From street tacos and casual cantinas to smart seafood restaurants, the Mexican capital is full of flavor. The combination of historical roots, indigenous and colonial influences as well as contemporary gastronomic trends have put CDMX and Mexican food firmly on the world's stage. And most of the city’s top chefs are women! 👊🏼
I was only in town for five days, so I had to make every meal count. Based on my consumption, below are my recommendations for a delicious culinary journey through Mexico City.
Restaurante Lardo - One of Elena Reygadas' creations (2023's world's best female chef). This cozy Mediterranean restaurant provides service at all mealtimes, but the breakfast really stands out. I highly recommend the saffron risotto with eggs, olives and pine nuts as well as the rosemary and sugar bun.
Tr3s Tonala - Located in the Roma district, the quiet terrace provides a relaxing morning setting where you can enjoy typical Mexican breakfast dishes such as huevos rancheros and chilaquiles.
Cantina del Bosque - This traditional cantina, with its old school service, white tablecloths and roaming mariachi bands, has been a Condesa favorite since 1937. The salt-baked fish and the cheese and potato quesadillas are must-orders. Be sure to wash it all down with a margarita!
Taqueria Orinoco - The length of the line to order is a great indication of how good this taqueria is. Don't leave without having the tacos al pastor, which are arguably the best in all of CDMX.
Pigeon - After strolling through Plaza Rio de Janeiro, snag yourself a sidewalk seat at this bistro and people watch whilst sipping wine and slurping oysters.
Contramar - You will find this Roma neighborhood gem packed for the entire extended Mexican 'lunch hour' (which seemingly runs from midday to about 6pm). It's a place to see and be seen, known for its fresh seafood and vibrant atmosphere. The restaurant's signature dish is the tuna tostadas. The chef, Gabriela Cámara, is kind of a big deal. In 2019, she was appointed as food advisor to Mexico's President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
La Gruta - If you find yourself in Mexico State (about 45-mins outside of Mexico City), by the UNESCO Teotihuacan Pyramids, be sure to pop into this mystical cave for a meal. Bring a coat as it gets chilly in the grotto. Do yourself a favor and order the guacamole and barbacoa (pit-roasted lamb) tacos.
Soho House Mexico City - Soho House opened their first location in Latin America, in September of 2023, and it's BEAUTIFUL! You have to be a member, or be with a member, to enter.
New Year's Eve
On 31st December 2023, my dear friend Jodi Moreno teamed up with Edo Kobayashi to cook eighteen of us a six-course meal, at a really cool, intimate chef's table. She served biscuits with chili chive butter, oysters with ginger mignonette and crispy shallots, million layer potatoes with whipped ricotta, cauliflower parmesan soup, fried chicken with salsa macha and caviar and ended it all with a mamey creme brulee. It was a truly unique and filling way to ring in the new year!
I hope this list helps you navigate Mexico City's culinary tourism and captures the essence of its gastronomic prowess. Bon appétit!
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:
Airport Arrival: There are egates that US (and a few other) passport holders can use. Be sure to keep the printout for when you depart.
Big Little City: The population is over 21 million and it's 573 square miles yet, somehow, everyone knows everyone.
Weather: Temperate most of the year. A San Diego-like climate.
Reservations: Book restaurants and museums well in advance.
Tipping: Consider a 15% tip as standard.
Water: Only drink bottled or filtered water. Ice in drinks is usually made with filtered water.
Safety: Strolling around central neighborhoods like Roma, Polanco, Coyoacán or Condesa is generally safe, but always be vigilant. Police can be corrupt.
Taxis: Stay away from regular taxis and opt for Uber instead.
Altitude: Mexico City sits at an elevation of 2240m. You might notice you are more tired than usual after a day or two of arrival. Stay hydrated.
Earthquakes: Mexico has a sophisticated seismic alarm system that gives up to a 60-second warning before an earthquake hits the city.