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Eating out with kids in Mexico DF, Puebla, Oaxaca

So, finally I can report back. To answer my own question, dining with kids in high-end places is probably doable anywhere in Mexico, and for sure in Puebla en Oaxaca. In DF I can only judge Dulce Patria and Azul Historico, of which especially the latter is no problem as it is outdoor.

For interpreting my feedback you should take into consideration that this was the first time that I tasted food in the DF-Palenque zone, but not the first time in Mexico. My favourite restaurants are Etxebarri and Elkano in Spain, places that source the best produce and serve it with a minimum sauce, if at all. How different is Mexican food! Especially in Oaxaca the emphasis is on the sauce, not the proteins. In general the quality of the proteins will not pass the threshold for European Michelin stars, in contrast to the vegetables that were very tasty. Moreover, I had the impression one gets served the same meat/poultry that is used to make a broth, which is a.o. used for the moles. All very efficient but this way you don't get the highest quality food. Please be aware that I enjoyed the food in Mexico tremendously, but my comments will may sometimes seem critical as we all try to provide advice for other visitors.

In general I found upper bracket restaurants almost guarantee a few, if not more, good to excellent dishes, cheaper places mediocre (but be aware, a mediocre Mexican meal to me is very satisfying!). If you know what to order you can increase the chances of excellent dishes in more expensive places, as they lack consistency. The more expensive places will cost 15-20 EUR pp with one or two drinks so will not break the bank.

What is special for me is that halve of what is offered is different from what I am used to, far more unfamiliar than say Asia. Tortilla and chiles in all its forms and shapes, insects as well as cactuses are unheard of in Europe, citrus fruit tomatoes and chocolate are different and so on.
The most memorable food I ate were simple, small things like perfect guacamole in a lot of places, quesadillas in Dulce Patria, tacos pastor in Las Ranas, some grilled vegetables here and there, fresh fruit and drinks everywhere, a hot chocolate in Oaxaca.

Now focussing on the restaurants (by the way Christina: thank you very much for all your recommendations, you really helped me to appreciate the place as you can see!):
DF
• Dulce Patria is in a different league from Azul. The cocktails, even the non-alcoholic, are worth going for alone. Presentation is beautiful. This is the only place that comes close to what in Europe would get a Michelin star. It should be more consistent though, for instance enchiladas were mediocre, whilst other dishes really impressed. At Azul the food was pleasant but never reached the highs of Dulce Patria. As mentioned by Christina, they serve a filet mignon, a boring piece of meat, cooked without char, drowned in sauce, which was a pity.
• We loved El Cardenal, indeed a must for foreigners for breakfast.
• We enjoyed the Mercado de La Merced, but for the highest quality you have to know where to order. The same goes for the market in Xochimilco. If you have only time for one market definitely choose Mercado de La Merced.
• Los Panchos, next to my hotel, was solid, rocking actually for Sunday comida, serving traditional dishes.

Teotihuacan
• Las Grutas is well worth going for the spectacular setting, food mediocre but OK.

Puebla
• In Puebla, we liked best Fonda de Santa Clara, serving traditional fare in a lively atmosphere.
• In El Mural de los Poblanos, an otherwise fine and pleasant though slightly more formal place, we ordered the seasonal chile en nogada. I am keen to the savoury version of this dish, that I understand some restaurants offer, another time, as mine was far too sweet. Be aware that many restaurants offer this dish, but do not make it from scratch. The same goes for the moles here and in Oaxaca unfortunately. I tasted the moles on the markets and that's what most restaurants buy and serve the customer
• Our favourite place though was Las Ranas. Order your tacos al pastor and arabe here, grab a table near the entrance and see how everything is prepared. I love the efficiency with which this place is run. This is a place that does only one thing, but very well. The best thing is it comes almost for free!

Oaxaca
• Los Dazantes, with its fancy decor, has al the specs of a tourist trap but managed to serve surprisingly good dishes, and consistently so.
• Cathedral more or less the same but I preferred Dazantes
• Casa Oaxaca has a fancy rooftop and good food.
• La Olla was inconsistent, with e.g. a boring tamale-style dish but otherwise good food.
• Tlamanalli, in Teotitlán del Valle was certainly not worth the ride. Although the food seemed all prepared at the premises and we really wanted to like this place, it tasted bland.
• The Noviembre Mercado is fun to see but food average. Better to go the Abastos market where I went with Gerardo, my cooking teacher, to see the real deal.
• La Popular is highly recommended for its good food and relaxed setting, very near the Santo Domingo church, with low prices. Top it off with good ice cream with very local flavours opposite the church.
• Teca is an off the beaten track recommendation I thank Christina for. You feel you are dining in the house of a family, with slightly different and sometimes surprisingly refined food and presentation.

Puerto Escondido
• Best setting and food is at hotel Villas Carrizalillo, beautifully appointed on the top of a cliff overlooking the beach.

San Christobal, Lagos Montebello & Palenque.
• Lower your expectations here!

Sep 08, 2014
Utrechter in Mexico

Eating out with kids in Mexico DF, Puebla, Oaxaca

Hi Christina,

We are about to go! Thanks for the invite. However, since we travel with children who will suffer from a jetlag, we like to be as flexible as possible. Having said that, we booked Dulce Patria for comida on the last day and my aim is to try as much as possible from the tips in this thread. Thanks and I will share my experiences afterwards.

