a precise balance of sweetness and acidity. I enjoyed this course very much.

Completely dusted with hibiscus was a sponge cake soaked in juice of sapodilla, a Mexican fruit. The cake was airy in the centre, but became soft after being soaked in the chilled juice, and sticky with the hibiscus powder, along with the crunchiness from the mixed nuts underneath! This dessert had a fun mix of textures and flavours!

Mexico1.jpg

Pujol

Cool presentation with intense smoke steaming out. Sticking out from the shell were skewers of smoked baby corn covered in coffee mayo. Good but not exceptional.

Guacamole tasting with one hard taco. There were three different kinds of guacamole: mashed avocado with yogurt, diced avocado with onion and tomato, and avocado ball dusted with chipotle. It was a great idea to taste three types of guacamoles in three bites, but ordinary on the palate.

After a few more average courses like the bland cactus salad, the main course finally showed up after a long wait with a plate of turkey breast but completely covering it with chichilo negro sauce. Do they really need to cover the whole plate with such a concentrated sauce? I really tried to enjoy it but it was a difficult course to like, dominated by the thick, intense, and bitter sauce! Maybe it's authentic, however, this sauce is really difficult to like!

Mexico2.jpg

In summary, the meal at Biko was outstanding. For Pujol, we probably had our expectation too high, and with the unpleasant main course, poor service throughout the night (couldn’t find my reservation though I confirmed by email the day before; didn’t get my napkin until the 2nd course; my side plate wasn’t clean, the soup spoon wasn’t clean either; extremely rushed service for the first five courses then a long wait for main where the torilla had gone cold), it was simply a bad dining experience.

Not going to repeat my experience course by course but you can see it all here if you are interested:

http://www.finedinin...World/index.php


Edited by FDE (log)

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Note that I only had a day in Mexico City this time as I was on my way to Central America. That's why I could visit only two restaurants unfortunately!


Edited by FDE (log)

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I too was disappointed by Pujol. Several dishes simply lacked taste or interest (e.g. a jicama salad that might impress only if you've never tried jicama before, and a beef tostada that while pleasant wouldn't compare with the best beef tartares, and a cerdo confitado with a mole that was insufficient in quantity and not stunning in quality), while one, an aubergine 'barbacoa', was positively unpleasant, the aubergine bitter and watery. Best dishes for me were a quail en recado negro with concentrated, stunning flavour and perfect cooking, and the desserts: one, a sort of avocado mousse (cremoso de aguacate), ever so light and intense and, for me, original; and a chocolate/guayaba/tamarindo. Also the amuse bouche were fine.

Overall, I found this place falling between two stools: it achieved neither the overwhelming richness and sensousness of traditional mexican cuisine, nor the precision of execution and use of stunning produce of the best fine dining. Maybe it was an off night, but on the basis of this experience I fail to understand all the accolades.

A new restaurant,Turtux, opened just a few months ago in lovely San Angel by well-known chef Margarita Carrillo, while aiming at a simpler level of cooking, seemed to me to strike a much better balance between tradition and original/innovative touches. I found hers a very mature cuisine, eschewing any sort of gimmick or theater for the sake of theater, and focusing entirely of flavours and balance. Her dishes are very refined and subtle: especially lovely the delicate and multidimensional green pistachio mole accompanying a turkey (though I've had this dish twice, and only once was the cooking spot on - the execution at Turtux isn't always perfect). The desserts here are particularly lovely: memorable was a mango asado with all sorts of nuts and an orange jus, powerful but not too sweet (even here, though, icecreams are variably executed). The wine (and mezcal) list is notably good value.

If in San Angel, I think for a one off meal one could also try Paxia. The cuisine here is the opposite than at Turtux, a young chef betraying a bit of immaturity with much needless theater, but obviously also much talent. I had my first live insect here (a solitary jumil happily walking on a cube of meat), and the best mole of my stay in the city. However, while the dinner was overall good, there were lowlights: a quail was cooked poorly and desserts were sickeningly unbalanced.

Others. For me, for a totally traditional breakfast (or even comida) in style, El Cardenal remains the stalwart of choice, and I also liked Saks very much, they have the best fruit jugos in my opinion, and an excellent variety of pan dulces (and the savoury bread too). I felt Tacuba was a bit of a tourist trap. Needles to say, I had unbelievable simple pleasures from various street food places, a barbacoa for breakfast at a street corner in Condesa particularly sticking in my memory. The chain El Tizoncito reproduces street food in a more structured setting and their tacos al pastos are indeed phenomenal. As for margaritas, the serving style and the setting are unbeatable in the courtyard bar at the San Angel Inn, this is a place to impress your friends or partners (I was advised that their restaurant is not so good, but the tacos de res we tried at the bar featured very, very impressive produce, preparation and accompanying sauces!).

