Local Beer Over Questionable Tapas Is Always An Easy Choice
Tzotzil in Chiapas
We hadn’t done much in San Cristobal de las Casas, the cultural capital and tourist darling of Chiapas. It’s a city with a remarkably measured pace of life.
It’s also flush with travelers, at the heart of a poor state with a reputation for individualism and political rebellion. In the city center, there are no guerillas anymore, just harem pants-wearing tourists mingling with locals.
On San Cris’ central pedestrian walkway, Real de Guadalupe, international drinking options abound, coffee shop culture dominates the center, and tapas bars, for some reason, are all the rage.
One of the most popular tapas bars on the main strip, Viña de Bacco, pumps out tempranillo for 20 pesos and gives free tapas with every drink (which is nothing to write home about, as it goes; think tomato sauce smeared on untoasted bread with a soggy slice of ham slapped on top).
Crowds spill out onto the pavement, huddled over barrels-turned-tables, perched precariously on stools as they enjoy their imported wine, while locals walk past selling handicrafts.
Given the ebb and flow of activity surrounding the place, we were naturally sucked in, and opted to sit in the doorway when the mezzanine appeared off-limits. As it turns out, we’d picked the perfect spot to people-watch.
We declined the tempranillo and instead ordered a Tzotzil beer. Named for the indigenous Tzotzil people of Chiapas, the beer is produced by a Tuxtla Gutierrez-based brewery, allowing for an added layer of ‘craft beer’ smugness when ordering, not to mention far more flavor than many commercial alternatives.
It was delicious. Better than a glass of tempranillo any day. We’d only split one, but after trying it we wished we’d ordered another. In the heart of a city notorious for being overrun with travelers, the Tzotzil was a pleasant reminder that San Cristobal and Chiapas are still there underneath it all. Even if the beer doesn’t come with free tapas.