Polanco isn’t my cup of tea. Kind of reminds me of New York’s Upper East Side, where I always feel underdressed and everything smells like Chanel or fake strawberry. But we art & good food loving Chilangos all end up there once in a while to hit the fine-dining restaurants, the blue chip galleries, maybe do a little shopping at the Antara mall or visit our friends who do live there, most of them in enviable sprawling apartments. But let’s face it, Polanco’s set up for the gente ‘nice’ - my favorite slang term for those who don’t need to count their pesos, or as we New Yorkers used to say, the ‘Park Avenue set’. There are, therefore, fewer reasonably priced places to shop for food and eat than in other parts of town. That’s why the sprawling Saturday tianguis (or street market) that sets up at the eastern end of Parque Lincoln is such a welcome and much needed addition to Polanco’s genteel scene. I spent last Saturday morning there.
The customary fruits, vegetables, meats and Mexican staples like chilies are all on offer. Unusual is the spectacular display of produce, brought to you “in living color” as they used to say on NBC, by the ingenuity of a few vendors and the open space the park provides. But best of all are the prepared food stalls. A veritable encyclopedia of Mexican antojitos stands lines the Luís G. Urbina side of the park. On offer are delectable tacos of mole verde at Doña Chela’s guisados stand. The good Doña will even prepare a full comida corrida including soup, for 30 pesos. At Tacos el Cuñado, you can sample such meaty specialties from the State of Mexico as cecina adobada, (salted, chilies meat) or campechana (cecina + chorizo). Next is a nameless stand offering everything blue: sopes, quesadillas, tlacoyos (eye-shaped gorditas stuffed with fava beans, frijoles or cheese) –all made with blue corn. The sign for barbacoa (pit roasted mutton) from Capulhuac, also in Mexico State, lauds it as ‘exquisite’ and so it is, succulent and earthy. Spicy, fragrant mixiotes, shreaded meat wrapped and roasted, segues into a tidy fish and seafood stand which elbows Dany, the carnitas vendor from Michoacan. There’s even a little hamburger puesto which sits by itself, as, I suppose, it should and attracts a youthful clientele. And the smells that waft from it are alluring. A colorful aguas de frutas table and an old-fashioned vendor of tepache (fermented pineapple juice) quench thirsts. And desserts aren't forgotten at the booth that offers flan, arroz con leche, cakes and fruit concoctions.
Saturday, after I finished my ambulatory brunch, I wandered west, thinking I would pick up a little of that good pastrami from Kurson Kosher, the only Jewish deli in Mexico, on the other side of the park – until I remembered what day it was.
The Polanco Tianguis
Calle Aristotoles, between Emilio Castelar & Luís G. Urbina
2 blocks south and 3 west of Metro Polanco
Saturdays, 9-5, más o menos