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Dónde Comer y Tomar en la Ciudad de México

11 Sep
Chaibar Chaibar

English version here.

Solo viví en la Ciudad de México (otroramente conocida como el Distrito Federal) durante diez meses, pero en ese plazo corto, me gustaba explorar mi colonia, la Condesa, y la colonia aledaña, la Roma. Por esa razón esta lista tiene un sesgo por esas áreas. Abajo encontrarán algunos de los locales que extraño y que felizmente visitaría en el futuro.

Chaibar– NOTICIA: CERRADO. Ubicado a unos metros del Parque México, Chaibar significa mucho para mi. En el principio, cuando no conocía a mucha gente en mi nueva ciudad, y mas adelante, tras un día laboral intenso y estresante, Chaibar servía como mi refugio. Los empleados siempre eran amables y abiertos, y crearon un ambiente cálido que atraía a la gente día y noche. El chai es cremoso y sabroso, hecho con ingredientes naturales y leche de soya, con tres opciones posibles- té negro, té de limón, o campechano, una mezcla de los dos. A mi siempre me gustaba el campechano. Chaibar es un buen lugar para tomar tu te y mirar el mundo pasar.

Chilpa

Chilpa

Nuevo: Chilpa– Este nuevo restaurante remplazó otro favorito mío, Las Soupremes, donde servían, por supuesto, una variedad de sopas. Pero Chilpa es una buena adición a la colonia, donde la especialidad es los chilaquiles. Preparan tu tazón de chilaquiles a tu gusto, con una base de totopos. Tú eliges si quieres salsa verde o roja, huevos revueltos o estrellados, aguacate o queso, o carne. A mi amigo y yo nos gustó mucho lo que pedimos. La presentación de la comida es tan bonita, uno quiere admirarla y no comerla. Pero recomiendo comerla de una vez.

Libreria El Péndulo– Es una cadena de librerías que se denominan “cafebrerías”, con restaurantes en las premisas. La que está en la Condesa, en calle Nuevo León, donde me gustaba desayunar los fines de semana, cuenta con músicos en vivo los sábados por la mañana. Hay una cosa que siempre pedía para desayunar, los Huevos Macondo. Era un desayuno con sabor muy mexicano, con un huevo frito encima de una quesadilla llena de quesillo, huitlacoche y flor de calabaza, cubierto de salsa verde. Acompañado por un café o jugo, y sobretodo con un buen libro, es una buena forma de comenzar el fin de semana.

Jalil Sabor a Hogar Jalil Sabor a Hogar

Jalil Sabor a Hogar– Visité este restaurante en Roma Norte poco después de su inauguración, y de pronto entablé uan amistad con los dueños, quienes fueron muy sorprendidos cuando les dije que soy libanesa. Pero si mi cara no les convencía de mis orígenes, mi afinidad por su comida lo hizo. Pedir el plato libanés, un surtido de comidas distintas, es la mejor forma de probar todo en un solo lugar. Aunque las hojas de uva rellenas nunca han sido mi comida favorita, me encanta las que preparan aquí, llenas de arroz y carne y bañados en aceite de olivo. Eso, y el kipe crujiente (la cosa en forma óvalo en la foto), eran mis favoritas, aunque en realidad todo es rico.

Helado Obscuro– Vine una noche con una amiga, y cuanto más nieve comimos, mas borrachas nos pusimos. Aquí sirven nieve con licor, y con MUCHO licor. Unos ejemplos de los sabores que ofrecen son absenta y frambuesa o Kahlua chocolate. También vale la pena ir por la música y el ambiente 100% hipster.

Gourmart– Los dueños de este restaurante colombiano modesto en la Roma Norte siempre te saludan con una sonrisa. Tienen una carta sencilla, con solo dos opciones de comida de lunes a viernes. El café colombiano es una buena forma de comenzar el día, fuerte pero nada amargo, y por la tarde las mejores opciones son el  sancocho, un guisado que lleva pollo desmenuzado, elote, rajas de aguacate, una salsa no picosa, y arroz, y el sudado de albondigas, que son albondigas bañadas en una salsa de jitomate y cebolla- todo servido con una arepa al lado. Esta comida es muy buena para el alma cuando hace frío.