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What an idiot - forgot to mention the best of them all: Dulce Patria. For me, this place has everything going for it: extraordinary presentation, precision, richness, intensity, balance, creativity. No other meal in a month in DF came close to the quality I experienced there. And the prices are surprisingly kind, too, for this level of cuisine and ambiance.

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Just saw this thread and wish I'd seen it before we went to DF over New Year's. Good stuff in here. New Year's is NOT the time to go to Mexico City if you want to eat and drink. Pujol, Quintonil, and El Cardenal were closed; many bars we were interested in were closed NYE and NYD. Regardless, we had some great meals. I've got neither the interest in nor endurance for writing long food blog posts but did want to share some restaurants and bars for those who might be planning future trips:

 

We had New Year's Eve dinner at Dulce Patria as we were staying at Las Alcobas, which is next door (and an excellent hotel). They were in full-on festivities mode, but the food was still quite good. I was not impressed with the drinks, however, which were sweet and over the top. Someone upstream mentioned the ambiance: it is quite beautiful, colorful, and fun. Service is attentive if, perhaps, a little uncomfortably so. This is a place to go once on a trip to DF.

 

Our best meal was at Maximo Bistrot Local, which is tucked away in a little romantically lit corner restaurant. It feels like a bistro, but the food is exceptional and refined. The drinks were very good as well. They know what they're doing 100%. (No English menu.) We ate a lot of Oaxacan food and very much enjoyed Guzina Oaxaca in Polanco, which was for some reason empty the night we were there. Stunning moles, amazing tortillas, and just all around good food in a nice atmosphere. Although it doesn't seem to be on any of the lists, we really enjoyed Azul Historico near the Zocalo--open air courtyard, nicely lit, with a long menu of traditional regional dishes. I had some sort of elk with mole (sorry, it's been a while) that was delicious and we had a hibiscus margarita that greatly exceeded expectations.

 

La Lampuga Condesa was OK (not worth the stop); Fisher's in Roma Norte was a good lunch place.

 

By major U.S. city standards, which I realize may be unfair to impose, Mexico City does not have a great bar scene and overall the cocktails were saccharine resort drinks. However, other than Maximo, there are a few places worth getting a drink: La Clandestina is a hole in the wall mezcal bar between Condesa and Roma Norte, very hip and with a great selection of mezcales--really easy to try five or ten in small amounts; Jules Basement is, uh, I guess a "speakeasy" style bar in Polanco with a hidden entrance in a family restaurant, so a little hokey but they are doing great cocktails down there; and Gin Gin in Roma Norte has a number of great brown liquor drinks that were a nice, bitter oasis in the desert of sweet rum cocktails. Did not like the rooftop bar at Hotel Condesa DF.

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In my view, nobody, nobody, should go to el DF without a visit to Churrería El Moro.

 

They did have a fire a while back, but that's all been fixed, and they're back in delicious business:

 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Churrer%C3%ADa-El-Moro/195819727160183

 

There's also a new location in a kind of high-end food court that is easier to get to and less (albeit, still) crowded. We went there after seeing how packed the older location was. I'm sure it doesn't provide the same overall experience but the churros were good, as was the chocolate, though I'd kind of been expecting something thicker. I was hoping to recreate this churro con chocolate experience I'd had years ago while living in Madrid, but that's not a fair expectation to have going to another restaurant. On its own standard, El Moro's worth the stop.

 

Also forgot to add Neverría Roxy in Condesa. Great little corner ice cream shop that's very open to the street with a big list of ice cream and sorbet flavors, many of which you won't see in the U.S. Able to do a sampler of several little scoops. Limited seating and was crowded when we went mid-afternoon. No English menu.

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There's also a new location in a kind of high-end food court that is easier to get to and less (albeit, still) crowded. We went there after seeing how packed the older location was. I'm sure it doesn't provide the same overall experience but the churros were good, as was the chocolate, though I'd kind of been expecting something thicker. I was hoping to recreate this churro con chocolate experience I'd had years ago while living in Madrid, but that's not a fair expectation to have going to another restaurant. On its own standard, El Moro's worth the stop.

 

Haven't been there in a few years but, regarding the chocolate, as I recall, one could order several types, including Spanish-style, which was thick enough to stand a spoon in, and clearly not meant for drinking, as that would be impossible.

 

Is that the one you ordered?

 

Mexicana (ligero, dulce y con un toque de vainilla)

Francesa (semiamargo y con un ligero toque de vainilla)

Española (dulce y espeso)

Suiza (semiamargo y con crema chantilly en la parte de arriba)


Edited by Jaymes (log)
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Hmm I don't remember what we ordered. Española sounds like it would be the one I was looking for. My girlfriend who I was sharing it with does not like sweet chocolate, so perhaps we were scared off by the "dulce."

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Hmm I don't remember what we ordered. Española sounds like it would be the one I was looking for. My girlfriend who I was sharing it with does not like sweet chocolate, so perhaps we were scared off by the "dulce."

 

Well, as we say in our house, qué lástima.

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