Anthony Bourdain Found His Favorite Breakfast In Mexico City

Chef and writer Anthony Bourdain was an ambassador for the idea of stepping outside your comfort zone and experiencing the rich diversity of life around the world. He implored others to explore, listen, learn, and enjoy more than what they see every day, and food was his jumping-off point. As such, he was a seeker of dishes and meals that help shed light on people and places, collecting many favorites along the way. Famously a night owl, while in Mexico City Bourdain found a new favorite for a morning recovery beyond coffee in Fonda Margarita.

On the first episode of the fifth season of his travelogue show "No Reservations," Bourdain visited the restaurant, which is famous for its ample selection of stews and (yes) freshly-roasted coffee. In clay pots, guisados simmer and perfume the air with heady aromas of meat, vegetables, and spice. To accompany them are warm tortillas, and a plethora of bright salsas that play off the rich stews.

This is decidedly a breakfast spot, as the hours run only from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., but in that window, Fonda Margarita packs in a healthy mix of locals and tourists angling for a taste. Lines are par for the course, which speaks to the delectable food and, for Bourdain, confirmed this place was worth stopping and waiting for. 

Hot guisados and fresh coffee

The gastronomy at Fonda Margarita is not molecular or exacting in a fussy sense. Here you find a kitchen that leans on tradition in the best ways possible. As mentioned, the pots — cazuelas, to be exact — are clay, and the grills are fed with charcoal. The restaurant itself is unassuming and casual even when percolating with activity as cooks dish up guisados based on the recipes of founder and namesake Margarita Lugo de Castillo.

Those recipes include her instructions for chicharrón in salsa verde, a dish that pairs fried pork skin with vibrant green and tart tomatillo sauce, and bistec en pasilla, which marries together thin slices of beef and a sauce made from dark, slightly sweet dried pasilla chiles. Apart from those guisados, Fonda Margarita diners clamor for the huevos tirados, a thick torpedo of black beans studded with scrambled eggs, the crackling churros, and the café de olla, dark roasted coffee balanced with piloncillo, an unrefined cane sugar.

This is every bit a fonda, a Mexican term for a small, informal restaurant. Running the show are Maragarita's children, who literally grew up in the restaurant. They manage the kitchen and the front of the house under the gaze of their mother, whose photo hangs prominently. Customers eat together at long tables fostering camaraderie as warm as the bubbling cazuelas. For a hot, hearty, heck of a breakfast, Bourdain was onto something here.