Digging In – Day 2, Through the streets of Roma, Condesa and Hipódromo
After leaving the mezcaleria last night, we started walking. Thanks to my brother’s strong sense of direction and our street awareness we ended up on Alvaro Obregon, a bustling street full of great restaurants, cocktail bars, coffee shops and street food. It filled our hearts and souls with such excitement as we continued to walk, realizing we were on the right path, with the promise of great opportunities for the next day.
Waking up fully rested and ready to explore, we headed straight for Avaro Street in search of breakfast. Right off the bat we found a little spot that looked promising. As had been the case since the minute we arrived, almost no english was spoken, with menus never in english… awesome! One omelet with veggies and a version of huevos rancheros, served with a rich dark pasilla chile sauce. Both were incredible, simple, clean and full of flavor. They were accompanied by fresh baked rolls. Rustin is gluten-free, and I try to watch my gluten intake, but these rolls were amazing!
Back on the adventure trail we roamed in search of a few local coffee spots. Like most big cities, Mexico City is going through a huge specialty coffee boom. We were able to see a couple cool spots on Alvaro, than we headed into Roma Norte. Blown away again with the urban feel, lush canopies overhead, well kept walking medians, and the plethora of “central” plazas with massive water fountains and statues, we ventured deeper.
Arriving in the Roma Norte neighborhood we first stopped at a somewhat posh looking taqueria. A few tacos were ordered and an appetizer called Tortitas de Huauzontle. The clean cut staff, all in perfect matching uniforms were busy at work. One of the cooks right in front of our bar seats was frying something up that looked divine. “Que es?” After I was told, I had to order one due to my endless curiosity of the new.
Tortitas de Huauzontle is similar in taste to broccoli, looks more like kale, and is from the quinoa family. They fried this up mixed with a little cheese in a classic egg white blend like a relleno, served over a dark chile-tomato sauce and served with fresh verde tortillas. Unique it was, with great texture, earthy flavors and a great vegetable flavor.
As we strolled through the neighborhood, we were in awe at how posh it felt. The streets were covered with high end clothing boutiques, galleries, and restaurants (practically every single one was reservation only).
Feeling a little turned off by the high-end atmosphere, we quickly changed paths and headed towards the Hipódromo and Condesa districts. A massive park on our side, filled with ancient jungle trees kept us intrigued.
Azul Condesa was our next stop, having heard of delicious guacamole with crickets, and legendary mole negro. Upon entering my mind was spinning with excitement. In the entry stood two older local women working the comals, and these were no ordinary comals—they were made of clay and the ladies were hand pressing the tortillas.
As we were ushered upstairs, lucky to get a table without a reservation, I noticed a chocolate cart. Curiously I contemplated its uses throughout the meal. The crickets on the guacamole had a very interesting earthy flavor with an inherent sweet and sour taste.
We then ordered Legendario Mole Negro, served with braised chicken thighs, rice and fresh tortillas. We paired this with their classic margarita. Without a doubt this is one of my fondest food memories to date. The rich, dark mole was the perfect balance of sweet, savory and spice, incredibly light yet fully satisfying. The margarita was no slouch either.
We both agreed that it was one of the best we ever had. Imagine a perfect steak with a glass of 1983 Burgundy Grand Cru. This pairing strummed my heart strings.
We finished the meal by asking about the chocolate cart, and sure enough it was for making drinks: classic mexican hot chocolates. They had 15 flavored local chocolates. We chose guajillo and as our server explained in Spanish the history of drinking chocolate elixirs, he vigorously hand spun the chocolate into warm water. We were in awe. View a video here.
The rest of the day we strolled in bliss, reveling in the joy of a great meal, fully content in mind and belly. However, based on a previous deal we had made with each other, we found ourselves eating once again two hours later on the way home. Tacos al pastor have long been my favorite taco, and anytime I see a spit packed full of meat, with a pineapple sizzling on top, I have to stop. It is an uncontrollable urge. Whether there are one or five, I have to try them. Call me a glutton, but I ordered 2. They were little bites of pure bliss. And watching the old man slice the meat and the pineapple off the spit with such ninja precision made the experience that much better.