Manny Arce Couldn't Get Enough Ant Larvae In Mexico City

Seattle chef Manny Arce traveled to Mexico City to familiarize himself with the country's food.

Chefs love to travel — for inspiration, to experience the cuisines of other cultures or just to get away from the heat of their own kitchens. When they return, we hit them with some questions — where'd they stay, what'd they do and WHAT DID THEY EAT?

What better way to learn about Mexican food than to, well, visit Mexico? Manny Arce, executive chef of touted restaurant Poquitos in Seattle — and formerly of The Emerald City's La Spiga and Bastille — just returned from Mexico City. Traveling with his chef de cuisine, Arce spent time exploring the city and familiarizing himself with its current food trends, as well as revisiting classic Mexican food. The two also checked out the Museum of Anthropology and learned about the history, cultures and geography of the country. He wrote in to us with updates from his trip.

Where are you just back from?

I just returned from Mexico City, in the La Condesa neighborhood.

Business or pleasure?

The trip was business for sure, but also a real treat.


A highlight was visiting the Anthropology Museum. It's huge! It was a nice break from all the eating and very eye opening to see the different tribes and regions of Mexico and the differences between all of them.


The lowlight would be the flight home. A six-hour layover in an airport is never a good time.

What airline(s) did you fly and how was it?

I flew Alaska Airlines to Mexico City and a combination with AeroMexico on the way home. Beyond the layovers, I'd say the flights were decent. I'd suggest flying direct, if possible.

Where'd you stay and what's your mini-review of the place?

I stayed at The Red Tree House, which is a bed and breakfast run by a kind and helpful staff. A Mexican breakfast specialty was served every morning. The rooms were great and reasonably priced. The Red Tree House is in the La Condesa neighborhood, which is really hip, clean and has tons of nice places to eat.

What was your best meal on the trip?

I ate my best meal of the trip at Pujol. The food and the service were nothing less than amazing and they provided a super interesting way to see Mexican food. My two favorite dishes were the baby corn Esquites with ant larvae and clam ceviche with sea beans and avocado. Contramar was an awesome dining experience as well. I've never had such an array of Mexican seafood options!

Did you bring anything back and if so, what?

I brought back some books for further research and a t-shirt for my daughter. I really liked that Mexico City didn't feel so touristy. It was nice not to be bombarded with people selling trinkets at every corner.

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