As a major business traveler hub, Tapachula is, if anything, a place to have a spectacular meal. From gourmet Mexican to hole-in-the-wall Chinese, it’s hard to go wrong in this town.
The southwest end of Parque Hidalgo has a row of open-air restaurants, each specializing in different Mexican dishes. The most popular is Los Comales (tel. 962/626-2405, 24 hours, US$3–8), which offers what many Tapachulans claim are the best tamales in town. If you’re a meat lover, head a couple doors down to Las Tablitas (11 a.m.–1 a.m. daily, US$5–8.75), where the menu is all about meat—rib eye steaks, lamb chops, and chicken shish kabobs—often accompanied with a steaming baked potato. All the entrées are served on a wood block, or tablita, hence the name of the place.
Hostal del Rey (4a Av. Nte. 19, tel. 962/628-9600, 7 a.m.–11 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 7 a.m.–3 p.m. Sun., US$3–7) is a cushy, air-conditioned place, popular with the blue-haired set. Breakfast combos are particularly good here, including a fruit plate and a bottomless cup of coffee (US$3.50–5).
A classic Chinese restaurant, at least by American standards, the red and gold Restaurant Confucio (5a Calle Pte. 8, tel. 962/626-4449, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily, US$5–10) offers an extensive and excellent menu—from chow mein and sesame chicken to Hunan beef and hot wings. Portions are hearty and the air-conditioning strong. Take out is available too.
Jin-Ma (6a Av. Nte. 3, tel. 962/122-3471, 9 a.m.–8 p.m. daily, US$2.50–4) is a tiny family-run restaurant in the city center. Dishes vary daily and are served cafeteria style. It’s a popular spot, especially for lunch; get there early to nab a table and to get the freshest of the entrées.
Considered the best restaurant in town, Casas Viejas (4a Av. Sur 30, tel. 962/625-2797, 9 a.m.–11 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 1–5:30 p.m. Sun., US$6–14) is set in a renovated casona with a lovely garden patio. The menu changes frequently but meals are gourmet intercontinental, many with Mexican flair. Start with a crisp and refreshing salad, which can be ordered as a half or full serving, the latter big enough to be a meal. Move on to the entrée—if you can’t decide on one, try the signature dish, salmón a la naranja, salmon cooked to perfection and served on a bed of mashed potatoes, all with a hint of orange. And be sure to save room for dessert—chocolatey delights and creative crepes will keep you wanting more.
The bustling Tortas Germán (8a Av. Nte. at Avenida Central Pte., no phone, noon–midnight Mon.–Sat., US$1–2.50) serves up some of the best burgers and tortas (Mexican-style sandwiches) in town. Tortas come on large rolls, stuffed with any number of meat and chicken combos plus mayo, mustard, onion, jalapeño—the works. Up the ante by adding a fried egg and ham, a classic Tapachulan move.
The cakes in the window are to die for at Ángeles Alta Reposteria (4a Av. Nte. 24-B, tel. 962/625-6800, 7 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, US$2.50–5), a stylish café in the heart of downtown. Cappuccinos and other caffeinated drinks aren’t too shabby either, all whipped up on a state-of-the-art espresso machine. Come here to catch up on postcards or to take a break from the hubbub outside. Breakfast is also served.
Mercado Sebastián Escobar (12a Av. Nte. at 5a Calle Pte., 6 a.m.–5 p.m.) is Tapachula’s bustling municipal market. Come here for just about anything—from fresh fruit and live chickens to flip-flops and bootleg CDs.
Supermercado Piticó (7a Calle Pte. near 2a Av. Nte., 8 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 7 a.m.–3 p.m. Sun.) is a small but well-stocked grocery store; expect basic foodstuffs, snacks, and toiletries.
© Liza Prado and Gary Chandler from Moon Chiapas, 1st Edition