… Or Will I Top Those Tuna Tostadas?
One of the fun parts of traveling for soccer is the parties. With The American Outlaws, this means two events leading up to the big game. The Night Before party, and The Tailgate. Let me tell you, both were wild in totally different ways.
Huge shout out to Pinche Gringo’s BBQ for hosting the Night Before Party in their giant warehouse of a restaurant. I heard great things about their Barbecue from EVERYONE who ate it. I stuck to the bar section since I was feeling pretty full after those al pastor tacos from the vendor in the plaza. The folks there were great to us, and did the best they could. As I was waiting for my pitcher of beer the guy behind the counter turned to me and said “We’ve only been open a few weeks.” I found out the next morning, that the party-goers had bought all the food and drank all their booze. It was probably one of my top 5 Night Before parties.
After the party, it’s the Taco Party. My crew of Los Angeles friends followed up Pinche Gringo’s with some tacos at El Caifan. This place is perpetually busy, yet miraculously, about a dozen of us managed to find seating together at the counter In case you didn’t know, tacos taste even better after a few beers. My bistek tacos were long strips of steak slapped on some bright yellow corn tortillas. They didn’t look like much, but they were juicy, delicious, and super filling. Which is great, because staying out so late cause me to miss breakfast the next morning.
Sleeping in while on a getaway is probably one of my favorite things – that and eating in bed while watching TV reruns – about short getaways. And I took advantage of it my first morning in Mexico City at the expense of my hotel provided breakfast. I am rarely ever excited about hotel breakfasts so I didn’t consider this a loss. I considered it a win for my stomach because now it had extra space for whatever the American Outlaws were going to feed us at our tailgate event.
We took a bus through Mexico city to a hacienda/event space kinda near the stadium where we were greeted by mariachis and margaritas. I LOVE mariachis. They spark a sense of nostalgia in me for family get-togethers growing up where everyone would sing and eat and be merry (and occasionally cry), so I was extra giddy upon hearing those luscious guitar and violin strings. I didn’t even bother with the margaritas.
In the main space a giant grill was set ups on the grass and several small buffet spaces had side dishes waiting. I made myself a plate of fresh off the grill carne ranchera, rice, and grilled nopal. When I get to my seat, I spot it: Blue Corn Tortillas. In my everyday life, blue corn anything is a special treat and not something you commonly find so cue Allison getting overly excited about something small.
This banquet food was really good. The nopal – cactus – was by far my favorite, which was a shocker because I expected it to be ultra bland and maybe slimy. But it wasn’t slimy and I wouldn’t call it bland, but rather paired really with the other items on my plate. The carne ranchera, wrapped in a blue corn tortilla with a bit of too hot green salsa – I went to town on that. All the while, servers were walking around with trays of beer, wine, and cocktails, including horchata.
The place was so awesome. I’d want to get married there.
On to El Estadio Azteca, where the USMNT earned a point thank’s to Michael Bradley’s beautiful chip. Food-wise though, it was very different than what I was used to. No water or beer, just Coca-Cola in the away section. I think they had popcorn for us, to buy but the only food I really remember seeing was cup o’ noodles with chile and lime added. Pass on the food for now. I had enough carne earlier anyway.
My last morning in mexico meant no sleeping in. There was a ton to see before my early afternoon flight and I needed to get to breakfast at El Cardenal. I’m not sure how I found out about El Cardenal, but I’m so glad I did. Breakfast began with a freshly baked pan dulce – sweet bread- and hot chocolate and while, the chocolate was a bit rich for me, the pan dulce was warm and so soft.
I was torn between a few dishes for my main course, a red sauce or a green sauce plate. All trip I’ve been going for green sauces, and all trip they’ve been burning my mouth, it was time to finally ask for help. So in my best attempt at Spanish I asked the server
“Quien es mas picante, rojo or verde?” Verde. I ordered chicken chilequiles in a red sauce. The first bite was good, the second was better, and by the third I knew that I would be having dreams about this plate. The sauce was so savory with just a hint of spice and the chicken was juicy despite being breast meat. Would it top the Contramar tuna tostadas? Probably not, but I’d consider it pretty close to even on my food-love scale.
Oh, and I got some airport tacos. We don’t need to discuss airport tacos.