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LIVE TO LUNCH AT CONTRAMAR

by Gardenia Ramirez |

It's been said, the best way to understand a culture of people, is through their food.  This is absolute truth.  Any world traveler out there knows, you plan your trip around the meals you'll be eating.  By far the best way to get to know a place.  And if you're anything like me, hanging out in a great restaurant is the attraction.  The people watching, what the 'ladies who lunch' in Mexico city are wearing (ridiculously stylish threads by the way.)  Hearing all types of languages, German, French, loads of hungry tourists and locals patiently waiting on their meals.  The music calling out to the passerbys on the street with every swing of the door while the drama unfolds at the hostess station figuring out which group will be sat first.  All in a days fun if you ask me.

The food culture of Mexico City is totally overwhelming.  My husband likes to say 'El Distrito Federal' (or D.F as the locals like to call it,) is like LA and NYC thrown together.  He's right except you have to throw in Barcelona and Paris too - it's just everything.  It has everything!  The scope of it's cuisine along with the architecture, art, commerce, music.... all of it, is immense.  So, don't try to learn all of it at once.  Ask your friends, ask your friends friends and get recommendations.  We got many, but none came up as often, again and again. People kept sending us one message, like a mantra: CONTRAMAR

There is nothing quite like a two hour lunch while on vacation.  Sitting al fresco, street side in the charming neighborhood of 'La Roma', we happily observed, with a chilled bottle of white wine on ice, the bustling energy of plates being delivered, thick with mouth watering aromas.  The chorus of customers around us all agreeing on their satisfying dishes. 

The waiter prompted us quickly after taking our seat to order the 'Tostadas de Atun.'  Imagine the best taco you've ever eaten smashed together with the best toro sushi you've had and you're getting close to the party that happened in my mouth, when bitting into these savory pieces of heaven.  This was the start of the meal and it was uphill from here.  We shared several dishes including a plate of grilled octopus 'estilo Galicia' dusted in paprika, drizzled in olive oil,  which tasted like nothing I've had before.  Simple dishes sometimes leave the deeper impression.  The fried fish tacos which were just perfection, light, airy, crispy and full-flavored.  The sopes (or 'gorditas' depending on which part of Mexico you're from,) were the perfect proportions of roasted pork on cornmeal covered in fresh Oaxcan cheese with just enough habanero spice to compliment the flavors without overwhelming them.

Don't leave this city without having this lovely experience. Totally worth an hour wait on a crowded day.  Eat and enjoy all that passes at a lunch hour in this town. Truly the best way to spend an afternoon between neighborhood walks, museum going and shopping-- Salud!

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