Mexican Cuisine
"Boing!" and "Pato Pascual" at

A Real Mexican Restaurant
Yecapixtla, Morelos

Photographs and Text by John Todd, Jr.

Time to Eat
One Sunday we were driving back to Veracruz from Taxco and Cuernavaca and were about half way to Puebla. We were driving through the hard scrapple in the state of Morelos where itīs dry and thereīs lots of rocks. Not much grows here. We still had a long way to go and it was late afternoon.

The friends I was travelling with really know Mexico and they suggested we stop for lunch.

Up ahead was Yecapixtla, Morelos. Itīs about halfway between Cuernavaca and Puebla. They told me the specialty of the little town of Yecapixtla is "cecina", a delicious thinly cut steak.

A Restaurant with a Droopy Awning and "Boing!" Soft Drinks

An Oasis
There wasnīt much traffic that day as we drove into the small village of Yecapixtla on the main highway. Then all of a sudden we noticed something like 10 restaurants all advertising the same thing. cecina. There were hawkers in front of each open front restaurant welcoming people in.

For a small town like this, parking was a problem. I guess the aromatic smell of smoke from the charcoaled barbeque made it impossible not to stop for a bite to eat.

Fresh Tortillas on the Sidewalk
Tortillas on the Sidewalk
Soon we pulled into the little town, and you could see several small restaurants with people cooking fresh tortillas on a large "comal" out in front, and the smell of the meat cooking mixed with little onions seemed to make us hungrier.

None of the restaurants looked like much, so I just followed along with my friends. I found they always knew best.

Real Mexican Food
We found a parking place next to the restaurant advertising "Boing!" and "Pato Pascual" soft drinks. From the looks of things, this didnīt look like "El Chico". Later, I found it was a lot better.

And I donīt remember the name of the restaurant. Itīs just one of the typical places youīll find in the small towns across Mexico.
Cecina by the Kilo
To Find Yecapixtla
Later, I was trying to find Yecapixtla on a map, and I think itīs somewhere on the road between Cuautla and Amecameca in the western shadow of the volcano Popocatepetl.

I am not still not sure to tell people how to get there.

I guess it doesnīt make much difference because you can find little towns like this almost anywhere in Mexico that become jam packed on Sundays to take care of families or groups on outings such as ours.

Where there is a river there is a town, and people. Outside of town, it was very dry and rocky, and itīs even hard for goats to find something to eat.

Each Restaurant Is a Meat Market
In front of each restaurant was something like a meat market, and the butcher was doing a land office business, with people standing in line to buy all kinds of meat.
In addition to the "cecina", there was also Mexican "chorizo" and "longaniza".

It looked like what started as a roadside butcher shops expanded into family restaurants where the whole family was involved.

At the Entrance
We found a parking place and slowly walked past the butcher into the restaurant taking in the sounds of the people and music. The smell of charcoal grilled meat cooking made us hungry.

At the entrance, just past the meat market stand, we pass a girl preparing cebollines to place on the grill.

Large families had pulled together 2 or 3 tables and were eating from the assortment of charcoaled meats on different plates.

The food not prepared back in the kitchen but off to one side of the "dining room". Practically in front of you.
Sitting Down to Eat is a Special Time
In the background is the sound of accordions, guitars and bases of Norteņo band offering to play requests.

Lots of tortillas, plates of charro style beans, and refrescos.

The smoke from the charcoal, the live music in the background, the hustle of the waiters and waitresses is the atmosphere that Tex-Mex restaurants try to duplicate.

An Average Weekend Only Restaurant
In Mexico this is an average small town weekend restaurant, in the States this would be unusual.
Child Waiter Giving Directions
The Menu is on the Wall
The food is fresh, and delicious without the fancy names like the "Acapulco Dinner" or "Enchilada Plate" for the dishes.

In fact there isnīt much of a menu. It was written easily on the wall.

In Yecapixtla, you order the meat by the kilo.

In Mexico, mealtime is a time for family and friends to be together.

To talk, listen to music, and just enjoy being together.
Cecina on the Charcoal Grill
Everybody in the Family Works at the Restaurant
In a family owned restaurant where almost every member of the family who can walk is involved in the operation.

It is almost like one family serving another, and you are visiting their home.

Through the confusion of the meal, wandering vendors come by each table under the tolerant eyes of the waiters, offering different things, like wrist watches, souvenirs of the area, or novelty items for the kids.
Our Take Home Order
There is always a local photographer to take a picture of the family to take home as a souvenir of their meal in Yecapixtla.

Better Than Home Cooked
And the food is almost like being at home, or at least what I would like it to be at home.

When we were through, there wasnīt much left and the waiters moved in to clean tables.

The meat was so good! Juicy and a little spicy but not bad. And back in Veracruz itīs not that easy to find good cecina.
Our Take Home Order
So on the way out, we picked up a couple of kilos to take home. Since the meat has been marinated, it wouldnīt spoil during the 6 hour trip back to Veracruz.

Preparing Cecina at Home
When I got back to Veracruz, I began to experiment with making my own cecina.

Iīm a lazy cook, and found itīs not hard to prepare. I marinate the meat in fresh lime juice, sprinkled with garlic salt.

When the meat is ready to cook, I throw in a couple of onions to make the fire smoke and give the meat a special taste. Itīs not as good as cebollines, but it works.

When guests begin arriving to try my cecina, I put my best Tigres del Norte CD on.The atmosphere at home is not exactly the same as the restaurant in Yecapixtla

Well, itīs almost like being in Yecapixtla again.

Back to the Traditions Section