Thursday, September 08, 2011

Six Days in Colonia Roma Norte, México, DF Part 1

We were back in one of our favorite parts of Mexico City, after spending 20 days in New Jersey. Colonia Roma's faded glory is resurgent, with new restaurants opening, while others close. Unfortunately, there seems to be a trend away from its roots in search of ever more refined, "hip" venues. With a little effort, one can find the more down to earth places.

Part one of this series will describe eating/dining in the immediate vicinity of Colonia Roma Norte.

We arrived travel weary, after a long day and a travel drama worthy of Hollywood. We stayed at the Hotel Embassy, at Calle Puebla # 115, Colonia Roma Norte, México, DF. Because we were so tired, we decided to give the Cantina Los Escudos of  the Restaurante Covadonga a try. It's right next door to the hotel. It's an old place, haunt of Spanish expats and for some unfathomable reason, younger hipsters. We been warned on several other sites that the food is unimaginative and dull. They were right.
We had a couple of drinks, some Calamares al Romano (not bad), some Croquetas de Queso y Jamón Serrano, a specialty of the house (boring), a bowl of Sopa Covadonga de Pollo y Jamón (pretty good and a Filete de Res al Cabrales—big mistake. The filete was swimming in a cream based sauce with very assertive Queso Cabrales incorporated throughout, plus two pink shrimp on top of the filet! What's the point? I couldn't eat but half before giving up. The roof of my mouth felt like it was under attack from the cheese.

Calamares Romanos
From Mexico City Dining Summer 2011
Croquetas d Queso y Jamón
From Mexico City Dining Summer 2011
Filete de Res al Cabrales
From Mexico City Dining Summer 2011

Food: **
Service: ***
Price: $$-$$$
Ambience: Old Españoles never die, they just play dominoes.

A better venue nearby was the Cafe Toscano Roma, on Calle Orizaba at the northern end of Plaza Río de Janeiro. It features light meals in a casual, hip setting. The two outstanding features are the really excellent coffee and the free wifi. The tomato soup is very good, the house salad good. Pastries are good. Some of the bread is from Restaurant Rosetta's bakery.

Food: ***
Service: ***
Price: $-$$
Ambience: Hip, young

Few visits to Colonia Roma Norte, México, DF are complete without a visit to Bisquets, Bisquets Obregón, on Av. Álvaro Obregón at Calle Mérida. It's a coffee shop, a "diner", Mexican style. It's clean, well-lighted and open long hours. They also give INAPAM card holders a modest discount. We prefer breakfast there. We like the old fashioned cafe con leche. Supper or comida dishes worth considering are Sopa de Ajo, with or without an egg; Sopa  de Pollo Especial. The regular bread rolls, baked in house, are terrible. The pan dulce looks better than it tastes, but is not bad, depending on which type you choose.

Special note: I greatly dislike the ugly roll of overly rich frijoles refritos that comes with so many meals. Ask instead for Frijoles de Olla, which are much better.

Food: **1/2
Service: ****
Price: $-$1/2 INAPAM discount. Present your card when ordering.
Ambience: Happy family

For our lunch on Saturday, we made a pilgrimage to Hamburguesas a la Parrilla, on the corner of Calle Colima and Morelia. I devoted a blog post to thisplace a few years ago. Click the red link. We love this place for its hot, juicy, freshly cooked burgers. One menu item, soft drinks in bottles, no seats, plenty of napkins, a great little place. Our friend Ron was so ravenous, that he ordered a Doble Carne con Piña, which cost him over $50 pesos.

Burger Flasher
Food: ****
Service: ¿Que?
Price: $ or less. Bargain
Ambience: Create your own.

We also ate breakfast at DeliBroyé, a café run by students at the Instituto Broyé Culinary School. It's on Calle Puebla, between Calle Frontera and Calle Mérida. (I haven't so far found an address on their website. Fortunately, Google Maps knows about it. Puebla 46, Roma, 06700 Cuauhtémoc, Distrito Federal, Mexico)

I'll be as kind as possible. Nice effort, keep practicing.
No fresh fruit juices available, sauce of the "Huevos Revolucionarios" obviously made with tomato puree, plating presentations leave something to be desired; waitress handled utensils by the working end.

Huevos Revolucionarios.

Food: **
Service: **1/2 points for (trying)
Price: $-$1/2
Ambience: Casual patio

One rainy night we walked over to Taquitos Frontera, of which there are two locations quite near to each other. The one on Mérida and Álvaro Obregón seems the spiffier, newer of the two, with umbrellaed tables on the sidewalk. It also looks superficially cleaner. The other location, on the corner of A. Obregón at Calle Frontera can best be described as "a hole in the wall", with a louche atmosphere of cluttered crowdedness. This greatly appealed to me, especially after exposure to overpriced, upscale restaurants featuring vertical food on sauce drizzled plates.

We had actually been seeking a pozolería to give sustenance and comfort to our weary bodies, but that appears to have been replaced by a hip bar for affluent aliens from interstellar space. Lástima.

Although Taquitos Frontera didn't serve pozole, they did have birria, which two of us ordered. My wife had Frijoles Charros.

BAM! It was the most intensely and complexly spiced birria we ever tasted. It was also picante, but we loved that endorphin rush, so much that I pounded my fist twice on the table. My wife reported that her Frijoles Charros were very good.

Ron also ordered some Brochetas de champiñones (mushroom "skewers") which were o.k. but nothing special. It's a saute of mushrooms, onions and green peppers.

Not sated by my plato chico de birria, I had a taco of cecina adobada, which was very good, but the tortillas were dry.
The better and more varied salsas were being put on the tables as we were leaving.

Food: ***
Service: ****
Price: $-$1/2

EDIT: I discovered this video of Tacos Frontera on YouTube:

I nearly forgot Café Nuestra Tierra, next to the Hotel Milán. It's nothing special, but it's convenient for Milán stayers who don't want to eat in the Milán restaurant. Huevos al Gusto, Chilaquiles, the usual but truncated gamut; baguette sandwiches, decent but not particularly great coffee. (It's organically grown, fair trade, you know.) free wifi. Cheap. It's nice.

Food: **1/2
Service: ***
Price: $
Ambience: Ehh? Sidewalk café.
CLOSED Replaced by a hip bar or something. I wasn't paying close attention.

This concludes today's episode. In another, we'll go farther afield and review some notable restaurants and eating spots in more detail. I also don't want to forget to write about the Gourmet Show, at the World Trade Center, the ostensible reason for our extended stay in Mexico City.


Anonymous said...

Whale of a good rundown, Señor Cuevas. I am puzzled by one thing. You consider wifi a plus in a restaurant? I don't get the connection between internet and dining.

Don Cuevas said...

unseenmoon, thanks for your comment.

This part 1 was just a brief rundown of restaurants within reasonable walking distance of our hotel. Part 2 will review a handful of "better" restaurants in detail. (Some are better and some are subject to debate.)

There's also a short topic regarding Quesadillas and Tlacoyos Gloria's yet to be written.

Wifi is only a plus in coffeehouses and hotels, not in worthwhile restaurants. I gotta have my Internet fix, you know.

Don Cuevas

ClayShentrup said...

Meat/dairy/eggs are bad for your health, bad for the planet, and horrendously cruel to the animals.

Jeremy Albelda said...

Nice post! I just spend the past month living in Roma Norte. Given this post is a little older now, I reviewed some of the current restaurants in my post about it if you want to to take a look.