If you’re headed to Mexico City, save these spots for your trip. My husband and I spent a few days in CDMX after 2 years of postponing our initial trip, so I had an unusual amount of time to research places to eat. I’m excited to distill that research into a guide for you because you’re going to eat *so* well. I’ve always loved traveling, and I think exploring a city through food is one of the best ways to learn about the culture and just have a really immersive experience.
It’s worth noting that there is no one single guide that will represent this city and its rich history and culture. Mexico City is huge! The sooner you accept that you won’t be able to fit everything on your list into one trip (because your list will be *long*) , the better, because it will allow you to plan a few things and just… be present and explore. My main tip is to make plans to dine at a few non-negotioables, plan a couple of outings, and allow yourself time to wander and explore the neighborhoods.
I’m breaking down places to Eat + Drink, bolding the places we tried and also including a long list of places that I’ve had saved. I’m also sharing a similar breakdown of can’t-miss experiences. In a perfect world I’d go to Mexico City at least once a year - it’s truly one of my favorite cities I’ve ever visited.
Contramar- Famous seafood restaurant by Gabriela Camara, on every guide for good reason. This spot is an institution and I highly recommend kicking off your trip with a meal here, it’ll set a really fun tone. Between our two meals here (yes two, we loved it so much we went back), we tried and loved: Tostadas de atun (tuna tostadas with crispy leeks, avocado, + chipotle mayo), Aguachile verde de camaron (if you like ceviche you’ll like aguachiles), Sashimi de atun (tuna sashimi with serrano chiles and a citrusy soy sauce), a few types of ceviche, and the famous pescado alla talla (the house speciality - butterflied fish, half with red chili rub half with herb rub). The tacos de esmedregal al pastor (fish tacos al pastor) and the jamaica mezcal cocktail (hibusus mezcal cocktail) are also not to be missed. If you can't get a res just spend time in the neighborhood in the morning to get there before they open for lunch. Check out their sister restaurants, Entremar or Caracol Del Mar for an equally delicious and less crowded vibe.
Hugo El Wine Bar - I read about this spot on some well respected food publications and then again from friends who I think have pretty fabulous taste and damn, I’m so glad we went here. Almost a year later I’m still getting inspiration from the menu. Great natural wine program, delicious small bites, and a good vibe. Make a reservation if you want to sit at one of their tables. We didn't make a reservation but got there at senior hour in the evening and ended up sitting at the bar for hours and befriending the bartenders. They made us some cocktails they were experimenting with for the menu, and introduced us to this natural vermouth that we snagged a few bottles of when we got back to CA (it’s become an obsession in our household). They also shared *tons* of local recs that we would’ve never found on a guide online. 10/10 we loved Hugo!
Panaderia Rosetta - *Incredible* bakery by Elena Reygadas, who is such an inspiration. Their pastries and coffee brought me back to life after we were generously overserved the night before at Hugo. We grabbed items to go and brought them to a local park, and you can also dine in. Elena Reygadas’ creative vision is super unique, from the decor to the florals and of course the menu. The hype around the Rol de guayaba, or their guava pastry, is real. Please get it. This spot is known for truly all of their baked goods - both sweet and savory. I’m half Mexican and grew up eating conchas every Sunday and their vanilla concha was fabulous. It had little flecks of vanilla bean and I could eat it every morning.
Restaurante Rosetta - Also by Elena Reygadas, this Mexican and Italian inspired restaurant is beautiful, and it’s worth it for the ambiance alone. I’d plan to go here for dinner after you’ve already have a few more traditional Mexican meals under your belt and when you’re ready to switch it up since it’s heavily Italian leaning. Or, if you want more traditional Mexican cuisine for your dinner outings you could go here for lunch instead. I would personally skip this for dinner if you only have a few nights, as I have access to a lot of Italian food in California, but many people say this is their favorite meal in the city! They change up the menu often but if they have a version of their smoked corn tamales, you have to order them.
Masala y Maiz - This was tied with Contrmar for our favorite sit down meal, but it’s *so* different, in the best way. Like nothing I’ve ever tried before, and I still dream of this meal a year later. Chefs Norma Listman and Saqib Keval explore ingredients, techniques, and dishes from India, Mexico, and East Africa. Everything was so beautiful and flavorful, I would go back here in a heartbeat. The latest dinner reservation they have is ar at 5pm, go hungry and enjoy an early dinner. The team recommended a bunch of different dishes and natural wine pairings and we loved all of them.
Molino El Pujol: Stopped here for a casual quick meal outside, great option to try some of Enrique Olvera’s food if you cant get a res at pujol (which we couldn’t), or you’re in the neighborhood.
Tacos: Taqueria Orinoco (get the pastor and the chicaron tacos, and the hibiscus guava agua fresca, I still dream of it), Los Cocuyos, and Taqueria el Turix. Plus so many tacos from smaller stands street corners and at the market, more on that below.
Luis Barragan's Casa Pedregal - Barragan was extremely prolific Mexican architect and designer, and you can tour several of his residential projects throughout the city. We booked an appointment to see Casa Pedregal and it was one of my favorite days of the trip. I think it will continue to inspire the way I think about interior design, color, furniture, materials, and light for years to come. This is probably a 20 minute uber outside of the city in a much quieter pocket of town. Make a res by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .You’ll start the day at Tetelan, which has a beautifully curated shop, a cafe, a library, and a bunch of small rooms upstairs with goods from local makers - from clothing to textiles and Oaxacan pottery. They also have a restaurant. We didn’t eat here so I can’t speak to the food but it’s a super cool setting. More of his works below:
Markets - There are many markets and farmer’s markets throughout the city, and you should prioritize a market day. You’ll get glimpse into the life of the vendors who grow and bring produce into the city, and the food is just delicious. Tacos, pozoles, menudos, and more. While I love all of the sit down establishments I shared, the market is completely different. We went to Mercado La Merced, and even though my husband is fluent in spanish and I’m familiar with the basics it was still overwhelming to navigate because it’s massive. There are lots of non-touristy market tours you can do and I’d recommend one to get the best lay of the land. Lots of smaller tours are led by chefs who know the city and the can’t-miss dishes at the market. Book a tour with Anais Martinez of @thecuriousmexican / Devoured.
Museums, Galleries, + More Tours
I’ll leave you with one major tip: learn at least a few key Spanish phrases. Download Duolingo - it’s free and super intuitive. This will serve you not only in basic travel logistics but it also goes a long way with folks who live there to show respect in their restaurant, home if you have an Airbnb host, museum, etc. Plus, you may end up getting some stellar local recs. Some of our best recs for things to do in the city came from the bartenders at our favorite bar, more on that below.
Other resources to check:
Eater - These are updated regularly:
Infatuation - solid list that’s also updated regularly:
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