A few hours from Mexico City and with a traditional, colonial ambiance present in its architecture, culture and food, not many know that Puebla is Mexico’s fourth largest city. This devotion to tradition is also apparent in Puebla’s restaurants, which specialize in regional cuisine – pelonas, cemitas, mole negro, tacos arabes and lots of other goodies. Here is a list of the best places to eat in Puebla.
One of Puebla’s most popular restaurants, La Compañia sits inside of the quirky and beautiful Meson Sacristía Hotel. The courtyard is the best place to eat on a nice day, amid the antiques, talavera and colorfully painted walls. The menu is a retinue of Puebla favorites with a half dozen varieties of chalupas, various moles and pepianes, soups, salads and more. Located right near the city’s “antique alley,” this restaurant makes a great stop after a long morning browsing.
Mural de los Poblanos may just be Puebla’s most well-known and well-respected restaurant. They serve traditional regional cuisine in a fine dining setting that makes even the roasted insects seem chic. Try their “platos de temporada,” dishes focusing in-season insects (grasshoppers, maguey worms, ant eggs). Also try the trio of cemita sandwiches and one of their moles with your choice of protein. Don’t forget to check out the mural on their walls (hence the name of the restaurant) and learn about the history of this great city.
As part of Talavera Celia – a prestigious talavera workshop in Puebla – Celia’s Cafe offers traditional poblano cuisine and a relaxed cafe atmosphere. They are known for their great breakfasts and coffee as well as a selection of local favorites like mole and pepian. And don’t forget to purchase some fine examples of Puebla’s most famous art – Talavera pottery.
No foodie tour in Mexico would be complete without a few tacos gobbled down as a mid-day snack. Las Ranas is one of Puebla’s most famous taco joints and are known for their delicious tacos al pastor (spit-roasted, marinaded pork). There are other things on the menu as well if you want to mix it up – gringas (meat with melted cheese) and alambres (a grilled mix of meat and veggies) as well as cazuelas and Mexican sandwiches (tortas). The place can get packed but any wait is well worth it.
On the menu at La Purificadora Restaurant, expect to find a mix of Modern Mexican cuisine and well-crafted traditional stand-bys. Puebla stand outs like chalupas and mole will of course be there, along with salmon in tamarindo BBQ sauce, cochinita pibil (from the Yucatan peninsula), camarones a la veracruzana and a great little tasting menu to start with, including sqaush blossoms, chalupas, a mini pelona (a type of Puebla sandwich) and a cemita de cochinita (another classic Puebla sandwich but with a twist). La Purificadora is located inside the enchanting Purificadora Hotel which seems to make the food even better!
Want a break from mole and chile en nogada? Ocho30 is a pizza joint in Cholula with some of the city’s best pies, salads and snacks. They have some delicious topping combinations like sauteed onion, crispy bacon and spanish or BBQ chcken with corn, mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese and pickled red onions. They even give a salute to local flavor with pizza that combines fried pork skin with quesillo cheese (queso Oaxaca) squash blossoms, jalapeño and the herb epazote. Come for the pizza and stay for the cocktails – there’s a nice, hefty list.
To get a real taste of local flavor, a Mexican city market is the way to go. The Acocota market is a classic in size and layout, but you can find unique-to-Puebla food offerings, the most important being the cemita. Cemitas are special regional sandwiches made on pan de agua and (normally) filled with a breaded steak or porkchop, avocado, lots of quesillo cheese, spicy peppers and veggies and papolo – a fresh herb that is similiar to cilantro but belongs in a category all its own. The center of the market has about half a dozen cemita stands to choose from.
This chef-driven restaurant focuses on cuisine from the states of Oaxaca and Puebla with a contemporary flair and a laidback ambiance. Part of the Modern Mexican food movement, Maiz Prieto isn’t a stickler for recipes, focusing instead on flavors. Tostados, ceviches, cemitas and adobos are met with an extensive list of mezcal, cocktails and craft beers. Try the esquites to start and enjoy the hip and lovely dining room.