Prendes has two marks of distinction: consistently good food expertly served, and a wonderfully realistic mural depict­ing more than 200 persons who have patronized this no-frills restaurant near the Zócalo on Avenida 16 de Septiembre. Zapata and Porfirio Díaz confront each other on horseback, while every­one from Gary Cooper and Enrico Caruso to Leon Trotsky and Mickey Mouse look on.

Prendes has added a wide range of meat and fowl to its traditionally seafood menu. You can choose your own steak, or red snapper, or abalone from the glass case near the kitchen. Don’t hurry: one of the best parts of a Pren­des meal is the variety of entremeses—hors d’oeuvres and sauces—arrayed before you as appetizers. If you feel ad­venturesome, Prendes will proudly serve you gusanos de maguey, a dish made from the worms inside the tequila plant. Service is formal and superb. Prendes is patronized almost exclusively by Mexi­can businessmen; there are few tourists here. The place is invariably packed at lunch with regulars claiming their tables. So go early or late; you may even end up in the mural.