Where to Eat in Mexico City
Mexico City’s gourmet food scene blends traditional flavours with international style.
Plenty of chefs in energetic and cosmopolitan Mexico City specialise in the dizzyingly eclectic regional cuisines of Mexico, from the seductive and mysterious moles of Oaxaca and Puebla to the piquant ceviches of Baja and the Yucatán. But in this fast-changing, international destination, top restaurants also borrow liberally from Argentina, Japan, Southeast Asia and the Mediterranean in their quests to redefine the city’s contemporary food scene. Here are five venues that capture Mexico City’s diverse culinary approach, from humble tostada counters to chic dining rooms.
Izote, 52 55/5280-1671, Presidente Masaryk 513, Col. Polanco
Celebrity chef Patricia Quintana, renowned for her modern approach to ancestral Mexican cuisine, helms this swank restaurant in the city’s fashionable Polanco neighbourhood. Izote’s menu changes regularly but has featured such inventive creations as steamed red snapper with essence of pulque (a fermented liquor made from agave), oyster mushrooms, nopales and fava beans. Desserts are equally innovative: Think almond cake topped with white chocolate and marzipan with a tangerine coulis. End with traditional café de olla, a cinnamon- and clove-spiced coffee infused with brown sugar.
Los Danzantes, 52 55/5554-1213, Plaza Jardin Centenario 12, Col. Villa Coyoacan
Amid the cobblestone streets and genial café culture of colonial Coyoacán, this festively decorated restaurant overlooking the greenery and fountains of Jardin Centenario is one of the city’s strongest adherents of the slow food movement, turning out internationally inflected regional Mexican fare. Try charred baby octopus with paprika, parsley and orange juice; or huitlacoche ravioli with a kicky poblano chilli and squash blossoms.
Just across Jardin Centenario, the sister restaurant and mescaleria, Corazón de Maguey serves mescal (a smoky, indigenous liquor) from the company’s own artisan distillery in Oaxaca as well as authentic Oaxacan cuisine. Try guacamole with fried chapulines (grasshoppers) and pasilla chillies, and traditional lengua de res (beef tongue with a red pumpkin-seed sauce).
Mercado de Coyoacan, Corner of Malintzin and Ignacio Allende, Col. Villa Coyoacan
Just a couple of blocks south of Frida Kahlo’s former home (now a museum, La Casa Azul), this endearingly claustrophobic and chaotic central market in the historic suburb of Coyoacán contains one of Mexico City’s most delectable culinary bargains, Tostadas La Charparrita. The half-century-old, bare-bones food stall bathed in harsh fluorescent light has just a few counter seats, where regulars feast on crisp tostadas piled high with tangy ceviche, marinated octopus, salpicon (tender shredded beef), tinga (spicy shredded chicken) and a dozen other toppings. Beware the side sauce made with fiery chilles de arbol—a little goes a long way.
Reforma 500, 52 55/5230-1818, Four Seasons Hotel Mexico, D.F., Paseo de la Reforma 500, Col. Juarez
With seating in both a peaceful garden courtyard and a relaxed dining room with lemon yellow walls and floor-to-ceiling Palladian windows, the stellar restaurant inside Four Seasons Hotel México, D.F., feels refined, yet relaxed. The cuisine has roots in South Asia, the Iberian Peninsula and interior Mexico. You might start with a velvety truffled-corn soup, or sopes (masa cakes) topped with short ribs and avocado, before tucking into one of the house specialties, such as grilled New York Wagyu steak with wasabi mashed potatoes and smoked butter; or shrimp noodles with snow peas, cashews and curried lobster sauce. The spectacular Sunday champagne lunch is justly renowned for its platters of charcuterie, ceviche, sushi, paella, and impossibly decadent cakes and truffles.
Rojo Bistrot, 52 55/5211-3705, Amsterdam 71, Col. Hipodromo Condesa
With its royal blue awning, mustard-yellow façade and cosy, dimly lit dining room, this eatery embodies the bohemian, Old World vibe of Condesa, a neighbourhood rife with chill cafés and hipster bars. Rojo Bistrot is neither fancy nor strictly authentic, but the talented culinary team here produces consistently delicious contemporary French and Italian dishes. Standouts range from a fall-off-the-bone duck confit with passion-fruit sauce to panko-coconut-crusted salmon with a not-too-sweet blueberry glaze, served with grilled asparagus and mashed potatoes. Save room for the crisply caramelised tarte Tatin.