The New York Times just published 36 Hours in Puebla, Mexico by travel writer Freda Moon, who did a similar feature about Oaxaca a few months ago. Freda listed many of my favorite things to do, see, visit, shop for and eat. Puebla is unique. The city is a blend of Spanish colonial with Moorish-Moslem influences brought from Spain during the conquest. This is evident in both architecture and food. In the early 1900’s, the city became a favorite of German immigrants, one reason Volkswagen selected Puebla as a manufacturing and assembly site in the 1960’s.
Here are a few extra tidbits of WHAT TO DO AND SEE IN PUEBLA to supplement Freda’s list:
1. Pan de Zacatlan: Relleno de Queso. I stumbled upon this authentic European-style bakery walking from Talavera Uriarte to Talavera Celia and after a meditative moment at The Rosary Chapel in Santo Domingo Church.
The pastries here are amazing. Most are stuffed with sweetened queso fresco and taste like eating a cheesecake empañada. The shop sells fresh cheesecakes, cheese, the flan ranks a 9+ in my book, and it’s OMG for the Pan de Elote. I sampled just about everything and my eyes were bigger than my stomach. I had the empañada con queso for dinner during a rain-thunder-lightening storm so strong that I didn’t want to leave my comfortable hotel room. The rest of the goody bag came back to the U.S. with me. My son and I ate what was left for breakfast in Long Beach, California, the next day.
Pan de Zacatlan, 4 Oriente No. 402, Puebla, Pue., Mexico, tel (222) 246 5676, firstname.lastname@example.org. Open every day, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, Sundays and festivals, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Hungry for meat? Turn left out the door and a couple of doors down is a traditional restaurant serving lamb grilled on a spit with homemade pan Arabe (pita bread). These are all over town, a testimony to the influences of pre-Catholic Spain imported to Mexico.
2. Talavera Uriarte, 4 Poniente, No. 911. So much has been written about this venerable ceramics house that there’s not much left to say. Their customer service is impeccable, quality superb, and packing and shipping always reliable. Nothing ever arrives broken. Ask for Ana!
3. Talavera de las Americas, 7 Poniente 510 . Col. San Pedro Cholula, Cholula, Puebla. Tel. (222)261-0367. Their operation is a very small, family-owned business and they “bend over backwards” for the customer. It’s worth the visit to Cholula since the painting on the clay is very fine and detailed, the clay body is very light, and the work rivals it’s better known competitors at half the price! We have purchased here directly and enjoyed the experience.
4. Hotel Real Santander, 7 Oriente, No. 13, Puebla, two-blocks from the Zocalo. These are not rooms, they are spacious luxury suites with thick comforters and towels, and excellent beds, starting at 800 pesos a night in the off-season. Hotel Real Santander is a perfect, quiet hideaway between the Museo Amparo, the photography museum, and …
5. Across the street is La Quinta de San Antonio, my favorite antiques shop in Puebla. Contact owner Antonio Ramirex Priesca by email.
6. Churches on every corner, too numerous to list them all. When you get there, follow the city guide and map to explore. But, be certain to FIRST VISIT the Rosary Chapel at Santo Domingo Church. The gold and glitz dazzles.
Some of the sculpted heads here remind me of the interior carved wood and painted figures in the extraordinary indigenous church at Tonanzintla.
7. Talavera Celia. You can find this good quality DO4 Talavera ceramics at Celia’s Café. 5 Oriente 608, Centro Histórico Puebla, Puebla. C.P. 72000. Tel: 01 (222) 242 36 63, near the antiques district and weekend flea market.
A note on Talavera Ceramics: there are only 10 authorized DO4 makers of traditional talavera ceramics in Puebla, Mexico. More talavera is produced here than is Spain where the antique methods have almost died out. I list only the best quality talavera ceramics makers on this blog and you can be assured that they all produce DO4 highest quality. I would steer you away from buying from Talavera Armando — their customer service and shipping is poor and their products arrive broken.
On a personal note: I will usually book a flight in and out of Mexico City, take the ADO bus from Oaxaca to Puebla, spend a night or two, and capture the colonial charm that makes Puebla so special. Then, I will go to the Estrella Roja bus station on 4 Poniente to buy and board a luxury Saab Scania bus complete with WiFi heading to the Benito Juarez International Airport for my flight to the U.S.
Stopover Puebla: Taking a Break Between Mexico City and Oaxaca
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.
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Dining and Lodging, Food & Recipes, Mexico, Photography, Travel & Tourism
Tagged bus, food, hotels, lodging, Mexico, Oaxaca, Puebla, recipes, restaurants, travel