With a population of almost 21 million people, Mexico City is among the largest urban areas in the world. But don’t let that intimidate you - even if you have just a few vacation days to spare, a trip to CDMX is one you need to take.
Between the ancient ruins of Centro Historico, the sprawling art markets in San Angel, and the never-ending cafe culture of Condesa and Roma, Mexico City is a place you could visit 100 times and always find something new. And while it’s essential to pepper in the world-class museums, the big green parks, and a few architecture tours on your trip, if you’re like us, the priority will always be about one thing: the food.
From family-run cafes to destination prix-fixe restaurants to legendary street carts, you’re never far away from a life-changing meal in Mexico City. We’ve organized this guide by neighborhood, so keep it handy while you’re there, and you’ll always know where to go next.
El Hidalguense is only open three days a week (Friday-Sunday, 7am-6pm), but come to this massive Roma Sur restaurant any time during those hours and expect to walk into the biggest party in the neighborhood. Large families eating giant plates of barbacoa (it’s their specialty), groups of friends sipping mezcal shots and housing tacos, and neighbors getting together for their weekly gossip sessions. A meal at Hidalguense feels like a meal with the whole city and, if you’re with a big group, is one that shouldn’t be missed.
This is probably not the first time you’ve heard of Contramar, and it won’t be the last. This place has become legendary for its seafood-focused menu, and you should absolutely make a point to come here for the tuna tostadas and whole fish covered in red and green sauce. You want to be here for lunch - the kitchen closes at 6:30pm most nights (8pm Friday and Saturday), and the upbeat, busy restaurant is at its best during the day when the sprawling dining room becomes an all-out party. If this is your first time in CDMX, a meal at Contramar is essential dining.
Rosetta might be inside a townhouse in Roma, but it feels like it’s actually inside an Italian villa. It’s a beautiful restaurant where you get the sense that every design detail has been carefully considered. The menu is Italian with a Mexican twist, and is on the more expensive side - but our favorite time to be here is lunch, when the place is full of light and the prices are a little lower. That said, if you’re traveling with a significant other and looking for a romantic night out, dinner at Rosetta should be at the top of your to-do list.
It takes one morning stroll to realize there is no shortage of incredible bakeries in this city. But one you can’t miss is Panaderia Rosetta. This tiny cafe/bakery across the street from the main Rosetta restaurant serves fantastic coffee and pastries (the guava pastry has brought us back to life many times after a long night) in a welcoming little space you could hang out in all morning. Come weekends it becomes sort of a mob scene, but they have another location in Roma and one in Juarez where crowds are a bit more manageable.
When it comes to eating street food in Mexico City, the question isn’t which spots are the best, it’s how many free months you have to dedicate to trying every cart you walk past. But if you’re looking for a starting point, go to Jenni’s. The tiny stand at the corner of Colima and Merida in Roma Norte is grilling quesadillas that’ll make you sit on the sidewalk, close your eyes, and allow your body to remember what it feels like to be this happy. You get to choose your own filling based on the fresh ingredients that Jenni has available that day, but don’t get too stressed if you can’t decide what you want. Everything is delicious and it’s the blue jean-colored corn tortilla that brings everything together. Quesadillas run about seven pesos apiece.
Meroma is one of Mexico City’s best new restaurants, where you can eat everything from heirloom tomatoes with grilled avocado and scallop tiradito to agnolotti in sage butter and arroz negro with seafood. There’s a minimalist bar room on the ground floor, which feels right for a casual, cool meal, a more secluded dining room on the second floor ideal for dates, and a covered terrace - which is one of the best spots for a group dinner in Mexico City. When you add in the long cocktail menu and wine list, you have a restaurant where literally anyone would be happy.
