[updated October 2019]
I finally made it to Mexico City and all I can say is ‘what took me so long?’ I love the city! It’s exciting. It’s hip. And it’s full of the most amazing food. I am already hungry to go back. From fresh and tasty street food to some of the most innovative, award winning cuisine, CDMX (Ciudad de Mexico) or DF (Distrito Federal) is truly one of the best.
The diversity of the food here is astounding (forget what you might know of as ‘fast’ Mexican food in the U.S.). It doesn’t matter if you are into great street food or upscale restaurant dining; everything is delicious, local, and full of flavor. Plus with the strong dollar, you can get a wonderful dinner with drinks for at least half the price you would in a city like Chicago. There are so many places to try and this was just my first visit, but here are my picks of where to eat in Mexico City.
Food Tour of Mexico City
For a great primer, I love taking food tours in new cities. There are several different companies in Mexico City offering walking culinary tours. I did a lot of research and received a few recommendations, which pointed me to Club Tengo Hambre.
This tour really packs it in and hits many local, street food stalls. We made at least eight stops over about three and a half hours walking in the heart of the city. We stopped at some classic shacks known for their tacos and other handhelds like Quesadilla Lights, Taqueria Los Cocoyos, and El Huequito.
Every market in Mexico City has its perks; Mercado de San Juan is what’s known as the ‘chef’s market.’ Chicago’s Rick Bayless is often seen here chatting with vendors. There are vendors that specialize in high quality fruits, veggies, meats, nuts, and seafood, plus some more exotic meats like armadillo, iguana, wild boar, and alligator. And then there are local delicacies like chapulines (grasshoppers – which I finally tried!) and escamoles (ant larvae – which I did NOT try). It’s definitely not a place for vegetarians (the bodies of rabbits stacked on each other made me feel sad and uneasy).
Listed as one of the world’s top 50 restaurants, Quintonil is contemporary Mexican cuisine to the Nth degree. Today’s top Mexican chefs like Quintonil’s chef Jorge Vallejo (a former Pujol chef—perhaps Mexico City’s most famous modern restaurant) are embracing their culture and elevating Mexican dishes like never before
Recommended by the concierge at Las Alcobas Hotel, Guzina Oaxaca was a treat. The Polanco spot, felt homey with its white-washed walls and focuses on its eponymous Oaxacan cuisine with rich moles and
Raíz is a modern Mexican spot in Polanco that felt contemporary yet warm and homey with a dark stone and wood vibe.
Chefs Israel Montero (Venezuelan-born and French-trained) and Alfredo Chávez to offer their modernist take on classic Mexican dishes.
Located in hipster ‘hood Roma, this contemporary food-hall has dozens of vendors, most of whom produce local, farm-to-table dishes. Grab a michelada and some tacos or ceviche and head to the communal tables in back or even better, the rooftop beer garden upstairs.
Drinks atop Condessa DF
While we didn’t stay at the trendy Condessa DF Hotel, we did make sure to stop by their lovely rooftop for a drink. Open, airy, and comfy, it’s a great place to take a rest when wandering around the funky ‘hoods of Roma and Condesa.
This is the perfect neighborhood coffee spot and sort of the epitome of Mexico City in that it’s not what you might imagine. This small, exposed brick café has a European vibe and a charming, narrow outdoor patio at which to enjoy an afternoon cappuccino and some wonderful pastries from the acclaimed chef, Elena Reygadas.
This slightly upscale, yet homey spot in Condesa, hits all the bases. Azul Condesa has a charming vibe and feel of a contemporary home. chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita serves up great regional Mexican cuisine and fantastic mole in a fun and airy setting.
This list just barely scratches the surface of all the delicious offerings in Mexico’s capital city. I have an even longer list of places I still need to check out when I return. And I definitely will be back…sooner than later!
Need to walk off some of the amazing food? Check out the best Mexico City neighborhoods to explore!
Disclosure: Thank you to Club Tengo Hambre who had me as their guest. I paid for all other meals.