La Gruta – San Francisco Mazapa, Mexico - Gastro Obscura

La Gruta

Cool down and fill up after visiting Teotihuacán at this bar and restaurant in a deep, underground cave. 


Predecessors of the Aztecs ritually sacrificed untold thousands of enemies, prisoners, and citizens in Teotihuacán to please Huitzilopochtli, ensuring that the god would allow the sun to rise another day. Today, after a midday tour of the now-archaeological complex under the blaring sun, however, you may kill for some shade. Luckily, a quick walk from the grounds is a bar and restaurant shielded from all sides: La Gruta is literally in a cave.

Since 1906, visitors to the ancient city have cooled down and worked off their post-visit appetite in this little-known subterranean restaurant that’s 650 feet from the famous archaeological site. The impressive space is decorated only by its own natural features. Sun pours in through the upper reaches of the cave during daytime, while at night hundreds of candles cast a warm glow about the cool, echoey space.

The menu boasts an extensive selection of pre-Hispanic specialties such as tlacoyitos (corn cakes smothered in anise-flavored green sauce), the more adventurous escamoles al epazote (ant larvae with wormseed herb), and traditional pit barbecued meats ranging from rabbit to goat and lamb. A word to the wise, however: While no tourist-trap, La Gruta’s beautiful setting is the main draw and surpasses the quality of its dinners. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of mezcal and tequila across the menu if you wanted to stop by for just a drink.

Know Before You Go

While the space does fit 700, you're best-suited with a reservation. Note as well that the temperature does drop 10 to 15 degrees underground, so it wouldn't hurt to bring a light jacket.

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