Mexico City is renowned for its delicious and authentic cuisine. From its taquerias to Michelin- starred restaurants, you are bound to be spoilt for choice in this bustling city. Latin America expert, Nikki, shares her favourite foodie haunts following a recent trip to Mexico’s capital.
Mexico City is a wildly sprawling metropolis, which at first sight can be a little overwhelming. Peel back the layers of Mayan, Aztec and Mesoamerican history and you will be rewarded with stories and tales of the city and its inhabitants, which have been coloured by the Spanish invasion and the rich Mexican cultures. Each neighbourhood has its own distinct character, boasting everything from world- class markets to endless street food stalls and fantastic fine dining. Lovers of seafood, tequilas, tacos and even the more adventurous foods will struggle to be disappointed here, but knowing where to go in a city this size certainly has its advantages. After spending a week simply eating my way around the city and sampling its every delight, here is my pick of the best:
Best gourmet food market: Mercado Roma
This gourmet food market can be found in the bohemian neighbourhood of Zona Roma, in the south of Mexico City. It’s impossible to miss as there are hefty crowds of locals spilling out from the many food stands onto the streets, cooling off with a margarita ice lolly or tucking into fresh tamales (delicious vine leaves stuffed with corn, meat and spices). A wide selection of local vendors display here and serve up a fantastic selection of Mexican foods and international favourites with a distinctly Mexican flavour. Sample sweet mezcals, beautifully spiced pork pibil and the fluffiest of churros, washing it all down with a cocktail or two on the atmospheric roof terrace.
Best contemporary Mexican cuisine: Limosneros
Creative Mexican dishes showcase traditional ingredients and local delicacies such as ant eggs and hibiscus flowers at this stylish restaurant in the heart of the historic centre. Don’t be put off by the adventurous-sounding dishes – the food here is perfectly executed and not only tastes delicious but looks amazing too. Complemented by attentive service and freshly made salsas, the cool stone clad interior and well-stocked bar make this a perfect alternative to its informal sister restaurant, Café de Tacuba, for date night dining or drinks.
Best fine dining: Pujol
No list of Mexico City dining would be complete without mentioning highly acclaimed restaurant Pujol. World renowned chef, Enrique Olvera, is something of a mastermind when it comes to combing local flavours to create unique and delicious fine dining dishes and the menu is constantly evolving, keeping it on the right side of cutting-edge. Advance reservations are highly recommended as it gets booked up fast.
Best street food: Xochimilco Floating Markets
Famed for its vibrant waterways which are dotted with colourful boats or trajineras, Xochimilco is undoubtedly one of the Distrito Federal’s most charming neighbourhoods. Board your trajinera and allow the locals to steer you through the maze of canals, passing mariachi bands and locals selling homemade treats and deliciously brewed pulque, a fruit based alcohol which is popular with locals. This gem can be found in the very south of Mexico City and is worth every second of the journey for its addictive party atmosphere and distinctly Mexican flavour. The Xochimilco experience can easily be enjoyed as part of a tour.
Best avant- garde culinary experience: Dulce Patria
Channelling the spirit of Frida Kahlo with its colourful interiors and vibrant dishes, Dulce Patria is a firm favourite when it comes to modern Mexican cuisine. Chef Martha Ortiz adds her own unique flair to traditional dishes to make this an energetic and fun dining venue. Both children and adults will be delighted by the creative and innovative dishes! Located in Polanco at one of the city’s finest hotels, Las Alcobas, Dulce Patria is minutes away from some of the best bars and clubs to top off your meal with the perfect nightcap.
Best seafood cantina: El Caguamo
This local haunt is the place to go to sample some of the city’s freshest seafood outside of its markets. Delivered directly from Veracruz on the Pacific Coast, expect plump prawns and the freshest of ceviche served with as much lime and habanero sauce as you like and beautifully crisp tostadas. Opt to sit inside or dine outside on the pavement when the weather is fine, surrounded by the local lunch crowd. The hot shrimp caldo (soup) is the perfect antidote to cooler days and is deliciously refreshing.
Best Traditional Mexican sweet shop: Dulceria de Celaya
Anyone with a sweet tooth will love this traditional Mexican sweet shop close to the Zócalo, which is brimming with all kinds of tasty goodies, many of which are made from the recipes of great great grandparents, before refined sugars and flour were used in the cooking process. Fruits and honey can be found in a variety of shapes and styles, accompanied by candied nuts, meringues and chocolate truffles. After eyeing up the mouth-watering offerings in the brightly coloured window display, take your ticket and crowd in with the locals to make your selections.
Best evening cocktails: Limantour
Limantour regularly tops ‘Best Bar’ charts and is an obvious choice when exploring Polanco, one of Mexico City’s most upmarket neighbourhoods. This chilled out bar has an extensive cocktail menu which the knowledgeable staff seem to know inside out – ask for your favourite spirit or style of cocktail and the waiters will recommend you something new to try, whether it be a twist on a classic margarita or something a little more distinguished. During peak times, ordering food is a requirement so be sure to come hungry – a good selection of lighter bar snacks mean you can still enjoy dinner in one of Polanco’s many restaurants when you’re done.
Scott Dunn can arrange a variety of culinary tours and experiences or even reserve a table at your favourite Mexico City restaurant in Mexico City. Please contact your travel specialist who can advise you about the city’s most coveted tables and take care of all your reservations for a taste of Mexico’s finest cuisine.