Corridors of tropical colors, exotic smells, and the distant hum of commotion. Turn right, then left, and then right again. In the aromatic cloud, you can identify dry chile, annatto, and a pinch of veal. Let your nose take the lead, follow a couple more corridors, and finally arrive at the unmistakable Tostadas de Coyoacán.
Their goal is to draw attention. Bright yellow and fluorescent orange lights bathe the bar and huge canvases run the perimeter of the premises. The staff proclaims in tongue twisters the following slogan: “Dole doña! We have tostadas, paella, tinga, spatula, mole, hash, shrimp, ceviche, octopus, mushrooms, cochinita. Páseleee.” And again. And again. They have a knack for hunting down customers, especially the new generation of foodies.
It is noon on a Monday, the place is very quiet for its standards. Waiters talk to each other, fill salt shakers, and wait to stalk their next prey. Carlos, a talkative, middle aged man, takes advantage of the calmness to serve us as a true host. “I’ve been working here for 28 years and Friday through Sunday is when it really gets good.” Families, young people, singles, tourists, neighbors and not neighbors alike come for the experience. It is a must if you are in Coyoacan, south of Mexico City.
Surrounded by piñatas, chickens, and spices, this 1956 business serves almost twenty varieties of tostadas, the Mexican version of our tapas. Different kinds of cold or hot stews rest upon the base of a crusty corn tortilla. The most traditional and popular is “de pata.” It is crisp, soft, and fresh all at once. For conservative eaters, it is better not to ask. For the curious and daring, it is nothing more than the cartilage and the skin from a cow’s foot. A real treat.
Other more classic and highly sought after carnivorous options are the chicken tingas, thinly cut chicken flavored with chili and annatto, or beef. The latter has a base of onion, tomato, garlic, oregano, olive oil, cane vinegar, and salt which is also used for the seafood options. Between the first and second bites you are transported back to your grandmother’s kitchen.
For those on a diet, the seafood and fresh fish options come highly recommended. But, do not forget that we are in Mexico, the country of sauces and chiles. The option of eating without sauces does not exist! There are many different spice levels, however, sometimes it is not only the spice, but also the combinations of unimaginable flavors; roasted, sweet, wild, umami, citric… Here they boast their multiple sauces so don’t be afraid to experiment!
Tostadas de Coyoacán
Phone: 52 55 5659 8774
Text: Livia Arroyo Cella
Photos: Guénola Bally