Having lived in Mexico City for 5 years, the food scene was amazing. Whether getting Tacos on the street, or heading to a 5 star restaurant, there was an over abundance of choices. Mexico City is huge and navigating it sometimes seems daunting. I remember waiting in traffic for over 5 hours. But the rewards are amazing in an amazing urban center.
By population, the capital city of Mexico is the largest city in North America and it is also one of the oldest. With 26 million people living here the natives that lived in the area only date to 1325 when it was the Aztec capital then known as Tenochtitlan. In 1521 the Spanish Conquistadors ravaged the city lead by Hernan Cortes and then became the capital of the Vice Royalty of New Spain until Mexican independence in 1812. The history of the city is quite literally the new European built on top of the old Aztec. Throughout the 19th and 20th century Mexico City built modern European-style buildings that are still ubiquitous and iconic in the city’s central areas especially the Centro Historico.
Mexico City is divided into 16 different districts and it was after Mexican Independence that the population grew at an astronomical rate which then led to the sprawling nature that the city currently has. With its large population and eclectic mix of people bringing regional cuisines from all corners of the country, Mexico City is a hub for foodie culture. So if you’re in the area, try out some of these fantastic restaurants in Mexico City.
For those looking to start their food journey in Mexico City why not start with one of the best. Pujol is not only considered one of the best restaurants in the city but it is consistently ranked as one of the best in the world. For almost 20 years, the people at Pujol have been serving contemporary dishes that cater to people looking for authentic Mexican flavors. The menu changes on a regular basis and is known for the freshness of their dishes. In fact, the flavors and dishes here are so fresh that the restaurant has an organic garden right there in the restaurant.
Step into a bygone era and dine in one of the more unique places in Mexico City. This restaurant is located inside a French-style mansion dating back to the Porfiriato-era. The high ceilings and wafting smell emanating from the kitchen give Rosetta a real sense of feeling like you’re eating a homemade meal in a high-end setting. Filled with vintage furniture and mosaics painted on the walls, the only space at Rosetta more beautiful than the dining room is the patio (if you can get a reservation). While the menu here is unmistakably Italian it is full of Mexican influence bridging together the best of both culinary worlds.
Pastelería Ideal is a fun and exciting place that offers both delicious food and a quirky experience in itself. The giant bakery in the downtown area is almost always busy and sprawling and for good reason. Serving up amazing freshly baked bread, pastries, and cookies, Pastelería Ideal will practically invite you in through its smell alone. Grab a snack from the bakery then head to the second floor and explore the on-site museum which houses giant and opulent wedding and birthday cakes. It might be a bustling place with loads of people coming in and out but the service is quick, delicious, and won’t break the bank.
Located in the Polanco area of Mexico City, El Turix is a stand-out in the world of taquerias. Which, in Mexico City is a pretty stiff competition. If you aren’t looking for the place, it might be easy to miss. The old blue and white sign outside looks like it’s from a different era and the menu is written down on a piece of paper taped to the ordering window. But there is a reason why people venture out to Polanco and El Turix and that is because of their roasted and braised meat, a technique the owners brought over from the Yucatan area. The meat is tender and practically melts in your mouth, topped with a type of pickled onion to add an element of crunch and richness.
Located in the Claveria neighborhood, Nicos is a staple. The restaurant’s facade is nothing that will indicate one of the best restaurants is here. The orange and wooden awning says that there are no frills here and that’s exactly why Nicos is one of the best. Nicos is one of those restaurants that doesn’t need to have an elaborate dining room with art and waiters in ties because it just offers good and hearty food.
Nico’s has been around for over 6 decades and started the Mexican “slow-food” movement so expect slow-roasted meat dishes, soups, and homemade corn tortillas. While the food is unquestionably Mexican a lot of the recipes can be traced back to 19th-century France and their influence in Mexico City before the turn of the century.
This spot is one of the best places in town for a sandwich. There are plenty of spots around Mexico City that offer amazing dining rooms and high-end eclectic menus but sometimes you want something tasty, filling, and not too expensive and Belmondo has that for you. The owners of Belmondo are also owners of a nearby bar and pizzeria and now they’re bringing their expertise to the sandwich world. While the dining room is nice and modern, it isn’t anything that’ll make you feel underdressed if you just walked off the street but it isn’t just some deli counter either. Even just walking by on the street, you’ll be greeted with a variety of smells that will make you wonder what is happening in there. And what is happening is freshly baked ciabatta buns, baguette bread, freshly fried cutlets, and fresh produce. The loaves of bread are baked in-house and everything is made fresh here. The place is low-key enough to just pop-in for a sandwich but still delicious and famous enough that it brings in some well-known people from musicians to movie stars.
