No doubt Mexico is a foody destination. However, even if there are Mexican dishes that are popular throughout the country, Mexican cuisine is mainly regional, and every state has its own proud dishes or variations. In this post, I talk about the delicious food in Puebla, which is something you definitely need to experience. Its peculiar and original flavors are part of Puebla’s multicultural heritage, a mix of Arab, Spanish, and indigenous populations.
Puebla is the capital city of the homonymous state, situated in the center of the republic, at only a 2-hour bus from Mexico City. It’s an amazing destination if you are into history and culture but also with an overwhelming nature if you love hiking.
There are many things Puebla is popular for, such as the biggest Pyramid in the world, in Cholula, the Talavera pottery, the baroque architecture, but also for being home to Mexico’s most distinctive cuisine. In fact, Puebla’s rich cultural heritage, including Arabic, Spanish, and indigenous influences, inevitably reflects in the culinary traditions, which makes Puebla one of the main foodie destinations in Mexico.
Read also: 39 unmissable places to visit in Mexico
But let’s explore the most popular and original dishes that you will find in Puebla.
- Traditional food in Puebla: main dishes
- Mole Poblano
- Chile en Nogada
- Tacos Arabes
- Rajas Poblanas
- Traditional sweets in Puebla
- Popular Drinks in Puebla
- For further reading
Traditional food in Puebla: main dishes
The mole poblano is not a dish in itself, but a spicy and thick sauce made of cacao, different kinds of chile, and other spices, to be eaten with different kinds of meat and, of course, tortillas. The mole is a typical Mexican food that has originated in prehispanic times and has evolved along the years with many different nuances and more sophisticated flavors and colors. The original mole is from Puebla, but you will also find Mole from Oaxaca, Guerrero, and Veracruz.
Chile en Nogada
Chile en Nogada is an iconic food in Puebla. Still, it’s actually considered a Mexican dish since it represents the color of the Mexican flag. It seems it has been invented on the occasion of the Independence of Mexico to celebrate the important milestone of Mexican history. It’s a very peculiar dish that combines sweet and salted ingredients, not for every palate, for sure. And definitely not for vegans, although recently I have seen the vegan versions, which I haven’t tried. It is basically a sweet chile stuffed with a mix of meat, dried fruits, and different kinds of spices. It’s then breaded and fried and ultimately covered with the white sauce made of different kinds of nuts and spices (nogada) and sprinkled with red pomegranate seeds and parsley. Obviously, the original recipe is a secret that every restaurant in Puebla jealously keeps for itself. If you wish to try the real chile en Nogada, you must go to Puebla and in the right season which is from July through September. Not a bad excuse for a visit.
When I was in Puebla, my favorite guide, Ronnie, wanted me to experience this Puebla delicacy. Ronnie is a young and knowledgeable entrepreneur that you should definitely hire if you visit the city. I was vegetarian at that time, but I was curious to see this famous place with a long line of locals patiently waiting for their turn. I couldn’t believe it, and I wouldn’t normally wait so long for food, but I was curious and excited. When our turn arrived, faster than I imagined, I had the chance to see how the Cemitas are prepared. It’s a chain production job. Somebody cut the bread in two, and another one put the avocado, another the salad and tomato, another the stringed cheese, and another the breaded steak. The last one would deliver the food to you after you paid at the cashier. Perfectly organized and efficient. Obviously, when I asked that I wanted my Cemita without meat, I could see the puzzled look on the waiter’s face, but he obliged. My Cemita was stuffed with so much cheese I couldn’t even finish it. And I cannot honestly say I have tried the Cemita because it was the modified version. So when you try it, please tell me how you liked it.
So to try the best cemitas in Puebla then go to the Mercado del Carmen At Cemitas Las Poblanitas. They have been in the business for more than 30 years feeding locals and tourists with authentic cemitas poblanas.
There are different kinds of Chalupas that you can eat in different Mexican states, but the original one is from Puebla, and it’s a corn tortilla that has been fried in lard, with boiled green and red sauce, onion, and shredded beef on top. Chalupa means boat in Spanish because the tortillas shrink into a boat shape when they are fried.
Tacos Arabes are flour tortillas folded and filled with pork meat, Arabic style. The meat is cooked al Pastor’s style. How come in Arabic? In the 20s and 30s, there has been immigration from the middle east countries to Puebla, which brought a nice cultural exchange and blending, including food. Now the Tacos Arabes are completely part of the Mexican cuisine.
Molotes are a poblano snack that can be compared to gorditas or closed quesadillas, but they are different, mainly because they are deep-fried. On the inside, they can include various mixtures such as fresh cheese, rajas, potatoes, tinga, etc… while, the crunchy texture that characterizes the Molote is obtained from the mixture of corn and nixtamal dough that is fried.
The Pelona can look similar to a Cemita, but in this case, the bread has been fried in lard. The filling is made of shredded beef, lettuce, refried beans, spices, lettuce, and cream. Its name is attributed to meet strings overflowing from bread.
The Chancla is a small oval bread filled with meat, avocado, and onion. Some would also add cheese, sausages , and cream. Ultimately they are soaked into a guajillo sauce, a red sauce made with tomato, garlic, and other spices.
It’s a humble dish whose original recipe included chile poblano (Puebla Pepper) while in other parts of Mexico they use different kinds of peppers. The peppers need to be ripe and dark and roasted over a direct fire in order to be peeled easily. Then they are seeded and cut into wide strips or slices and sauteed in a pan along with onion, in low heat with the heavy cream. Some versions include tender kernels of corn, garlic, and cheese, or even meat.
