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.
Maximo Bistrot Local frequently makes Mexico City’s dining guides and even rated #20 on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants List 2018, but it took a more personal exploration on the “Tacos” episode of Ugly Delicious to inspire my visit to Chef Eduardo García’s small Roma Norte cafe. He opened Maximo in 2012 and dedicated the small kitchen to preparing seasonal Mexican ingredients. García plated hot, sweet cracked stone crab claws from the coastal Mexican state of Tabasco in a shallow pool of melted butter with rich mayo and a lemon wedge. García showered roasted purple cauliflower with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and plated with Romesco and pastel green goat cheese olive oil sauce. Tuna sashimi joined avocado puree and white soy sauce. Roasted morels accompanied sweet potatoes and sticky jus. Octopus ceviche a la Mexicana stars tender slices served in tangy broth with radish slices dabbed with avocado puree. My wife: “We should probably get the French toast, right?” Server: “It’s the best. Amazing!” Maximo’s French toast was indeed outstanding, a custardy slab plated with berries, berry sauce, and a quenelle of cinnamon ice cream. The corner space features sidewalk tables, white walls sporting a 3D tree, flowers and books on shelves.
MUST ORDER: Octopus Ceviche a la Mexicana, Roasted Cauliflower, Stone Crab Claws, Toasted Morels, Tuna Sashimi, French Toast
Gerardo Vazquez Lugo also runs Fonda Mayora in Condesa, but Nicos is worth a special detour. The restaurant has been working to preserve Mexico’s classic dishes in Col Clavería since 1957 and even placed #29 on the list of Latin America’s Best Restaurants 2017. The space features art-lined orange and tan walls, white tablecloths, and some truly memorable dishes. For instance, Sope de elote tarasca is a milky white corn soup with cubes of chile Poblano, firm panela cheese, a bit of goat cheese and Serrano. Michmole con jaiba features soft-shell crab coated with pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and amaranth, served with an indigenous salsa verde of verdolagas (purslane), tomatillo and onion that’s poured tableside. Chicken with mole verde de Doña Elena wasn’t as exotic, but still tasted delicious, teaming a chicken leg and thigh with a nutty green mole, fried herbs, and tamale chunks. Lomo de dorado en pepian de xote de Tlacolulan, presented a beautiful mahi mahi fillet with chunky green pipian of xote (a Veracruz seed) and moderately spicy chile cuaresmeño. Nicos is also one of the best places to try seasonal delicacies like escamoles (ant eggs) or gusano de maguey, puffy fried maguey worms tossed with Colima sea salt and lime and served with salsa starring roasted tomato and chile de arbol. A little worm goes a long way, but they are tasty, especially tucked into house-made corn tortillas with guacamole.
MUST ORDER: Chicken with Mole Verde de Doña Elena, Lomo de Dorado en Pepian de xote de Tlacolulan, Michmole con Jaiba, Sope de Elote Tarasca,
Chef Elena Reygadas runs Panaderia Rosetta around the corner from Plaza Rio de Janeiro and her Restaurante Rosetta. She load’s her bakery’s dimly lit wood counter with tantalizing pastries. Point and pick or order from blackboard menus. Buttery rols (basically Danishes) include guayaba (guava) with sweet cream, and a version with lemon and ricotta that delivered great tang and kouign amann-like caramelization. Chocolatín is a flaky chocolate croissant that tasted better than it looked. I returned to Panaderia Rosetta before flying home and repeated some favorites while picking up a pull-apart cinnamon roll, Yucatan style pan Ramón, and sandwiches starring roast beef & Gruyere and provolone & chorizo seco. Panaderia Rosetta also made one of my favorite cappuccinos in CDMX. Bonus: their eclectic playlist included “Clyde” from Waylon Jennings.
MUST ORDER: Chocolatín, Rol de Guayaba, Rol de Limon con Queso Ricotta, Provolone & Chorizo Seco Sandwich, Cappuccino
9. Taqueria Los Cocuyos
Taqueria Los Cocuyos has been open 24/7 in Mexico City’s Centro Historico for about 45 years. As my Club Tengo Hambre street food tour guide Mariana Goméz Rubio said, “They can’t close, because they have no door.” The counter holds a big cazo featuring different cuts of beef, chorizo, and nopales. Taqueros dip corn tortillas in the boiling liquid and griddle them next to your chosen meat. Campechano combines brisket and spicy crumbled red chorizo, to great effect. Maciza is not too fatty, rosy and crispy. Tripa stars wonderfully crispy intestine. Cabeza is collagen-rich meat from the head. Tacos generally run about a dollar apiece, a remarkable bargain.
MUST ORDER: Campechano, Maciza, Tripa