Archive for the ‘Nightlife’ Category|
Wednesday, June 5th, 2013
If the walls at La Casa del Mendrugo could talk, they’d probably tell more tales than most. The house, like many grand structures built in Puebla from the 16th to 19th centuries, is a study in local history. For example, Augustin de Iturbide reportedly stayed here on August 2, 1821. What sets this home apart from the rest is its careful rescue, its public accessibility, and its location above a pre-Hispanic burial site — the first ever discovered in the city’s core.
La Casa del Mendrugo literally translates to “the house of crumbs” or “bread crusts” in English. Mendrugo is also what the Jesuits called the leftover charity from nearby St. Jerome’s College that they used to rebuild the house in the 17th century. The home’s original owner may have been Juan de Salmerón, one of Puebla’s founders, back in 1534. When the Jesuits were expelled from New Spain in 1767, the building fell into the hands of a public commission. A century later, it returned to private ownership and, according to historians, “suffered several interventions which altered its main structures and uses.” One of the last attempts at renovation tried to divide the building into apartments in the 1950s and failed, and the site was abandoned until 2008, when the current owners purchased it. Their entire restoration project was supervised by the INAH, Mexico’s national institute of history and anthropology.
Olmec Remains, Other Artifacts Unearthed
“While excavating in a not previously altered area of the patio, [we found] two layers of Spanish-style brick flooring of different centuries. In the same area, there was also what used to be a water well,” explains the brochure that’s available in English at La Casa del Mendrugo. “The deep hole was filled with dirt and fragments of many utensils, ceramics, and animal bones from the Spanish Colonial times. But outside the well and underneath the flooring, pieces of very old Indian ceramics started to emerge.”
Further digging revealed more artifacts, a pre-Hispanic wall and stone flooring, and a ritual funeral offering that consisted of Olmec-style figures, shell and stone pendants, rock-carving utensils, and other objects. Two sets of human remains, one male and one female (known as “Chuchita”), believed to be from the same Pre-Classic Period (2500 B.C. to 200 A.D.) were also found. The INAH hopes to extract DNA from one of the molars recovered to find out for sure. The bulk of these items, including the skeletons, are now on display in a small private museum on the building’s second floor. They’re accompanied by more modern pieces, including antique talavera pottery and children’s toys from the early days of plastic.
Flaunting Puebla’s Cuisine and Culture
Beyond the museum, the three-story building—which we’re told has been restored as much as possible to its original state—also houses an art gallery, a stage for live entertainment, and three main dining areas: a coffeehouse, a fine-dining restaurant, and a tapas bar. The menus, says executive chef Daniel López Aguilar, are designed to celebrate Puebla’s Spanish heritage, with Mexican and international flair. They do. We liked the savory croquetas and the stuffed Poblano pepper so much, we’ve ordered them twice. The cheese plate, featuring products from IPODERAC, is a thing of beauty.
We’ve visited four times already, to check out all aspects of La Casa del Mendrugo. We give just about everything a thumbs-up, particularly the house-made beer, the live jazz on Friday nights, and the art gallery. La Galería Lazcarro is currently exhibiting “Matter Matters,” a mixed-media show by Jorge Juan Moyano, a Poblano painter and a friend of ours. Latin jazz will be featured in the restaurant on Fridays at 9 p.m. through the month of June.
“It is the only venue I know of [downtown] where it’s fun for grown-ups!” says another friend, who’s had a standing reservation since the restaurant opened two months ago. We can think of a couple more but agree it’s one of the few!
—Rebecca Smith Hurd
La Casa del Mendrugo is located at 4 Sur #304, one block from the main square, in Puebla’s historic center. The art gallery and museum are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and the café and restaurant generally serve breakfast, lunch, or tapas from 9 a.m. to noon, 1 to 6 p.m., and 7 to 11 p.m., respectively. Admission to the museum is 20 pesos. The cover charge on Friday nights is 80 pesos. For more information or reservations (essential on Friday nights), call (222) 232-5148.
