The cuisine in Mexico is wonderfully varied and delicious; when you taste it, it’s as beautifully spiced and flavoursome as you expect. Tuck into tacos with fresh guacamole and lime, and make sure you try the classic dish – chiles en nogada during your getaway. Why not taste the glorious street food on every corner, or sit down in an open-air restaurant for authentic food, accompanied by soft, live music?
Mexico is one of the world’s top coffee producers but it was not until a few years ago that the locals got to sample the produce, as its finest coffees were almost always exported. Today, it’s places like the Chiquitito Café that are helping Mexico City to increase its own unique speciality coffee scene.
In 2012, Jeremy Clausse and his wife decided to open a speciality coffee shop in Colonia Condesa – the Chiquitito Café. This small, delightful café’s skilful baristas serve a variety of great coffees such as café con leche, cappuccinos, matcha lattes, espressos, chai teas and much more.
There’s a seating area inside and outside, or you can simply grab your coffee to go, and if you fancy a bite to eat the freshly prepared sandwiches are delicious. Due to the popularity of the Chiquitito, they have opened another café in the Cuatémoc area, surrounded by embassies, hotels and office blocks. This new Chiquito offers a refreshing alternative to the ordinary cafés, located in an area frequented by locals and diplomats, as well as travellers.
El Ilusionista Café is tucked away in a residential neighbourhood of the Escandon area of Mexico City. This hidden gem is located right on a small corner and is filled with natural light from the full-length windows and the open-aspect of the café.
The café serves mainly vegetarian food (the only non-vegetarian option is turkey), Mexican breakfast such as chilaquiles, tacos and huevos rancheros, as well as a variety of wonderful toasted sandwiches and an assortment of pastries and sweets. El Ilusionista also serves delicious coffee and a wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, all of which are reasonably priced.
There is a great Wi-Fi connection and the staff are very friendly and welcoming; even pets are allowed here. The interior has a rustic feel with its wooden bar, tables and benches. Plus, the sofa and odd armchair make it a comfortable and relaxing place to have a snack and a drink while watching the world go by, or meeting friends for a quiet drink and a chat.
A visit to Gin Gin Cibeles in Mexico City is an experience in itself, even if gin is not your favourite tipple. The décor and ambience here is amazing – consisting of a spooky wall covered in skulls, vegetation all around the room and in planters on the exposed brick walls.
Atmospheric lighting also features and of course, bottles and bottles of different gins lining the shelves behind the bar. The friendly waiters, in their white shirts, dicky bows, braces and trilby hats add to the atmosphere of this unique chic bar, too.
As well as gin-based drinks, they have a selection of beers and the bar staff are experts at mixing delicious cocktails. If all this alcohol makes you hungry, you should try one of their delicious pizzas; the Margherita and the tuna with picada sauce are especially yummy. Gin Gin is a prime place to meet up with friends, share a pizza and have a few drinks in a really cool and quirky atmosphere.
It is said that 75% of Mexico City’s population eat street food, also known as “antojitos”, at least once a week. Tlacoyos are one the most popular street foods and are usually served with prickly pear cactus paddles called nopales, topped with salsa.
Other favourites include Tlayudas – which are large, crispy tortillas left to dry and then refried with a little lard, they’re often topped with refried beans, cheese and meat, but can also have raw cabbage and even roasted grasshoppers. Tortas are a slightly crispy bread roll, with a filling of grilled meat, quesillo cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and spicy, pickled vegetables.
Tacos are possibly the most well-known Mexican street food and can be bought everywhere. These wonderful folded tortillas can be filled with anything from shrimps, sausage, scrambled eggs to potatoes. For something a little different, you could try the Barbacoa, a slow-roasted lamb or goat, generally served with a broth made from the meat’s drippings, other seasonings, garbanzo beans and rice, which is both filling and tasty.
Located near Alvaro Obregón (with its fine-dining restaurants), the Panaderia Rosetta eatery serves delicious pastries daily, being very popular with the locals. This iconic bakery is perfect for an early-morning coffee, and their tasty cinnamon buns are a must.
There is always a special home-baked bread of the day available, as well as plain and filled croissants, a huge variety of pastries, delicious quiches, and freshly made baguettes and sandwiches. A particular favourite with the locals is the Croque monsieur – a toasted sourdough sandwich filled with smoked ham and gruyere cheese.
Panaderia Rosetta serves a variety of coffee including lattes, cappuccinos and espressos. Although, if you prefer, you could have a cup of tea or a creamy, frothy hot chocolate. Dine at the cafe and enjoy the quaint and intimate seating area, or conveniently take snacks away with you. So, if you don’t have time to wait for a seat, why not take your drink to the nearby park (Plaza Rio de Janeiro) to enjoy?
