Al fresco cafes and leafy parks form the backbone of my small corner of Mexico City, making it a fantastic location for an outdoors lifestyle, walking miniature dogs, sipping ruby red tinto de veranos and munching on tequila flavoured ice cream. However, Mexico City is not all sunshine and blue skies, and winters here can reach as low as 3˚C. When an ice cold margarita isn’t going to cut it, how can you get warm quick in CDMX?
One suitable pursuit would be to find a churrería, a café serving churros – blissfully crunchy deep-fried pastries. Most churros in Mexico City are coated in sugar and cinnamon, piped through a star-shaped nozzle to around 20cm long, and served warm. The history of churros is unclear: some argue that they are derived from the Chinese You Tiao, deep fried batter sticks. Others argue for a provenance from Spanish shepherds. But whilst the history is sketchy, their popularity in the present day is undeniable. They are sold everywhere: in bakeries, in supermarkets, by street vendors. But traditional churrerias take this to the next level by serving them with decadent chocolate sauces.
Bracing ourselves against the biting cold, my friends and I seek this traditional experience at El Moro. Founded in 1935, El Moro proudly claims to be the first to bring authentic churros to Mexico City. The warm cafe is adorned with traditional ceramic tiles and buzzes with the hum of chatter. A smiling middle-aged waitress dressed in a crisp blue uniform directs us to a table, and happily regales us with tales of the café’s street-cart roots. The business shows no sign of slowing down: a new branch is opening soon in Colonia Roma, dangerously close to my home. I ask her which chocolate she recommends. Her eyes sparkle as she answers: ‘The Español is very good. Very rich and dense and easy to cover the churros.’ I take the waitresses’ advice, whilst my companion orders the Mexicano, ‘the lightest’, deciding for the sake of our hip circumferences to pass on the Swiss with extra Chantilly cream.
Within minutes our waitress places our order on the table and we realise our rookie mistake: the plate is laden with no fewer than eight gleaming gold churros. My chocolate, which I had imagined to be a small bowlful, is instead a generous mugful of dark glossy liquid. I tentatively dip the warm-to-the-touch churros into the chocolate and take my first bite. My tastebuds are dazzled by the heady mix of cocoa, cinnamon and sugar. My friend’s ‘lighter’ Mexican chocolate is barely less indulgent. We are in sugar-chocolate heaven and murmur to each other in obscene raptures as we dip and crunch our way through the calories. Finally, we have to admit defeat, and ask to wrap our remaining goods up as a take-away. Clutching our precious greasy bags, we ride our blissful sugar cloud out of the shop, before being rudely blasted awake once more by the nipping wind.
El Moro is open 24 hours Monday-Sunday, and can be found at Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas 42, Cuauhtémoc, Centro, 06000 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico, phone +52 55 5512 0896, http://www.elmoro.mx