Puebla, Mexico, has so much to offer that a two to four-day stopover going to or from Oaxaca to Mexico City is usually in my travel plans. I like to fly out of Mexico City back and forth to the USA (it’s cheaper) and usually plan a visit to this most original Spanish city in the Americas at least twice a year.
What’s to do here? Plenty. Including vibrant street life and good music.
Talavera tile gazing for starters. All the buildings in the historic center of the city are decorated and glazed with tiles harkening back to Moorish influences in Spain. If you want Spain in the New World with a touch of the Alhambra in Granada, come here.
Go antique shopping with La Quinta de San Antonio.
Eat. Traditional food preparation rotates around the seasons based on what is freshly available for ingredients. Now, in July and August, it’s Chiles en Nogada, This is a poblano chile, usually mild, cooked, slit, stuffed with a mix of pork, almonds, apples, peaches, raisins, pears, cinnamon and a lot of other things! The fruit and seasonings are also vaguely North African, another remnant of Moorish influence brought to Mexico. Get the best at El Mural de los Poblanos.
If you come to Puebla in October, you’ll be treated to Huaxmole, a hearty stew made with goat or pork. The essential ingredient is the seed from the guaje tree pod to give it the unique flavor.
Shop. Go to Uriarte for gorgeous talavera to set your table. Go to the new government operated Best of Puebla food shop on Palafox y Mendoza just off the Zocalo to stuff your bags with goodies. Get out on the street for weekend arts vendors selling everything from Huichol art to cemitas.
Visit Cholula, Pueblo Magico. There are two Cholulas: San Pedro Cholula and San Andres Cholula.
Go first to San Pedro, start with breakfast at Restaurant Ciudad Sagrada, garden haven with amazing food. Fortified, climb the pyramid to the Our Lady of the Remedies (Remedios), then watch the voladores. Meander the 16th century Franciscan churches. They say there are over 300 churches in Puebla.
Go shopping at the best folk art boutiques in town — La Monarca, Bosque de Oyamel — operated by Celia Ruiz.
Don’t miss OCHO30 for beer and botanas. No one else does!
Make your way to adjacent San Andres Cholula when you need a thirst quencher Michelada and your tummy starts to rumble. Oder the Michelada “sin salsa” — pure Victoria beer and lime juice, with a heavily salt and chile rimmed glass.
You will be amazed at the great kitsch, excellent hospitality and delicious food. Especially the pizza! Beware. It’s packed and you may have to wait. But, well worth it.
With owner Agustino and friends Celia and Peter on left. OCHO30 pizza.
Take your taxi back to your hotel and collapse.
Where to Stay: Descanseria Hotel for Business or Pleasure, owned by the El Mural de los Poblanos restaurant group, with excellent location, restaurant, ambience and prices.
How to Get There: ADO GL bus from Oaxaca to Puebla CAPU, about $45 USD. Estrella Roja bus directly from Mexico City airport to Puebla 4 Poniente bus terminal, about $16 USD.
Where to Eat Chiles en Nogadas: El Mural de los Poblanos.
Today, I return to Oaxaca, just in time for the last Guelaguetza performance and the best street life in Mexico.
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