The art nouveau-styled Restaurante El Cardenal in Mexico City serves wonderful Mexican food in stylish and comfortable surroundings. At breakfast, you can choose from chilaquiles, enchiladas, poached eggs in clay pots and omelettes or maybe just a concha con nata – a sweet soft pastry bread served with rich clotted cream.
For lunch, you might like to try the delicious shrimp tacos served with homemade bread and fresh green salsa – absolutely delicious. The extensive evening menu includes grilled octopus with chilli sauce, bacon-wrapped filet steak with a mushroom sauce and potato purée, as well as mole chicken and salmon with a garlic and lime sauce and steamed vegetables.
There is a full bar with a good choice of wines, while the service is friendly and efficient, providing the perfect setting for your evening meal. Alternatively, why not just pop into El Cardenal for a delicious frothy coffee or a spiced hot chocolate?
The elegant Sonra Grill restaurant is attached to the Barcelo Hotel, in Mexico City and is open to the public as well as the hotel guests. This contemporary restaurant offers tasty food served in comfortable surroundings, as well as friendly and helpful staff.
The restaurant serves local dishes and fantastic grills but it is particularly famous for its large range of different beef cuts. These steaks are served rare but on a sizzling plate, so you can remove it once it is cooked to your liking. For something completely different, you could try the grilled octopus served on a bed of potatoes, accompanied by six different sauces – some hot, some not.
The starters here are absolutely delicious and include shrimp and guacamole, red bean cheese with tortilla chips, tacos and grilled cheese, as well as choices of bread. Once you have finished your meal, why not try a Mezcal cocktail with guava, kiwi, red fruits, passion fruit, cucumber and basil? With all of these sumptuous dishes to choose from, Sonra Grill is well worth a visit.
The method of cooking al Pastor was originally brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants in the early 1900s and today, still, thin layers of pork are marinated overnight and then cooked on a revolving spit. When served, the meat is sliced off into a warm corn tortilla, along with a chunk of pineapple, chopped onion, and cilantro, and the taco is always served with lime and a wonderful variety of salsas.
Today, you can buy these tacos all over Mexico City, either from street vendors or in cafes and bars. The El Tizoncito restaurant in the Cuauhtémoc district, claims to be “Los Creadores del Taco al Pastor” (the creators of Taco al Pastor), according to the large sign over its entrance.
Even if that’s not strictly true the restaurant certainly does a mean taco, large enough to share, and absolutely piled high with the traditional fillings and topped off with delicious warm pineapple. Local families gather here to enjoy a meal and a few beers, especially on a Friday night after work – the perfect way to start the weekend.
Located inside the classic luxury of the Four Seasons hotel, the Zanaya restaurant’s chef – Tonatiuh Cuevas delivers a menu of inventive Mexican Pacific cuisine, using only the freshest seafood and local produce and spices. All meals are cooked in a traditional wood-fired brick oven to ensure that they are as near to the 500-year-old cooking traditions as possible.
The extensive menu includes starters, such as octopus tacos, aguachile with kidney scallops, red onion and cucumber salad and crispy ‘Tecuala’ tail-on shrimp, basted in butter and chilli paste. For the main, try the zarandeado fish with guajillo chilli, served with corn tortillas, red onion and various salsas. So, prepare your own tacos, or perhaps the chilli-ash-crusted tuna with pickled pineapple, jicama, melon and dried shrimp – both are absolutely amazing.
If you have room for dessert, you won’t be disappointed by the array of delicious treats to choose from. Overall, Zanaya provides excellent cuisine in a delightful setting and is the perfect place to enjoy a meal with your loved ones.
Awarded the Tourism Prize of Mexico City in 2017, Zefiro restaurant still lives up to this prestigious accolade today. This elegant, unique restaurant is staffed by the culinary students attending the adjacent school, however, the dishes served here are far from amateurish. The exceptional food served at this wonderful eatery is Mexican cuisine at its very best, you’d never know that these chefs are students.
Zefiro offers a monthly three or four-course set menu, as well as a good choice of traditional and contemporary Mexican dishes, each of which is freshly prepared. After receiving a delicious, complimentary welcome drink, made from watermelon with cardamom, a student host will bring a basket of homemade bread to accompany your meal.
The shrimp and arrachera tacos are very popular along with the amazing Nopal salad, spiced chicken and grilled fish. For dessert why not try the Sacher cake or the rich chocolate mole tart? The restaurant has a charming courtyard and is an ideal place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city.
A beautiful setting, great food, friendly staff and excellent service – what more could anyone want?