Mexico City Food and Restaurant Tip Sheet

Mexico City Food and Restaurant Tip Sheet
Last Update August 2018

I suggest opening each of the restaurants or other food destinations in your Google maps and saving them as favorites.  That way when you are in Mexico City, you can just open your Google maps and choose among the recommendations close to you.

Upscale

It’s worth noting that I almost never go to these types of restaurants.  Avant garde restaurants don’t interest me much anymore.  I’m more interested in what grandmas are cooking and time-tested traditional foodways, especially those that are disappearing.  So I’m going more on friends’ experience than my own in this section.

  • Pujol: I’ve met Chef Olvera at culinary conferences in Mexico City and he’s a nice guy and seems really dedicated to quality food. It’s very “avant garde” and I’ve had friends with wildly different reactions to the place. There is some suggestion it has gone downhill since Olvera is spreading himself out with other projects. This is on many lists of the best restaurants not only in Mexico but the world. (Polanco)
  • Quitonil: Less avant garde than Pujol, but still blending modernism with Mexican food, and probably the restaurant that makes the most “best of” lists besides Pujol. (Polanco)
  • Maximo Bistrot: Several friends consider this the best restaurant in Mexico City. It very much fits in with a modern, urban American aesthetic of simple, seasonal food with local ingredients and French technique. (Roma Norte)
  • Contramar: I’m friends with the owner who now lives in SF and has a restaurant there, Cala.  Not sure if that has affected quality. It’s a Pacific-coast seafood joint. Several of my friends in Mexico City consider this the best or their favorite restaurant in town. (Condesa)
  • Azul Historico: My experiences for dinner have been mixed, but I think it’s one of the best places for breakfast in the city. Gorgeous location. There are several Azul restaurants in the city, so it’s a good backup depending on where you are. I do have friends that like it more than I do. The chef is a prolific author with some of the most important Mexican culinary books in print. (Centro Historico)

Midscale

  • Nico’s: Old school restaurant which means it closes by 6pm. Busiest time is 3pm. Lots of business people and upper class families here. They take classic and colonial dishes and put a lot of thought into them. This is the type of place I would be more likely to call the best in Mexico City. (Azcapotzalco)
  • Roldan 37: In the Merced area, so just around the corner from a “rough” neighborhood, but a very nice restaurant that specializes in dishes using chiles, especially various chiles rellenos. (Centro Historico)
  • El Bajio: Now a chain with maybe 10 or so locations, most of which are open American hours. The original, which is very near Nico’s, is only open until 6pm. They’re very consistent. Not great, but solid, and easy to find if you need a good meal. (Multiple Locations; Original is in Azcapotzalco.)
  • Casa Merlos: Off the beaten path and closes at 6pm, but a great place if you like mole. Very old school. I may be the only tourist who’s ever been here given the surprise of the staff upon me walking in. (Observatorio)
  • Pasillo de Humo: Oaxacan restaurant in a relatively new hipster-oriented complex in a yuppie/international/tourist neighborhood. I was skeptical, but it’s actually very good, better than most of the midscale and upscale restaurants in Oaxaca City, even. (Condesa)

