Food and Drink

In Praise of the Humble Comedor

When you fancy something to eat that's traditionally Mexican, seek out a local 'comedor'

A Comedor at a market in Mexico

Mexico’s enormous range and diversity of native foods and flavors is reflected in its wide choice of restaurants, diners, bistros, market food stalls and other eateries which offer their customers varied menus ranging from regional and traditional Mexican dishes to international specialties—and fusions of these.

When you fancy something to eat that’s traditionally Mexican, seek out a local comedor. (They are sometimes also referred to as fondas or cocinas económicas.) In Spanish, comedor means dining room or dining table, and in Mexico the word is also lent to describe places where you can sit down in an informal atmosphere and order from a set menu of the day’s dishes which feature delicious home-cooked meals prepared using fresh local produce.

Comedores don’t feature shiny doors, air-conditioned dining rooms, or gimmicks like soulless toys dispatched alongside the food. More often the traditional ‘open kitchen’ comedores are situated in private patios, converted garages or other rooms in private houses, or at local markets.

Most comedores are family-run efforts and serve two or three ‘specials’ each day, plus a range of home-cooked ‘staple’ options, each one offered with a bowl of the day’s soup, and Mexican-style rice and beans on the side.  Also included in the price is the agua fresca —juice of the day— freshly prepared using seasonal fruit; or you can choose from a selection of sodas from the ice box. (Some places also offer a small selection of Mexican beers.)

A good square meal at a comedor including soup and a drink trades for between fifty and seventy Mexican pesos: US$2.60-$3.70. Every town and city features them and the best places to look are at the local markets (and vicinity); or better, ask someone locally for a recommendation.

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3 Comments

  1. Peter B. says

    Here in Ciudad de México (CDMX, Mexico City), many fondas have an extensive list of daily specials (five to 10, or more). The meals are served in courses: typically rice or pasta, a choice of two soups, and the “guisado”, which is the main dish. Some, but not all, give you a little dessert, most commonly gelatin.

    I would call the aguas frescas (or “aguas de sabor”) “juice drinks” or “ades” (limeade, orangeade), often extending into exotic (pineapple with cucumber and or mint) or tropical (guava, passion fruit, tamarind) flavors.

    The pricing may vary, depending on which guisado you choose. You may also have the option of having a fried egg or slices of banana on your rice, for a few pesos more.

  2. B. Buckman says

    Where I live these ‘comedores’ are called ‘cocinas economicas’ perhaps short on atmosphere but long on flavor. And, the prices are designed for those who don’t carry much walk-around-money.

  3. Ceol says

    I’m Mexican, and the most of the comedores, fondas and taquerias are regulated by health officials, even the ones at the streets. Buen provecho!

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