El Califa

6 Dec

It was unfortunate that we discovered our favourite place to eat in Mexico City on our last day there. Walking through leafy Condesa one afternoon and acting on a tip from our Mexican friends Mario, Heike and Dan, we went to El Califa – a slightly more upmarket tacqueria than what we’d been eating at. We took a quick glance at the tables and diners around and quickly asked for a table.

What was our first experience with tacos al pastor (tortillas filled with pork cooked on a spit) was truly memorable, and one we’ve yet to create elsewhere at other restaurants. The meat spins on a spit similar to one at souvlaki places, but with a whole pineapple also wedged onto the top, and the carver expertly and deftly carves off a chunk to go on the top of the meat. Eaten alone or with cheese, these little morsels were heaven in two bites. In fact, Dan went as far as to say it was the best meal he had eaten in Mexico.

Along with the pastor tacos, the cecina tacos (thin slices of beef in a tortilla) were excellent  – moist and succulent, salty and flavoursome with only a bit of chilli and pico de gallo needed on top of them.

I’m a particular fan of Mexican cheese, and we tried the crater de pechuga (crunchy tostada filled with melted Oaxacan cheese and chicken) which I devoured. Oaxacan cheese is also sometimes referred to as string cheese, as it peels off like string. It’s a fabulous melting cheese and is used often in quesadillas.

Of course, our meal wouldn’t have gone down so well without a “michelada” – our favourite Mexican beer, Victoria, poured into a glass with salt around the rim, with ice, lime juice, Maggi, worcestershire and chilli sauces. Yes, it sounds strange, but the taste is unusually “refresco” and one we’ll bring back to Australia with us.

We ordered seconds of all the tacos we loved, and washed down the meal with an incredible hazelnut smoothie. We could have easily made return trips to this place, but we had places to be the following day…

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