If Walls Could Talk: Fonda La Reforma
“Stop!” I yelled as our car sailed down a narrow street in Colonia Guerrero, an area north of the historic center, bustling with funky Sunday commerce.
It was the sign on a corner restaurant that had caught my eye. “Fonda La Reforma: We’re backed by 75 years of tradition” it proudly proclaimed. I love tradition--and old, timeworn places. By the time I left my city of birth, New York, we had little of either left. But here in Mexico City, venues for nostalgia still abound. They linger, sometimes languish, waiting to be re-discovered and lauded by, well, people like me.
Aluminum soup pots, dented by years of serious stirring and ancient chipped cazuelas, browned by flame and mole, filled the window of the open kitchen. An old lady, in no hurry at all, stirred one of them. In another window the words “exquisito mole” were emblazoned over a crude painting of a mole pot. This is an archetypal fonda. It offers 35 or 40 peso comida corridas like any other.
But here there’s a difference. Besides its age--over 80 years--La Reforma has the distinction of having been a hangout for one of the most important writers of Mexico’s golden age, Salvador Novo. Poet, essayist, novelist and general bon vivant, Novo (1904-1974) was perhaps best known as a chronicler of life in the big city. A genuine eccentric, gay and out at an early age, he was sort of a Mexican Oscar Wilde but with a relatively happy ending. Novo loved all things urban, especially food. His Cocina Mexicana is an informal chronicle of cooking and eating in Mexico City. La Reforma appears in its pages: Novo ate here with Octavio Paz. One of the elderly owners claims that other famous people also graced her humble dining room, but she can’t recall their names. If walls could talk.
And they’ve got those chilies down! The crust is crisp but fluffy, the chile and cheese light as a cloud, the caldo de jitomate just thick enough and mildly spiky.
I sampled an earthy verdolagas con carne (purslane with chunks of falling-apart pork). The chocolaty mole (offered only Saturday, Sunday and Monday) is if not quite exquisite, certainly good. Lunches are served daily to old-timers and young locals alike. As they have been for 80 years.
I don’t promise a four-star meal at La Reforma. But for those wanting soul-satisfying, authentic home-style cooking in a prototypical inner-city D.F. fonda, this is the place.
Fonda La Reforma is located at the corner of calles Heroes & Degollado,
It's 2 blocks north and west of Metro Guerrero
Open daily for comida
A note to my readers: Good Food in Mexico City has been chosen by Saveur Magazine as one of the top Global food blogs! See:http://www.saveur.com/article/Kitchen/SAVEURs-Favorite-Global-Food-Blogs