Rosetta Rosetta

Rosetta– Tenía ganas de conocer este restaurante desde que leí noticias sobre ello antes de llegar a México, y por eso pensé que cenar en Rosetta sería una buena forma de festejar mi cumpleaños. Y cuando llegamos esa noche lluviosa, no me decepcionaron. El ambiente es íntimo, y no es de sorprender, ya que el restaurante ocupa una casa porfiriana en la Roma Norte. La gastronomía es italiana con un toque mexicano. Recuerdo un pan divino, crujiente por afuera y con una masa esponjosa por dentro, un primer plato de hinojo frito, y una pasta hecha con un ragú jugosa con sabor a ajo. Para resumir, lo recomiendo para cualquier ocasión especial.

Riviera del Sur– He ido a este restaurante/bar en la Roma Sur varias veces con varios amigos, y siempre me ha gustado por su buena comida yucateca. La sopa de lima es como una sopa de tortilla pero mas sencilla, los kibis son muy parecidos al kipe libanés, y los tacos de cochinita pibil son una rica forma de consumir el puerco (sobre todo si te gusta lo dulce). La Riviera es amplio y tiene un ambiente amigable, así que es un buen lugar para pasar el tiempo con amigos.

Mercado Roma Mercado Roma

Biergarten– En la azotea de Mercado Roma, un mercado a la moda donde hay puestos que venden todo, de los sandwiches vietnamitas a las paletas, Biergarten es un bar de cerveza inspirado por los mismos que se encuentran en Alemania. Te da la oportunidad de disfrutar de una buena cerveza al aire libre. La carta de comida tiene buenas opciones, y si la cerveza no es lo tuyo, los ‘smashes’ son una buena opción de cocteles.

Los tacos callejeros cerca de la  Sumesa, Calle Oaxaca y Avenida Álvaro Obregon. Es difícil describir este lugar porque es un puesto callejero sencillo, y tengo que recomendarlo sin ningún enlace, ni foto, ni una buena descripción de su ubicación. Espero que siga allí y que no haya cambiado. Hacen tacos con una variedad de rellenos, con frijoles pintos y papas fritas crujientes encima. Simplemente es lo mejor. Imprescindible comerlo con una botella de Coca Cola.

También cabe mencionar: Lardo, Temporal, Azul Restaurante

Where to Eat and Drink in Mexico City

10 Sep
Chaibar Chaibar

Versión en español aquí.

I only lived in Mexico City for ten months, but in that short time, I enjoyed exploring my neighborhood, Condesa, and the neighboring Roma neighborhood. For that reason this list skews heavily towards those areas. Below are some of the places I now miss and would gladly visit on any future visits to the city.

Chaibar– UPDATE: CLOSED. Located just off of Parque México, Chaibar is very meaningful to me. During the times when I felt either lonely as a newly arrived expat who didn’t have many friends yet, or disillusioned after a long, stressful day at work, I always found Chaibar to be a refuge. The employees were always so warm and friendly, and they created a convivial atmosphere that attracted people day and night to this closet-sized space. The chai is creamy and flavorful, made will all-natural ingredients and soy milk, with three options available- black tea, lemongrass, or ‘campechano’, a mix of both. I always enjoyed the campechano. Chaibar is a good place to drink your tea and people watch.

Chilpa

Chilpa

NEW: Chilpa– A new addition to this list of favorite places! It replaced an old haunt of mine, Las Soupremes, which served-you guessed it- all kinds of soups. But Chilpa specializes in another favorite of mine, chilaquiles. You customize your order, choosing whether you’d like your bowl of fried tortilla chips to include red or green salsa, scrambled or fried eggs, sliced avocados, shredded cheese, or meat. Whatever you pick, it’ll be almost too pretty to eat. My friend and I loved our chilaquiles.

