Back from Mexico


Detail from a huge mural by brilliant Mexican artist Diego Rivera.


Yesterday something quite extraordinary happened to me: I had a day off.

Of course it wasn’t a real day off – I answered about 25 work-related emails in the morning and did a few house-keeping jobs on the website in the afternoon – but, as you can see, I also found enough free time to finally write a new blog post.

Life has been pretty hectic recently. This time last week I was in Mexico with my colleagues from FoodieHub (formerly ‘Chowzter’).

FoodieHub have been making massive improvements recently so the trip to Mexico was a great chance to catch up with old friends and discuss how everything is going. For those unfamiliar, FoodieHub is a network of independent food writers located in cities all over the world. Each expert recommends the essential places to eat in their city, from street stalls and traditional family-run establishments right the way up to luxury fine dining. As the FoodieHub expert for Rio I guess I am duty-bound to recommend the service, but as it happens I’ve been using the site for all of my travels over the last 18 months and I’ve found it to be a brilliant way to track down the essential eats in unfamiliar cities (check out my list for Rio here).

This was my third visit to Mexico City and I knew exactly what I wanted to do first. Eat!


First stop was Taqueria Jalisco for these Tacos Campechanos – mixed meat tacos with all the toppings and sauces they had going!


After I’d got my taco fix (the first of many for the week) I moved on to a market which I fell in love with on my previous visit: Mercado San Juan. Regular readers will know I have a bit of a thing for food markets and this one is not to be missed.




Cherimoya – one of my favourite fruits, sadly not available in Rio (Atemoya is available and very nice, but not quite up to the Cherimoya in my opinion). The Mexican variety looks slightly different to the ones I had in Peru, but they were just as delicious! Such a shame that it’s illegal to bring seeds back – otherwise I would probably have plans to start growing these on my roof terrace…



I had the FoodieHub expert for Managua put her hand in shot to give scale to these chunky monster shrimp.


Regular readers will also know that I love a bit of cool street art and Mexico City has it in abundance.


This was right outside the fish section of San Juan market.



These brightly coloured monsters would go well in a kid’s bedroom.


I had wandered the streets of Mexico City almost exactly a year ago so parts of the city looked familiar. However, this time I was accompanied by food experts from all over Latin America including Nicholas Gilman, an expert of much of Mexico. With Nicholas on board we visited a ton of amazing little hole-in-the-wall places – something Mexico has got down to a fine art.


The crowd of people surrounding this place was a dead giveaway.


But it wasn’t  all street food and markets. There were Mezcal tastings, two awards ceremonies and some unforgettable high-end meals – the stand-outs being at Sud 777 and Limosneros.


After last year’s visit I had decided I wasn’t a huge fan of Mezcal, but this time around I was converted. Seems you just have to splash out on the good stuff!



The FoodieHub awards were held at Limosneros – a smallish restaurant giving a modern take on many traditional aspects of Mexican cuisine.


And the winner is…


São Paulo’s very own Mocotó took home the grand prize! This unpretentious restaurant specialises in the most delicious incarnation of Northeastern Brazilian cuisine that I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. It’s located on the northern edge of São Paulo so it’s a bit of a trek to get there but it’s well worth the journey.



This pretty little thing was one of 8 courses served at Sud 777. I have a natural suspicion of ‘tweezer food’, but this avocado ice-cream on a gingery base (with what I’m calling crunchy coffee farofa) tasted as good as it looks.



And finally the main event: Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards.


What an eye-opening event! Lots of boozing and back-slapping – I especially enjoyed the former; perhaps when I know a few more famous chefs and food writers I will enjoy the latter as well!


Whether or not these glitzy events are your thing, it’s still great that they’re recognising the hard work and creativity of chefs and restaurateurs from across Latin America. I was especially pleased to see good showings for Rio’s top chefs, Roberta Sudbrack, Claude and Thomas Troisgros and a new entry on the list for Rafa Costa e Silva from Lasai. Reviews for all three restaurants (Roberta Sudbrack, Olympe and Lasai) coming soon to Eat Rio!

I’ll leave you with the only shot I have of the moment I met Roberta Sudbrack – we actually had a very nice chat but sadly this looks a lot like she’s scolding me for some childish misdemeanour!


I’m inclined to open this one up for a ‘caption competition’! Whatever I just said, she doesn’t look too impressed does she?! In reality she was utterly charming.

10 replies
  1. The Gritty Poet
    The Gritty Poet says:

    It would be nice to have a greater number of quality hole in the wall eateries down here. Perhaps Mexico has a huge advantage in this segment due to the culinary heritage left behind by pre-columbian civilizations. It just seems to me that regular folks in Mexico are more in the know when it comes to cuisine in comparison to their Brazilian counterparts. It goes to reason then that Mexico has a larger pool of talent to draw from and hence more simple yet yummy food venues . Another way of increasing this pool is by way of education. Unfortunately both countries could do much better when it comes to providing knowledge to their citizens. Mexico suffers less though when it comes to food thanks to tradition – which is handed down thru generations.

    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      I’ve read it through a couple of times and I think I can safely say that I agree with all that! (Am I feeling OK…?) 😉

      An interesting related question occurred to me when I was in Colombia. I remember thinking how strange it was that in Cartagena there were long lines of stands selling identical cheese arepas, largely untroubled by customers. Then around the corner would be one inventive seller (with a huge line of customers) who had diversified into arepas stuffed with guacamole, shredded chicken, cheese and salsa. Why hadn’t those other sellers seen the light? Was it a lack of culinary education (i.e. they didn’t know any other recipes)? Or lack of business education / competitive instinct?

  2. The Gritty Poet
    The Gritty Poet says:

    Funny you should mention business acumen and competitive instict since I think Brazilians are miles ahead of their Latin American counterparts on both fronts. The thing is that when it comes to food you just can’t fake quality. And cultures like those of Mexico, Peru, Ecuador just have a greater amount of time tested recipes and more importantly quality local ingredients to cook them up. Notice all the sauces found in Mexico for instance (just the sauces) and compare that with those available in Brazil, Argentina, Chile where pre-columbian heritage was all but wiped out.

    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      That is really cool! Excellent links Gritty – this guy has the coolest job and appears to be a really nice bloke too. I’d love to visit this place (I imagine we’d talk for hours until Mrs Eat Rio dragged me away… 😉 ).


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