I had planned on a blog post on the birds of the Orquideas Moxviquil
botanical garden for today, but when I looked at our "birds" photo folder, I realized that it included photos from many different sites on our trip, so I am going to wait and do a bird photos post after the other trip posts, as I have done in the past. So today, instead of birds, you get food!
Our favorite restaurant in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico quickly became the TierrAdentro Cultural Center and Cafe
. As I was working on this blog post, I came upon an excellent article
providing much information about the restaurant and the center's goals. I didn't know until I read the article that the cafe had been recommended as one of the top five places to eat in San Cristobal by the New York Times. Not bad! In addition to the cafe, there are Zapatista co-operatives selling art pieces and crafts in the same building.
As an aside, I knew almost nothing about the Zapatistas until we got home from this trip and I read a little. I didn't much care for history when I was in high school or college, but I'm finding it more interesting now that I'm older. Turns out that we missed a parade of Zapatista rebels in San Cristobal
just a few days right after we left. That would have been a unique travel experience.
Our first meal here was a daily special dinner that came with a spicy noodle soup and bread, entree of chicken mole and rice, and fresh lime juice. Everything was simple and delicious, and the price was very reasonable at $65 MX each (approximately $5.20 USD). This did not include the wine, however!
Chicken Mole served with blue corn tortillas and rice -- the sauce was SO good!
Consulting our Spanish-English dictionary
For dessert, our favorite place quickly became "Oh la la!", a small coffee and French pastry shop right down the street from our hotel (and TierrAdentro). It was very hard to choose just one goodie to take back to our hotel room, so we didn't even try.
Oh la la!
Our yummy stash
The following morning brought us right back to TierrAdentro for breakfast. Turns out they don't open until 8:30 am, so we took a walk beforehand as we were there too early. One thing about the cities we visited in Mexico, they're so hoppin' in the evenings that everything seems to start later than in the US or Belize, where I can't imagine a breakfast place not opening by 7 am. It was well worth the wait, though, as the breakfast was muy excellente!
Fruit cups and very strong coffee to start
Quoting from the article I linked above, I found this interesting (after arriving home -- did not know this at the time):
"The center buys its coffee directly from co-operatives within the Zapatista controlled areas. Its policy is to buy the best organically produced café arábigo, which is usually exported to Europe, so that it is available to local people. It also believes in paying the price asked by these co-operatives without bargaining. Within this frame of reference, it is able to offer a truly excellent double expresso at 17 pesos (just over 1 USD) and sell one kg of high quality coffee at 90 pesos. Starbucks charges 160 pesos for the same quantity and quality."
Barry's Mexican eggs and beans
My Huevos Rancheros with blue-corn tortillas
For dinner that night, we tried a place that came highly recommended in Tripadvisor (#3 of 89 restaurants in San Cristobal): Pizzaria Napoli
. This charming Italian restaurant in a colonial home seats only a few, and since we opted for an early dinner after eating only snacks for lunch, we had it entirely to ourselves. The owner took our order and was incredibly warm and welcoming -- I wish we had gotten her name.
We had a table outside looking out on the courtyard. It was a little bit chilly since the sun was going down, but I had bought this pretty shawl at one of the many market stands in town (for only $70 MX or $5.60 US, such a steal I didn't even haggle). I used the shawl quite a bit in San Cristobal, as the city's altitude is over 7000 feet, making it much chillier than anything we'd experienced since leaving the US.
It felt like our private restaurant
Our pizza couldn't have been more delicious.
Hawaiian pizza with homemade crust
Since the pizza was a fairly light dinner, of course we had to indulge ourselves at Oh La La! bakery again. Don't worry, we did not eat all this this evening -- we saved some for snacking on the next day.
It was all amazing, but the lime tart was my favorite. Yum!
The next morning found us right back at TierrAdentro, where we both had hotcakes. We had thought we were ordering banana/blueberry hotcakes, and were excited about that since we never get blueberries in Belize. Unfortunately, the translation from our cheat sheet threw us off as the hotcakes were actually filled with bananas and dried cranberries. When we got home and looked up blueberries and cranberries in our dictionary, it appears that both can translate to arándano. Oh well, they were still quite tasty, especially since they were served with both real maple syrup and local honey. Yum!
A little later, we stopped by Oh la la! so I could get another cup of coffee -- most restaurants in Mexico don't give free coffee refills.
Here are some of the other treats they sell, though we never got any since we couldn't seem to resist the French pastry counter.
Please stay tuned for Part 2 of San Cristobal dining. There's more good food to come!