Why I Love This City Where Americans Aren’t Always Welcome

It involves Taquito Mexicano’s al pastor, a secret beverage called chucho, and the Wise Man of Juaréz

A mariachi band plays at the Kentucky Club, hailed as one of the oldest bars in Juárez. Justin Hamel photos.

What I found was nothing short of revelatory: Here, in this place we are constantly told is filled with death, the city roars with exuberant life.

One from the late-night karaoke crowd at Bar Don Felix, the hole-in-the-wall bar that you can easily miss.
El Arbolito’s version of chucho.
The al pastor tacos — the only tacos available — at El Taquito Mexicano.
Julian Cardona sits in Bar Recreo.
In a Juárez street market, turkey tails are fried in oil and a mixture of spices.

And then something magical happened. A man overheard Julian and me talking about chucho: Where did it come from? Who in Juárez first started serving it? Why was it only in Juárez?

Patricia Leon, the matron of the chucho.
The author, left, and his girlfriend, Sarah Bertness, drink chucho at El Arbolito.

Independent journalist and founder of Unsolved Georgia, an investigation of the murders of more than 600 women here. Subscribe at justinglawe.substack.com/

Sign up for Heated with Mark Bittman

By Heated

Food from every angle. Take a look.

By signing up, you will create a Medium account if you don’t already have one. Review our Privacy Policy for more information about our privacy practices.

Check your inbox
Medium sent you an email at to complete your subscription.

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store