Mexico City is one of the greatest food cities in the world—the variety of food options are endless and cafes and restaurants boast their unique recipes and styles. I can confidently say that I did not have a single bad meal while in the city and almost every meal I had felt well-crafted and thought out. Let’s cut to the chase: here are eight of the best places to eat (and of course, drink) at in Mexico City!
Coffee + Brunch at Cicatriz
A cafe during the day and a bar at night, Cicatriz is a great all-day establishment for eating and drinking. I stumbled upon this open-air cafe after seeing how long the wait at another spot was, but this was the happiest accident. The coffee here is especially good, and of all the espresso drinks I had in Mexico City, the cappuccino at Cicatriz was the winner. With good drinks and better vibes, this is the cafe-bar hybrid that every beverage-serving spot in Brooklyn wants to be.
Cicatriz is founded by expat siblings from the states and that comes through a bit in the menu—even though local ingredients are used, there are obvious themes of popular American fare. The meatballs with fried leeks are a star here, and don’t skip the Pay de Pollo, which I promise will be the most exciting chicken pot pie you’ll ever eat (and worth the 45-minute wait). This is a super cute daytime spot that delivers on the food and drinks, though I’ll have to be back at nighttime in the future.
Shared Plates + Wine at Amaya
Between my partner and I, I’m definitely the planner when it comes to vacations and choosing where to eat. But this was his pick (and a damn good one)! Amaya is best known for being a good spot to enjoy a bottle of wine, however the food here is equally great. The menu features shareable plates with both Mexican and international influence, and the food is meant to pair well with the wine. While I opted for outdoor dining due to the nice weather, the inside of the restaurant is really pretty and has a colorful painted brick wall.
Nearly all of the wines are offered only by the bottle, but they’ll have a couple of offerings by the glass. Because I ordered ceviche tostadas and soft shell crab, I ended up with one of the white wines and liked it so much that I had several glasses. As for the food, the tostadas were good and the soft shell crab with garlic dip was fantastic! Maybe it was that this was the first meal I had in CDMX or maybe it was that I’ve never had the chance to eat soft shell crab to my heart’s content until Amaya, but I really enjoyed my dinner here. If you’re vacationing with a group of friends, this is a great option to split a bottle of wine and a few dishes.
Mexican-Indian Fare at Masala y Maiz
Masala y Maiz was a recommendation from one of my friends who has been to Mexico City a couple of times. She emphasized that it’s her favorite place to eat in the city (and maybe even the world) so I knew I had to give it a try. The restaurant’s menu is a marriage of Mexican and Indian cuisines, and if you’re wondering whether the ingredients and flavor profiles of the two go together, I can assure you that they mesh really well.
The menu is composed of shared plates and natural wines, and it changes frequently based on what ingredients are in season. We ordered four plates and a bottle of wine between the two of us and left super stuffed. Everything was incredible, but if I had to recommend something specific, get the aguachile and masala fried chicken together so you can go back and forth between the refreshing aguachile and the spicy, smoky chicken. If you drink, I think the wine is a must—most of their wines are by the bottle, but they have a few options by the glass if you ask.
If you want to dine here—and you should absolutely want to dine here—make a reservation if possible. We went on a Saturday just 30 minutes after opening and got the last table available. It’s a popular joint and for good reason! The food is on the pricey side for the city, however I think it’s reasonable given their dedication to sourcing ingredients from local small farmers and producers.
Churros at El Moro
Churrería El Moro is by far the most popular place to get churros in Mexico City. In fact, it is so popular that there are a dozen of their churrerías spread out through the city, and most of them are open late. I have to say, the churros at El Moro are pretty dang good. It’s sugary fried dough, what’s not to like? I definitely have a bit of a sweet tooth, but even if you’re not the biggest fan of sweets, I think the crunchy yet fluffy churros here could win you over. It’s a must-stop, a quick stop, and a cheap stop!
Microbrews + Tacos at Morenos tasting room
I never pictured myself as the kind of person who would seek out breweries when traveling (I grew up in a dry household) but by a turn of events, I’ve become one. Cerveceria Morenos is a craft brewery that offers around 20 beers on tap and more bottles and cans to-go. It’s located on a smaller street in the Roma neighborhood and while the indoor space is small, it’s stylish and modern. Like many restaurants and bars in the city, they have outdoor seating as well and even the indoor space has the front door open to let the fresh air in.
