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Where to Shop in Mexico: El Mercadito Frances

El Mercadito Frances is this new market in Mexico that offers mostly French fare. The site is only open during Saturdays at the patio of the French-Mexican restaurant Le Bouchon.

What’s to be had here? An assortment of bread and pastries collection, wine and cheese that you cannot find anywhere else, delicious Provenal sausages and just about quality and flavorful food the French cater too. The items are expectedly a bit pricey, but you have to expect to pay high price for food this good. It’s okay to splurge on this, however, as the choices really are carefully chosen to be fresh, clean and top quality.

The other reason that makes this place a must-visit is the selection of fresh seafood. Polanco generally has little access to fresh fish and other seafood fares but since this Saturday market can into inception, many actually do come or the fish.

Espresso is served at the bar for shoppers, compliments of the restaurant. And there are several seats at the patio, if shoppers want to spend their Saturday morning here.

The Mercadito is open between 9:30 am to 1:30 pm only.

Category: Mexican Food  | Leave a Comment
Where To Dine in Mexico: Condesa Tuesday Market

The Condesa Market in Mexico City is a foodie haven and a shopping habitue. The “tianguis” set up every Tuesday mornings somewhere near the Edificio Condesa. Although there are several surrounding markets in the area, the Tuesday fair is especially the one to go for, because it has many exotic food finds tourists must try. It also beats other markets and fairs in terms of a picturesque scenery. There is something about the Condesa Tuesday Market that exudes a quaint and provincial, almost artlike quality.

The market takes pride in its selection of food and items for sale.

The fruit and vegetables are all neatly piled or creatively stacked and sliced, the market visitors will really be pleased to see these. It’s almost like Origami. These fruit and vegetables are exotic and they come in various shades of yellow, green and red, it’s hard not to take a photo of it.

All these are organically grown, which makes the fruits and vegetables really healthy. And the best part is, these are sold some 20 pesos cheaper in the supermarket.

The Condesa Market has also some of the freshest fish choices. One time during a friend’s travel, she marveled at the fact that they most seafoods being sold are really of good quality. She lives in a seafaring town all the way back home and has never seen shrimps that are bright orange, and fish that are white and shiny.

The vendors also sell chicken and other meat, and they are just as fresh and clean as the fishes. Make sure you have them sliced any meat you buy because they can do this for you and prepare your dish in cuts you want them to use for. The market also offers liver, kidneys, heart and oxtail.

The downside to this is that you have to wake up early Tuesdays to be able to catch the vendors. Because by late morning, they are gone until the next week.

Category: Mexican Food  | Leave a Comment
Where to Dine: Kolobok

Initially, I thought Kolobok was a local place, serving traditional or regional Mexican food. But as it turns out, it’s actually a family restaurant run by Russians from Kazan, Russia. And they serve the most authentic Russian food in town, which, truth be told, you don’t really see often.

Found at the Santa Maria la Ribera section along Salvador Diaz Miron, Kolobok is usually very popular with the hipster crowd, and surprisingly little tourists. But what a great discovery if you happen to end up eating here as the restaurant offers one of the best tasting empanadas to sample in Mexico. Their other popular dish is the Kotlety meatballs, which is basically like traditional meatballs with grounded meat, bread crumbs and seasoning. Prices of the food are really so affordable but Admittedly, many of its food choices are nothing of the extra-ordinary but Kolobok prides itself in serving the most flavorful dishes.

Expect several fusion dishes as well, as its main clientele are Mexicans, hence a lot of the food have that distinct Mexican flair, with lots of peppers and spices, despite it being Russian in origin.

Since Kolobok is a business run by a family, don’t expect to get five star service. Sometimes the staff tend to work slow, but that’s not to say they are inefficient. However, they do welcome guests with warmth and a friendly, accommodating service, it feels like you’re dining at a friend’s house.

And speaking of which, the restaurant’s ambience do feel cozy and comfortable. The whole place is fits just enough number of people, and the mood here is always warm and lovely.

Where to Dine: La Bipolar

I don’t know how “La Bipolar” got its name, but I have to admit that it’s clever and catchy to name a restaurant this.

Located in Kaly Malitzin in Coyaocan, Mexico City, the restaurant is a nicely decorated cantina that is also famous for the the fact that one of its owners is celebrated Mexican movie star Diego Luna (from the film “Y Tu Mama Tambien”).