Tags: art, jazz, La Casa del Mendrugo, museum, Puebla
Posted in Arts + Culture, Do, Featured, History, Museums, Nightlife, Restaurants | Comments Off on Enjoy a Cultural Feast at ‘The House of Crumbs’
Monday, January 14th, 2013
So, you’ve had a few shots of homemade liquor at La Pasita in Los Sapos, and now you’re craving a smoke, one that’s on par with the artisanal drinks. Legendaria Fábrica de Puros (Cigar Factory) may have just what you’re looking for. The tiny shop, just a stumble up 5 Oriente toward the zócalo from the bar, specializes in hand-rolled cigars made with whole leaf Mexican tobacco. Although much of the product comes from San Andrés Tuxtla, Veracruz, the cigars are crafted exclusively on-site, by hand. Like most premium puros, Legendaria’s cigars often feature different varieties of tobacco (Mexican and Cuban) for the filler and the wrapper; one even bears a wrapper soaked in rum. They also come in various shapes and sizes, including Churchill, Corona, Lancero, and Robusto. Prices start around 40 pesos each. Legendaria Fábrica de Puros is located at 5 Oriente #207 in the city’s historic center. —Rebecca Smith Hurd
Sunday, December 2nd, 2012
Being an “expat”—or at least living outside your native culture and functioning in another language—isn’t always easy. Feeling frustrated, lonely, and homesick from time to time is inevitable, especially in a city like Puebla, where the locals have a reputation for being exceedingly kind to strangers yet glacially slow to add anyone new to their social circles. Thus, it can be helpful to connect with other foreign residents to form friendships, share resources, support one another, and build community.
It took me a while to figure out how to do that, because unlike Mexico City, Puebla doesn’t have a Newcomers Club or a U.S. Embassy or any other organization that coordinates events for Americans, Canadians, or folks from elsewhere in the world who speak English and aren’t affiliated with a specific employer, church, or school. (I say “English” because not everyone’s Spanish is perfect or even passable, especially when they first arrive in Mexico.) So, with the help of a few others, I started an “expat” group in September 2009, about six months before launching this website. Through word of mouth, our initial group of five has grown to some 160 people from a dozen different countries.
Although “home” is wherever my husband and cat happen to be, having a supportive social network is important, too.
It seems like it took forever, but as a result of the friends and connections I’ve made through the group, this week I finally felt like I was home in Puebla — an insider instead of an outsider. By “insider,” I simply mean my social calendar was filled with events, from a Thanksgiving potluck to a SoHo-worthy art open house and a gala anniversary party to a gourmet dinner at the most contemporary restaurant in town. All four private affairs were hosted by foreign residents and Poblanos (including the dinner, which was organized by All About Puebla). Could it be that we’ve achieved some sort of critical mass, in terms of people, energy, and diversity? A girl can dream, can’t she? In any case, what a privilege it was to be in the presence of such stimulating company, having conversations in English and Spanish!
Thank you, everyone, for your efforts, your invitations, and your contributions to the group. If anyone out there would like to join us in the future, drop me a line and I’ll add you to our emailing list. Happy holidays!
—Rebecca Smith Hurd
Monday, April 23rd, 2012
“2012 is a big year for Puebla,” The New York Times recently noted. And, as if the 150th anniversary of Cinco de Mayo — arguably the most celebrated Mexican holiday outside of Mexico — weren’t enough to draw global attention, the Popocatépetl volcano decided to send up a few massive smoke signals last week to make sure the whole world knew where to find Puebla on a map. Now that everyone’s looking, they’ll see that the city of Puebla, which is both a UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the nation’s gastronomic capital, has a lot to offer. This vibrant metropolis should be on every traveler’s bucket list.
Visitors to Puebla between now and mid-May can participate in the myriad festivities commemorating the sesquicentennial of Mexico’s historic Battle of Puebla against the French in 1862. The city and state of Puebla have invested more than $62 million (800 million pesos) in Cinco de Mayo-related public projects and special events, the latter of which include a massive civic parade, a nighttime spectacular with fireworks, scores of world-class concerts and theatrical performances, and an international mole festival featuring celebrity chefs and food experts.