Libreria El Péndulo– This is a small, local chain of bookstores that also have restaurants on the premises. The Condesa location, where I liked to eat breakfast on the weekends, had live music on Saturday mornings, which was a lovely accompaniment to the meal. There was one item I liked to order, called Huevos Macondo. It was a tasty Mexican breakfast, a fried egg on top of a tortilla filled with cheese, huitlacoche (like a very pungent mushroom) and squash, all covered in a mild green sauce. With a coffee or juice, and especially with a good book, it was a great way to start the day.

Jalil Sabor a Hogar Jalil Sabor a Hogar

Jalil Sabor a Hogar– I first visited this restaurant in Roma Norte shortly after it opened, and quickly became friends with the owners, who were quite surprised to learn that I’m Lebanese. But if my looks didn’t convince them of my origins, my fondness for their food did. I found that ordering the plato libanés, an assortment of different dishes, was the best way to get all of my favorite tastes in one place. Although stuffed grape leaves have never been a favorite of mine, I loved the ones here, moist and full of flavorful rice and meat. That, and the crisp kibbeh (the football-shaped item in the picture), were my favorites, though everything on the plate is delicious.

Helado Obscuro– I came with a friend one night, and the more ice cream we ate, the drunker we started to feel. Not only does this ice cream shop serve liquor-infused ice cream, but the ice cream is VERY liberally infused with the alcohol. Think flavors like absinthe raspberry and Kahlua chocolate. It’s also worth visiting this spot in Roma Sur for the very hisptery music and décor.

Gourmart– The owners of this modest Colombian restaurant in Roma Norte always greet you with a smile. They have a simple menu, with two specials served for lunch each weekday. The Colombian coffee is good first thing in the morning, strong but not bitter, and in the afternoon the best choices are the sancocho, a stew filled with chicken, corn, avocado slices, mild salsa, and rice, and the sudado de albondigas, meatballs in a tomato-onion sauce, all served with an arepa on the side (a corn-based wafer). Especially comforting on a cold day.

Rosetta Rosetta

Rosetta– Intrigued by reviews of this restaurant that I had read before I arrived in Mexico, I thought that a dinner there would be the perfect way to celebrate my birthday. And once we showed up on that rainy night, I was not disappointed. The ambience was homey and intimate, which is not surprising given that the restaurant occupies a former 19th-century home in Roma Norte. The cuisine is mostly Italian with a strong Mexican streak. I recall having bread that was divine, with a crunchy crust and light and airy dough, an appetizer of crispy, fried hinojo (a leafy herb), and a pasta dish with a meaty ragu studded with garlic and all kinds of delicious spices. All in all, a wonderful restaurant for a special occasion.

Riviera del Sur– I’ve been to this restaurant/bar in Roma Sur several times with different friends, and I’ve always enjoyed the Yucatecan food. The sopa de lima is a citrusy, pared-down tortilla soup, the kibis, which surprisingly are a lot like Lebanese kibbeh, are a good accompaniment to a cold beer, and the tacos de cochinita pibil are an ideal pork-delivery system (and are especially good if you have a sweet palette, since the pork is cooked in a citrus marinade). La Riviera is spacious and friendly, a good place to get a drink and relax with friends.

Mercado Roma Mercado Roma

Biergarten– On the top floor of Mercado Roma, a swanky market with food booths selling everything from banh mi to popsicles, Biergarten is a German-inspired beer hall that gives patrons the chance to drink a pint of beer outdoors while enjoying good music. The food options are good-I remember having poutine covered in gravy- and if ice cold beer on tap is not your thing, the smashes are a great cocktail option.

