After spending about 2 weeks in Guatemala and over two month in the rest of Central America I was excited to finally get to Mexico. Even though I was visiting places I had never visited before I was excited to be back in a country I had been to many times in my life growing up. I was also excited to finally have Mexican food again.
So I made my way from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala to San Cristobal de las Casas and along the way had an interesting Chicken Bus ride. After arriving in San Cristobal I realized that it was not a place for me. I ended up spending only two days there and making my way to Oaxaca. I was looking forward to Oaxaca for two reasons: 1) I had always heard amazing things about this city and was excited to finally visit it for myself 2) I was going to be there at the same time as Erika and Shaun from Over Yonderlust.
After taking my first night bus ride (12 hours long) I was finally in Oaxaca the city of many things chocolate, mezcal, romance and apparently carne asada as well. Upon arriving at the hostel I formally met Erika and Shaun and hit it off well. We all knew Oaxaca was supposed to be amazing, but were not sure what to do. So we spent the days walking around the city visiting the markets, seeing the sights and eating food all around us.
One place that caught our eye was a strange alley that was filled with people cooking carne asada. We walked through it and had a million people ask us to have them cook their carne asada for us. The first time around we thought nothing of it. Then we walked towards the back and saw people preparing baskets with vegetables and other sides. We were confused and then even more when we saw people eating entire meals at tables nearby. We just thought that it was strange and weren’t sure how it worked? We went back to the hostel and chatted with others and come to find out you can eat there but you have to get everything separately and they will prepare it for you.
So we got the scoop of how this carne asada alley worked and went back the next day. So how it works is you walk in pick up a basket of vegetables (mostly onion & peppers) and hand it to any of the carne asada vendors that you want to eat from. When you hand it to them you tell them what meat you want from them and how much you want cooked for you. In our case there was three of us so we went with ½lb of carne asada. While the carne asada is being cooked the booth you picked the vegetable basket from comes by and ask what sides you would like with your carne asada. You have about 10 options to choose from. You can get them all or just the ones you want. We went with guacamole and pico de gallo. A while later the gentlemen who cooked our carne asada came and dropped off the basket with carne asada and some huge tortillas. They hand the cooked vegetables to they vegetable people and they prepare them for you. Once you have everything you are given some sheets of paper to eat on and you are ready to start eating.
While eating we were left in awe about how delicious the meal was. Seriously it has been one of the best meals I have ate on my entire trip (aside for my love of Pupusas in El Salvador). I do not know if it was because of how it was cooked or if it was because I was craving that home cooked meal feel I got from it. The tortillas were so big all we could eat each was two tacos. The tacos though were filled and stuffed with all the sides along with some of the spiciest pepper I have ever had in my life. My mouth was burning and I had a sensation I was loving.
If you are going to Oaxaca this is definitely an experience you can not miss out on. Now that its been a while since I was there thinking back on it I can not stop but think this is the best concept of carne asada ever. I know Mexicans as much as Texans LOVE to eat carne asada and I think this concept is something that is truly amazing and could work anywhere. I am surprised that I have never come across anything like this. This is definitely something I wish I had in Houston.
So have you been to Oaxaca and tried this or is this something you think could work in your home city? Have you ever experienced something while traveling that you wish you could have back home because it was awesome and because you know it could work out?
P.S. I know I also promised a blog post about eating bugs in Oaxaca that would include a video. I still plan on doing that post, but it will not happen until I get home. I have not been able to find an internet connection that will allow me to upload the video.