From Mexico City to Sayulita, the best Mexican food I had was in Puebla. Why? Because Puebla is awesome! I don’t know what it is with this town, but it’s actually a great place if you love architecture and food. (I happen to love both!)
We tasted a lot of different dishes, things that we wouldn’t find anywhere else. And by anywhere else, I mean that most of it is only found in Puebla. I’m sad that I can’t even find a cemita in Sayulita. That thing was just so delicious!
Let me now introduce you to this new world where knowing Spanish or not doesn’t make a difference, because you still can’t read the menu unless it has pictures.
Tortas de Tamal
This is the “on the go” breakfast of Puebla. There’s nowhere you can go in the city that won’t have a street vendor with his big metal pot, boiling some tamales. You can buy all different kinds of tortas de tamal, some more sweeter/spicer than others. My stomach couldn’t handle any food that morning, but Chris tried it and definitely recommends it.
For breakfast, Chris and I were always trying to find the not spicy option. That’s how I ended up ordering some enfrijoladas with eggs. It was very simply and delicious: tortillas, black beans, eggs, cheese, and cream. If you have a sensitive stomach in the morning, I recommend this.
If you have a tougher stomach and like spicy food, then chilaquiles are for you. Made with tortilla chips, salsa verde or roja (red or green sauce), ground beef, avocado, cheese, and cream, it can be spicer than it looks!
Going to Mexico without eating tacos is like… not going to Mexico at all. In Puebla, you can find two extra delicious kinds of tacos. Al Pastor Tacos and Tacos Arabes.
The Al Pastor Tacos are the ones you are most likely to find across Mexico. They have a red/orange meat that is easily recognizable. Once you get them in front of you, you can add whatever you like, from pineapples to lime juice and eat them with only one hand like a real Mexican!
The Tacos Arabes are a bit different, mostly because they have an arabic influence (that’s obvioulsy where the name comes from). Those ones are usually eaten without any added vegetables.
My favorite meal of Puebla! There’s nothing that beats a good cemita. Made with beef milanesa, quesillo, and avocados. They do look like a hamburger, but never say that in front of a Mexican unless you don’t want them to like you anymore. It’s something that you absolutely can’t miss in Puebla, since you’ll only find it there. But don’t worry, if you can’t find it in restaurants, street vendors have plenty.
This is not something you will find everywhere. Actually, you’re going to have to go to Ciudad Sagrada in Cholula to find this particular lasagna. It does look like a very fancy restaurant, but the prices are affordable if you want to eat some modern Mexican cuisine. They use traditionnal ingredients to reinvent modern dishes. In this case, the lasagna had corn in it. And that’s actually what made it so delicious!
We stopped at La Gran Fama for some sweets. They have plenty of treats that just look too delicious. We bought a box of them, but after eating two or three, we had to stop. It was too sweet for us!
If you don’t want to walk to the store, there’s always plenty of people selling sweets all over the city. Even in restaurants. Keep your eyes open and you’ll find something.
What would Mexico be without tequila? No the same, that’s for sure. Tequila actually has very deep roots in the Mexican culture. It’s not only something to get wasted on with limes and salt. Tequila isn’t only shots. Mexicans sip tequila, straight! Even during lunch. I remember being in a restaurant and witnessing adults (40s to 60s) sipping on a shot glass of tequila while eating. Chris and I thought, at first, that they might just be very wild people that like to do shots in the middle of the day, but Santiago taught us better. If you don’t want it to burn your mouth too much, you have to mix the tequila with saliva and then swirl it around in your mouth so you can taste it. Then you swallow. Interesting, eh? I couldn’t master the art of sipping, so I stayed with the shots instead.
If you think you’re cool because you drink tequila, you’ve never tried mezcal. Mezcal is like the tough older brother of tequila. It has a higher alcohol percentage and is only taken straight. You usually drink it with a slice of orange and some chili pepper (which replaces tequila’s lemon and salt).
Try at your own risk!
There are a lot of beers in Mexico and I have to admit that we did try a lot. We actually tried so many that I almost wondered if I wasn’t turning slowly into an alcoholic. I wasn’t that far, of course, but drinking a beer on an hangover day is not usually something I do.
There’s plenty of brands to try. We liked the Modelo, Sol and Indio (but we’re more into pale ale). I’d recommend just trying a buch like we did and figuring out which ones you prefer after a while.
Who can go to Mexico without having a margarita at one point? They’re cold and delicious, perfect when the weather is hot outside. The lime taste and the salt on the glass make it very addictive. If you’re tired of running around the city to find the place with the 2-for-1 happy hour special, you can always try making one at home (as long as you have a blender and I recommend having a lemon squeezer too otherwise you’re going to wear out your arms).
Coffee and tea
Don’t worry. If you like your espresso or your chai latte (like we do), you will still find plenty of that in Puebla! We stopped at Café Milagros and I was actually impressed by their chai tea. It was better than Starbucks! That’s not something that happens very often…
I wanted to keep the best one for last. In Puebla, chapulines are sold everywhere. Mexican love their toasted grasshopper that they cook with lime juice and salt, or in other cases with chili (if you want the spicy kind).
There was absolutely no way I was putting one of those in my mouth. Just looking at them was okay, but as soon as one got close to me, I would… run away. There are things that I’m willing to try, but that’s too far for me. Chris tried it though! Here’s his reaction.
But as you can tell from his face, he didn’t really like it. It reminded him of all the grasshoppers that got roasted in the grain during harvest and of course his allergies. Santiago, his Mexican friend, ate the whole bag he bought for us to try. He couldn’t even believe that Chris didn’t love those little chapulines.