Pozole - The Mexican Comfort Food

Two shy campesinas, attired in home-made cotton dresses with rebozos draped over their shoulders, waited patiently at the counter of the carnicería. When their turn came they asked for “una cabeza, por favor” (“a head, please”). The butcher looked at them quizzically (as did I) and asked what sort of head they needed. Their answer produced a huge, grinning pig’s head, which made even them laugh. “What will you make with it”, I queried? “Pozole, of course!” they replied.
Pozole, (pronounced poh-SOH–lay), is a quintessential Mexican comfort food--a soup fit for a king. Basically, it’s a hearty meat broth, laced with chili and augmented with hominy (known as cacahuazintle in Mexico). The hominy is prepared by a process called nixtamalización, that is, soaked in lime, as for corn tortillas, which softens the kernels. It is sometimes eaten at home, often for festive occasions – my friend Daniel reported celebrating las fiestas patrias, the evening of the 15th of September, at the home of his in-laws with a big family pozole. But more often it is enjoyed at pozolerías, restaurants devoted to this sumptuous dish, or at market and street stalls.
The word pozole comes from the Nahuatl potzonti or posolli, meaning to boil or bubble, and versions of it are made all over Mexico. A similar thick soup was mentioned in the chronicles of the early Spanish missionary Fray Bernardino de Sahagún. He reported Moctezuma eating pozole that contained thigh meat from a sacrificed warrior in a ceremony honoring the sun god, Huitzilopotzli. Today’s version is usually made with pork (the pig’s head gives the best flavor, although simple meat and bones will do) and garnished with shredded lettuce, radishes, onion, oregano and perhaps chicharrón (pork skin), tostadas and more chile—the ‘garnishes’ can sometimes fill half the bowl. There are many kinds of pozole in Mexico, although the state of Jalisco is home to the most famous variety, pozole blanco. In Guerrero green pozole is common, thickened with pumpkin seeds. I much prefer the third version, the rich chili-red pozole rojo, associated with Michoacán .

Rick Bayless, the tireless chef, restaurateur, and host of the PBS series, ‘Mexico, One Plate at a Time’, is author of Authentic Mexican, from which I adapt the following recipe for Pozole Rojo (for home cooks lucky enough to reside in Mexico):

Pozole Rojo, Michoacán style
Yields 10-12 large servings
1 k. prepared cacahuazintle (available at any mercado, or packaged at the supermarket)
½ small pig’s head (about 2 k.), scrubbed and halved, OR 3 medium pigs’ feet (about 1 k. total), well scrubbed and split lengthwise
800 g. meaty pork neck bones
800 g. lean boneless pork shoulder, in a single piece
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
4 large dried chiles anchos (about 60g total)
4 large dried chiles guajillos (about 30g total)
salt to taste (about a tablespoon)
For the condiments:
½ medium-sized head of cabbage, cored and very thinly sliced
(iceberg lettuce can be substituted for the cabbage)
8-10 radishes, thinly sliced
1-½ cups onion, finely chopped
About 1/3 cup dried oregano
3 or 4 limes, cut in halves
15 -20 tostadas, preferably home fried.
ground chile piquín, available in the market, where moles and spices are sold

1. Put the meats, bones, cacahuazintle, onion and garlic into a pot with 7 liters of water.
Cook until tender – the corn will start to “blossom”--that is, to open up at one end.
2. Toast the chiles, a few at a time, on a comal or griddle, pressing down with a spatula (20 seconds or less on each side should be sufficient-- be careful not to burn them or they will be bitter).
Remove the stems, cores and seeds, and submerge chilies in a bowl of hot water. Soak for 20-30 minutes. Drain, place in a blender jar and add ½ cup water; blend until smooth. Strain through a medium-mesh sieve into the simmering soup and mix well.
Generously season with salt and let simmer for an hour or so.
3. Finishing the soup:
Remove the meats from the broth and when cool enough to handle, cut off the usable meat from the bones and chop into 1-2 cm pieces, shredding the shoulder pieces.
Just before serving, season the soup with salt to taste. Add the meat to the pot and let simmer a few minutes to reheat.
Serve in pozoleros, deep soup bowls, with all the accompaniments set up on the table so that each diner can help himself. The tostadas are a crunchy accompaniment to enjoy between big spoonfuls of the soup.