Jul 15, 2014
Utrechter in Mexico

Eating out with kids in Mexico DF, Puebla, Oaxaca

To clarify: with high-end I mean top notch food, typically more subtle, multiple techniques, higher quality local ingredients than lower end but possibly very good restaurants. It should be local. In Bangkok for instance you can this sort of food extremely well in some places, while the street food is almost equally good but just different. Posh setting I do not desire, as said we will wear sneakers. I was planning to book Dulce Patria as you recommended. But reading all this info maybe I don't get the dining scene in DF. If spending more money does not buy me better/different food but just a more posh setting than I'd rather stick to high quality cheaper restaurants. Re Polanco: I mentioned especially there and near touristic sites, and for must go to places off course we are willing to go the extra mile. I think you advised on some of those so thanks!

Jun 29, 2014
Utrechter in Mexico

Eating out with kids in Mexico DF, Puebla, Oaxaca

Hi Christina and DiningDiva,

You are asking the right questions, thanks! I am totally with you re Mexican so I will book Dulce Patria.

Furthermore: My goal is to sample as many regional cuisines as possible during my trip. Since I will not travel west of DF, I reckoned I have to try that in DF itself. Since it is so difficult to find a good high end place, any cuisine as long as it is Mexican is good.

I counted on the regional cuisines in low and mid range places. If you could also help me there, especially in Polanco or near touristic sites, except Xochimilco that you already mention, I would be very very happy.

Jun 26, 2014
Utrechter in Mexico

Eating out with kids in Mexico DF, Puebla, Oaxaca

Thanks Animo,

The kids will certainly love this! However for the single top notch foodie experience I'm looking for, this does not seem be the place. Maybe I'll go there also if you guarantuee the food is really good, assuming it is not overly expensive and tacky?

Jun 25, 2014
Utrechter in Mexico

Eating out with kids in Mexico DF, Puebla, Oaxaca

Hi Christina,

You seem very knowledgeable, thanks! In our 4 night stay, we probably will only have 1 high-end meal. I assume we can taste dishes of the regions that we don't travel (west of DF) in other, less expensive/posh places. Any ideas, especially in Polanco or near touristic sites except Xochimilco that you already mention? You mention Pujol. What do you think of Biko then? Normally I try to avoid overhyped Top 50 restaurants, but Biko has a Basque influence I read, the region that I most love when it comes to food. We are staying in Polanco so that is convenient. I can’t imagine the quality differs much for comida or cena in such high profile places, please advise as for us eating at night may be more convenient.

Jun 25, 2014
Utrechter in Mexico

Eating out with kids in Mexico DF, Puebla, Oaxaca

In July and August I will travel with my 6 and 8-year olds kids and wife from Mexico DF to Belize. I have searched this site and others but no one seems to have the answer on this: we are keen to try everything from street stalls to high end places (the kids will eat most food too). Which restaurants on the high end side in DF, Puebla and Oaxaca would you recommend where we eat can great food and still come in with sneakers? How long in advance do I need to make reservations there?

Jun 24, 2014
Utrechter in Mexico

A great ciderhouse/sagardotegi/sidrería out of season

3 years ago on a Saturday in March I had a fantastic lunch at Sidreria Petritegi near San Sebastian. Great food and drinks, singing and cheering locals, 100 new friends. Late May I will be in town again and would like to take friends for a similar experience. I realise that the season will be over but also that some places will still be open, among them Sidreria Petritegi. I would appreciate a recommendation on the best ciderhouse to visit for a Friday night, ideally not with just tourists (do locals still go out of season?).

Apr 08, 2014
Utrechter in Spain/Portugal

Singapore in 5 meals?

Thanks lecker,

Unfortunately I am back already. Haven't been to any of your places. Next time I will surely check out Joo Chiat. For people that are looking for a slighty upmarket experience in a friendly setting, I can highly recommend Jumbo at the East Coast. Great food, great atmosphere. Madras New Woodlands was still good, its thali and dosai are extremely good value for brunch. Maxwell Food Centre I found to have better quality stalls and even better atmosphere on a Saturday night than Lau Pa Sat.

Singapore in 5 meals?

Apologies, I forgot the fifth meal will probably be lunch at New Woodlands, is that still good?

Singapore in 5 meals?

I'm from the Netherlands, love excellent Singapore food. Lived there in 1995 and have ocasionally been back over the years, last time in 2010. Read all topics but can't find an answer on the following search for pleasant setting, but not Michelin style restaurants:
Next week, I will take a female colleague for dinner. Ideally an Indochine setting (outside, not too formal) but then with good food. The next night I'm with a young male colleague and we are looking for more happening places, but still with good food. 13 years ago I liked a Laotian or Vietnamese place in Club Street to gave you an idea.The last night I don't really care what ambiance as long as the food is really good. Food must be Asian. 3 years ago I tried Lau Pa Sat but found that mediocre. Hotel is Park Royal Pickering, so I have Hong Lim HC pencilled in for lunch.
I would appreciate your input!