The Mystic Town of Tepoztlan: Open Your Mouth and You’re in for Some Unique Tastes

Good food is easy to come by in Tepoztlan, Mexico, located just a couple of hours south of Mexico City on the road to Acapulco. There’s a generous variety of restaurants catering to the weekend visitor and tourists. Local fare centers on rolled tortilla sandwiches of pork, chicken, cheese or vegetables. Hot peppers are available if you wish. Roast meat dishes and traditional Nahua-style meals are likewise plentiful, but pizza and burger joints are in short supply. Local platters are sizeable, filling and tasty. The streets in central town area and the colorful, exotic market located behind the main plaza (also called the Zocalo), are brimming with choice places for dining on any budget. Here are some to try out for starters:Restuarante Vegetariano Xochipilli located at Ave. Revolucion No. 10A nicely decorated place with tempting non-meat specialties. It’s a bit on the “touristy” side but service is good and the menu varied enough to be a worthwhile stop on your agenda. Prices for local delicacies range from 20 pesos to around 50 pesos for heartier fare.Restaurant Los Colorines located at Tepozteco No. 13A Tepoztlan landmark with its bright pink exterior that’s hard to miss. It’s decorated in Mexican colonial style and features a typical Mexican dish menu. Blue corn tortillas are a specialty here and make their enchiladas interesting to the eye and the palette. Prices are moderate for most entrees, ranging around 30 to 50 pesos for most. If you’re a chocolate lover try the “Pollo en salsa mole” or chicken in mole sauce. Chocolate is a major ingredient in mole sauce. This dish is popular throughout central and southern Mexico all the way to the Yucatan.At the MarketTepoztlan’s most unique food can be sampled at the expansive Central Market located immediately behind the Zocalo (main plaza). In addition to the usual vegetable, meat and poultry stalls, family-owned stalls serving dishes you’ll have to see and taste to believe are strung from one entrance to the other. The food at all of them looked good but of the several sampled, here are two we’d recommend for starters:Antojitos Mexicanos Irma – Edith located in the Central Market in Tepoztlan:You’ll hardly know where to begin with the multitude of “Quesadillas” served here. These are sandwiches of hot tortillas heated with your choice of ingredients, singly or in combination, inside. They’ll cost from 5 to 12 pesos each (:50 cents to $1.20 cents) and are simply wonderful. Fillings include cheese, flor de calabaza (it’s a bright red flower whose blooms are cooked and eaten!), potatoes with sausage, mushrooms, nopales (these are a type of cactus commonly referred to as Prickly Pear cactus in the southwestern U.S.), chicharron (fried pork skin) and tinga – a mixture of shredded chicken, peppers and spices. The very dark looking tortillas are made with blue corn – a regional specialty of Mexico.The tacos (forget Taco Bell forevermore) are served with thinly sliced fried beef, sour cream and spices and are called “Tacos de Cecina”. If you don’t want yours, I’ll take ’em! How about washing it all down with an Ameyal tropical fruit soda? There’s kiwi, tamarind, Jamaica (a drink made from dried Hibiscus flowers that is popular in the West Indies), mandarin (tangerine) and peach – called durazno in Spanish and considered an exotic fruit in Mexico.Doña Lucia’s located in the Central Market in Tepoztlan:Here you’ll be hammered even further by tastes, aromas, sights and sounds that will indelibly mark your senses. Begin with Cecino de Yecappistla – blue corn totillas, thin-sliced fried beef, a locally produced cheese and spices. The tantalizing aroma alone will drive you wild. How about the triangular “Itacates”, a pastry served as a kind of sandwich with melted cheese? Don’t escape without trying at least one quesadilla of “Flor de Chompancle”, also called “Flor de Colorines” by some locals. While you’re at it, you can snack on some “Chapulines” (they’re fried grasshoppers), they’re offered free. Don’t you wimp out on us now! Try some. I absolutely guarantee: You’ll never forget the experience.A mystical place all its own, Tepoztlan is home to scores of artists, poets, writers and mystics. There are frequent UFO sightings (called OVNIS in Spanish) in the area as well. Several notable cathedrals adorn the town. The most prominent of these is the Dominican Ex-convent of the Nativity that also has a museum on the premises. Side streets are steep and tend to run uphill, especially to the west of the main plaza. The thousand-foot sheer cliffs bordering the town to the north are an awesome spectacle. But don’t just take our word for it. Come see for yourself.

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