Just one minute from our front door is a ‘Cocina Economica’ (literally ‘Economical Kitchen). Similar places are called ‘Cocina Casera’ and ‘Comida Corrida.’ At this one, for 30 pesos (a bit over $2.00) you get soup, main course with rice and beans, and a beverage (a watery but tasty juice). The main course, called ‘el guisado,’ can be chile rellenos, either red or green. I’ve had both and they’ve wonderful!. They are dipped in batter and deep fried. ‘Relleno’ means they are stuffed, in this case with a slice of cheese. They also serve chicken, beef or pork in various formulations, and sometimes leafy greens. All these dishes are out for you to inspect, so even if your Spanish is limited, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you are getting. The beef is served ‘encellobado’ meaning with onions, or in a ‘caldo,’ a broth (beef in this case). Pollo (chicken) and cerdo (pork) are also served in a broth or stew of some sort.
Most ‘guisados’ are served with rice and beans. The rice at our local place has a few chopped vegetables and is cooked in broth. It is better here than in most such places. As for the beans here and most places, I find them too soupy.
The soup is chicken based, entirely free of fat, with some vegetables and pasta if you want it. It’s always good.
There are many Cocinas Economicas in town, and most of them charge 40 pesos or so. I had a fabulous chicken mole at some granny’s hole in the wall for 40, plus 20 for a beer, so it was twice the cost of our local spot. Mole sauces are very common and there are many variations on the theme. Mole only comes with chicken as far as I know.
What else, in no particular order:
Tacos are everywhere and universally wonderful. I’ve only had them two or three times when Peg bought 8 of them at 5 pesos each. This was from a spot just down the street. The beef is shredded ( never ground) with lots of cumino and I don’t know what else in it. I’ve seen them selling real small ones for 2.
In some places they cook the meat on a vertical spit like the Greeks and Turks. They slice it as it cooks and wrap it in two tortillas. Always 2. Peg has has lengua tacos. Tongue. I don’t kiss her lips for a long time afterwards. Tongue tacos should be included in Leviticus where whatever you don’t like can be condemned.
Tacos dorados, golden tacos, are tightly wound with bits of beef or whatever, and deep fried.
I seldom see burritos.
Tortas, everywhere. Tortas are sandwhiches. Always on fresh, locally made bread. I had one called una Torta Espanola. Ham and other meats, various cheeses, sauce. Tortas are always moist and filling. They start around 15, up to 28 pesos.
Milanese Breaded fillet of beef, pork or chicken in the style of Milan. No different from what you’d get just about anywhere but always good and inexpensive! Very thin. Might be served as a torta.
Gazpacho. There are little shops selling it everywhere. I was curious because gazpacho is a soup and why would people walk around eating soup? In Spain it’s a soup, but here it’s finely chopped fruit served with slightly spicy chile powder and grated cheese. Fabuloso!
Breakfast: Eggs al gusto (as you like them) and pancakes, just like the pancakes we know in the US. Most people eat tacos, enchiladas and other everyday items, often at sidewalk stands with a few bar stools attached to the cooking/serving unit. They start as early as 8 a.m.
Savory Crepes: There are savory crepes with ham, cheese, vegetables, and sweet crepes, hold overs from the days the country was run by the French. Maximillian lived here.
Fish and shrimp. Lots of it. Peg had a decent sized shrimp cocktail for lunch today for 25. I had a fish soup with a sizable piece of fish in it for 30. Very mild flavor. The fish looked like it dove in there. No points for presentation.
Hot sauces are served with most everything. They are mostly home made, both green and red. Commercial sauces might have an emulsifier in them so they don’t look the same. Some sauces are hot and some are very hot. If you get soup you will get finely chopped chilies and onions. The chilis are spicy and crunchy
Chicharrones (fried pig skins) are on every street corner. Sometimes they are huge, maybe 3′ x 3.’ Of course you buy bits and they put a red sauce on it.
Fresh potato chips join the list of the ubiquitous. A small bag costs 10. They are good but not much better than what you can get in a bag for less. Served with a red sauce. There are also long thin sticks right next to the potato chips, also served with a red sauce.
Tortilla chips Nary a one.
There are many local specialties but what I’ve mentioned are what you can get anywhere any day of the week.