Flavorful Mexico City

Pedro Reyes’ Mexico City bursts with flavor and energy. It smells of lime, sizzling meats, and freshly toasted corn tortillas. Pedro Reyes, is a man of many talents. He is Academy Chairperson for The World’s 50 Best Bars for Mexico, a prolific food writer, and author of Guía Domingo: Tacos CDMX, and most recently Tacos Tijuana. While the Mexico City-based author's life is filled with gastronomy every day, he keeps up his other passions: football and cycling - perfect channels for discovering CDMX from another perspective.

By Pedro Reyes

@piterpunk – Written by: Sofia Superville

01. More Than a Dish: A Ritual

When you talk with Pedro over a meal, it’s likely he’ll bring more than just tacos and beer to the table; he’ll likely express just how deeply he feels that food brings people together. “The amazing thing about gastronomy being a great pillar of Mexican culture is the call to the table,” he says while chatting with me over a Condesa and a selection of tacos on brightly colored plastic plates. “It goes beyond the dish itself or the aesthetics of the place or the food; it’s really about what brings us together. If we lose focus on what really matters when you gather at the table, which is the conversation and being close, we lose what’s important. Many of the new restaurants in the city may have dishes designed specifically for Instagram, but it’s important to understand that what’s there is ephemeral.”

London has its pubs, Paris its bistros and Madrid its tapas restaurants as the hub of the social eating scene, to Mexico City, this is the cantina.

For Pedro, traditional cantinas play a crucial role in keeping alive a tradition of gathering over an extended meal with friends in the city. You’ll find friends playing dominoes or dice, with family for a celebration, or alone on a break from work. Becoming a local at a particular cantina naturally leads to encounters with neighbors, a bond with the staff, and a spirit of closeness that Pedro loves and considers part of the Mexican experience. One of his favorite bars in Roma Norte is PCafé tacobar, which he typically visits on Thursday nights. PBaltra and POROPEL are other places you’ll frequently find him chatting to locals, staff and friends over a drink.

Los rituales que con el tiempo definen quién eres

 

On Tuesdays, he chooses CANTINA COVADONGA, in the same neighborhood, to meet friends and play dice for hours, accompanied by beer and shared dishes. “I believe in the traditions one builds for oneself, the rituals that over time, define who you are. Tuesday dice games with my friends, barbecues at my parents’ house, the stands at the ESTADIO OLÍMPICO UNIVERSITARIO. Today, my most important and exciting moments are creating new rituals with my daughters, making those memories is key in striving to be a good father.” Other places he recommends for dining include MEROMA, PUJOL, MÁXIMO, and the classics EL CARDENAL, NICOS, AZUL HISTÓRICO.

02. From the Local

Pedro usually starts his days with a cup of coffee. If not at home, he enjoys going out early, taking the time to go to Condesa and sit at PBOREL, or to Juárez to sit at the bar of PEL MINUTITO  and organize his day from there. El Minutito, with its throw-back stylings, has only a long bar, a small windowsill facing the street, and occasionally a few tables outside. The narrow space gives a sense of traveling to a simpler time, welcoming anyone taking a brief respite from the pace of the city.

First up: breakfast. “I love breakfast so much that it’s hard for me to choose just one dish; almost always it’s two. You have to have eggs, and the second one could be a stew or enchiladas or enfrijoladas [similar to enchiladas but with sauce made primarily from blended black beans]. I like having breakfast at markets and street barbecue stands. I love eggs with chorizo, avocado, and salsa macha, and machaca burritos with eggs and green sauce,” says Pedro, who recommends that anyone visiting CDMX must try tacos al pastor. The places he visits for good tacos include PEL  VILLAMELÓN, PEL CHERÁN, PDON JUAN, PEL JAROCHO, PTACOS CHARLY, PTACOS MANOLO and PTACOS DOMINGO.

"Una ciudad dentro de una ciudad"

As a true chilango and food lover, Pedro visits the CENTRAL DE ABASTOS, one of the world’s largest wholesale markets, at least once a month. “It’s like a city within a city. A reflection of chilango life, its hustle, its strength, and its incredible tacos,” he says. “I am very chilango. I deeply love this city. I think that no matter how much you try, you never really finish it. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll always find something new: a corner, a flavor, a story… I don’t know if I could live anywhere else.” Like the cantinas, markets are a fixture in the city’s cultural landscape. “It’s important to embrace who we are, celebrate globalization, but not forget the traditional spaces of our country,” he comments. For street food, Pedro recommends the A CENTRO and its surroundings, which have great gems in terms of tacos, tortas, and comal-cooked dishes.

03. On the Move

Although Pedro lived for seven years in Roma Norte – known for its artistic, vibrant atmosphere and great gastronomic offerings – becoming a father led him to move and slightly change his lifestyle. He now enjoys the quiet, residential neighborhood life of PCOLONIA DEL VALLE. While the architecture may not be as striking or romantic as other CDMX neighborhoods, it’s perfect for family living. Moreover, due to its location, Pedro can travel by bike (his preferred mode of transport) almost everywhere. One of his favorite areas to bike around is PCIUDAD UNIVRSITARIA..

This space, over 176 hectares, is the official campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and a World Heritage Site since 2007. Besides the university’s various faculty buildings, library, and other similar spaces – all boasting noteworthy architecture – C.U. (pronounced cé-u) also includes a theater and performance hall, a contemporary art museum, a science museum, and even a football stadium. Built in 1952, the PESTADIO OLÍMPICO UNIVERSITARIO has a capacity of 72,000 people and is home to the Club Universidad Nacional, commonly known as UNAM or by its nickname: the Pumas. “This stadium is one of my biggest connections with the city,” says Pedro, a life-long football fan.

PLACES MENTIONED

  • LCOLONIA DEL VALLE
  • PCIUDAD UNIVERSITARIA.
  • RESTADIO OLÍMPICO UNIVERSITARIO


Quickfire favorites

FAVORITE SPOT FOR A CONDESA:

-CAFÉ TACOBAR  BRelaxed cantina with great traditional food.

 

FAVORITE RESTAURANTS:

-MEROMA .A contemporary, international menu and a consistent hot spot in the city

-el parnita .Vibrant, noisy spot to begin a night out over tacos.

-pujol .A classic for a special occasion. Try the tacos omakase.

-pink rambo .Psychedelic cantina housed in a warehouse with a great cocktail program

-máximo bistrot .Lalo Garcia’s flagship restaurant in Mexico City.

 

FAVORITE LATE NIGHT CHILL SPOT:

-Bosfóro C Small, minimalist mezcal bar with a great snack menu.

 

BEST DANCING SPOT:

-El Salón Los Ángeles B.A traditional yesteryear dancehall open since 1937. Cumbias galore.

 

FAVORITE STREET FOOD SPOT:

-El comal de Paty, en Parque España y Juan Escutia. Q Don’t miss the handmade tortillas.

 

FAVORITE GALLERIES AND MUSEUMS:

Museo jumex M.

Museo de memoria y tolerancia M.

kurimanzutto M.

DON’T ASK JUST GO:

-ciudad universitaria CN

Pedro Reyes

Periodista gastronómico.

Pedro Reyes’ Mexico City bursts with flavor and energy. It smells of lime, sizzling meats, and freshly toasted corn tortillas. Pedro Reyes, is a man of many talents. He is Academy Chairperson for The World’s 50 Best Bars for Mexico, a prolific food writer, and author of Guía Domingo: Tacos CDMX, and most recently Tacos Tijuana. While the Mexico City-based author’s life is filled with gastronomy every day, he keeps up his other passions: football and cycling – perfect channels for discovering CDMX from another perspective.

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