A few months ago, I was on an expat forum, and someone asked for ideas of things to do in Puebla. I had a long list of ideas. Then it dawned on me–this was not a list of things to DO, but a list of things to EAT.
Because really, who goes to Puebla to do things? That city is a gastronomical paradise. We go there to eat.
So, what should you eat in Puebla?
I’m so glad you asked! Here’s my short list:
My very first meal in Mexico was tacos árabes, at Güero’s, right off the zócalo in Cholula. Even though tacos al pastor are the more “standard” Mexican tacos, tacos árabes will always be #1 in my heart!
Maybe it’s because I’m a gringa and they come wrapped in pita bread. (So the “tortilla” is made out of wheat flour, instead of corn.) Let’s face it–we gringas LOVE our wheat!
Or maybe it’s the chipotle-heavy sauce that gets slathered on top. Unless you’re a weenie (like me) and only drip it on top. But again, chipotles are the sweetest of all chiles, and we gringas LOVE sweet things!
Whatever it is, a trip to Puebla is not complete without an order of tacos árabes! There’s an Antigua Taquería El Oriental or Tacos Tony all over the place, so they’re not hard to find.
Calle Santa Clara
Speaking of sweet things, this is why Calle Santa Clara made it to the #2 spot.
Yes, it’s a street, so clearly I couldn’t eat the street. (But I’d love to try!)
This street is dedicated to candy stores. Colonial-era nuns in Puebla (Santa Clara was their ringleader) put Puebla at the top of the Mexican culinary map! Those ladies are most famous for mole.
But again, I’m a gringa. I love sweet things, so I thank God every time I go to Puebla for the inspiration given to these women and the sweet legacy they left behind!
Across the street from the Plaza de los Sapos (an excellent antiques market on the weekend), lies La Pasita. It’s a humble bar, and rather non-descript from the outside. They’ve got some art deco signage that called my attention.
Fortunately, we were taken there by my husband’s Poblano best friend. (He knew the best bits of his city!) Once inside, the bar, while very tight, is also a feast for the eyes. The bartender is ready to serve pasita day and night. He fills a shot glass with pasita (raisin liquor), places a few cubes of panela cheese on toothpicks (one right in the glass), and you’re on your way to bliss.
Now, just because it’s served in a shot glass, please don’t shoot the pasita. Like all good things, it’s meant to be enjoyed. So sip it slowly, and enjoy! (With a bit of cheese every now and again, of couse!)
Where’s La Pasita? 6 Sur #399, downtown (maybe 5 blocks BEHIND the cathedral)
For those who have spend much time at all in Mexico, you’ve probably encountered the torta. It’s a hefty sandwich on crusty bread, spread with beans and avocados, and a number of fillings can round out a good torta.
The cemita is Puebla’s take on the torta. Cemita bread is a bit rounder, crunchier, and puffier. The fillings are even more generous. I believe it’s possible to fill them with a number of fillings, too, but why bother with anything besides milanesa? (That’s thin pieces of breaded, fried chicken.)
But what really sets cemitas apart is the cheese. Oh, the cheese! Strings of Oaxaca cheese drip out of the cemita. (OK, they don’t really drip–they don’t melt the cheese.) Perhaps the cheese cascades from the sandwich?
Whatever it does, it’s amazing!
Mole poblano is the quintessential dish from Puebla. It’s a dark sauce made of chocolate, chiles, and a bazillion other ingredients that is generously dished over a piece of turkey (usually chicken, but it really should be turkey) and sprinkled with sesame seeds.
Even a few people from Puebla have told me that it’s a little too intense for them. (Not because it’s spicy . . . it’s just intense.) My husband insists that his aunt makes it for him once a year. This year, the Making of the Mole happened just before Thanksgiving, so we had plenty left over for Thanksgiving dinner, making for some very happy Thanksgiving bellies!
But mole is also special for me, the Hubs took me out for mole for our first date. So, if you’re in Puebla and want to go to the Great Mole Date Place, head up to the Church of Beato Sebastian Aparacio, and take a left. In front of the City Express hotel, there’s a stretch of a few places serving comida tipica–any of them are pretty good! (There are probably better places, but these are special to me!) 😉
If you’re heading to Puebla any time soon, don’t worry about what you should go see. Schedule your time there around what you should EAT.
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