Here are a few Cinco de Mayo highlights, with links to additional information and goings-on:
Cinco de Mayo Parade
Some 8,000 military troops and 6,200 students and teachers from 56 public schools statewide are expected to participate in the 2012 Cinco de Mayo parade, which will be marshaled by President Felipe Calderon and feature 34 decorative floats. Visitors who’ve attended in previous years should note that the route has been changed to inaugurate a new urban byway named for battle hero Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza. Rain or shine. Bring water, snacks, sunscreen, and a hat with you.
Date and time: May 5, 11 a.m.
Admission: Free; 3,800 seats (chairs and bleachers) available to early birds.
Location: Calzada Ignacio Zaragoza, from Plaza Tolin (at the corner of Calle Ruiz Cortines) to the Loreto and Guadalupe forts.
Cinco de Mayo Spectacular
Following the parade, a nighttime show with pyrotechnics — orchestrated by Five Currents, the production company for the 2012 London Olympics — will represent Puebla and all things poblano. The three-part spectacular, hosted by former Miss Universe Ximena Navarette, will feature star-studded tributes and culminate in a massive display of fireworks, organizers say.
Date and time: May 5, 8 to 10 p.m.
Admission: 3,000 tickets were given away; the show will be broadcast nationwide by Televisa.
Location: Guadalupe Fort, Calzada Ejército de Oriente, Unidad Cívica 5 de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo Concert
Pop crooner Marc Anthony, whose soon-to-be-ex-wife Jennifer Lopez hails from Puebla —er, New— York, is scheduled to end the official Cinco de Mayo celebrations on a high note with a free concert for up to 42,600 people at the soccer stadium. Word has it that the Cinco de Mayo Spectacular (above) will be shown on big screens at the stadium.
Date and time: May 5, 10 p.m.
Admission: No charge, available at the Feria de Puebla (see next item)
Location: Estadio Cuauhtémoc, Calzada Ignacio Zaragoza #666, Col. Maravillas
Feria de Puebla
The 2012 Puebla State Fair comprises more than 500 commercial stands, carnival rides, a food court, a public theater, a children’s area, ice-skating shows, an exhibition of Mexican masks, and a military expo (La Gran Fuerza de México). Concerts in the Foro Artístico include Aleks Syntek (April 25), Juan Solo and Mariachi Estrella (April 27), and Kinky (May 4) and are free with fair admission. Palenque performances feature artists such as Juan Gabriel (May 3-4) and Edith Marquez (May 5) require an additional ticket purchase. Tickets to the bullfights in the Plaza de Toros (April 28, May 6) also sold separately.
Dates and times: April 13 to May 13, 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Mon.-Thu.) and 11:30 p.m. (Fri.-Sun.); except May 5, when it’s closed for the Cinco de Mayo festivities at the forts.
Admission: 20 pesos (adults), 10 pesos (kids); palenque tickets cost 300-2,000 pesos, available online and at Farmacias del Ahorro outlets; bullfight tickets cost 150-800 pesos, available at Superboletos outlets.
Location: Centro Expositor, Calzada Ejércitos de Oriente, Unidad Cívica 5 de Mayo; free transportation is being provided from the zócalo, Paseo Bravo/El Gallito, Jardín de Analco, and Estadio Cuauhtémoc (with pickups every 20 to 25 minutes).
Festival Internacional de Puebla
The International Festival of Puebla is an annual cultural event that features artists, creators, and entertainers from around the world. The 2012 lineup boasts performers from two dozen countries — including Mexico, of course — who will perform on 11 public stages and in various parks and venues around the Puebla capital. Standouts include Ozomatli (April 28), Cecilia Toussaint (May 3), and Rubén Blades (May 6).
