Mexico City Restaurants – All Our Hits & Misses

By far our favourite thing about visiting Mexico was the cuisine. If you’re heading to Mexico City then we definitely recommend that you find a way to go on a food tour, because you’ll learn things and discover places that you wouldn’t have easily done on your own. But even without a guide there are many great restaurants you can find and enjoy on your own.

So, these are our favourite restaurants, but if food is your ‘thing’ when you’re travelling then you might also want to read about our Airbnb ‘experiences’.

Below is a list of all the restaurants we went to. We’ve put them into 3 categories, starting with our absolutely favourites and working our way down to those we weren’t so fond of. In terms of price, every place except Pujol was so affordable that it made us wonder if we shouldn’t just stay forever.

Can’t Wait to Go Back

  • El Pescadito – This is my top food recommendation in Mexico City. I fantasize regularly about going back to this place, even though it was the site of our first earthquake experience. The tacos were so good that we actually did eat here twice on our trip. The only down side is that the tacos are so large that you cannot eat that many – though that didn’t stop us from trying. Their tacos are mainly seafood based and every option available is excellent. They also have a wide variety of salsas and hot sauces to choose from. The restaurant is open on two sides so that while you’re sitting inside you still get the fresh air and energy of the neighbourhood. There is usually a line but it moves fast. Highly, highly recommend!
  • Lardo – This restaurant was a 2 minute walk from our Airbnb, and thank goodness for that because otherwise we wouldn’t have found it. It looked good from the outside, so we gave it a try one night when our planned option fell through. We were completely blown away. The food, wine, service, and atmosphere were all excellent. It was so good that we went back again a few nights later, and it was exactly as good we’d remembered.
  • Le Tachinomi Desu – This is one of the places we went with our friends Greg and Adrienne, and we definitely recommend going here. It’s a super trendy yet welcoming sake bar, with delicious sushi to go with it. The owner imports some incredible sake that you wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere, and the bar has a really cool vibe. Highly recommend for a late night spot to enjoy a drink and late night snacks after a big dinner!
  • Pulqueria las Duelistas – the ultimate Mexico City artistic dive bar centred around a unique and ancient product: pulque. Pulque is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the agave plant. It has been produced in Central Mexico for millennia, and was at one time considered to be a sacred drink. It has a thick, milky consistency and at this particular location they have several flavour variations available. If you’ve never had it before, it may seem like an acquired taste, but it grows on you quickly (I recommend the mango!). If you get your pulque to go they’ll put it in a cup with a lid and straw, which means you can walk around town drinking  an alcoholic beverage without drawing attention to yourself (Note: Bathrooms are a bit dodgy).

Loved

  • Amaya – This place is a fairly trendy wine bar with a rather unique selection, and we had a great time here. It was our first full day in the city and we had a pretty packed schedule, so by the end of the night I think I was too tired to fully appreciate this place. We sat at the bar where we had a great view of all the action. The food and drinks were great and the service was friendly. Definitely recommend!
  • Meroma – We found this place by accident and were so happy that we did. It’s across the street from the Museo del Objeto, which was on the agenda during our first adventurous day in the city. After leaving the museum we were ready to eat again and we were drawn in by Meroma’s rooftop patio. The service was good, the food was delicious. We had tartare and ceviche and were blown away by the flavours and freshness. Definitely recommend this one!
  • Taqueria Los Parados – for quick and delicious tacos, this is a great place. Our friend Greg found this place while planning a Sunday night taco crawl (pro-tip: a lot of places are closed on Sunday nights) and it was the perfect second stop for our evening. It’s a straightforward concept – order & pay, watch the chef make your tacos, collect your plate from the cook, add toppings, then enjoy the savoury flavours while standing on the sidewalk or sitting at one of the tables in the back. The food felt emblematic of how we understood Mexican cuisine – even the simplest food is done with a high degree of care and quality, so it’s no surprise that the food gets better and better as you move higher end. If you’re in the area, check it out!
  • El Tizoncito – This was our last stop of the trip and it was the perfect way to wrap up a food-centric vacation. They claim to be the inventors of Tacos Al Asador so of course that’s the dish that we tried. The tacos were small which was great because then we were able to eat more than usual. The service was fast and friendly, and in they brought us a great selection of homemade salsas to enjoy with our tacos. Definitely recommend for a quick and delicious meal!
  • El Huequito – Delicious tacos, friendly service, interesting location. This was the first stop on our taco crawl and it felt like the perfect spot to meet up with our Toronto friends because it’s located under a highway, and gave us some hope that maybe one day Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway might also host charming Mexican restaurants. Not much to say here, but if you’re looking for a reliable and tasty experience, stop in. Open late!
  • Pujol – the Michelin Guide doesn’t publish a list of Mexican restaurants, but people often say that Pujol is the unofficial Michelin-starred restaurant in Mexico City. I don’t know if it’s quite up to the exacting and specific standards of other Michelin-starred places that we’ve been, but it certainly has the food quality, menu style, and price point down pat. If you look in the photos below, the majority of them are from our lunch at Pujol, where we dove in head first, trying some fairly unique wines alongside the most filling lunch that I have ever eaten. I have never felt ill from eating too much until I had this lunch at Pujol that was so darn good that I couldn’t possibly skip a course. The setting was really beautiful, calming, and relaxing. It was an impressive upscale experience with a welcoming atmosphere, and you could tell that the menu was designed to showcase their pride in Mexico’s history of excellent cuisine. Would I recommend it? Maybe. If really pricy food doesn’t scare you away, then definitely go for it. It’s certainly a great experience. However, if you’re even remotely budget conscious, you could skip it. The Mexico City food scene has so many incredible experiences to offer at lesser price points that splurging at Pujol almost feels silly. Do with that information what you will. But if you’re going to Pujol we suggest you book a reservation at least 3 weeks in advance.
  • Restaurante San Angel Inn – We ate here on the day that we went to Bazaar Sabado, we relished the fact that it was a bit over the top. The food was good but not great, but the service was lovely and the building itself was beautiful. This appeared to be a weekend destination for wealthier families, which means that lunch here made for some great people watching. If you’re not hungry for a full meal, it’s worth your while to sit in their courtyard and enjoy some cocktails.
  • Huaraches Ramoncita – This was the lunch stop on our Mexico City food tour, but if you’re feeling adventurous you can head out to the Jamaica Market (make sure to visit the flower market nearby!) where you can find this little family run restaurant. It’s essentially a food stand, with some seating available. They specialize in huaraches, which are kind of like a savoury pancake with beans inside and topped with a variety of fresh ingredients. Definitely recommend if you’re feeling adventurous. The family are incredibly kind and friendly.

