According to local lore, if you haven’t been to La Pasita, you don’t really know Puebla – the city center’s oldest cantina has been drawing imbibers for decades. Nearly 60 years ago, the owners invented a sweet, potent raisin liqueur, purportedly to help drum up business. Served in a shot-size tequila glass known as a caballito, the ever-popular drink, called pasita (“little raisin”), costs just a few dollars; you’ll find it garnished with a cube of pungent cheese and a raisin. The bar also pours a variety of artisanal drinks, whimsically divided into three categories: beginner, intermediate, and professional. Don’t leave without a sip of rompope, conceived by the (supposedly) teetotal nuns of Convent Santa Clara. Made from a varied recipe of ground almonds, eggs, rum, cinnamon, milk, and sugar, the drink ranks as a Pueblan favorite for holidays and celebrations.
The Puebla area boasts some 365 churches; in them, convents once flourished, and cloistered nuns dedicated themselves to cooking to pass the time. According to popular belief, mole (as well as many of Puebla’s other most esteemed recipes) originated in the nunneries, the result of sisters hoping to please their superiors. Prepared from a slew of ingredients as seemingly contradictory as chocolate, ancho chiles, peanuts, raisins, and sesame seeds, each version of mole is a chef’s treasured secret. Taste some of the city’s finest at El Mural de los Poblanos. Offering traditional mole atop turkey or chicken (plus many other dishes), the buzzy eatery also excels at variations such as pipián verde, a green mole made with pumpkin seeds. “I ate some of the best enchiladas I’ve ever had at El Mural,” says Hanna. “If you can’t choose a favorite mole, order the restaurant’s mix-to-taste option with three flavors.”