Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cantina La Mascota: Or, How to Eat (a Lot) for Free in Mexico City ... A Rather Wordy Wednesday



I realize that I'm not exactly breaking new ground by writing about Cantina La Mascota. I didn't discover this place, not by a long shot: Other bloggers and food writers have rhapsodized about it, and yes, even Anthony Bourdain went there on No Reservations

And while I hate to be a follower, I simply have to join the ranks of admirers and tell you about it because, well ... the food here is free. And I'm not talking bar snacks. This is real food, from a menu that changes daily. The catch? You have to buy drinks. That's it.

But, contrary to what Bourdain would have you believe (I just love correcting that man!) you do not have to keep drinking copious amounts of booze in order to keep eating. In fact, of the three times Poppa and I cozied up to a table here, we only drank to excess once.  The other two times we had just a drink or two each, and we still ate whatever we wanted. I won't go so far as to say this was the very best food we had in Mexico City, but it was really, really good, and so much better than it needed to be considering it's free.

The free food, however, is just one reason we kept coming back - we loved the neighborhood feel of it, the jukebox with mambo music, the fact that patrons got up and danced with some frequency, and the friendly staff. In fact, by our last visit we were treated like regulars. Ah, if only we could be.

I also liked that roving musicians would come in and ask if you'd like them to play a song at your table.

(Of course if you say yes, you must tip.) Check out the video Poppa made - I think that what this fellow lacks in ... tunefulness, he makes up for in enthusiasm. (Stay tuned to the end if you want to see Trix give the camera the old stink eye):



I am ashamed to admit that I cannot remember the precise name of each and every dish we had, nor can I recall the order in which we consumed these things. Perhaps the booze had something to do with it? Luckily a picture is worth a thousand words, so let the (relatively) wordless part of this wordy Wednesday post commence.

Behold the free food!

Caldo Tlapeno
Coctel de camaron
Camaron el Ajillo

Filete a la Veracruz

Chicken in a pibil-type sauce- very spicy, and my favorite dish here
Costillo en adobo
Chile Relleno

Delicious and cold Victoria beer

I am a sucker for a tlacoyo

Sincronizada - basically a ham and cheese quesadilla. The only time we saw flour tortillas
On the right, tequila reposado. And on the left, its essential accompaniment: sangrita, a spicy mix of tomato juice, lime, and chiles. 
Tuna tostada
Cheers!
This was the time we drank a lot - this was my third tequila. The pours just kept getting more and more generous! I am drunk. 
A crispy quesadilla
That's Alejandro, our regular waiter, to my left. This was our last night in Mexico City. 
A word about that photo above - all of those guys brought us something over the course of the evening. Make sure you tip everyone individually to avoid confusion. We learned this the hard way.

And there you have it - good free food, quality cheap drink, and friendly company. What more could you want out of life?

Next time: the markets of Mexico City. Until then - Buen provecho!





33 comments:

  1. Lol, I love that you embraced this place as you did! We went there for just a snack but left stuffed and too full for dinner! Next time we will make it our dinner choice!

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    1. We were too full for dinner most days! Luckily lunch is my favorite meal of the day : )

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  2. How lucky of you to find 4 dashing men to bring you something and then hold your drunk ass up so Poppa could take that last picture! (Hint for the future: a video of THAT would have been more fun!) Great description of this place. Truthfully, I think I would have had a hard time agreeing to eat anywhere else! The something guisado has always been my favorite dish. Or something.

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    1. Dashing men are always holding my drunk self up! I owe them so much

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  3. HOw can this be??? Free food that looks that good?? Remarkable. Love the snaps and the way you worked so hard to drink your share... good for you, very noble. Num.

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    1. I know! It could have been half as good and I still would have been impressed!

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  4. Seriously how can they afford to give shrimp etc away for drinks? Do they make any money the food looks fabulous. What a great experience ole!

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    1. I think people are buying plenty of drinks to make up for it ; )

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  5. It really makes you think that they have some hefty profit margin from the drinks to be able to serve all this tasty food for free!
    No doubt an awesome concept and it obviously is working. Also, I feel silly. I thought that it was you, your dad and your husband in Mexico..the "poppa trix" had me confused, but I now got it straight! Thanks for sharing your dining adventure in Mexico City!

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    1. Well, if you met my father you would soon understand why I wouldn't walk around the block with him, much less go to Mexico! But don't feel silly - you aren't the first to make that mistake. It's our fault for calling one another "Poppa" and "Mama," lol

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  6. What a fabulous place! Officially bookmarked in travel folder.

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  7. 3 tequilas??? I would have been under the table ;) What fun you two have on holiday...that's some pretty marvelous looking food for free!!! Can't wait for your next adventure~

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    1. I have a frightening constitution when it comes to booze. I must have been a 500 pound man in a prior life.

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  8. My kind of place, baby! :D Love your travel posts ... you & Poppa sure know how to have a good time! xoxo

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    1. We should meet for a drink there one day : )

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  9. How fun! This is the kind of info that travelers need to share. You can totally travel, eat well and keep money in your wallet. Pass the tequila!

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  10. Oh my gosh, such fun! I've never been to Mexico City, but I'm jotting down the name of this place in case we go one day - we will definitely stop here!

    p.s...I luv your happy inebriated smile! =)

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    1. Inebriated smiles are the best kind.

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  11. Okay, you totally topped Anthony with this post. And let's be real here for a minute. His claim be forced to consume large quantities to enjoy the free food was really so he could drink as much as he wanted to on camera (I GD love that man). After all of the pictures of delish booze and food, that red dress still caught my eye. Too cool for school.

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    1. Ha, I think you have that right! And thanks re: the dress!

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  12. Finally catching up with you! I love Mexico but have never been to Mexico City so I'm living vicariously through your wonderful posts and photos;-) Looks like a good time was had by all and I know that Tequila kinda sneaks up on you and then wham!-lights out;-)

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    1. Yes, Patty, I definitely slept well that night!!

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  13. Trixie Girl! Love this trip you've taken us all on. But let's get down to the real heart of the matter. . . I LOVE that red sleeveless graphic dress you're wearing! Love it.

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  14. I think you may end up moving to Mexico City Trixie:) This place looks like a lot of fun. I can't believe that the free food includes shrimp, wow. Right now I'm drooling over the coctel de camaron. Another great article amiga:)

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  15. I have never heard of this place yet even if it has been blogged profusely. WOW, too cool, I want to go. Love your glassy eyed drunk pic. One thing you and I have in common: no need to ask twice about ordering a drink (especially for free food).

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  16. pibil chicken - OMG... that sauce is the real deal...

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  17. great report _ advidly reading all of them

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