Entering the site, you’ll be pleased to see a mix of minimalist decorations infused with a laid-back and country style. The walls are specked with crates where special pieces are put on display. There are scribbles on the walls, as well, which makes it even more interesting.

The tables of the restaurant are long and wooden and the chairs are the same, which actually brings its old school and traditional feel. The lights are decorated with tin buckets, which I think is clever and ingenous. This is just like being on the back of the kitchen of a palace or a colonial house. Although many of the elements in the design are actually current and modern. In fact, the restaurant has actually won an international design competition

As for the food, La Bipolar delivers classic Mexican food fare, but adds its own twist to it. Don’t forget to try the tofu burritos, which you don’t usually find at other Mexican restaurants. Or you can also have the Marlin Tostaditas, which is utterly mouthwatering and flavorful.

With an ambiance this cool, food choices that’s filling and satisfying, plus celebrity diners who frequent the place, La Bipolar is one of Mexico City’s latest place to be.

Where to Dine: Ivoire

Looking for a date place in Mexico? Sitting in the heart of Polanco is Ivoire, this lovely French countryside inspired nook that offers a beautiful lounge with the view of the Parque del Reloj, as well as three terraces. Ivoire, is not only an ideal date place, tons of romantic, simple wedding and engagements have taken place here.

Take heed though, as this place is usually packed with diners and guests, including the rooftop, where most parties and other events are happening. The downstairs area is the actual dining place, well-decorated and is bigger than it actually is.

The restaurant has very accommodating waiters, dressed impeccably, which suits what this place is really about — classy, cozy, romantic and trendy.

Prepare to spend more than usual, however, since the place is for posh dining and celebrations. Do sample the Pavlova, which is perhaps one of its best-sellers. The Ivoire is also a fabulous breakfast place serving different kinds of croissants and cheeses. It’s so very French.

It stands out in a row of restaurants that usually serve traditional Mexican food and favorites, because it’s one of the very French plances in town. Ivoire is a fusion place, however. You can still feel a hint of Mexican in this restuarant, which is probably what makes it unique.

Where to Dine: Al Andar Restaurant

Located in Centro Historico, Al Andar is a cozy restaurant that is frequented by guests for its decent choices of beer and its intimate ambience. During a recent visit, the plae served an interesting selection, which included Morena beer, Guera beer, Green Card Barley Wine, some selections from Carlsberg and Tsing-tao, and Jack’s Chocolate Stout.

They also serve prime mezcal, which is a kind of alcoholic beverage derived from the Maguey plant that is native only to Mexico. The mezcal is not as favored as tequila, although it has similarities in taste and consistency, and it comes with such a strong flavor.

As a place for late night action and because the place is so small, this bar usually is filled throughout the streets, with people wanting to unwind and relax after a day’s work.

Aside from the beer, sample the place’s selection of snacks to go with the drinks, which includes Oaxacan cheese and a healthy serving of chapulines, otherwise known as grasshoppers. It’s really not bad to eat them, as they are crunchy and quite flavorful, and not to mention, also rich in nutrients. Guests don’t really have to go to Oaxaca to experience this, as there is chapulines in Al Andar.

The bar is very near the Zocalo mall, so it’s easy to get to and easy find rides for when you leave after the party. It belongs to a lively and friendly neighborhood, so guests will have a wonderful time here with the locals and other tourists.

Category: Mexico City Food  | One Comment
Where To Dine: Fonda El Refugio

Fonda El Refugio is a sixty year old restaurant located between Florencia and Amberes streets in Mexico City. This place has seen through a lot of growth and changes over history and in spite its age, or maybe because of it, the restaurant continues to be packed with diners every night, especially Saturdays.

What started as a family restuarant became a Mexican landmark. The inside of the restaurant feels a lot like Grandma’s kitchen, in that its cozy and very much comfortable to dine in. Even to this day, it has stil retained its wooden floor, colonial structure and furniture, with a touch of Frida Callo-inspired art pieces.

The restaurant has a focal center, this large fireplace that is decored with copper pans and pots. It’s quite an informal setting, although, people who regularly dine here do not come from a rowdy crowd. In fact, the atmosphere is both refined, but really very welcoming.

The menu of Refugio boasts of authentic and truly classic Mexican favorites. There are special family secret recipes infused with traditional choices like the arroz con platanos and the highly recommended Huachinango a la Veracruzana, which comes with fresh tomatoes and olives. Those who enjoy spicy dishes should sample its Chiles Poblanos, which comes stuffed with high grade beef with cheese. Diners should also sample chicken breast, which comes with this minty and nutty jade colored sauce. The food not only tastes delicious, it also is wonderful to look at. Refugio’s tortilla alone is enough to keep coming back for more. The tortillas are handmade and always served fresh.