If you would rather have someone else deal with the pig parts for you, there are many excellent pozolerías around town; a few of my favorites are:

Pozolería La Casa de Toño
Sabino 144, Colonia Santa Maria La Ribera
Tel. 2630-1084
Open Monday - Saturday 9 AM - 11 PM, Sunday until 10 PM
Two blocks west of the main plaza of Santa María La Ribera is the extraordinary Casa de Toño, a pozolería set in a 19th-century mansion. Thick, red pozole with all the garnishes is the house specialty, although sopes, tostadas and other antojitos are also offered. At $34 pesos for a grande, this is a bargain meal. Lovely rooms decorated with murals and original mosaic floors create a pleasant, old-time atmosphere.

Pozolería Tizka
Calle Zacatecas 59, between Córdoba and Mérida, Colonia Roma
Open daily 12 - 10 PM
I used to live upstairs from this bustling place in the heart of La Roma, so I ate here a lot. They specialize in hearty and delicious pozole verde from the state of Guerrero. It is similar to the red kind, but instead of red chilies, ground pumpkin seeds provide the thick, green soup base, which has a nutty, earthy flavor. The tostadas here are especially fresh and crisp, and redolent of corn flavor. Also offered is pozole blanco in a simple clear broth. There is often live guitar music at comida

Doña Yoli
Calle San Ildefonso 42 , near Calle Argentina (go up the staircase at the back of the building)
Open Monday - Saturday, 2 - 6 PM
The dark, rich, chili-infused broth of this pozole contains pork, maize, and comes with all the trimmings described above; crisp tostadas are served on the side, all for 35 pesos. It’s a convenient stop before or after a visit to the spectacular Museo de San Ildefonso, whose exit door is just across the street (the entrance is on Justo Serra, around the block).

Mercado de Comidas
Calle Higuera 6, Coyoacán center
open approximately 2-11PM, daily
This well known garage-like space, a block from Coyoacán’s central Plaza, is open late. Most people stop here for a rich pozole at the stand right in the center. The deep-fried quesadillas sold
here are fresh and delicious.

Av. 5 de Mayo, Centro
open daily 7:30AM-11:30PM
The pozole at this unpronounceable chain is a little blander than many, but perfectly acceptable, for those who prefer to play it safe--the restaurants are very clean. There are branches all over the country: see their website for locations (www.potzollcalli.com.mx)

This article has previously appeared in The News, Mexico


Mondo Carne! - El Mercado Martínez de la Torre

The great (of pen and girth) food writer R.W. Apple dreamed of spending his final days in Lyon in a wheelchair, being pushed from bouchon to bouchon by a vegetarian, eating his way to carnivorous oblivion. I would stay closer to home and spend a few days ingesting the pure-cholesterol heaven of carnitas, barbacoa, chorizo and chicharrón. It can all be had at the huge and bustling Mercado Martínez de la Torre. Located east of the barely functioning Buenavista train station in working class Colonia Guerrero, it's easy to get to by metro - simply hop the no. 3 or B to the "Guerrero" stop. The venerable vendors of this über-popular beehive of gastronomic activity recently took to the streets to protest the opening of a Walmart-owned superstore being planned nearby. This and other mega-stores have been systematically reducing sales in the 300 traditional markets throughout the capital - don't get me going....

But here at the Mercado Martínez things are in full swing. Fruits, vegetables and meats of every variety were being snatched up by voracious local shoppers on a recent Monday. But best of all, this market is known for its taco stands, featuring - you guessed it- meat. Largest of all is the amazing Tacos 'Lola la Trailera', which occupies both sides of an aisle smack dab in the middle of the market. Named after an eponymous '80's hit of Mexican trash cinema, its "madrina" (or patroness) is the buxom star of this 'Frijolywood' film classic, Rosa Gloria Chagoyan, who, they claim, is a friend of the owner. Here you'll find tacos of grilled meats: cecina (salted pork), costilla (pork ribs), longaniza (a less fatty chorizo) and grilled beef. Salsas, red and green, are hand-made in the molcajete and horchata is the house libation.

Nearby are several barbacoa stands. My favorite is conveniently named La Mejor. Lamb (a generous word--it's really mutton) is pit roasted in maguey leaves (maguey is the cactus used for mezcal and tequila). Succulent and aromatic, it is served as tacos with onion, cilantro, lime and some extraordinarily dark earthy salsa. To immerse yourself completely in ovine rapture order a bowl of consomé culled from the pan.

