Restaurants & Food San Cristóbal 2017

In the days prior to our 3rd visit to San Cristóbal in July 2017, we were talking to friends in Cozumel about where to find the best tamales. The wife of the couple had recently returned from a trip to Chiapas and talked about finding great tamales by just walking into some San Cristóbal neighborhoods and looking for ladies with big steaming pots out on the street. So we had tamales on the brain when we arrived in the city.

craft beer at 500 NoichesOn our first full day in San Cristóbal, we visited Chamula and Zinacantán in the morning and got back to the city mid-afternoon. We wanted something quick and not too heavy to eat and we remembered Doña Ame Tamales, a very serviceable little open air restaurant about 2-blocks up Calle Diego de Mazariegos from our Nuestras Raices Hotel.

Doña Ame offers a huge selection of tamales (some not always available), friendly service and reasonable prices. Depending on the variety, tamales are wrapped and steamed in either banana leaf or corn husk. Our favorites that day were the chipilín with chicken and the sweet strawberry (fresa) tamales. For those that have never had it, chipilín is a green leaf vegetable that appears on many Chiapas menus.

Walking towards Cocoliche; our favorite San Cristóbal restaurant from previous trips, to dinner the night before; we stopped on the Real de Guadalupe walking street for a glass of wine and to listen to some excellent street music. Chance happenings like that is one of the things we love about San Cristóbal.

mixed tapas at 500 NoichesSo we eventually made it to Cocoliche and found the guacamole was still good, the chicken panini was outstanding, the service excellent and the free music starting around 9pm was cool and inviting. But we were a bit tired from a long day getting there and left after a couple songs freeing up our table for the next person in the line of people then waiting to get in.

Lunch the 2nd day: We were feeling a little frustrated by not being able to find the place we were looking for and in considering an alternative, agreed that Doña Ame tamales was still convenient to the hotel and wouldn’t be a bad 2nd choice. So it was day 2 of our tamale theme trip.

That evening we headed to Cafe Bar 500 Noches for drinks & appetizers, and then to Peruano, the Peruvian restaurant located up a flight of stairs in the same covered pavilion for dinner. This was another return to favorite places from prior trips to the city. With 4 of us dining this time, we got the chance to sample a wider range of the ceviche offered. All of it was good but by unanimous consensus agreed the tuna was the best!

Festival de Tamal sign 1We were in San Cristóbal in the middle of July at a time when there are lots of festivals happening every day. This is the prime holiday season in Chiapas and the city was full of mostly Mexican tourists. So the next morning when we walked to the Zocalo, we weren’t surprised to see that overnight a large long white tent had been erected near the Cathedral. As we approached the tent we got a good laugh when we saw the sign celebrating the Festival del Tamal. It was about 10:30 AM and there were 15-20 local ladies and a few men setting up stands with big steaming pots full of tamales of all shapes and varieties and a few already.

It was a 3-day event but we wanted to make sure we got our fill so it was tamales for lunch and dinner that day. By dinner time the vendors were running a bit low on selection but we enjoyed what we ate.

Most days we ate breakfast at the hotel but one morning there was some kind of event going on in the dining room so we decided to walk about a block and a half to the Toscano Café-Restaurante, on the corner of Guadalupe Victoria and 12 de Octubre. Once there, we wished we had made that walk several days before because we loved this little place. Excellent coffee and great breakfast selections starting with the breads. We would have eaten there again if it weren’t our last day there.Coffee time at Toscano Café-Restaurante.

So you may wonder, in a city with so much good food; is it possible to get a bad meal in San Cristóbal? Well the answer is “Yes it is.” On 2 different mid-week evening we had gone in search of El Meson del Taco, another place we had eaten at on previous trips. We were just looking for something quick and easy but both nights, we found the storefront but found it closed. So on the 2nd attempt, we headed back towards the Zocalo on the Calle Miguel Hidalgo walking street and saw the small “Super Taco” on a corner. We hadn’t read any reviews but we were in Mexico and it was getting late so we figured how bad could it be? As it turns out; pretty damn bad.

Not only did it not taste very good, we got the feeling we might be eating something that might make us sick so we stopped after a few bites, paid and left the place. Fortunately, no one got sick from the food but we decided to think twice before we go to restaurants with a name that begins with “Super”. (Super Hit in Cozumel being the exception.)