Trip to the State of Hidalgo

This past weekend I took a road trip to the state of Hidalgo, about one and half hour north of Mexico City, with Lesley, her husband Crayton and Jon. Lesley had mentioned this trip a couple of weeks ago, but it wasn’t until Thursday that the organizers of some tamal and atole festival gave her the details. The venue was in the center of Tetepango (from the Nahuatl Tepantli  and Co that means close to the stone wall), Hidalgo. We weren’t exactly sure where that town was and how to get there, where we were going to stay, or what exactly the festival was all about. We decided to rent a car (none of us owns a car) and head to the unknown. We’re adventurous that way.
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When we got there we found out that the festival, the 7th Fair of Atole and the Tamal, was being held in the town’s deportivo (sports facilities) and that we were expected to be part of the jury that would pick the best tamales and atoles of the night. Lesley and I tried around 50 different tamales and 40 different atoles made by local cooks, mostly women. That was enough atole and tamales to last several weeks for me!. This is the 7th year that this festival is held in Tetepango and I’m very glad I was part of it. The organizers were very kind and got us hotel rooms in a beautiful water park a couple of miles away from the festival venue.

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The following morning they took us to Tlaxcoapan, the neighboring town, for breakfast. The state of Hidalgo is famous for its mutton barbacoa (not to be confused with barbeque). Some families have been in the business of making barbacoa for generations. We tried some delicious barbacoa de hoyo (pit or hole) that was cooked the traditional way, wrapped in maguey and banana leaves and cooked underground for several hours. But before trying the barbacoa we stopped at a local bakery to get cocoles (bread made with raw sugar) and conchas:

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This was a very fun, informative and delicious short trip. We got invited back to some of the other festivals in the region (barbacoa, pastes, pulque, among others). I’ll be there for sure. There’s so much to learn about this region’s cuisine that I will need to take several trips to just scratch the surface. I want to thank the organizing committee for having us and being such great hosts.

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¡Buen provecho!


  • Wow, how exciting! What a wonderful trip. It must have been a great experience.



  • That’s sounds like a fun activity…touring new places and eating!

  • It sounds like your trip was stuffed with delicious eats! That barbacoa looks delicious.

  • What a fun trip! Barbacoa sounds like Greek kleftiko although in Greece they would wrap it in the sheep’s skin then they would cook it in a hole in the ground filled with hot stones and embers and then sealed by packing soil over the top so that no smoke or steam would escape.

  • That sounds like a great trip Ben, but how on earth can you taste so many and then still make a judgement.. 🙂 I know I would be able to do that!

  • Nice post, Ben. I admit that although I have been to Hidalgo, I don’t know much about its cuisine–something I will have to remedy. I do remember a really tasty salsa amarilla made with artesanal chiles. Yum.

    I also love the idea of regional events like this. Where do you find them? Is there some sort of listing? I would make the effort to get there if I could!

  • I love when you do dishes like these.
    Obviously its really hard to find good mexican food here but we do drive about 1 & 1/2 hours away to the 2nd flagship store of whole foods (one of the biggest in the country) and they have a dedicated bar just for authentic mexican street foods. Imagine how much I order? LOL

  • WOw! Ben

    Que impresionate como has ido desarrollando tu pagina. Se ha convertido en toda una joya de recursos para los amantes de la cocina Mexicana.

    Mis felicitaciones y sigue adelante con este bello trabajo. Ten la seguiridad que te sera reconocido.

    Puedo poner un enlace en mi blog al tuyo?


    • Muchas gracias Mely y por supuesto! Sera un honor 🙂

    My in-laws live in AJACUBA which is I think where you stayed/waterpark reference.
    fun times.

  • Just spent three weeks here (Ajacuba, Tetepango, Tlaxcoapan) for the December holidays! The best barbarcoa (imho) in the area is in the town that is after Tlaxcoapan, in Tlahuelilpan where they have a huge open air market once or twice a week! The pan de fiesta with big mug of cafe de olla is the perfect breakfast. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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