If all this isn't enough to satisfy your primal cravings, there are also several carnitas ("confit" of pork) stands and a "chicharronería" (my term) with a chitlin display that has to be seen to be believed. For those who miss their grandma, a couple of large "caldo de gallina" (chicken soup) boothes will warm your heart. And the sea is not left untapped - a fresh shrimp cocktail awaits around the bend.
So save the tofu for a rainy day and dive in for a meaty repast. And don't forget to do a little shopping while you're at it - bargains abound. Do your part and support our boys behind the aprons!


Where there’s an OY there´s a VEY - Eating Jewish in Mexico City

So they ask a Jewish boy from Manhattan to write about Jewish food in Mexico? What, you think I should be nice? They call those fluffy pillows from Wendy’s Kosher Bakery bagels? The corned beef sandwich at Klien’s has two measly slices of dry meat in it--two! The pickles are from a jar! And the prices! You could plotz!
Did I go into it with a bad attitude? – you bet. But bubbeleh, I ended up learning something. So nu?
It turns out there is indeed a world of “Jewish Cuisine” in the land of pork and tacos, but it’s not what you’d expect. Nothing to do with Barney Greengrass or the Carnegie Deli, my old haunts in New York.
Instead, I found “Piny” Tacos Kosher, (closed 2012) which offered alambre de hígado (made with chicken liver). I tried schnitzel a la Veracruzana at Restaurante Sinai (Izazaga 118, centro). And the shawarma in pita out at Shuky’s in Tecamachalco (Fuente de Templanza 17, inside the mall) is the best in town (like tacos al pastor with an accent).
I asked every Jewish Mexican I could find (and there are many, around 50,000 at last count) what their food memories are, what they think of as Jewish food in Mexico, and I got a lot of different answers.
It turns out it all depends on where your abuelos come from. Mine were from Russia, as were most in the eastern U.S. They ate gefilte fish, lox, borscht and blintzes. But in Mexico, the original national identity of immigrant Jews is more diverse. It includes Greece, Turkey, Syria, Morocco, Lebanon, Spain, Portugal as well as Russia, Poland and Germany. And that diversity shows (or, at least, did once) in the cooking.
The affable Clara Melameh, librarian at the Centro Cultural México-Israel in the centro histórico, is of Russian-Polish extraction like me. She claims to make the best gefilte fish in town. “Only there’s no one left to eat it.”, she laments. “Nobody alive even knows what it is! My son went to live in Israel, and I’m divorced. I’m going to do all that work--for who?” Invite me, Clara!
The Centro Cultural where Clara works occupies a colonial building on calle Republica del Salvador. A fascinating permanent exhibit chronicles the Diaspora of Jews in Mexico and there’s a whole section devoted to food, mostly about what is eaten at holidays and festivals, which seems to be common to Jews everywhere. Charoses, a sticky mixture of dried fruits, nuts and spices is a reminder of the mortar used by Jewish slaves in the construction of buildings. It’s served from Sana’a to Scarsdale. Chicken soup—or as we used to call it, ‘Jewish penicillin’, is another universal favorite – but it doesn’t differ much from anywhere else, unless you put in chili.
Few of the early immigrants are left in Mexico, and younger generations have assimilated. Mexican Jews don’t intermarry much (only about 10% do, apparently one of the lowest rates in the world ), most go to Jewish schools, and religion remains a strong force. But popular Mexican culture now rules the kitchen. So many traditional Jewish dishes have disappeared, along with the grannies who carefully harbored them. What does remain are a few restaurants and grocery stores catering to people who keep strictly kosher. This means nice clean kosher chickens and beef, a handful of products I would put in the “appetizing” (i.e. New York delicatessen) category, and a lot of other stuff I wouldn’t feed to a starving schnorrer. In my search for my N.Y. roots I found decent pastrami at Kurson Kosher (Emilio Castelar 204, Polanco), and bought a jar of pickled herring at Shuky’s in Condesa. And La Selecta (Julio Verne 90 has decent smoked fish and cole slaw.  But forget about the frozen Kosher pizza, the dry kashrut cookies, and the sundry canned products. These are fine for folks who put their money where their mouths are and follow the ancient and respected tradition of keeping kosher. I salute them. But it’s not about fine cuisine, it’s about religious dietary law.

