Guidebook: Old Mexico in Morelia

Times Staff Writer

Getting there: You can fly directly to Morelia from LAX after stopping in Mexico City, or take a bus or rental car from Mexico City. Mexicana has one direct flight (with one stop) to Morelia daily, and several connecting flights. United and Aeromexico also have connecting service. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $430.

To Mexico City only, Delta, United, Aeromexico and Mexicana fly nonstop, with restricted round-trip fares beginning at $388.

From Mexico City, Morelia is a four-hour bus ride each way on the ETN line, leaving from the Observatorio bus station in the west central city. First-class one-way fare is $27 (which includes a sandwich and drink) on a luxury bus with air-conditioning, video monitors, headphones and restroom. Reservations: 011-5255-5567-9634. Cab fare into town from the new Morelia bus station is $5. Telephones: To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 52 (country code for Mexico), 443 (the city code) and the local number.


Where to stay: In the historic center, the Hotel Virrey de Mendoza is in a 17th century mansion fronting the main drag, Avenida 310 Madero Poniente, and opposite the Plaza de Armas; telephone/fax 312-0633, A double room is $115 per night with tax.

Those with ample budgets who want to be away from the bustle of the city center might consider the Hotel Villa Montaña, 201 Patzimba, 314-0179, fax 315-1423,, generously decorated with rustic antiques and located on a hill in the upscale Santa Maria neighborhood. Standard double rooms are about $200.

Where to eat: La Capilla, in the 200-year old Hotel Soledad, 90 Ignacio Zaragoza, 312-1889, had great corundas, typical Michoacán corn tamales, and pollo plazero, or chicken cooked with carrots and potatoes. Dinner entrees are $9-$14.

Good steaks and other traditional fare, including crepes filled with squash and covered in Oaxaca cheese, are available at Fonda Las Mercedes, 47 León Guzman, 312-6113. Entrees $5-$14.

For great seafood, try the restaurant at the Hotel Villa Montaña (see above). Good value: Dinner for five, including wine and drinks, was $185.

An excellent place for breakfast is the restaurant on the roof of the Hotel Los Juaninos, 39 Avenida Morelos Sur, 312-0036. The restaurant offers a splendid view of the cathedral just to the west, which on clear days is framed by Mt. Quinceo to the north and Loma de Santa María to the south. Breakfasts range from $4.50-$8.50.

For more information: The Michoacán State Tourist Office, 79 Avenida Nigromonte at Madero Poniente, 317-2371, is well-stocked with maps and brochures. Or contact the Mexican Government Tourism Office, 2401 W. 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90057; (213) 351-2069, fax (213) 351-2074, https://www.visit