Chileatole is a type of thick soup made of corn dough or corn kernels, cooked with corn chunks, epazote, salt, and a sauce made of chili peppers and pumpkin leaves. It is served hot and spicy.
Huaxmole is a typical dish from Puebla that is only prepared on special occasions, and it’s not very common to find in local restaurants. It’s basically stewed meat (preferably goat), chile (of course), and guaje (or huaje) seeds.
Here is a huaxmole recipe if you wish to challenge yourself with a Mexican dish.
They are a variation of the tortillas, hand made and thicker and smeared with lard. They are served with bean spread on top and a green or red molcajete sauce (a very easy-to-make spicy sauce) and grated cheese.
Traditional sweets in Puebla
There are about 300 sweets that are originally from Puebla. It is so much part of the culture that you can find a street named Calle de Dulces de Santa Clara (6 Oriente, between 5 de Mayo and 4 Norte), in the heart of Puebla’s historical center 2 blocks from the Zocalo. Here I am suggesting some of them that you absolutely have to try if you have a sweet tooth like me.
Tortitas de Santa Clara
Rounded shortbread-like cookies, shaped like mini cakes, and topped with a sugar frosting glaze.
Dulces de Camote
The Camotes de Santa Clara are candies based on sweet potatoes and flavored with various fruits (or vanilla). They have the shape of cigars and are often wrapped in wax paper in a nice fun presentation, a great souvenir to take home with you.
Wheat flour sweets fried in vegetable oil and covered with caramel and brown sugar with a hint of cinnamon flavor. Among the possible origins of this sweet, it seems they were created in the Huejotzingo convent.
Jamoncillo is another traditional sweet usually made with milk, sugar, and walnuts, seeds, pine nuts, or similar. It is often presented in the form of a bar that can be sliced at the moment in the desired quantity.
Sugar paste cooked and stretched in colorful bars or other shapes.
There are so many other sweets in Puebla that you really need a month to try them all without getting diabetes. For sure, you will need to forget your diet if you want to enjoy them.
Popular Drinks in Puebla
As an old Mexican saying goes, if you haven’t been to La Pasita, you haven’t been to Puebla. Probably a bit reductive but indeed La Pasita is a historical bar (cantina) located in Los Sapos, an iconic neighborhood in Puebla, where the liquor Pasita was invented. Here you only consume Pasitas, in many different flavors, served with a piece of goat cheese and a raisin, something that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. The original owners invented the sweet liquor about 60 years ago, and the tradition is proudly carried on by the son.
The majority of the historical dishes and drinks have been created by the nuns living in the convents scattered around Puebla. In particular, the Nuns of Santa Clara convent were famous for their culinary skills. In fact, many of the above-mentioned sweets are their creations. And so it was the Rompope, a drink that the nuns made with a little milk, cinnamon, eggs and sugar, and of course, alcohol.
Sidra de Manzana de Zacatlan
Apple cider from Zacatlan. Zacatlan is a small town in the middle of Puebla state that has been producing cider by hand for almost a century. The economy of the 33,000 inhabitants is based on the cultivation and harvesting of the sacred apple, which is the main economic source of the families of Zacatlán. According to residents, the origin of cider production dates back to 1928, when Gilberto Martínez Pérez founded the first artisanal cider-making factory, and it’s still the main source of income for 25 families. They have no secret, and the factory is open to tourists who wish to know about their history and traditions.
Everybody knows cacao, but it is less known that the prehispanic civilization considered the Cacao a divine drink, and it was even used as money. Even Hernan Cortes apparently paid his soldiers with cacao.
Chocolate (Xocolátl) is a very popular drink throughout Mexico, but every state has its own traditional way of preparing it. In Cholula, Puebla, cocoa is prepared with yellow corn, sugar and made in a wooden gourd from a tree called pancololote.
If you want to try the original water chocolate cocoa, you can find it all year round, mainly in the Cholula Market or on weekends in the zócalo. It is important to take it in the gourds (jicaras), as it was done in ancient times and not in plastic cups since it loses its real essence and flavor.
Also from the Sierra Norte is the Acachul liquor made by seeds or fruits of the same name. The Acachul is, in fact, a wild strawberry, a small fruit native to Acaxochitlán. The seed looks like a grape, but it contains just one seed inside, which at the moment of being cut and exposed to air and sun immediately turns purple.
The Acachul liquor is produced from these wild cherries and alcohol in Puebla, while in Hidalgo, it is prepared with fruit such as blackberry, lemon, orange, guava, and apple. To prepare the drink, they squeeze the fruit and add brandy and sugar and a delicious sweet liquor is ready to be enjoyed.
If you want to try the original Acachul, you must go to La Curva, the restaurant in the town of Xicotepec de Juárez where Quiroga Nava has been making this liquor for the past 30 years and selling it in his restaurant following his father heritage.
Originally from Cuetzalan, a small town in the Sierra Norte mountain chain, Yolixpa has originated as a curative drink made of 23 aromatic herbs, water, and aguardiente, a potent liquor that serves as a natural preservative. Initially, it was consumed just like that as a medicine against diabetes. However, as a digestive, they added sugar, piloncillo, or honey. And nowadays, modern Yolixpa can be found in different flavors, such as coconut, orange, or coffee’. I doubt it has maintained its healing property, with so much sugar added, but I am sure it’s delicious.
Obviously, the list of food in Puebla doesn’t end here. Go and discover your own favorite dish and tell me all about it in the comments below. I look forward to hearing back from you.
For further reading
- 35 Mexico travel tips that you need to read before traveling
- The 39 most unique places to visit in Mexico
- How to get to Cozumel from Playa del Carmen, Cancun and Tulum
- 3 great tips on how to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen
- 8 fun facts about Cozumel