Dates and times: April 7 to May 6, mostly afternoons and evenings
Location: Varies; click here for a full schedule of events
Festival Internacional del Mole
The International Mole Festival is a two-day culinary event designed to savor Puebla’s most iconic dish mole poblano and to demonstrate the region’s influence on Mexican food and gastronomy worldwide. Celebrity chefs and food experts, such as Rick Bayless, Mark Bittman, Patricia Quintana, and Marcela Valladolid, will discuss traditions, innovations, and their personal experiences related to poblano cuisine. Live simultaneous translation (in English or Spanish, depending on the speaker) will be provided via headsets. Tastings of mole prepared by traditional moleras from around the state are included in the ticket price.
Dates and times: May 2 and 3, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: 1,400 pesos for both days, available at Ticketmaster outlets in Mexico
Location: Centro de Convenciones William O. Jenkins, Blvd. Héroes del 5 de Mayo #402, Paseo de San Francisco, in the historic center of Puebla
—Rebecca Smith Hurd
Post updated May 5, 2012.
Tags: Battle of Puebla, Cinco de Mayo, Feria de Puebla, Festival Internacional de Puebla, Festival Internacional del Mole, mole poblano, parade
Posted in Arts + Culture, Do, Featured, History, Nightlife | 9 Comments »
Friday, May 20th, 2011
When it comes to nightlife, the Puebla capital has a reputation for being, well, a bit boring. This is largely because major concert acts and theater productions frequently pass it by for the more cosmopolitan and populous Mexico City nearby. But the greater Puebla area nonetheless offers an abundant supply of lively bars, dance clubs, and music venues where locals and tourists alike can get their drink, their groove, or their air guitar on.
On any given night of the week, it’s typical to head for one of four zones where clubs cluster: the Centro Histórico/Los Sapos, Avenida Juarez, La Isla by Angelópolis mall, and Cholula. We tend to hang out in Cholula, because it’s both close to home and unparalleled in its diversity of choices. Whatever we’re in the mood for — dinner with a bottle of wine, a game of pool over a few beers, live jazz or rock, dancing till dawn, etc. — we can find it on or just off the main drag that stretches from behind the UDLA to the zócalo of San Pedro. (Note: The street’s name changes from 14 Poniente to 14 Oriente at Avenida Cinco de Mayo and then Avenida Morelos near the pyramid.) In general, Cholula is also more affordable than the so-called fresa establishments in Puebla proper, where well-heeled poblanos often dominate the scene and drive up prices.
We try not to get too attached to any particular place, because even Cholula’s most popular spots seem to change names, motifs, and owners as often as the university welcomes a new freshman class. The students do, after all, provide a significant chunk of their customer base, so catering to fickle sensibilities can attract steady business, at least for a while. That said, we tend to roll with a slightly older crowd (25 and up) and our list of faves below, which currently lacks a dance club, reflects this. All but one of our picks has been around for at least two years.
A few tips for visitors: Although it’s safe enough for single women to go out on their own, if you do you’re unlikely to be left alone, particularly if you look foreign; savvy national gals travel in pairs, if not packs, when unescorted by someone of the opposite sex. Smokers should be aware that it’s illegal to light up indoors, or outside of designated smoking areas, although management at some places may look the other way if no one complains. Cash is always the preferred method of payment and often the only one accepted; carry small bills and pay in exact amounts to avoid long waits for your change. A 10 percent gratuity is appreciated.
Our Favorite Local Watering Holes
Bar Reforma (4 Sur at Avenida Morelos) From the outside, this small cantina connected to a hotel almost looks like a scene from Desperado: Patrons push through swinging saloon doors on a corner of the town’s main drag to enter. Once inside, however, they’re greeted not by gun-slinging outlaws, but by dueling walls of photographs — a collage of Cholula’s 126 churches on the left, a sea of Marilyn Monroe glamour shots on the right. You can ponder whether this is some kind of metaphor for saints and sinners over a glass of the house’s signature sangria. For those who drink a few too many, management has kindly installed talavera basins in both restrooms specifically for vomiting. Open after 5 p.m., every day but Sunday.