Fonda El Refugio has seen its worst times when its matriarch passed away. Fortunately, the family promised to uphold her legacy and continues to serve good food and great service to this day.

Mexico Landmark: El Ángel de la Independencia

It’s easy to spot the El Angel Landmark in Mexico, specifically because it’s found in the roundabout over at the Paseo dela Reforma in the city’s downtown area. It’s a tall column that stands in the middle, with the image of an angel on top. The column at night is illuminated, and it looks as if the angel stands guard over this part of Mexico City.

The site is also known as the El Angel but it is officially listed as the Columna de la Independencia.

Built in commemoration of Mexico’s War of Independence, the El Angel is already more than 100 years old, and is actually one of Mexico’s most noticeable landmarks. The angel stood as events and celebrations have taken place, or even protests and unrest. It has been a witness to this country’s very rich history.

Below the tall column, you can found bronze scupltures that represent peace, war, justice and law. There is also a separate column of statues that depict all of the heroes during the War of Independence. The column carries an inscription that reads “La Nación a los Héroes de la Independencia”, and also below it, there is an image of a child being led by a bronze statue. This reportedly represents innocence and strenght during the country’s most trying times.

Mexico’s El Angel is recognized all over the world and continues to be the site for many historical developments in the country. It’s a fitting symbol of Mexico’s triumph and struggles as a nation and would definitely make a lovely postcard shot to remember Mexico by.

Mexico Landmark: Chapultepec Castle

Located at the Chapultepec Park, this castle stands vastly on the top of Mexico City’s Chapultepec Hill, which is found in Paseo de la Reforma west of Mexico City.

The name Chapultepec means “grasshopper hill” and is of Nahuatl origin. This castle has stood for over centuries and has served as home of Mexico’s rulers and imperial leaders. It has also been a military school once, as well as an observatory. These days, however, the castle remains as one of Mexico’s most fascinating tourist attractions.

This is, according to historians, the lone castle in the North American territory that has not been occupied by the Europeans.

Construction for this castle actually started in 1785 under the rule of Mexic’s viceroy, Bernardo Galvez. He commissioned Francisco Bambitelli to as its engineer and was later on replaced by Manuel Agustín Mascaró. Both were part of the Spanish Army. Mascaro was accused by the viceroy of building a fortress in this castle and was accused of planning a rebellion but befor any of these accusations were proven, Mascaro died in a surprising manner. History books say that the constituents believed he was poisoned.

After his death, the development of the castle was delayed, and there was no qualified engineer to oversee this. Then construction was ordered stopped and the monarchy at that time would rather just sell the castle, but no one was willing to buy an unfinished building.

It wasn’t until 1806 that this was bought by the municipal government of Mexico City and more than fifty years later, this became the home of the Mexican Imperial Family headed by Maximilian I and Carlota.

Mexico Landmark: Underwater Museum In Cancun

Snorkeling under the waters of the Caribbean Sea, you may find yourself surrounded with scuptured images the size of actual human beings. These statues are not part of a sunken ship, mind you. Nor are they remains of actual people. These stues are part of the Underwater Museum that Cancun is famous for and was set up as part of its tourism drive.

It isn’t enough that Cancun’s waters already has lots of beautiful creatures, much to the delight of divers everywhere. But they still chose to do this, and have commissioned architects, designers and artists for the project, going with the idea that there really is a need to have something enticing for the discriminating tourists that come to the island each year.

Opened in 2009, the museum, which is actually called Museo Subacuático de Arte or MUSA is found between the waters of Cancun, Punta Nizuc and Isla Mujares. The largest underwater museum in the world, there are about 400+ sculptures here, and other artistic pieces you never can imagine was possible to display this way.

Part of the idea for this museum is also to incorporate environmental science. The sculptures are actually made of materials that help with coral life and restore the natural balance underwater.

Every year, this site gets almost a million visitors, who are curious enough to dive down its waters and see the wonder. It has undergone several instalations, featuring themes like Hombre en Llamas ,La Jardinera de la Esperanza and Coleccionista de los Sueños. But the most popular one is The Silent Evolution with its life-sized figures.

This is actually an ongoing project, with the most recent installation just completed in 2011.