Oaxaca; officially known as the Free and Sovereign State of Oaxaca; is one of the 31 states, that along with the Federal District, make up the 32 federative entities of Mexico. El Biche Pobre is one of the most well known and appreciated restaurants in Oaxaca.
El Biche Pobre is one of the most longstanding restaurants in Oaxaca, with a reputation for good, traditional Oaxacan food, in a relaxed environment.
El Biche Pobre opened its doors downtown; Jalatlaco neighbourhood; in 1973. It subsequently opened a branch on nearby Calzada de La República. Both restaurants maintain a strong following of locals, and to a lesser extent tourists; serving traditional local food in a relaxed, pleasing environment.
Ambiance and Service
The restaurant consists of two levels, similar in decor, each with about a dozen wooden tables with smart, locally produced colourful cotton tablecloths; Matching chairs are lightly padded. Detracting from the otherwise comfortable ambiance of the main floor dining room is the distraction of the television and the continuous din of street traffic.
Service is swift; drink orders taken almost immediately upon seating, followed by the arrival of a basket of crisp tostadas with crackers and mayonnaise, along with bowls of green and red salsa, guacamole and marinated chipotle chillies. The condiments, though not exceptional, were freshly prepared and tangy.
El Biche Pobre is noted for dishes which enable the tourist to sample Oaxacan food the way it has traditionally been prepared, and residents of Oaxaca to eat as close as possible to the home-cooked meals they enjoy at the residence of their grandparents and great grandparents. The tortillas, however, are machine made and less than ordinary, thereby detracting from what otherwise would have made for flawless meals all round.
Oaxaca is known for its tlayudas, or oversized tortillas, prepared either open-faced or folded, traditionally made with asiento (pork fat paste), refried black beans, melted quesillo (oaxacan string cheese), shredded lettuce and sliced tomato, served either plain or with grilled cecina (pork), tasajo (beef) or chorizo (sausage). This tlayuda did not disappoint, and ranks with the best in other local restaurants or roadside eateries.
The pollo a la plancha (grilled chicken) is served with french fries and salad, but for the calorie conscious double salad is offered upon request. The protein is perfect for the diet crowd since it consists of a healthy serving of boneless breast, lightly seasoned and with little oil.
Wonderful Mole Amarillo de Res
The most impressive dish was the mole (pronounced molay) amarillo de res (beef with yellow mole), absolutely exceptional. The beef, along with both green beans and chayote cooked to the perfect point of crunchiness, was served swimming in a bowl of Mole Amarillo; just as the recipe has been prepared, generation after generation.
The mole maintained its appropriate degree of heat and complexity; flavoured with fresh hoja santa, clove, cumin, peppercorn, chilli guajillo, and other requisite ingredients.
The bill for three, excluding gratuity, came to just over 350 pesos, for the complimentary tortilla chips, salsas and guacamole; three main courses; three soft drinks; and two micheladas (beer, served with a spicy mixture of usually lime juice, tabasco, tomato, worcestershire, and sometimes maggi). The one dish priced higher than it perhaps ought to have been, was the tlayuda, at 75 pesos. At the other end, one could not put a value on the quality of the mole. All alcoholic beverages are quite reasonably priced, with domestic beer at 20 pesos, and quality brands of mezcal at 30 pesos.
El Biche Pobre is definitely worth a try: For good, traditional Oaxacan food in a basically pleasant environment, this Oaxaca restaurant should not disappoint.
El Biche Pobre, Comedor Familiar Hours: 8 am to 8:30 pm, 7 days
Calzada De la República No. 600,