I realize that I'm not exactly breaking new ground by writing about Cantina La Mascota. I didn't discover this place, not by a long shot: Other bloggers and food writers have rhapsodized about it, and yes, even Anthony Bourdain went there on No Reservations.?
And while I hate to be a follower, I simply have to join the ranks of admirers and tell you about it because, well ... the food here is free. And I'm not talking bar snacks. This is real food, from a menu that changes daily. The catch? You have to buy drinks. That's it.
But, contrary to what Bourdain would have you believe (I just love correcting that man!) you do not have to keep drinking copious amounts of booze in order to keep eating. In fact, of the three times Poppa and I cozied up to a table here, we only drank to excess once. ?The other two times we had just a drink or two each, and we still ate whatever we wanted. I won't go so far as to say this was the very best food we had in Mexico City, but it was?really, really?good, and so much better than it needed to be considering it's free.
The free food, however, is just one reason we kept coming back - we loved the neighborhood feel of it, the jukebox with mambo music, the fact that patrons got up and danced with some frequency, and the friendly staff. In fact, by our last visit we were treated like regulars. Ah, if only we could be.
I also liked that roving musicians would come in and ask if you'd like them to play a song at your table.
(Of course if you say yes, you must tip.) Check out the video Poppa made - I think that what this fellow lacks in ... tunefulness, he makes up for in enthusiasm. (Stay tuned to the end if you want to see Trix give the camera the old stink eye):
I am ashamed to admit that I cannot remember the precise name of each and every dish we had, nor can I recall the order in which we consumed these things. Perhaps the booze had something to do with it? Luckily a picture is worth a thousand words, so let the (relatively) wordless part of this wordy Wednesday post commence.
Behold the free food!
A word about that photo above - all of those guys brought us something over the course of the evening. Make sure you tip everyone individually to avoid confusion. We learned this the hard way.
And there you have it - good free food, quality cheap drink, and friendly company. What more could you want out of life?
Next time: the markets of Mexico City. Until then - Buen provecho!