Taking a bite out of Mexico

When I first started travelling alone, dining solo was one of the few difficult parts of the journey. Not really knowing where to look, I would awkwardly spend the entire meal dodging the glances from pitying eyes and barely tasting my food.

But, here at Azul Historico, tucked away in an atmospheric 17th century courtyard in the centre of Mexico City, that is certainly not the case. I am not the only person with a table for one. A middle-aged gentleman to me left sips his glass of red as he flips through his well-thumbed paperback book. Another lady is sat over in the right hand corner tucking into her plate of food with complete concentration.

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Nobody cares about my predicament because I am not alone in being alone.

It seems a little strange but, as I discover once my glass dish of ceviche arrives, the food here is way too good to let not having a dining companion put you off.

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The Azul family of four restaurants, first established 14 years ago, has placed emphasis on returning once famous Mexican dishes from different parts of the country, to the dinner table at affordable prices.

Chef Ricardo Munoz Zurita’s quest to retain those traditions has earnt him the title of “anthropologist of Mexican cuisine”.

After I’ve polished off my ceviche – tender yet tart with a strong chilli hit – I’m dangerously full. But I’ve already ordered a main course of a fillet of venison in black chichilo – a “sophisticated” dark sauce made with chile ash.

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It’s rich, it’s heavy, sightly bitter and quite unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before. But it is moreish and delicious, and although I can feel it settling hard and fast in my stomach, I keep cramming it in, washing it down with generous slurps of robust Mexican cabernet sauvignon.

I’m sad to admit it, but there’s no way I can squeeze in dessert. However, I give the menu a good once over nonetheless – indulgent chocolate tamales are counterbalanced by low calorie options such as a fresh berry cup.

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The tamales tickle my sweet tooth but I resist the urge, taking the lead from my fellow solo diners who have by now hung up their knives and forks and left the building.

After all, despite enjoying my meal for one, dessert is always a dish that tastes far better when it is shared.

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