Churrería El Moro
For those with a sweet tooth, there is practically no dessert better to get in Mexico City than a freshly fried churro. Churrería El Moro is a popular spot in the historic area of the city. While there are plenty of food stands and stalls around this part of town, they don’t have the reverence that Churrería El Moro has. The churro stall has been around for 80 years serving generations of churro lovers and tourists alike. The shop is an experience in itself with two churro makers piping dough into hot oil and then being cut, tossed in sugar and cinnamon, then served hot and fresh. Peek through the grease-stained window to see the action and grab a couple to go with a hot chocolate. In 2010 they suffered a fire but has been painstakingly rebuilt in its original glory because it’s such a beloved spot.
Los Cocuyos is not the type of place to go when you’re on a diet. This restaurant is all about the meat and the meat is slow roasted in lard. Specializing in tacos and a variety of meat that just falls straight off the bone, Los Cocuyos is home to some of the best brisket in town. Starting their day early in the morning, the folks at Los Cocuyos roast their meaty concoctions submerged in lard for hours before it is served. The campechano which is a mix of beef, longaniza, and a bit of everything else is amongst the most popular menu choices along with the tripe that will certainly convince you that it is nothing to be grossed out about. All their tacos are served with tortillas brushed with more cooking fat, a little bit of cilantro, and some onions.
Located in the heart of the city’s historic center, Azul Histórico is going to be like taking your taste buds on a trip to the museum. While the location might be in the bustling center of town, the restaurant is in a secluded and quiet patio of a massive house. Surrounded by Mexican art and murals the restaurant might sound like it’s a fancy white-tablecloth affair but it isn’t, in fact, there are no tablecloths at all.
Chef and owner Ricardo Munoz Zurita have been dubbed the “anthropologist of Mexican cuisine” and while there are plenty of places in Mexico City to get “authentic” food, Azul Histórico aims to be even more traditional than that with dishes and tastes from Mexico’s native population and pre-European flavor profiles. The etched wooden tables give homage to the neighborhood and its history and the menu changes often depending on the available ingredients but also with whichever festival is currently happening.
Strolling into Niddo you might wonder whether or not you’re actually in Mexico City or a New York City bakery. Although Niddo is a newcomer to the neighborhood, it is already one of the best spots in the area to get fresh baked goods daily, cheaply and deliciously. The place is especially busy in the morning with people looking to get a fresh croissant for breakfast or one of their freshly prepared breakfast dishes like avocado toast (made on bread made in-house) or a simple bagel and cream cheese. If you’re looking to stop by for lunch they have home-style sandwiches made to order like a grilled cheese or something more filling like shakshuka. If you want to indulge your sweet tooth their chocolate babka rivals what you’ll find in New York.
Super Tacos Chupacabras
Again, while there are myriad options for tacos in the city some places are just more iconic than others and Super Tacos Chupacabras is one of those. Different cities around the world have a quintessential greasy-handheld-food that is typically eaten after having a few too many drinks. And that’s where Super Tacos Chupacabras comes in. The original Super Tacos Chupacabra has been standing for over 20 years and is practically a late-night institution for people emerging out of clubs and bars looking for something greasy to eat. But not only does Super Tacos Chupacabras cater to the inebriated but they also are just among some of the tastiest tacos in the city and allegedly their secret is their in-house seasoning made from over 127 different spices. Whether or not that’s true doesn’t really matter because their tacos are delicious, at any time of the day and their variety of salsas only adds to the complexity of flavors you’ll be enjoying for a pretty affordable price.
Our Final Word
I loved living in Mexico City. The warm people, the history and the food. Mexico City is a massive sprawling place with an even more massive array of food options that range from crowd-pleasing taco to the traditional dishes that have been eaten for generations. The modern city and its residents delight in the new and contemporary dishes while making sure the simplicity and delicious plates don’t get left behind either. Whether you want new and modern or are a fan of the famous there’s no shortage of amazing places to try in Mexico City.
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