Dyed-in-the-wool chilanga Mathilde Askenazy’s parents were from Spain and Greece. They didn’t know from ‘bagel with a schmeer’. She remembers a dish she calls “chunt”, a sort of a layered bean stew. “Everybody ate it when we were growing up,” she recalls, “every family had its own recipe”. Her sister Klara, fondly recalls an eggplant salad her mother made, but hasn’t had it in years. These dishes, like the delicious chicken with artichoke hearts I ate at the Restaurant Sinai, is typical of the Sephardic Jews and, one could say, of Jewish cooking in Mexico.
The Sephardim are those who left Spain and settled all over the Mediterranean and North Africa. They spoke Ladino, an antique form of Spanish. I was able to locate one of the few books on the subject printed in Mexico, written in Ladino and Spanish: Lo Mishor de lo Muestro: Un Recorrido por la Gastronomía Tradicional Sefaradí. ( Our best: A traditional Sepharidic gastronomic tour). Mouth-watering recipes are culled from the Turkish, Greek, Lebanese and North African lexicon. Here is one, as I’ve adapted and translated it.

Pescado al Horno con T'jine (baked fish filets with sesame sauce)
serves 4
1 k. firm fish filets (huachinango or sierra)
1 tb. lemon juice
½ ts. salt
¼ ts. mustard powder
¼ ts. ground cumin
Salsa Tjine:
3 tb. Tjine (sesame paste)
1 tb. lemon juice
¾ cup water
5 cloves garlic
5 sprigs parsley, chopped
¼ ts. salt

Put all sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Prepare a glass baking dish – rub with olive oil and lay in fish filets, sprinkling with the lemon, salt, mustard and cumin. Bake for about 10 minutes at 180 C, add the sauce and cook for 15 minutes more. Serve with white rice.

So, dahlings, you’ll still have to go to the Big Apple to nosh on a knish or pig out on a humongous corned beef sandwich. But you can get a nice bowl of matzoh ball soup at the Sinai, and even follow it up with a plate of kosher chilaquiles or a shwarma taco. The rest you’ll have to do yourself.

This article was originally printed in Inside Mexico; for more info on Jewish stuff in Mexico see their April 2008 issue:


Hold the Beef! Eating Vegetarian in the City

Being a vegetarian in Mexico is no easy task--we’re deeply entrenched in a meat-loving culture. Mexico City’s air plays host to competing breezes from smoke-belching cars and simmering pork shanks. You can’t escape it.
I grew up surrounded by Hezbollah-like advocates of every type of diet from dairy-free to raw-foods-only. My mother’s food bible in the ‘70’s was “Diet For a Small Planet”—it should have been called “The Joylessness of Cooking”. I’ve eaten my share of tasteless tofu and burger-less burgers, which made me want to run to the nearest chicken & ribs joint. Fortunately, the days of eating without meat have taken a new turn. We’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be about denial, or lack of flavor.
While most streets here seem to host one ‘tacos de cabeza’ stand or an Argentine parilla, the pleasant surprise is that there are many meatless options in the city. Two types of strictly vegetarian restaurants exist: the old style “regular-food-but-hold-the-beef” type places, some of which have been around longer than Gaylord Hauser. Then there are the hipster health joints, recent arrivals, the “California” stickers still on their luggage. I tried several of both. I found vegetarian versions of Mexican classic dishes, new age ‘faux-meat’ concoctions, and lots of plain boiled vegetables and fresh salad.
Northern concepts of what is and isn’t vegetarian may be unfamiliar here. I’ve ordered “vegetarian pozole” and been served broth made with pork stock, but without the addition of shredded meat. Likewise, “dairy-free” is not a common concept, nor is total vegan-ism. So if you subscribe to these diets, you have to explain your needs carefully. For those who eat fish, there are no end of good seafood places. And the street food scene can be veg-friendly: just find any quesadilla or gordita stand. Many “tacos de guisado” places offer vegetable or egg fillings (be sure to ask if they are augmented by ham or sausage).