Downscale

  • Bravo Loncheria: Hipster tortas, but they’re really good. (Cuauhtemoc)
  • Casa de los Tacos: They do a lot of interesting tacos really well and also have bugs and such, if you are so inclined. One of the owners is a friend and author of the Tacopedia. This was the favorite after a week of eating for one my most critical friends. (Coyoacan)
  • El Vilsito: Late night taco joint that shares a building with a mechanic shop. Good al pastor and various dishes using al pastor. It’s often worth going to just for the scene, but the pastor is really good (Navarte Poniente)
  • Tacos Gus: Hipster tacos de guisado, but they do a really nice job with them and are one of the places that makes true vegetarian options. (Condesa)
  • Los Parados de Don Pepe: (Azcapotzalco)
  • Los Parados Monterrey: All about grilled meat and a billion options. If you’ve spent time in Sonora, it doesn’t live up to that, but it’s some of the better of this style in Mexico City and better than what you’ll find in the US. (Roma Sur)
  • El Albanico: I’m a little torn on this crazy-busy and enormous taqueria, but the carnitas are undeniably good. (Transito)
  • El Greco: tacos from a trompo with pre-pastor Mediterranean flavors. (Condesa)
  • Birria Don Chuy: 24 hour goat soup. Just a tiny little hole in the wall with mostly street seating in a not-yet-gentrified part of town. (Guerrero)
  • El Huequito: One of the oldest taquerias in town and one of the creators of al pastor tacos. They’re my favorite. Definitely get the al pastor on handmade tortillas and the “Wonderbra”, aka, chicharron prensado. Also chicharron de queso. (Multiple Locations; One near the bull ring is my favorite; The one in Centro Historico is the original; Many have late hours.)
  • Fonda Mi Lupita: Tiny little place. It’s really just about mole, though most of their menu is good. Closes at 6pm. (Centro Historico)
  • La Chinampa: Solid, but not exceptional, taqueria. Their chicharron de queso and costras are good. (Cuauhtemoc)
  • Los Cocuyos: Cabeza specialists especially good if you’re looking for something late downtown or want to try various parts of a cow’s head (Centro Historico)
  • Pollo Rio: I think this is the only rotisserie place I’ve found in Mexico City that uses an old wood rotisserie. Most use gas or electric. I don’t know if the chicken is better than any of the better places, but wood is nice change. (Roma Sur)
  • Los Machetes: Enormous quesadillas with various guisados and standard fillings like squash blossoms. (Doctores)
  • El Rey de las Ahogadas: Specialists in flautas — huge taquitos — served with or without broth. (del Valle)
  • Barbacoa Renatos: very good lamb barbacoa on Sundays only; the restaurant is in the same building as the family’s three homes. I worked with them and among the several places I’ve tried for barbacoa in DF, theirs is the best. (Azcapotzalco)

STREET STANDS

• Mercado Jamaica: A manageable market to go wander and also includes the flower market. There are blue corn tlacoyo and quesadilla vendors outside the parking lot entrance, plus really good quesadilla and huarache vendors in the middle of the building, though it may take a little wandering to find them. Mercado Merced is a lot bigger, but all the food vendors at Jamaica are good and safe. (Jamaica)

• El Caguamo: Famous seafood street stand. (Centro Historico)

• Mercado Coyoacan: Most famous for its tostada vendors (Coyoacan)

• Mercado de Antojitos: It’s all about the quesadilla vendors. (Coyoacan)

• Las Cazuelas: Little tacos de guisado street stand at corner of Havre and Londres near the Zona Rosa. Tacos de guisado are only available breakfast and lunch. It’s personally one of my favorite stands for the kind. (Juarez)

SNACKS & TREATS
• El Moro: 24 hour churro joint. Also has hot chocolate. Consuelos are ice cream sandwiches made with churros. I go here EVERY visit and have been going there since my first visit nearly 20 years ago. (There’s been visits where I have gone there EVERY day.) They have a couple more locations now, but original is best by a ways. (Centro Historico)

• Tepoznieves: Ice cream shop with interesting combination of flavors. (Multiple locations, but Coyoacan has one)

• Panaderia Ideal: One of the largest and most famous panaderias for various pastries. (Centro Historico)

• Dulceria de Celaya: Sweets shop. (Centro Historico) • Las Duelistas: Cool and good pulqueria if you want to try the pulque. Don’t get the unflavored stuff. (Centro Historico)

• Bendita Paleta: Great upscale version of paletas in Mercado Roma. There are some other decent places in Mercado Roma. Probably the other one that’s best is the cheese shop. (Roma)

• Café Passmar: Cool little European style coffee roaster and shop in the middle of a typical Mexican market. I like to take my coffee-loving friends here on the way south to Coyoacan or Xochimilco. (del Valle)

• Rosetta: Café and coffee shop with great pan dulce and the best laminated dough I’ve had in Mexico, if you need a croissant fix. (Roma and Juarez)

• Gastronómica San Juan: Cheese shop in the San Juan Market on Calle de Ernesto Pugibet. Few places sell gourmet cheeses from Mexico even though there are some great cheeses being made that compare to great French or Italian cheeses in quality. There are two Mercado San Juans. Both have good stuff. The other one has good rotisserie chicken (even with just necks) and tostadas, but this is the “gourmet” mercado on the plaza near Las Duelistas. Also look for the vendor with various salsas, chapulines, oils, etc. His stuff is great and he’ll let you taste everything. There’s a good little fonda inside, too.

BOOZE

• Pulqueria Las Duelistas: Cool pulqueria near the San Juan gourmet market. (Centro Historico)

• Alma Mezcalera: The best place to buy mezcal to bring home or a bottle or two to drink while traveling Mexico. Really the best stuff. His shop is out of the way, but worth an Uber. You’ll have to arrange a tasting with Erick, though, so connect to him via Facebook or other social media.