Mexico City is North America’s largest city, a sprawling place with incredible energy, great street food, bold colors, and memorable flavors. In between visits to cultural touchstones like Palacio de Bellas Artes in Centro Histórico, Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacán, and the vivid Luis Barragán House and Studio in Miguel Hidalgo, the city offers similarly noteworthy culinary treasures. Learn about nine places to eat well in Mexico City based on my trip from May 18-22, 2018.
Numbers on the map correspond to listings below and appear in alphabetical order instead of order of preference.
Churreria El Moro is a legendary CDMX churro shop that debuted in Centro Histórico in 1935 and now operates 11 locations across the city. I visited two outposts on my most recent trip – Condesa and Cuauhtémoc – which were both branded with the company’s signature decorative white and blue tiles. The original location is crushingly popular, but a slow Saturday night line still snaked 40-people deep in Cuauhtémoc, which features an exhibition window to watch El Churrero while you wait. They specialize in coiled churros that are fried in a casket-sized lake of bubbling olive oil. Churreros stack the coils on trays, cut them into segments and roll them in either granulated sugar or piloncillo (brown sugar). These churros are great on their own, but are also dippable in cups of rich, molten hot chocolate. Consuelo is a relatively new creation, a pair of hot, supple, sugar-coated churro discs sandwiching a choice of cool, creamy ice cream. I opted for strawberry, which was a hit, though chocolate, vanilla, and an ice cream of the day are also in play.
MUST ORDER: Churros, Consuelo
Contramar has made most Mexico City eating shortlists thanks to the buzzing vibe and chef Gabriela Cámara’s creative seafood preparations. The popularity of her collaboration with business partner Pablo Bueno fueled a Polanco spinoff called Entremar, a San Francisco outpost called Cala, and two Bay Area taco windows. The original Colonia Roma location debuted in 1998 and features a sea blue facade, blue and white awning, and oceanic icons above the bar. Wooden sidewalk tables are frequently packed and places to be see and be seen. Seasonal seafood fuels a sprawling menu, plus sugerencias del dia (daily suggestions). Tacos salteados de pulpo involves tender seared octopus tentacles. Tostada de trucha stars silky trout and creamy fresh-shucked avocado. Most place settings also host Contramar’s signature grilled, butterflied red snapper brushed with two different salsas: chile rojo (red chiles) and perejil (parsley). Save room for the eye-popping dessert tray, particularly the tarta de higo (fig tart) with shortbread crust and creamy center.
MUST ORDER: Pescado a la Talla, Tacos Salteados de Pulpo, Tostada de Trucha, Tarta de Higo
Seasoned pastry chef Julia Ortiz Monasterio spent many years working at restaurants in New York and France before opening Helados Cometa in 2017 in Colonia Roma, combining a fun setting with flavorful treats. Blue double doors give way to a marble counter and logo depicting a baby monkey on mom’s back, eating a cone from her tail. Monasterio applies French technique to local, seasonal ingredients. I enjoyed cedron zarzamora (lemon verbena blackberry) ice cream in a shatteringly thin waffle cone. Te verde con frambuesa (green tea with raspberry) ice cream was also successful, as was sweet-tart ciruela (plum) sorbet. Helados Cometa also sells a small selection of baked goods, including a mango almond bar with memorable caramelization.
MUST ORDER: Cedron Zarzamora Ice Cream, Te Verde Con Frambuesa Ice Ceram, Ciruela Sorbet, Mango Almond Bar
4. La Docena
La Docena is a Jalisco-born seafood concept with two locations in their home state, and two more in Mexico City. The name translates from Spanish as “the dozen,” no doubt a reference to oysters, which are prominently featured. The Colonia Roma outpost debuted in 2015. After navigating a hail storm, I arrived at a space with brick walls, abundant raw bar, paper-lined tables to shield against shells and sea water, and open kitchen with a huge charcoal hearth. The regular menu packs in plenty of oceanic options, not to mention dozens of specials. Ostiones ahumados Tabascos feature fresh San Blas oysters smoked on the grill and splashed with piquant Tabasco sauce. Camarones al grill stars grilled prawns slathered with paprika, olive oil, garlic, and parsley. Pulpo joven a las brasas features supple whole charcoal-grilled baby octopus marinated with olive oil and paprika, served with mayonnaise folded with yerba buena (spearmint) and sweet potato chips. Blue crab tostadas with habanero foam also pack some punch.
MUST ORDER: Camarones al Grill, Ostiones Ahumados Tabascos, Pulpo Joven a Las Brasas
Maximo Bistrot Local chef-owner Eduardo García and wife/partner Gabriela López-Cruz runs the artsy brunch spot Lalo! down the block in Roma Norte. A coffee bar behind roll-up doors faces the street and combines a three-group La Marzocco espresso machine with Veracruz coffee. The sunken cafe stars communal seating and an eye-catching mural from street artist Bue the Warrior that depicts cartoon animals. Huevos con escamoles features soft scrambled hen eggs folded with supple ant eggs, an herbaceous seasonal delicacy served with taco-ready house-made corn tortillas. Their chilaquiles con huevos are also comforting. From the bakery tray, which moves around the room, I’d recommend the brioche roll with brown sugar and guava jam, and croissant dough Danish with almonds, cheese, and raspberry jam. Sadly, they sold out of guava kouign amanns. In addition to their coffee, a frothy Blanco licuado (smoothie) made with oats, peanuts, almond milk and bananas is also worth drinking.
MUST ORDER: Huevos con Escamoles, Chilaquiles con Huevos, Brioche Roll, Danish, Blanco, Coffee