Pardon My French: El Mercadito Francés

NOTE: This market will be closed as of Saturday, October 20, 2012 due to the closing of Le Bouchon and will be opening in a new location. They are appearing in different locations, meanwhile. Check their Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/groups/227532844004229/

I’d heard about the new Saturday ‘French market’ but was skeptical. It’s an alliance between savoir faire et savoir vivre claims the publicity. C’est bon. But is it good? The answer is a resounding “Oui!”

A small group of vendors of high level products, led by fromagier Olivier Bert set up tables in the pleasant, sunny patio of restaurant Le Bouchon, the rendez-vous point for the Franco-Mex community. Purveyors of breads and pastries, a Belgian chocolate maker, importers of wines and cheeses not available elsewhere, and the keeper of baskets of tempting (but pricey) Provençal sausages make for fun shopping and tasting. Quality is top level--because the crowd is French and KNOWS good food.

The good news for Polanco dwellers is that a fish monger is in residence – fresh fish is not readily available in this part of town. And Ricardo from Xochimilco presides over his table of fresh organic produce grown in his watery part of town. Ricardo is the organizer of De la Chinampa, a consortium of local growers who have few retail venues for their exquisite wares.

I loved the marché but perhaps savoir dépenser would be an apt description, for la vie belle doesn’t come cheap. I plunked down $300 for two smallish pieces of Morbier and St. Nectaire cheeses. But they were well worth the spurge, every bit as good as what I would (like to) buy at my beloved Parisian Marché Aligre (see my article). Price to quality here is fair.

Complimentary espresso is offered to shoppers, who are invited to sit at the bar and flirt, brasserie–style. Don your best black turtleneck, fake-smoke a Gauloise, and who knows, maybe you’ll hook yourself more than just a fish.

El Mercadito Francés
Saturdays from 9:30-1:30
El Patio de Le Bouchon, Julio Verne 102, corner of Virgilio, Polanco
The last market for this summer (2012) will be held July 14th - Bastille Day. The market will return in September. Meanwhile, visit the new San Angel branch: Jardín de la plaza Gran San Ángel Amargura 17 (parking in the plaza)


Southern Belle: Where to Eat down in Coyoacán

Everyone loves Coyoacán. A visit there is like a trip to small town colonial Mexico. Once a village south of the city proper, it long ago was lapped up into the greedy maw of the rapidly growing urban monster we now call El Distrito Federal. But Coyoacán retains its laid back provincial ambiente. Cobbled streets lead to lovely little semi-hidden flower filled plazas. A relaxed Sunday stroll around the main square is obligatory for all Chilangos. And, for most visitors, homage must be paid to the Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo's old home. Coyoacán, always considered an 'artistic' area, is the closest nice neighborhood to C.U. (University City) and therefore houses a number of professorial and artistic types. Although you would think there would be a corresponding number of artsy and interesting places to eat, this is unfortunately not the case. Few new venues of much gustatory interest have opened their doors in recent years. The hot spots continue to be up north. Nevertheless, a good meal can be had. There are a number of options at comida time, fewer at night. Here are my favorites, listed, as in my book, by level, from “fonda to fine dining.” Asterisks mark nighttime options.

Tacos Chupa Cabras *

Av. Coyoacán and Universidad, across from the Sanborn’s (see map, below)

This stand is legendary. The special “Chupa Cabra tacos,” a mixture of chorizo and carnitas, are large and filling. Add the salsas, nopales, fried onions and beans as garnishes and you can make a stop here into a one-dish meal, all for 8 pesos.

Mercado de Antojitos*

Higuera 6, Coyoacán

Open daily until midnight, later on weekends

This well known garage-like space, a block from Coyoacán’s central plaza, is open late and people stop here for a rich pozole or the deep-fried quesadillas, which are delicious despite the grease. The flor de calabaza, huitlacoche or sesos (brains) are particularly good. Funky and full of old-time atmosphere, this crowded place is worth the wait. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more authentic array of snacks.

Mercado Coyoacán

Malintzin & Allende

The traditional market, once frequented by Frida herself, is picturesque, attracting tourists both domestic and foreign. In the middle of the market, at stands 181-182, you’ll find a gastronomic art installation at Tostadas de Coyoacán – dozens of huge plates of mouth-watering tostada toppings. Shrimps, chicken, crab, mole, the list goes on. I start with their succulent lemony ceviche, topped with bright green salsa, then move on to pulpo, then maybe cochinita pibil. To drink, order agua de melón from the stand next door. (Be sure to choose only Tostadas de Coyoacán – their competitors are not as good.)

