Nicholas Gilman is a renowned journalist and food writer based in Mexico City.

Nicholas Gilman es un renombrado periodista gastronómico radicado en la Ciudad de México.

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Southern Belle: Where to Eat in Coyoacán

Southern Belle: Where to Eat in Coyoacán

Everyone loves Coyoacán. A visit there is like a trip to small town colonial Mexico. Once a village south of the city proper, it long ago was lapped up into the greedy maw of the rapidly growing urban monster we now call El Distrito Federal. But Coyoacán retains its laid back provincial ambiente. Cobbled streets lead to lovely little semi-hidden flower filled plazas. A relaxed Sunday stroll around the main square is obligatory for all Chilangos. And, for most visitors, homage must be paid to the Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo's old home. Coyoacán, always considered an 'artistic' area, is the closest nice neighborhood to C.U. (University City) and therefore houses a number of professorial and artistic types. Although you would think there would be a corresponding number of artsy and interesting places to eat, this is unfortunately not the case. Few new venues of much gustatory interest have opened their doors in recent years. The hot spots continue to be up north. Nevertheless, a good meal can be had. There are a number of options at comida time, fewer at night. Here are my favorites, listed, as in my book, by level, from “fonda to fine dining.” Asterisks mark nighttime options.

Tacos Chupa Cabras *
Av. Coyoacán and Universidad, across from the Sanborn’s (see map, below) This stand is legendary. The special “Chupa Cabra tacos,” a mixture of chorizo and carnitas, are large and filling. Add the salsas, nopales, fried onions and beans as garnishes and you can make a stop here into a one-dish meal, all for 8 pesos.

Mercado de Antojitos*
Higuera 6, Coyoacán Open daily until midnight, later on weekends This well known garage-like space, a block from Coyoacán’s central plaza, is open late and people stop here for a rich pozole or the deep-fried quesadillas, which are delicious despite the grease. The flor de calabaza, huitlacoche or sesos (brains) are particularly good. Funky and full of old-time atmosphere, this crowded place is worth the wait. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more authentic array of snacks.

Mercado Coyoacán
Malintzin & Allende
The traditional market, once frequented by Frida herself, is picturesque, attracting tourists both domestic and foreign. In the middle of the market, at stands 181-182, you’ll find a gastronomic art installation at Tostadas de Coyoacán – dozens of huge plates of mouth-watering tostada toppings. Shrimps, chicken, crab, mole, the list goes on. I start with their succulent lemony ceviche, topped with bright green salsa, then move on to pulpo, then maybe cochinita pibil. To drink, order agua de melón from the stand next door. (Be sure to choose only Tostadas de Coyoacán – their competitors are not as good.)

La Casa de Los Tacos (see post)
Calle Felipe Carrillo Puerto 16, corner of Ortega, near the main plaza, Coyoacán
Tel. 5554 9492
Open daily 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

El Jardín del Pulpo, with its long, outdoor communal tables at the corner of Malintzin and Ignacio Allende, is famous for its fresh seafood.
Open daily Noon-6 p.m.

El Rincón De La Lechuza *
Miguel Ángel de Quevedo 34
Open from 1PM daily
A large casual place that serves some of the best carnitas in the city.

Los Danzantes*
Jardín Centenario 12
Tel. 5554-1213 / 5554-2896
Monday- Friday 1:30 p.m.-12 p.m., Saturday, Sunday 9 a.m.-2 a.m.
This pleasant restaurant with seats spilling out onto Coyoacán’s pretty plaza, is a branch of a well known upscale Oaxacan classic. The menu is mostly Oaxacan, with some regional and creativetwists. It’s a good choice for fine dining in the area.

Corazón de Maguey*
Jardín del Centenario 9A (the main plaza of Coyoacán )
Tel. 5659-3165
Sunday – Wednesday 1 p.m.- midnight, Thursday-Saturday 1 p.m.-1 a.m.
Across the plaza from Los Danzantes, and under the same ownership, this informal bar/restaurant offers interesting Oaxacan and regional dishes. Evenings it becomes more of a bar, with a large range of mezcals. Outside seating affords a view of the plaza .

El Morral
Allende 2
Open daily 8:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
This large traditional Coyoacán restaurant, near the central plaza, is popular with families. It is good for breakfast and serves such classics as enchiladas verdes, rojas and mole. The decor is old fashioned and atmospheric, and the superior tortillas are made by hand within view of the diners.

El Tajín
Miguel Angel de Quevedo 687, (inside the Centro Cultural Veracruzano)
Tel: 5659-4447 or 5659-5759
Open daily 1 -6 p.m.
Owner Alicia Gironella d’Angeli, one of Mexico’s foremost chefs and authors (she wrote the new Larousse de la Cocina Mexicana among other books) is an original and tireless promoter of Mexican cuisine. Her late husband Giorgio d’Angeli was founder and president of Slow Food Mexico, an organization that has been instrumental in getting the cuisine of Mexico made a UNESCO Patrimony of Humanity. The restaurant serves creative but traditional food, mostly based on the cuisine of the state of Veracruz. Ambience is gracious, with a garden view. Open for lunch only.

Taro *
Av. Universidad 1861
Tel. 5661-4083
Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 1-10:30 p.m., Friday, Saturday until 11, Sunday 1- 9 p.m., closed Wednesday
This is one of the best, bona fide, Japanese restaurants in the city. It offers an interesting menu of traditional regional dishes – no cream cheese here! The second floor dining room is unassuming but the food is superior. There is often a wait on weekend afternoons.

And for a drinkie or two:

La Bipolar *
Malintzin 155, a couple of blocks from the center
Tel. 5484-8230
Open Monday-Wednesday 1 p.m.-12:30 a.m., Thursday-Saturday until 2 a.m., Sunday until 9.
This self-styled ‘hipster’ spot, owned by local movie star Diego Luna, is more of a yuppie hangout than it would like to be. But it’s pleasant nonetheless, and the food is good.

La Guadalupana *
Higuera 14, near the central plaza
Tel: 5554 6542
Open Monday-Saturday 1-11:30 p.m.

Everyone knows that Frida, Diego and Trotsky partied in this local institution, open since 1932. But unlike the equivalent Hemingway hangouts in Paris or Havana, La Guadalupana has not become an overpriced tourist trap. It retains its old-fashioned working class charm, bullfighting décor and experienced service. Botanas are offered with drinks and there is a serviceable if ordinary lunch-time menu of Mexican standards.º

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A note to my a readers: My book gets a good review in the Los Angeles Times!

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