La Búrbula (14 Oriente #422, next to Monchis) We have a soft spot in our hearts for this restaurant-meets-lounge because it’s where we went on our first date in 2007. The building’s been remodeled since then, but the tasty menu — mostly appetizers, salads, pizzas, and pastas — and the Polynesia-goes-disco atmosphere remain the same. La Búrbula entices the thirsty with frou-frou cocktails like mango daiquiris and margaritas, but also pours the usual fare (beer, wine, liquor, etc.). It sometimes features DJs and bands in the evenings. Open daily from 2 p.m. on. Update: La Búrbula has moved to 5 de Mayo #407 in the heart of San Pedro Cholula.
Cus Cus Cus (6 Norte #601, between 6 and 8 Oriente) Only a few blocks from the pyramid off Avenida Morelos, Cus Cus Cus occupies a historic home that’s been converted into a shabby-chic restaurant and lounge. Each room is a bit different, beckoning patrons to choose between cozy side rooms or the airier central courtyard. We go for the variety of cocktails — it’s one of the few places that offers drinkable wine by the glass — and snacks, particularly the popcorn chicken and the pizzas, which are piled high with toppings. Open Thursday to Saturday after 7 p.m.
El Salvaje Oeste (Carril a Morillotla #301, a half dozen speed bumps or so from the Carretera Federal a Atlixco.) This neighborhood bar is way off the beaten path, but for those who want to visit an authentic cantina, it’s our favorite. Run by the same family that owns the taco stand, cobbler, and mini mart on the same block, The Wild West has been serving cold beer and tequila since the residential area around it began developing more than 15 years ago. It started as a hole-in-wall with a few bar stools and sawdust-covered floor and has since expanded into a full-fledged dive, replete with vinyl sofas and a big-screen TV. Open most evenings except Sundays.
Jazzatlán (2 Sur #102 at Avenida Morelos) This artsy café and bar hosts live music at least two nights a week. The last time we went there, we not only caught a fantastic local jazz trio, but also took advantage of a sweet dinner special: buy any bottle of wine, get a pizza and salad for free. It’s conveniently located, too, just around the corner from San Pedro’s main square, where there’s a taxi stand and a public parking lot. Cover charge ranges from free to 150 pesos, depending on act booked. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
RokPub (14 Oriente #616 at 8 Norte) This rock & roll burger joint is part sports bar, part night club, depending on which day of the week you happen to pop in. There’s one crowded pool table downstairs and several more upstairs, where patrons can also play Nintendo Wii — lots of giggles for anyone who’s able to handle a little public humiliation. RokPub also offers live music, happy hour specials, and shows major sporting events on the big-screen. Open daily, 11 a.m. to 3 a.m., except Sunday, 2 p.m. to midnight.
Taxi Bar (12 Oriente at 2 Norte) Located inside Container City, Taxi draws hipsters of all ages with cold beer, funky décor, and DJs/live bands. Expect a loud and festive environment: The bar’s open-air design means that sometimes its music mixes with that of the sustainable strip mall’s other occupants. Although it doesn’t serve food, patrons can often order tacos or döner kebab without leaving their seats, as waiters from adjacent restaurants wander through the crowd. Open most days from early afternoon on.
Is your favorite bar or club missing from the list? Share your top Cholula night spots with us in the comments section below! Find an error? We did our best to verify each bar’s current business hours, which of course are subject to change. If you have updated infomation, please contact us.
Sunday, December 26th, 2010
Like so many celebrations in central Mexico, ringing in the new year is typically a family affair — and the traditions here are reminiscent of those in Spain. In Puebla, many people gather with their loved ones for a late dinner that lasts until after midnight. The main dish is often salt cod (bacalao a la vizcaína) or roasted pork leg (pierna al horno), although what gets served in any given household varies with individual tastes and pocketbook sizes.
It’s also common to wear a new pair of red underwear to bring yourself good luck, particularly in love, and to eat a dozen grapes, one at each stroke of midnight, while making wishes for the coming year. Toasts with cider (sidra), sparkling wine, or another festive beverage follow — as do after-parties, often at another location. Some people also believe that, for a fresh start, sweeping your house is a good omen and, barring that, at least you’ll have a clean floor, right?
