Maque - Mexico City
In a Nutshell
Maque has a pleasant ambiance. Great for people watching. And a young, friendly, and attentive staff. Good food with high-quality ingredients. Reasonable prices. Great for breakfast, brunch or dinner. But get there early or expect a wait.
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Maque is a small café and bakery with locations in both Polanco and Hipódromo (La Condesa) that is extremely popular. There aren’t many places in Mexico City where you’ll find a wait for a table at 9:45 a.m. on a Sunday morning, but that’s about when the line starts forming at Maque.
You can’t always judge a place by the “wait for the table” popularity scale as people are a bit like cattle. One will follow another over the edge of the cliff.
But by my estimation, Maque’s popularity is well-earned. The place has a nice ambiance. There’s nothing particularly impressive about the décor other than one humongous hand-crafted showcase for the pastries and baked goods (shown in the slider). All the female employees are decked out in cute “nanny” attire ... pretty white lace dresses and white turbans (way more appealing than the hairnets you’ll see at many restaurants). Being able to the watch the workers baking away in the kitchen adds to the ambiance of the place. It’s nice. Obviously, one reason it’s popular.
I suppose they thought the male waiters wouldn’t look good in lace dresses, so our waiter was wearing khaki pants and a white apron. Good decision, Maque!
He was attentive and friendly. There were occasional lapses. He didn’t bring the extra butter we requested. He only brought salt when I requested salt and pepper. Perhaps a communication breakdown. Food was served very promptly after being ordered. They have that part down pat.
In customary fashion, they bring around a tray of fresh-baked breads. I made inquiry and was told the Panque de Elote was gluten free. This is basically a sweet corn bread. It was delicious. Of course, they gig you for that muffin. $2 US (40 pesos). I ordered a Chai and made inquiry about a lactose free milk but it wasn’t to be. Only whole milk for your coffee or tea. You’ll be drinking your coffee black if you’re lactose intolerant. And you might want to double-check with the cooks to make absolutely sure that this bread does not contain wheat flour if you’re gluten intolerant. It had a cake consistency that sure seemed like a bit of wheat flour was in the mix. (By the way, ingredients aside, it was sweet and delicious.)
The hot cakes are a bit unusual. Traditionally, a pancake batter in the USA is poured onto a hot pan or griddle, then flipped, to cook the other side. The “hotcakes” at Maque are about ¾” (2 cm) thick (about twice the thickness of a pancake in the USA) and appear to have been cooked in some type of mold.
Notwithstanding the odd appearance and thickness, they were pretty good. Served with butter and maple syrup (the “right” way to do it) and a few tidbits of fruit on the side. The texture had the crumb of a cake. Not exactly right for a pancake but not bad for Mexico I suppose.
I also had the ham and Gruyere cheese omelet. It was yummy. That Gruyere cheese was great. It wasn’t melted, which was a bit odd. But it was so flavorful I can’t complain. Good ingredients compensate for minor execution flaws. I hesitate to even call it a lapse of execution because the fact that the cheese wasn’t melted may well have been intended.
Unlike a few bakeries in the city like Ballaró that emphasize European pastries and breads, at Maque, many, if not most of the pastries and breads use corn or corn meal as a primary ingredient.
Although most of the culinary chatter about this little café describe the lunch or brunch menu, they do have a separate lunch menu with sandwiches, soups, salads and tamales, all that very, very good. I’ll spare you the details, but you can see just how delicious they are by view the image slideshow.
Summing it up, Maque has a pleasant ambiance. Great for people watching. And a young, friendly, and attentive staff. Good food with high-quality ingredients. Reasonable prices. Great for breakfast, brunch or dinner. But get there early or expect a wait.