The Old Style:
A few old-fashioned vegetarian restaurants survive, leftover from the days when people who didn’t eat meat were seen as long-haired poetry-reading eccentrics.
Comedor Vegetariano has been serving non-carnivores in the centro for the past 73 years. You enter a disheveled hallway and follow the yellowing signs to the second floor, entering a time-warp space where little has changed since the old days. Two tables perched in the balcony windows look out over recently remodeled, lively Calle Motolinia. The “menu del día” offers a satisfying salad buffet – there are at least five bountiful mixed salads and several bowls of prepared fresh fruit. Main dishes are meatless versions of Mexican standards. The tostadas de tinga, made with soya, are authentic and mildly picante – two mountains of guisado, lettuce, tomato and cream. Portions are generous here. Other temptations are the flautas filled with potato, or enchiladas of mole de tamarindo, a fruity, light mole served over tortillas. The menu includes a pitcher of prepared agua de sabor (fresh fruit water) and whole wheat bread. At $57 pesos, it’s a bargain and, I suspect, attracts normally carnivorous penny-pinchers as well as serious vegetarians. Best of all is the live music emanating from a creaky upright piano, evidently in place since Agustin Lara was a boy. I love this place.

Good alternatives with similar menus are Yug, in the Zona Rosa and Restaurante Elehir in Colonia Roma. Yug is another old timer, around since the ‘60’s and has a large menu and good breakfasts. Elehir is a small, local hangout, located in the “carnitas zone” around the Mercado Medellin, which features an economical comida corrida.

The New Wave
At the top of the list of contemporary American-style, organic food restaurants is Orígenes Orgánicos, in the heart of La Condesa, and it’s sister venue Eco-Bistrot in Polanco. Both offer clean multi-cultural food in pleasant terrazza settings. The Condesa location has tables facing the tranquil, Art Deco Plaza Popocateptl. It’s connected to a small, but well stocked store featuring organically grown products. The large menu boasts that 85% of the ingredients used are organic. I had to try the vegetarian burger, the benchmark of any veggie joint. It is flavorful, and happily, served with two choices from the salad bar instead of the usual disappointing fries. The salad bar offers half a dozen filling choices: I liked the green bean and mushroom salads and the“Thai” salad (although their geography is confused--there’s nothing Thai about yogurt, cucumbers and ginger). Main dishes are ample: spaghetti with pan-toasted tofu chunks and a light cream-tomato sauce was as well done as anything you might get in an Italian trattoria (it was also huge and could be shared). A lighter option is the daily vegetable tart, served with your choice of two salads. Breakfasts are also good - standard eggs, but nicely done and decent coffee.
Origines Organicos is not strictly vegetarian, but more than half the items on the menu are marked with a “V", making it easy to choose. The Polanco branch has a similar, but smaller menu. It also features outdoor dining by the peaceful Parque Lincoln. Both offer home delivery as well.

Other good options are Frutos Prohibidos (in Condesa), and The Green Corner (several locations around the city). The former is a busy shop specializing in “wraps”, or burrito-type sandwiches, accompanied by clean, fresh salads and fruit juices. It seems to be popular with the under 30 crowd and has a ‘see-and-be-seen’ counter facing tree-lined Avenida Amsterdam. The Green Corner is the largest healthfood store chain in the city. It’s restaurant offers a small menu of “salud” conscious food, although not 100% vegetarian. The Condesa location was featured on Rick Bayless’s PBS program “Mexico – One Plate At A Time”.

So even if you crave tacos al pastor, or salivate at the thought of a juicy steak, it’s good for ALL of us to be vegetarian, at least sometimes. We’ll live longer.

Comedor Vegetariano
Motolinía 31 – 5 1er. piso, centro
Open 1-6 Monday-Saturday

Orígenes Orgánicos
Plaza Popocatépetl 41ª , Col. Condesa,
Tel.- 5208 6678, 5525-9359
Open Monday-Friday 8AM-10PM; Saturday 9-6, Sunday 10-6

Eco-Bistrot by Orígenes Orgánicos
Virgilio 9, (entrance on Oscar Wilde) Polanco
Tel. 5281-5080
Hours same as above

Also worth trying are:

La Casa del Pan
Av. México 25 (corner of Xicoténcatl), Coyoacán
Tel. 3095-1767
open M-F 8AM-10PM, S&S 9AM-10PM

Restaurante Elehir
Monterrey 241, near Coahuila, Colonia Roma
Tel. 5584-8464
Open daily for comida only

The Green Corner
Mazatlán 81, Condesa
All branches are open 7:30AM- 10PM

Av. Miguel Angel Quevedo No. 353
Tel.: 5554-4514, 2457-3420

Homero 1210 near Moliere, Polanco
Tel.. 3093-8290, 5203-6078

José Ma. Castorena No. 395
3er. Piso, Plaza Cuajimalpa, Col. Cuajimalpa Centro.
Tel. 2163 3892 , 2452 8365

Cruz Azul no. 160 (between Excelsior and Victoria), Col. Industrial
Tel: 5537-1701
Open from Monday to Saturday, 8:30 to 22:00, Sunday, 8:30 to 18:00.
This may be the only place in town that makes truly vegetarian tamales.

