Thursday, February 06, 2014

Hotel Posada El Nito Oaxaca

We stayed in the Hotel Posada El Nito, Oaxaca Centro from January 6 until January 17, 2014. We enjoyed almost everything about it. We took Room #10, right off the attractive patio. That room is the largest in the hotel, with two camas matrimoniales. We looked also at a couple of smaller rooms toward the back, but they tended to be very small, and with only a single cama matrimonial.

Room # 10 is well supplied with furniture and an ample closet for one's things. Rebeca, the affable manager, had a third bed removed and a patio table and a pair of chairs put in their place. There was plenty of space leftover. The room was equipped with an air conditioner and a floor fan, neither of which did we use, except that the fan was useful to hang towels and swim suits.

Room # 10 has no window, but there is a curtain for the door which can be deployed in daytime if you wish to ventilate the room.

The beds are unusually comfortable and we slept well, most of the time*. There was a two shelf unit in one corner, where we stored our toilet articles and recharged or Internet devices, as well as a couple of night tables flanking the beds. A double outlet was located between the beds.

*There is a cantina next door that revs up the decibels in the evening, but especially on weekend nights. We sometimes used earplugs but in general, accustomed ourselves to a dull roar and were scarcely bothered.

There is also sometimes an odor of frying fish from the nearby seafood restaurants, wafting into the patio, but it was no problem for us.

The attractive and spacious patio was where we would do Internet stuff, snack, and smoke the occasional cigar.

El Nito patio-aft

El Nito patio-forward
The bathroom in room # 10 is small but adequate. Hot water was plentiful in the mornings but sometimes scarce at late afternoon. We were well supplied with bath accessories. Towels were a bit tatty but acceptable.

Note that the hotel does not provide purified water, but there are many stores close by where you can buy water and other items. The room was kept very clean.
The wifi is very effective in the patio and reception areas, but the signal strength diminished within our room.

The location is excellent, with easy walking to the Zócalo, the mercados of Centro, and some attractive restaurants as well as street food, some of high quality. (At the corner of Calle Armenta y López and Calle Rayón is a juice bar, "La Huerta", making delicious fruit juice combinations and simple sandwiches, The coffee is decent, too. ("Halt! Jugos There")

Weekday afternoons at the corner of Calle A&L at Calle Colón is a pair of indigenous women selling excellent tamales at fair prices.

Restaurante La Flor de Oaxaca is 1 1/2 blocks away. Conchita's is a block to the east, with tasty, bargain breakfasts. El Pozolito, a block to the west, has good pozole at low prices. The excellent Mariscos La Red is 1 1/2 blocks west, on Calle Colón/Las Casas, at the corner of Calle Bustamante. ("Seeing Red")

No description of Hotel Posada El Nito is complete without praise to Sra. Rebeca Martha López and her staff. Rebeca is a wonderful, friendly person with a lively, outgoing personality.
We would stay there again with great pleasure.


Comfort: ****

Cleanliness: *****

Price: Our room was $550 pesos a night.That was for an extended stay and in a shoulder season. We paid for five nights stay in advance through a deposit to the hotel's account. After the fifth night, we paid in cash, daily. The hotel does not accept credit cards.

Annoyances: 1. A noisy cantina next door. (Take a room towards the back if that bothers you.)

2. The noise of the sun roof over the patio being opened at about 7:30 a.m.

El Nito patio sun roof.

Armenta y López 416
Centro Histórico, C.P. 68000
Oaxaca, Mexico
Tel: +52 (951) 514-66-68

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Sunday, February 02, 2014

Asador Irving's Oaxaca: For Your Inner Caveman

This post is not Vegetarian Friendly. Perhaps you were looking for this?

Happy Cow

La Cueva del Humo, Mercado 20 de Noviembre, Oaxaca
There are two principal mercados in Oaxaca Centro. They are separated by a single, east-west street. The northerly of the two is the Mercado Benito Júarez, devoted mainly to non food items, but of course, there is more than a little food available.

The southerly of the two is the Mercado 20 de noviembre. The interior is packed with fondas, panaderías, dulces and aguas frescas as well as vegetables, fruits, meats, and more. Keep in mind that, as impressive as this is to a foodie, it is far surpassed in scope by the Mercado Central de Abastos, on the southwest edge of the central city.

A main entrance, amidships in the building, is the entrance to "La Cueva del Humo", more prosaically known as "El Pasillos de las carnes asadas".

I made a scouting trip at 7:30 in the morning. There wasn't much to see. One charcoal grill was being fired up, and I was invited to have a seat and breakfast, but I wasn't ready.

La Cueva del Humo, 7:30 a.m.
On the east side of the Mercado 20 noviembre, a door leads into what I call "La Cueva del Humo", a high ceilinged corridor, its ceiling pierced by ventilators; sides lined with charcoal grills, flanked by displays of tempting slabs of cured pork and beef, chorizos, and less tempting ropes of dried tripes. It looks like a corridor of carnicerías, but they're really places to indulge your most primal caveman carnivore instincts.

Various cured meats; cecina, tasajo, chorizos
Tripas on the left. Tasajo, cecina We did not try tripas.
There are several asadores from which to choose. I chose Asador "Irving's", mostly for the seemingly incongruous name, plus its tables were packed with enthusiastic customers. (There is a well known Irving's Deli, in Livingston, NJ, but this, of course, is no relation.)

The menu is posted on the wall.

The meats, as you see, are sold by weight. After we crammed our plump bodies onto a bench and into the table, we joined several Mexican families already there. A young man in a baseball cap took our order. We decided on a medio kilo of carnes surtidas. Tortillas were billed separately, as were avocado and grilled vegetables (cebollitas—a must!—, nopales, could have had grilled chiles de agua, but we passed. We got a couple of good but not especially picante salsas, and I don't recall what we drank. Probably refrescos.

Cebollitas asadas are a must
The food arrived quickly, and despite the cramped setting, we dug in. It was inelegant dining at its best, which touched deeply to or primal caveman instincts. Here, cecina is salt cured pork, cut into sheets, with our without an adobo rub. Tasajo is Oaxacan beef cut into sheets and mildly salt cured. Chorizo Oaxaqueño are especially delicious local variations of spicy sausages. In Oaxaca, they are made in ropes of little globes. They all were surprisingly tender, and surpassingly savory.

Carnes asadas surtidas, inelegantly served but eaten with gusto. 
We had no difficulty in eating all of our half kilo of charcoal grilled meats and vegetables. I didn't make a record of the bill, but it was somewhere around $115 pesos.

After, on our way into the main mercado area, we passed the garde manger (seriously, the cold foods and salads prep) area, which, if I understand it correctly, serves all the asadores in La Cueva.

How are things in Guacamole?

Food: ****

Service: ****

Price: $ 1/2 BARGAIN!

Ambience: Uncomfortable, but worth the discomforts. At the same time, it's fun, if you are not the stuffy sort.

Hygiene: seemed fine to us. Bring hand sanitizer for cleaning hands before and after eating. This is a hands on experience.

Keywords: "Aisle be cecina you always."

Location: Calle Miguel Cabrera, south of corner of Calle Aldama.

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Chapulines (seasoned grasshopper snacks) for sale, as everywhere, at the entrance.