Morenos offers very crisp beers that are welcome on a hot day or after lots of walking throughout the city. I even met an IPA that I actually liked! A lot of their beers are IPAs and pale ales, so if that’s your jam, you’ll love it at Cerveceria Morenos. But even as someone who doesn’t like IPAs all that much, the stuff here is pretty good. The tacos here are also quite tasty (the steak tacos were my favorite) and if you’ve got a craving for something with crunch, the croquettes will hit the spot.
Tamales at Tamales Madre
Maiz is central to Mexican cuisine, so what better way is there to explore the varieties of maiz than tamales? I was super excited to try tamales for the first time, and Tamales Madre did not disappoint. The restaurant offers many different types of tamales—vegetarian tamales, meat tamales, sweet tamales—and they have a couple of outdoor tables for diners to enjoy the tamales in the sun. The storefront has double doors that open, and you can watch how the Tamales Madre team makes the tamales.
Between my partner and I, we tried four tamales and left completely stuffed. The bean tamale is a must-order dish, but the standout star for me was the monthly special which had stewed beef and incredibly fluffy masa. The chicken tamale and cacao tamale were also quite delicious, and I’m not saying that just to say it—all the food is very good here. Don’t forget to ask about the tamale on special if you visit, and definitely get the corn beer they have on the menu because you can’t have too much corn!
Tasting Menu at Pujol
Is there really anything I can say about this place that every other blogger (or TV show) hasn’t said? When I saw Enrique Olvera featured in an episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix, I was honestly blown away. I loved his philosophy around using local and traditional Mexican ingredients and the special focus on maiz. I booked Pujol for dinner as soon as my flight purchase confirmation hit my inbox—that is how excited I was to eat here!
The restaurant, located in the Polanco neighborhood, is absolutely breathtaking as soon as you step inside. The interior boasts modern Mexican design and most of the furniture is wood; the bar where the taco omakase is served is also gorgeous. Pujol has two menu options—the tasting menu and the taco omakase—and while I debated between which one to go for, I ultimately chose the tasting menu to ensure that I’d get to taste some of their best-known dishes. And boy, it was a treat!
Like most other tasting menus, the dishes at Pujol rotate based on seasonality, however some dishes like the baby corn with chicatana ants seem to be staples. The corn was excellent, however the winners of the night for me were the sea bass and the mole nuevo and mole madre. My partner even said that the sea bass was the best fish dish he’s ever had. The mole comes with a basket of the most delicious corn tortillas I’ve ever had, and the staff keep the tortillas coming when you get to the bottom of the basket. The tuna tostada was also melt-in-your-mouth delicious, and they encourage you to eat most of the dishes with your hands.
Pujol’s dinners are expensive—after all, it’s the top fine dining option in the country—but I would say that it is definitely worth it! The tasting menu runs roughly $120 before tax and tip and the wines they offer vary in price. This is one of the most memorable meals I’ve had in several years, though I wish that they offered a beverage pairing.
Al Pastor at El Huequito
El Huequito is on nearly every taco list and guide that I found online, and I initially thought this was because there were multiple locations. But then the chef leading the churro workshop I took recommended it, and I decided to make that my al pastor taco stop. I took an Uber ride to one of the El Huequito locations and when I was getting dropped off, the driver even pointed to the storefront and gave a big thumbs up in approval of the place.
The Pastor Especial was the last thing I ate in Mexico City, and it made for a fantastic last meal. Like the name, it’s special because you get a mini mountain of freshly sliced pastor with tortillas on the side. That’s right—you get slices of spit-roast pork piled several inches high. Why order regular tacos al pastor when you can have this?
There’s no pineapple with the pastor, but you get an array of salsas that you can help yourself to. The meat is nicely charred so it’s both crispy and smoky, and it’s great to mix and match the salsas for dozens of flavor combinations. El Huequito is a great stop for a quick lunch or snack. It certainly ended my trip on a high note!