Vege Taco
Carrillo Puerto 65 Coyoacan
A good option for meat-free tacos

Tacos “Hola”
Amsterdam 135, Condesa
Open Monday-Saturday about 1-6 but hours can be erratic.
Everybody in the Condesa knows this little hole-in-the-wall, written up in Saveur Magazine. They have several vegan options.

Varsovia 3, Col, Juarez
Tel. 5533-3296
Open Monday-Friday 7AM-9PM; Saturday and Sunday, 8:30-8PM

Frutos Prohibidos
Amsterdam 244-B, at the corner of Michoacán
Col. Condesa
Tel. 5264-5808
Mon-Fri 8-22hrs, Sat., Sun. 10-18hrs

For a more complete list of vegetarian restaurants near you see: www.haztevegetariano.com

This article first appeared in The News. Cover photo by Rodrigo Oropeza


Pad Thai – Authentic flavors from Thailand

Authentic Asian food is hard to find in Mexico. There seems to be a new “fusion” joint opening every day-- a little of this and a little of that add up to a big nothing. Worse, I have seen the word “Thai” bandied about as a euphemism for the word Asian. A “Thai” style salad at one place had a yogurt dressing! (dairy products are almost non-existent in South east Asia). Another bogus Condesa joint offers Thai dishes featuring soy sauce – anybody who has been to Thailand knows that soy sauce is minimally used there, and only in dishes of Chinese origin.
But something’s different at an unpretentious restaurant called Pad Thai. Bangkok born and trained chef Suphanee Somthaisong (familiarly, and more easily known as Bo) presides over her kitchen. All the dishes on her small menu are authentic Thai recipes carefully prepared using the proper ingredients. The chef, who is married to an American businessman stationed in Mexico, first worked at another Asian restaurant here before opening her own. “My goal is to show Mexico what real Thai cooking can be, using fresh local, as well as the correct imported ingredients”, the chef told me. Although she can find almost everything she needs here, several herbs have to be imported in their dry versions. The chef has plans to grow her own herbs: “I would like to buy some land and grow kaffir lime, galangal, lemongrass and other things that really should be fresh – this would be ideal”. But meanwhile, the food here is as good as it gets. I’ve traveled extensively in Thailand and can report that the chef has achieved her goal. Start with a couple of satays, succulent skewered chicken served with a mildly spicy peanut sauce. Fresh spring rolls, a soft rice crepe containing rice noodles, lettuce, mint, basil and shrimp are light and nicely complimented by their sweet and sour dipping sauce.
Moving on there are two classic soups to choose from: Tom Yum Goong, the spicy/tart shrimp soup in a clear broth, and Tom Kha Gai, made with coconut milk and chicken. Both are perfumed with lemongrass and galangal, a ginger-like root that has its own peculiar flavor and is essential in many Thai soups and curries. The quality of the pad thai (which means, simply, Thai noodles) is a test for any Thai restaurant and here it is correct – the balance of sweet, tart, spicy and salty are synced to perfection.
But best of all are the coconut curries, green and red. I haven’t tasted Thai curries as good since my last trip to Bangkok; subtle and fresh, they are prepared carefully and knowledgeably – no canned paste here.
Order steamed jasmine rice and lemongrass tea, the house specialty and you won’t be disappointed. One caveat: I recommend you request a little more chili if you really want authentic Thai food – ironically, as we are in Mexico, land of chili, the dishes tend to be toned down to accomodate foreign palettes. The chef, who wisely keeps her menu limited, has a much larger repertoire of dishes and will gladly prepare them for large groups. One of my favorite salads, made with shredded green papaya, is not on the menu – the main ingredient is hard to find here in the city. But it, along with such Thai standards as larb (chopped meat salad), and whole fish with lemongrass can be special ordered. Décor is minimal/modern and prices are reasonable – a full meal will be around $150 per person. There is no liquor license as of yet so BYOB. Staff is friendly, but obviously new at the game and so can be a little frazzled when the going gets rough.
Pad Thai is a welcome addition to the restaurant scene and will make aficionados of the real thing happy.

Pad Thai
Sonora 49, near Durango
Tel. 5256-4518
Open daily 1-10 or 11PM