Mexico City Restaurants

Mexico City has been a culinary capital ever since the time of Moctezuma. Chronicles tell of the extravagant banquets prepared for the Aztec emperor with more than 300 different dishes served. Today's Mexico City is a gastronomic melting pot, with some 15,000 restaurants. You'll find everything from taco stands on the streets to simple, family-style eateries and elite restaurants. The number and range of international restaurants is growing and diversifying, particularly in middle- and upper-class neighborhoods like Polanco, San Angel, La Condesa, La Roma, Lomas de Chapultepec, and Del Valle. Argentine, Spanish, and Italian are the most dominant international cuisines; however, you'll also find a fair share of Japanese, Korean, Arabic, and French restaurants. Mexico City restaurants generally open 7–11 am for breakfast (el desayuno) and 1–6 for lunch (la comida)—although it's rare for Mexicans to eat lunch before 2, and you're likely to feel lonely if you arrive at a popular restaurant before then. Lunch is an institution in this country, often lasting two or more hours, and until nightfall on Sunday. Consequently, the evening meal (la cena) may often be really light, consisting of sweet bread and coffee, traditional tamales, and atole (a hot beverage made from corn and masa and sometimes chocolate) at home, or tacos and appetizers in a restaurant.

If having dinner, most locals start out at 9 pm; restaurants serving dinner stay open at least until 11 pm during the week, and later on weekends. Many restaurants are only open for lunch, especially on Sunday. At deluxe restaurants dress is generally formal (jacket at least), and reservations are recommended; see reviews for details. If you're short on time, you can always head to American-style coffee shops or recognizable fast-food chains all over the city that serve the tired but reliable fare of burgers, fried chicken, and pizza. If it's local flavor you're after, go with tacos or the Mexico City fast-food staple, the torta (a giant sandwich stacked with the ingredients of your choice for about $3). Eating on the street is part of the daily experience for those on the go, and surprising as it may seem, many people argue that it's some of the best food in the city. Still, stick to crowded stands to avoid a stomach illness.

Also cheap and less of a bacterial hazard are the popular fondas (small restaurants). At lunchtime fondas are always packed, as they serve a reasonably priced four-course meal, known as the comida corrida, which typically includes soup of the day, rice or pasta, an entrée, and dessert. There are few vegetarian restaurants, but you'll have no trouble finding nonmeat dishes wherever you grab a bite. Vegetarians and vegans, however, will have a more difficult time, as many dishes are often prepared using lard.

Colonia Polanco, the upscale neighborhood on the edge of the Bosque de Chapultepec, has some of the best and most expensive dining (and lodging) in the city. Zona Rosa restaurants often fill up with tourists, so don't expect to be sitting with the locals here. The Condesa and Roma neighborhoods buzz with a younger crowd all week.

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  • 1. Contramar

    $$$ | Col. Roma | Seafood

    Come before 1 to avoid the long wait at this airy seafood haven, a power-lunch spot for the creative and celebrity sets since it opened in 1998...Read More

  • 2. El Hidalguense

    $$ | Col. Roma | Mexican

    This restaurant has been serving Hidalgo-style barbacoa to grateful Mexico City residents for over 15 years. On weekends only, fresh lamb...Read More

  • 3. Nicos

    $$ | Col. Polanco | Mexican

    This restaurant is a quick cab from the Polanco area, and a must-visit for fans of traditional Mexican cuisine who think they've tasted it all...Read More

  • 4. Sud 777

    $$$ | Col. Jardines del Pedregal | Contemporary

    Sud 777's Edgar Nunez has a different approach from the slew of Mexican chefs committed to rescuing and recontextualizing Mexican cuisine; his...Read More

  • 5. Tacos Gus

    $ | Col. Condesa | Mexican

    This diminutive spot for tacos de guisados ("stewed," or premade taco fillings) will seduce you with its attractive young taqueros tending...Read More

  • 6. Agapi Mu

    $$ | Col. Condesa | Greek

    Rambunctious Greek song and dance enliven this small, friendly bistro Thursday through Saturday nights. Tucked away in a cozy room of a converted...Read More

  • 7. Al Andalus

    $ | Centro | Middle Eastern

    Lebanese restaurant Al Andalus, in a magnificent 17th-century colonial building downtown, makes some of the best Arabic food in the capital...Read More

  • 8. Au Pied de Cochon

    $$$ | Col. Polanco | French

    Open around the clock inside the Hotel Presidente InterContinental, this fashionable bistro continues to seduce well-heeled chilangos (as...Read More

  • 9. Bellinghausen

    $$ | Zona Rosa | Mexican

    The year 2015 marks the centennial of this cherished Zona Rosa lunch spot. The partially covered hacienda-style courtyard at the back, set off...Read More

  • 10. Bellini

    $$ | Col. Nápoles | Eclectic

    Revolving slowly on the 45th floor of the World Trade Center, Bellini maintains a formal, reserved character. It's definitely known less for...Read More

  • 11. Bistro Charlotte

    $$$ | Col. Polanco | Eclectic

    At lunch, regulars are greeted with hugs by Charlotte herself, a U.K. expat with an avid following. The ever-changing international menu could...Read More

  • 12. Bistrot Arlequin

    $$ | Col. Cuauhtémoc | French

    Here you'll find everything you would expect from a petit bistrot: an intimate environment open to the street, comforting food, good music that...Read More

  • 13. Bistrot Mosaico

    $$ | Col. Condesa | French

    This French-inflected local favorite serves as a second living room to a relaxed Condesa crowd. Despite their having expanded to four locations...Read More

  • 14. Café de Tacuba

    $$ | Centro | Mexican

    An essential, if touristy, breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack stop downtown, this Mexican classic opened in 1912 in a section of an old convent...Read More

  • 15. Cambalache

    $$$ | Col. Polanco | Argentine

    This beef-lover's dream (with three additional locations in Mexico City, as well as branches in Cancún and Toluca) is popular with everyone...Read More

  • 16. Círculo Vasco Español

    $$ | Centro | Spanish

    Dating from the 1890s, this huge, high-ceiling restaurant basks in the faded glamour of the days when dictator Porfirio Díaz dined here regularly...Read More

  • 17. El Bajío

    $$ | Col. Polanco | Mexican

    Vivacious Carmen "Titita" Ramírez—a culinary expert who has been featured in various U.S. food magazines—has turned El Bajío into a true icon...Read More

  • 18. El Cardenal

    $$ | Centro | Mexican

    In the ground floor of the Hilton Mexico City Reforma across Juárez from the elegant Alameda, this upscale venue concentrates on food over...Read More

  • 19. El Dragón

    $$$ | Zona Rosa | Chinese

    The former ambassador to China was so impressed by El Dragón's lacquered Beijing duck that he left behind a note of recommendation (now proudly...Read More

  • 20. El Entrevero

    $$$ | Col. Coyoacán | Argentine

    A Uruguayan may own this friendly eatery on the main square of Coyoacán, but the menu will be familiar to fans of Argentine cuisine—the scrumptious...Read More

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