This is the post I have been more interested to share about Puebla. The city can be exalted because of many factors (architecture, history, arts, modernity). I prefer to praise it because of its gastronomic offerings. There were so much new things to try that I ran out of time. If you love food, Puebla should be at the top of your “must-visit” cities.
As I mentioned, the eating options in Puebla are numerous. To maximize your eating pleasure, you need some sort of plan. I am not referring to anything complicated, just make sure you know what you want to try and where to get it.
In here, I am describing some of the most distinctive “poblano” dishes. I am also giving a general idea on where to have a terrific gastronomic experience.
In Mexico, the word “mole” can be used to describe a wide variety of sauces. Nonetheless, the mole poblano is the best known variety of mole and it has even been considered the national dish. Legend says nuns created the thick sauce at the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla. The concoction is a complex mix of chilies, chocolate and about other 20 ingredients.
I am not a food expert but I believe a good mole needs to have a correct balance between sweetness and spiciness. This is what the owner of a restaurant called La Abuelita (located at the Paseo San Francisco) explained to me. You can always make the sauce sweeter by adding chocolate or spicier by adding chilies. Unfortunately, I tried some moles around El Parian and found them too sweet. It is sad to say this but I cannot see myself eating an entire dish containing meat or poultry covered with the sauce.
Lesson: not all moles are created equal. Always ask to try the sauce before ordering a dish (unless you like your mole sweet). The mole at La Abuelita was the best I tried. I suspect my search of the best mole poblano is not over.
Chiles en Nogada
This was a dish I was eager to try in Puebla. I have heard of the it since I was a kid. It consists of a poblano chile filled with a picadillo (meat, nuts, fruits and spices) and topped with Castilian walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds. The colors of the dish represent the ones of the Mexican flag.
Some people give me a weird look when I describe the dish. Believe me, after trying it, that is what I wanted to eat every day. The sauce has a creamy, nutty flavor that goes well with the bitterness of the chile. My picadillo had meat, piñon (a type of nut) and ripe plantains. It was delicious. The chiles en nogada are available from August to October. There are restaurants that offer the dish the entire year.
Mixiote de Carnero
This dish intrigued me since I read about it. Cubed meat (mutton or rabbit) is seasoned with pasilla and guajillo chili peppers, cumin, thyme, bay leaves, cloves and garlic. The pieces of meat are wrapped in a small bag made of the outer skin of the maguey leaves. The packages are cooked in a pit or steamed. The dish is served with rice, beans and tortillas (you open the bag to eat the contents). The resulting sauce has a bitter and rich flavor.
Please, get rid of any mental images you may have about what a chalupa is (Taco Bell Chalupas?). In Puebla, they consist of small tortillas (3 inches in diameter) soft-fried in lard (they have to be pliable not crispy). Then, they are dipped in green or red sauce and covered with a little bit of shredded beef and onions (some add cheese). The place to get them is at the Paseo San Francisco (the area where Puebla was founded). I tried mine at “La Abuelita.” The waiter suggested adding an order as an appetizer. His face gestures were saying: “Try them or you are going to miss something really good.” He convinced us and we ended with an order of six. Wow, this is the dish I still dream about. They were so tasty. Ok, if they were cooked in lard, they HAD to be tasty. I urge you to stop by this area and try some. The restaurant also has a light version.
This sauce is made mainly with pumpkins seed (pepitas). Serrano chilies, garlic, cilantro, chicken stock and other ingredients are added to the mixture. The sauce is served over poultry. My husband loved it.
The dish consists of a piece of meat covered with cheese and served with rajas (chilies cut in thin strips), beans and French fries. Another favorite.
These tacos are probably the most famous fast food items in the city of Puebla. Iraqi immigrants introduced them to the city in the ‘30s. The first tacos arabes were made with lamb and served over a thick flatbread. Today, experts agree the poblano version consists of pork loin cooked on a vertical pit. They are served on pita bread or a flour tortilla. I tried a taco arabe at a place called Taqueria Los Angeles. I have doubts about the authenticity of what I ate. It felt like I got meat al pastor wrapped in a flour tortilla. It was good but further research has pointed to places like the Antigua Taqueria La Oriental and Tacos Tony.
I wrote an entire post about my search for the perfect cemita. I had a good one at the main bus station but I still have to try one with an out-of-this-world flavor. Readers (and research) have suggested the ideal place to get them is at the Las Poblanitas stand at Mercado “El Carmen.” I would need to wait till my next visit to try them.
Tortitas de Santa Clara
These sweets were also created by nuns. A cookie is covered with a pumpkin seed glaze. They are sold all around the city.
Traditional Ice Cream
In Puebla, ice cream is sold in every corner. Big plastic containers are filled with ice. Inside there is another container holding the ice cream. These are good news to tropical fruit lovers (like me). Flavors like tamarind, mango, soursop and passion fruit are available. I recommend trying the beso de angel (angel kiss) flavor. It is a delicious fruit base sherbet loaded with maraschino cherries and raisins.
Other Things I Tried
While in Puebla, I had other dishes that are common throughout the entire country. I believe they are worth mentioning in here (they were that good).
Mixed Taco Plate
For a late night meal or snack, go to Taqueria Los Angeles located at the Zocalo. They are open till 2:00 a.m. We ordered a taco plate which came with asada and al pastor meat, chicken, lettuce, tomato, avocado and frijoles charros. We also ordered some tacos al pastor and fresh pineapple juice. We literarily licked our finger after devouring our food. The place was packed and seems to be very popular with locals. Stop by if you need to eat late.
Torta de Chipotle
There is another restaurant I liked at the Zocalo. It is called Tortas Meche. I had a delicious torta with a stuffed chipotle chili and avocado. My husband had some taquitos. This is another place to visit after hours.
What I missed
Even though I tried hard to eat all that was on my list, I wasn’t able to do it in only two days. Here is what I missed (I am giving you some ideas in case you are visiting):
Pelonas, guajolotas, memelas, molotes, gorditas, chanclas, chileatole, tinga, mole de caderas and other famous sweets
Where to Eat
Here are some suggestions on where to find good food.
Antigua Taqueria La Oriental
Taqueria Los Angeles
Helados Santa Clara
Fonda de Santa Clara
Fonda La Mexicana
Cemitas El Carmen
Mercado de Sabores Poblanos
Mercado “El Alto”
Paseo San Francisco
Mercado ‘5 de mayo”
Mercado Melchor Ocampo “del Campo”
Do you have any recommendations on what or where to eat in Puebla? Let me know in the comments section below.