El Jardín del Pulpo, with its long, outdoor communal tables at the corner of Malintzin and Ignacio Allende, is famous for its fresh seafood. Open daily Noon-6 p.m.

El Rincón De La Lechuza
Miguel Ángel de Quevedo 34

Open from 1PM daily
A large casual place that serves some of the best carnitas in the city.

Novos *

Madrid 13

Tel. 5659-5776

Open Tuesday- Saturday 2PM-10PM

Salvado Novo was perhaps the Mexican Oscar Wilde, but with a happy ending. He chronicled Mexico City in all its cultural manifestations, low and high. And he loved food. Since his death in 1974, his modernist home has been a cabaret (once called El Hábito, where Chavela Vargas was ‘re-discovered’) and a theatre. And now there’s a restaurant where the menu is pure Mexican, reviving obscure recipes in a sophisticated, arty ambience. A good option for a laid back evening And check out the schedule at the cabaret, now called El Vicio. http://www.elvicio.com.mx/cabaret/

Los Danzantes*

Jardín Centenario 12

Tel. 5554-1213 / 5554-2896

Monday- Friday 1:30 p.m.-12 p.m., Saturday, Sunday 9 a.m.-2 a.m.


This pleasant restaurant with seats spilling out onto Coyoacán’s pretty plaza, is a branch of a well known upscale Oaxacan classic. The menu is mostly Oaxacan, with some regional and creative twists. It’s a good choice for fine dining in the area.

Corazón de Maguey*

Jardín del Centenario 9A (the main plaza of Coyoacán )

Tel. 5659-3165

Sunday – Wednesday 1 p.m.- midnight, Thursday-Saturday 1 p.m.-1 a.m.

Across the plaza from Los Danzantes, and under the same ownership, this informal bar/restaurant offers interesting Oaxacan and regional dishes. Evenings it becomes more of a bar, with a large range of mezcals. Outside seating affords a view of the plaza .

El Morral

Allende 2

Open daily 8:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.

This large traditional Coyoacán restaurant, near the central plaza, is popular with families. It is good for breakfast and serves such classics as enchiladas verdes, rojas and mole. The decor is old fashioned and atmospheric, and the superior tortillas are made by hand within view of the diners.

El Tajín

Miguel Angel de Quevedo 687, (inside the Centro Cultural Veracruzano)

Tel: 5659-4447 or 5659-5759

Open daily 1 -6 p.m.

Owner Alicia Gironella d’Angeli, one of Mexico’s foremost chefs and authors (she wrote the new Larousse de la Cocina Mexicana among other books) is an original and tireless promoter

of Mexican cuisine. Her late husband Giorgio d’Angeli was founder and president of Slow Food Mexico, an organization that has been instrumental in getting the cuisine of Mexico made a UNESCO Patrimony of Humanity. The restaurant serves creative but traditional food, mostly based on the cuisine of the state of Veracruz. Ambience is gracious, with a garden view. Open for lunch only.

Taro *

Av. Universidad 1861

Tel. 5661-4083

Open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 1-10:30 p.m., Friday, Saturday until 11, Sunday 1- 9 p.m., closed Wednesday

This is one of the best, bona fide, Japanese restaurants in the city. It offers an interesting menu of traditional regional dishes – no cream cheese here! The second floor dining room is unassuming but the food is superior. There is often a wait on weekend afternoons.

And for a drinkie or two:

La Bipolar *

Malintzin 155, a couple of blocks from the center

Tel. 5484-8230

Open Monday-Wednesday 1 p.m.-12:30 a.m., Thursday-Saturday until 2 a.m., Sunday until 9.

This self-styled ‘hipster’ spot, owned by local movie star Diego Luna, is more of a yuppie hangout than it would like to be. But it’s pleasant nonetheless, and the food is good.

La Guadalupana*

Higuera 14, near the central plaza

Tel: 5554 6542

Open Monday-Saturday 1-11:30 p.m.

Everyone knows that Frida, Diego and Trotsky partied in this local institution, open since 1932. But unlike the equivalent Hemingway hangouts in Paris or Havana, La Guadalupana has not become an overpriced tourist trap. It retains its old-fashioned working class charm, bullfighting décor and experienced service. Botanas are offered with drinks and there is a serviceable if ordinary lunch-time menu of Mexican standards.

See Corazón de Maguey, above
Ver mapa más grande

Location of Chupa Cabras

If you like this blog nominate it for Saveur's best in the category of travel; link here:


A note to my a readers: My book gets a good review in the Los Angeles Times!