Tackle the building blocks of contemporary Poblano cooking at the Mexican Home Cooking School, where classes ($100 per person, including lunch, dinner, and drinks) cover everything from beef in mole verde to squash blossom soup, with plenty of customized instruction. Run by local Estela Silva and her Californian husband, the classes are held at the couple’s hacienda in Tlaxcala, 45 minutes from Puebla by taxi ($20 one-way, arranged through the school), and capped at six people per session. Book in advance.
Find culinary inspiration at the Venustiano Carranza Market (4 Poniente between 11 and 13 Norte), which offers piles of fresh herbs, dried spices, produce, and meats, hauled fresh from the surrounding countryside each morning. For the newest addition to Puebla’s food scene, head across the street to the 73,000-square-foot Mercado de Sabores Poblanos. This $4.1 million market-cum-food court serves local specialties like cemitas, pipián verde, and tacos árabes from 130-odd vendors in crisp, modern stalls. Don’t miss the dulces tipicas (about $1)—traditional Poblano sweets like camotes (candied sweet potato sticks) and jamoncillos (bars of pumpkin seed paste)—in the city’s dulceria district, located on the two blocks of Avenida 6 Oriente east of Avenida 5 de Mayo.
Explore the local watering holes by starting at Pulmex (Calle 4 Sur, between Calle 5 and 7 Oriente; no phone), a modest storefront where you can slurp pulque (85 cents for a cup, $2.50 for a liter), the lightly fermented pre-Columbian brew made from the sap of the maguey plant. Get a taste of Mexico’s burgeoning microbrewery movement at Barra Beer (5 Poniente 705; 222-298-0554), featuring hard-to-find domestic craft cervezas, like Primus and Cucapá ($3.25 to $4.60). For something a bit more potent, try a small sampling of mescals ($2.50) at A Go Go (3 Oriente 603; no phone), a trendy bar catering to the art-school set.