If you’re visiting Puebla this week and don’t have a home to go to on Friday night, here are a few restaurants and bars that plan to roll out welcome mats:
Galería Arte & Vino, Alta Vista Plaza, Calzada Zavaleta #130, Second Floor (across from Italian Coffee). Enjoy three-course meal, music by singer Javier Flores González, mulled wine, grapes at midnight, and more. 9:30pm. MX$350 per person. Reservations accepted through Dec. 29 at (222) 890-6822.
The Grand Hotel, Calzada del Bosque #12, Colonia San José del Puente. Moët & Chandon hosts a party at the old Hotel de Las Bodegas del Molino from 10:30pm on. MX$100 per person includes a bottle of champagne for every table. For reservations and more information, click here.
The Loft, Osa Mayor #2706, PLaza Platinium, Colonia Reserva Territorial Atlixcáyotl. The Loft offers a buffet dinner, live saxophone and DJ music, and a champagne toast and the traditional grapes at midnight. 8:30pm. MX$399 general; MX$499 open bar. For more information and reservations, call (222) 409-0300 or 409-0400.
La Purificadora, Callejón de la 10 Norte # 802, Paseo San Francisco, Barrio El Alto. This trendy downtown hotel serves up a New Year’s buffet for MX$800 per person (MX$250 for kids under age 12). The price includes live music and a glass of cava and grapes at midnight. Open bar costs MX$450 extra. For dinner time and reservations, call (222) 309-1920.
Ming Lounge, 14 Oriente #420, San Andrés Cholula. After midnight, head for Ming Lounge, which promises a no-cover party for revelers who want to continue celebrating into the wee hours. For details, call (222) 409-5568 or 409-5569.
The Tavern Pub & Grill, Blvd. Luis Sánchez Pontón #608, Colonia Anzures. Dress up in your best medieval duds and head for this pub after 6pm for dinner and live music. The top costume wearer wins a prize. Tickets available in advance on-site; for reservations, call (222) 211-6473.
Saturday, May 29th, 2010
Recycling is not yet a big part of Mexican culture, but repurposing certainly is, and clever developers in San Andrés Cholula have taken the concept to its extreme: Gabriel Esper Caram and his partner built an entire city of salvaged shipping containers, many of which are adorned with reused materials, from bottle caps to plastic tubing.
Container City, frequently referred to as simply los containers, isn’t really a city, of course. It’s a roughly 50,000-square-foot strip mall for hipsters that houses boutique clothing stores, restaurants, bars and clubs, a dry cleaner, a tattoo parlor, and a bus depot.
“The creation of a type of Soho or Palermo or Condesa was a fundamental objective, realized with high regard for the needs of the tenants and the magnificent location [near the pyramid],” the developers, who also wanted to build something sustainable, explain on their website. “If you love all things on the vanguard, urban design, or following the latest design and style trends, you should come get to know this project.”
Like almost everything else in Cholula, Container City caters to students from the nearby university (UDLAP), which means its businesses change themes, names, and hands fairly regularly. But the overall laid-back nature of the place, enhanced by the whimsically painted shipping containers, makes it a pleasant spot for patrons of any age to enjoy a leisurely breakfast, an afternoon cup of tea, or a rock & roll nightcap.
“There’s plenty of outdoor space to sit around and hang out, and there are events and bands scheduled all the time,” Bridgette Meinhold noted earlier this year on the Inhabitat design blog.
Our favorite spot is Taxi bar, which hosts live music most evenings. Note that, if you’re enjoying a beer at Taxi and get hungry, you can order food (tacos, sushi, doner kebab) from the neighboring restaurants; look for wait staff wandering around with menus. La Martina next door serves sinfully good deep-fried cecina (salt-cured beef).
The Container City is located at the corner of 12 Oriente and 2 Norte in San Andrés Cholula. Hours vary wildly, but you’ll find most businesses open daily in the late afternoon.