Chef Dakota Coburn and his brother are on a culinary pilgrimage across Mexico, seeking out original and authentic flavors. Upon his return, he will showcase his discoveries at Centro Latin Kitchen & Refreshment Palace, giving diners a chance to experience the depth of flavor of these inspiring Mexican specialties. This blog series, written by Coburn, serves as a travelogue of the trip. For more of his adventures, check out his personal blog here.

April 17, 2016: Mexico City

Sunday in Mexico City is rather quiet, unless you are at the mercado. We chose to visit La Merced, the biggest street market in all of Mexico. What an experience—and we only covered a quarter of the 106-block area. From local produce, fish, and meat stands to endless stalls of cheap commodities like shoes and bags, this market is unlike anything I have ever seen. The highlight was a huarache from a local vender—a corn tortilla that’s pressed out to look like a sandal, fried on the plancha, and topped with your choice of fillings. We chose the flor de calabaza, or squash blossom. The blossoms were sautéed with a little oil and salt, and then topped with melted Oaxacan cheese. Add that to the corn tortilla with an ample amount of fiery chile paste, and you have an unforgettable street snack.

Chiles en nogada
Chiles en nogada in Puebla

April 18, 2016: Puebla

Arriving in the historic town of Puebla, we were stoked to taste the local classics. Mole poblano, chiles en nogada, tacos Arabes, and chalupas were all on the docket for this leg of our trip. We wasted no time and found a restaurant on the edge of the zócalo (town square) serving chiles en nogada. This classic dish consists of a meat-stuffed poblano that’s deep fried and topped with walnut sauce and fresh pomegranate seeds. Visually it is beautiful, with the white nut sauce, red seeds, and parsley to garnish. On this particular occasion, the chile contained a mixture of chicken and apples, and the sweet and savory elements complemented each other perfectly. The food from Puebla left a lasting impression; these inspirations will be finding their way onto the Centro menu soon.

For the first installment of Dakota’s blog, click here.