Many people come to Taxco, a Pueblo Magico about 90 miles (145 km) southwest of Mexico City, to buy sterling silver jewelry in this town which was made famous and fat from the silver deposits that once surrounded it. With the silver mostly gone, Taxco has done a remarkable job of morphing it’s mine-town roots into a reputation as a great place to buy creative jewelry in silver and gold standard tourist attractions.
Tourists looking for a few pieces for themselves or as gifts rub shoulders with major importers looking to buy pounds of jewelry at a time to sell in the US or Europe. There are dozens of stores and sellers happy to oblige any customer.
But we think there’s an even more compelling reason to visit Taxco. Cake. And cookies. And pies and buns and breads…
The treats of Taxco
Every afternoon around 5:00 a red VW Beetle (circa 1970-something) rolls into the Plaza Borda in central Taxco, Mexico with a 4’ wide basket heaped with a dozen varieties of freshly made pastries, breads, cookies and confections. The crew of female vendors can barely set the basket on its stand before they’re swarmed by locals eagerly pointing to their favorite goodies (all less than US$1).
Luckily, the red VW returns with more lovingly-packed baskets strapped to its specially-designed roof rack until every morsel is sold. This is why the pastry ladies of Taxco made our Best Food & Beverages of 2010 list.
Work up an appetite for all those treats by taking in the architectural madness of the Santa Prisca church which anchors the Plaza Borda which is named after the church’s creator Frenchman Jose de la Borda.
The riches of Taxco
After making fortunes in Mexico, Borda decided, as rich men in the 1700s did, to build a church. The whole project was completed in just seven years but Borda spend nearly his entire fortune to do it, financing the project himself and retaining complete artistic control.
The result is an elaborately carved Churrigueresque-style exterior and a lavishly gold leafed interior. It was mind-blowingly fancy in 1758 and remains fantastical today.
The taxis of Taxco
No matter what lures you to Taxco, don’t arrive in a big pickup truck like ours. The streets are steep, slippery and eye-poppingly narrow and curvy. Creeping through town looking for our hotel was a white-nuckle trip in our truck and we nearly got jammed into a tight spot more than once. Needless to say, we didn’t fit into most of the parking lots either.
Even one of the world’s smallest cars, the ubiquitous VW Beetle, has to break out the fancy moves in order to negotiate the streets of Taxco as our Beetle Ballet video, below, shows.
The best way to explore Taxco is on foot up, over and around the steep streets. We ultimately arrived at the base of the enormous status of Jesus that looks down over town from up on top of a hill.
From this vantage point we really could see “my house.” That’s because in Taxco we stayed at Mi Casita. This 12 room hotel feels like what it is: someone’s house (the hotel was the family home of the charming women who now run it–say hi to Marta for us!). Every room is unique and full of antiques and airy patios and plants. Room #4, which is referred to as the “secret to love” room has the most romantic views over Taxco which sparkles like silver at night.
Every morning fresh baked goods, juice and bottomless coffee are served as well, just in case you didn’t already feel at home.
Pozole wars in Taxco
While in Taxco we also sampled some noteworthy pozole (white, green or red versions of a hominy-filled soup made with pork or chicken). First we went to Restaurant Santa Fe on Hidalgo Street where the red pozole was smoky and rich and wonderful (45 pesos or US$3.50 for a huge bowl) and the green pozole tasted more “green” than anything we’ve ever had. Just terrific.
Pozoleria Tia Calle right on the main square (Plaza Borda) presented itself as a contender too and the red and green pozoles were good here but we walked away preferring Santa Fe’s pozole (plus it was cheaper). Weirdly, Wednesday is the only day of the week that Pozoleria Tia Calle serves both red and green pozole–the rest of the week (closed Tuesday) only one version of pozole is served.
We also treated ourselves to the local cocktail which is called a Berta and is served at the Berta Bar, a festively-painted locals haunt right on Plaza Borda. A mix of tequila, soda water and a bit of honey this fairly delicious concoction is like a less sweet and all-natural version of a paloma (which is made with tequila and grapefruit soda).
It’s worth the short drive to Cacahuamilpa Caves National Park where you can explore part of one of the largest cave systems in the world.