Street tacos near Sumesa grocery store, Calle Oaxaca and Avenida Álvaro Obregon. This one is hard to describe because it’s a street food stall, and I have to recommend it without a link, a photo, or a firm description of the location. I hope that this place is still there and still as good as usual. They make tacos with a variety of meat fillings that are topped with whole pinto beans and crispy French fries. It’s the best taco around.

Honorable mention: Lardo, Temporal, Azul Restaurante

Where to Eat in SF by Neighborhood

16 Jul

I’ve been asked before by wide-eyed tourists, many times, “What is your favorite restuarant in San Francisco?”  And I am flummoxed. What to answer, what to say? There are too many answers! I just usually reply with, “Well, what are you looking for? Do you like seafood? Mexican? Which neighborhood?” It’s easier to classify best restaurant by different categories. So now I’d like to sort out which restaurants are truly my favorites. A word of warning: pretension is not rewarded in this list.

  • Best pizza/Potrero Hill: Goat Hill Pizza. Crispy, puffy sourdough crusts,and a house specialty I love- Hilda’s Special (goat cheese, diced tomato, and pesto). Not your average droopy pizza, Goat Hill makes flavorful pies with simple ingredients on a solid, thick crust.
Satay Chicken Pho at Great Saigon

Satay Chicken Pho at Great Saigon

  • Best pho/Chinatown: Great Saigon. My former coworkers and I would often say that when it was cold and overcast, it was pho weather. The satay chicken pho is to die for- overflowing with flavor, with mint, thinly sliced zucchini, tomato, crushed peanuts, onion and of course a thick tangle of clear noodles, strips of mostly white chicken, and a hearty broth. The best.
  • Best pupusa/Mission: Balompié. The Mission has a lot of fancy new restaurants with valet parking, but there is also a lot of great home-style food that will fill you up for very little money. Balompié serves not just delicious pupusas in a variety of styles (I prefer loroco, a green vegetable native to El Salvador), but also fried plantains with black beans, fried yucca, and to perfectly accompany it, a tall glass of Cola Champán, a sugary sweet Salvadoran soft drink.
Nutella Latte at Castro Coffee Company

Nutella Latte at Castro Coffee Company

  • Best hot beverage/Castro: Castro Coffee Company. This is a new discovery. After trying a heavenly Nutella latte recently in Washington D.C., I was haunted by the memory of that sweet, slightly salty, chocolatey taste. Lo and behold, I found that the dime-sized Castro Coffee Company serves the Nutella latte, just as delicious as the first time I tried it on the East Coast. Plus, service is very fast and friendly.
  • Best beer bar/FiDi: Irish Bank. Walk right by on Bush Street and you’ll miss this nearly hidden bar in an alley. But if it’s late on a Friday and Saturday night, the noise of tables full of patrons drinking beer should call your attention. I have a thing for spots that are hidden in plain sight (see Bourbon and Branch, below), so that is one reason I love The Irish Bank. The other is that the service is friendly, the beer list traditionally Irish and European, and the blue cheese fries are the perfect snack to go with your pint of Guinness. A great place to run into old friends and meet new people.
  • Best burger/Marina: Super Duper. There is a lot of debate about which is the best burger in San Francisco. Besides the In n Out in Fisherman’s Wharf, there  is the L.A. transplant Umami, Roam of Pac Heights, and Super Duper, with outposts in the Castro, the Metreon and the Marina. The bun is lightly toasted, retaining crunchiness, so there is no wet bready disintegration. The meat is juicy and well-done (yes, that’s possible), and the pickles, lettuce and tomato are all fresh and flavorful. Oh, and your order is not complete without a chocolate shake.
  • Best dumplings/Outer Sunset: Kingdom of Dumpling. There are two phenomenal Shanghai dumpling places within a block of each other here in the Outer Sunset, so I hope I am remembering the right one. The one with crisp, juicy green beans covered in garlic sauce. The one with light, delicate soup dumplings bursting with rich, broth and tender pork. The place is tiny, there will be a wait, but it is very worth it. Forget Chinatown, this is where you can find delicious, authentic Chinese food.
  • Best cocktail/Tenderloin: The Citizen Cane at Bourbon and Branch. I find whisky, scotch, and bourbon revolting. I like a sweeter drink- not necessarily daiquiri sweet, but sweet enough. The Citizen Cane has cachaça, egg whites, cinnamon and is altogether delicious. Pass through the bookcase to the secret library, and enjoy this sweet, sweet libation.
Ploy II