Liked

  • La Casa de Toño – This is not a place to go during the day, but if you’re looking for some late night food after an evening of partying then this is the place for you. You order by filling out a form and handing it to your friendly server, who then brings out your piping hot, fried food. If you’re with a health-conscious crowd you may want to skip this place, but for some late night carbs to stave off a hangover this is a passable option.
  • Paramo – If you don’t like waiting to eat, then this is not the place for you. This restaurant makes mezcal margaritas that I still think about, and throughout our trip I could not a place to make them quite this good. We went here with friends and the wait for a table was nearly an hour. They let you order from the bar while you’re waiting, so we did enjoy those margaritas in the lobby, but the restaurant/bar/lobby are all incredibly busy and can feel a bit claustrophobic. Still, if you don’t mind a wait, I do recommend this place for the margaritas alone. Most of the food was great, though we had a couple of lacklustre dishes. The service was also spotty, but again this place was absolutely packed, so it’s not that surprising. The ambiance is also pretty cool with lots of plants and a glass ceiling giving it a ‘greenhouse’ feel, but it did seem a bit dominated by tourists (millennial tourists like us, haha, but still tourists!). If you can plan something to do while you’re waiting, it may be worth checking out for a few drinks, but don’t bank your whole night on this place.
  • Rojo Bistrot – we found this place while walking through the city and decided to eat on the patio because the atmosphere of the neighbourhood was so pleasant and quiet. We drank cocktails and snacked on taquitos. The food wasn’t amazing but the service was fast and friendly, and it was a great little spot for some low-key evening drinks in a lovely area.
  • Comedor Jacinta – We went here with an appetite for cocktails and not much else (we were still full from lunch) so we didn’t order much food. The place had a fun atmosphere and the mezcal margaritas were quite good. It’s located in Polanco, on a street with many other restaurants, so it’s a good launching pad if you’re looking to try a few places in one night. The restaurant was quite pretty, and while one of the dishes we had was underwhelming, the appetizers were pretty tasty too.
  • El Bajio – This was a nice little lunch spot in the high end neighbourhood of Polanco. Because of the setting, it was another good spot for people watching, but the food was also great. El Bajio is a chain of restaurants focused on preserving and showcasing traditional Mexican cuisine, and on that front it definitely delivers. It doesn’t have the quirks of a little restaurant tucked into some back alley, but it was pretty great regardless. The restaurant’s story is also pretty cool, and it’s considered one of the most famous/successful restaurants in the country.
  • Cafe de Tacuba – A gem in a very busy/touristy area, where you likely won’t have to wait. This place is enormous, and its historical location makes for a great setting. The staff are friendly, the food is delicious, and ambiance is delightful. When we were there it was a very busy Sunday yet we sat right away. It seems like the type of place where families go together, and it was great to be part of that atmosphere. There may be better or trendier places, but this is reliable classic in the historic centre of Mexico City.

We Went, But Wouldn’t Recommend

  • El Califa – We saw this place on a few different ‘recommendation’ lists and decided to try it out for a quick lunch. It was good, but nothing particularly special. El Califa is a chain of restaurants that makes tacos and other Mexican dishes. In a city where the street food is sometimes better than restaurant food, a chain of taco restaurants just feels overly sanitized and boring. The food was good, but the experience overall is underwhelming and a tad pricy. If you need a quick bite in a large space (with AC), this is a good option, but if you’re looking for something more unique then maybe look elsewhere.
  • Cedron – The food was good, but the restaurant overall was a bit pretentious. We stopped here for dinner before our trek to the Cineteca Nacional to view the Shape of Water. So maybe we were just in a rush to get our night started, but this place fell a bit flat. Because we are extremely fortunate and get to have many ‘fancy’ experiences, we’re fairly attuned to when a restaurant or venue is trying to cater to a clientele who really want to feel like they’re having a luxurious experience. Sometimes it works. But sometimes you’re getting a lot of flashy luxury with little quality beneath it all. That’s kind of what this place felt like. The food was okay, but the style of service was over the top, and it was one of the more expensive places we went to. Not a bad place, but definitely not our favourite. In Mexico City, where the food is just so consistently good, putting on airs to stroke the ego of the wealthy only creates a distraction.

 

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