Ploy II

  • Best Thai/Upper Haight: Ploy II. This spot in the Upper Haight is hard to find. It’s a narrow staircase leading up to the upper floor of what was once a private home. The handwritten signs all over the place are a little…paranoid, but add to the uniqueness of the place. The tom kha soup is light and creamy, the pumpkin curry packed with veggies and served with lovely presentation. But the best part of Ploy II? Three words. Deep fried pumpkin. Because all vitamin-packed vegetables should be deep fried.
President Obama likes Tacolicious

President Obama likes Tacolicious

  • Best taco/North Beach: Tacolicious. Consistently delicious, whether you get the carnitas, beer-braised chicken, the fish taco, or the guacamole that is as light as air. It’s always good at Tacolicious. Tender meat, perfectly braised. Oh and did I mention that the guacamole is to die for? It might be Mexican food made by and for gringos, but it is damn tasty.
  • Best southern comfort food/Lower Haight: Memphis Minnie’s. The Lower Haight may be associated with freewheeling hippie values, but carnivores can find plenty to love here. Besides the mouthwatering sausages at Rosamunde, there is Memphis Minnie’s, which is a slice of the Mississippi Delta right on Haight. Walk in, enjoy the gaudy decorations on the walls and tables, the mix of classic soul music playing, and serve yourself a tall, cold glass of sweet tea. I personally prefer the fried chicken, though keep in mind it is only served on the weekends. It is tender white meat coated in crispy skin, and as one of your two side dishes, I recommend the potato salad, the mac and cheese…or the baked beans or the cole slaw. Each table has four different sauces available: Texas red sauce, North Carolina vinegar sauce, South Carolina mustard sauce, and a spicy hot sauce. Don’t tell any tar heels you know, but I prefer the mustard sauce.
North Carolina vinegar sauce at Memphis Minnie's

North Carolina vinegar sauce at Memphis Minnie’s

  • Best vegetarian/Pac Heights: Berkeley Bowl at The Grove. Sometimes one needs to detox, to drink a neon purple juice or consume something green and leafy to regain some inner equilibrium. When I feel this way, I like to head to The Grove and order the Berkeley Bowl. It’s a deep, wooden bowl chock full of fresh ingredients like arugula, spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, onions, chickpeas, all topped with a light, creamy ranch and served with thick toast on the side. Don’t think a bowl full of veggies can fill you up? Give yourself an hour and finish up the Berkeley Bowl. You’ll be satisfied and all detoxed.
  • Best food truck: Sanguchon. The lomo saltado sandwich is a hearty, delicious meal, juicy New York steak between two crispy buns, slathered in a tangy cilantro aioli. Oh, and the sandwich is stuffed with French fries. If the thought of a steak sandwich isn’t filling enough for you, get some soft yucca fries or crispy sweet potato fries on the side.
  • Best ice cream/Mission: Bi-Rite. Yes, the Mission gets to show up on here twice, because I can’t compile a list like this and not include Bi-Rite, the best damn ice cream around. Listen, I hate waiting in lines. But I’ll spend a sunny afternoon snaking my way through those red plastic ropes to make my way to that brightly lit, friendly haven of ice cream goodness. Sample any flavor you’d like. I prefer the seasonal créme fraiche, which is like the smoothest, creamiest vanilla with a slight kick of sourness. Simple, divine. If that’s not available, chocolate or strawberry will do.
Ice Cream Sundae at Bi-Rite Creamery

Ice Cream Sundae at Bi-Rite Creamery