If you’re staying in Mexico City on a Sunday, you’ll realize one thing pretty quickly - almost all the restaurants and bars are closed. But don’t get too discouraged - just go to La Docena. This loud, informal seafood/oyster bar in Roma is open all day on Sunday (and the rest of the week), making it a great option if you’re looking for a late dinner with friends that doesn’t involve raiding the chip section at the nearest grocery store. All the seafood and cocktails are excellent, but definitely get involved with some cured meats too (they’re cut fresh by a guy standing in the corner). Bonus: Across the street is Churreria El Moro, where you’ll definitely be heading for some post-dinner churros.
First thing in the morning, post-lunch, or even right after dinner, there’s always a line at Churreria El Moro in Roma Norte. And for good reason - this local chain (with 12 locations around the city) makes some of the best churros in existence. You can get a six-pack of them fresh out of the fryer and covered in cinnamon sugar with a side of hot chocolate dip for less than $5. Or, if you need to cool down after walking around all day, take yourself and a consuelo - El Moro’s churro ice cream sandwich - to nearby Plaza Rio de Janeiro to get some shade.
Maximo Bistrot is a farm-to-table restaurant that’s kind of French, kind of Mexican. The focus is on seasonal and local ingredients, so the menu changes every day, but you can always expect French-style dishes with some chile or huitlacoche (basically the fungus of a corn husk - it’s great). They also have a great wine list, including some Mexican choices, and they operate a breakfast/brunch spot called Lalo! directly across the street.
Loup Bar is a natural wine bar where you should go when you want to drink, snack, and not have to deal with planning a full dinner. It’s not a huge place - there are only about eight tables and a few stools at the bar - but it also never gets so crowded that you have to wait around to get seated. We recommend ordering a few toasts, some crudo, and the risotto if you’re really hungry, and then making your way down their excellent natural wine list. Most of their best wines come by the bottle, so definitely make sure you bring along a few friends to help.
Once you’ve gotten your fill of natural wine and snacks at Loup Bar, head directly upstairs to Maison Artemisia, a cocktail spot in an old Victorian parlor room. There are strong and delicious drinks, live jazz several nights a week, and a young crowd that’s ready to mingle. If you like your drinks spicy, the mezcal and ancho reyes-filled Loba Poblana is one of our favorite cocktails in the city, but the knowledgeable bartenders will happily make any drink tailored to your preferences.
Your flight landed in Mexico City late and you’re hungry. Either hit one of the excellent taco spots open late-night (like Taqueria El Califa, El Farolito, or Tacos Orinoco) or go to Paramo, where your late-night food will also come with a late-night scene. You’ll find cool people eating, drinking, and hanging out here until it closes at 2am.
Everyone hits their taco limit at some point during any trip in Mexico City, which is the perfect time to stop by Pozoleria Teoixtla. This neighborhood spot has a big menu with everything from mole to tostadas, but you’re here for the pozole. In particular, a bowl of the smoky pozole verde, which we like to get with avocado and chicharrones added on top. There’s usually a guitarist or accordion player playing by the front door too, which is the perfect soundtrack for a long lunch with a few margaritas.
When you walk into Nicos, you might feel like you’re in a pretty standard neighborhood restaurant. But as soon as you see the rotating mezcal cart and your food starts arriving, you’ll realize this place is operating on an entirely different level. Nicos serves traditional Mexican food and everything we’ve eaten here has been incredible. It’s on the way to (or from) the airport, so we’d recommend it for a pre or post-flight meal. Just make sure you save time to linger - this is the kind of meal you don’t want to have to rush.
If you only have time for one meal in Mexico City, go to Masala y Maiz. Located on a Condesa side street, this tiny, daytime-only Mexican/Indian restaurant is essentially one long, indoor concrete alleyway with a giant communal table going down the middle of it. A meal here doesn’t feel like you’re at a restaurant, it feels like you’re at a house party with 20 of your closest friends, who include the husband and wife team running the show. The menu changes frequently, but know you’re going to eat things like esquites in coconut milk, peel-your-own shrimp with jicama and pann puran, and patra (rice-stuffed colocasia leaves) bathing in a green chutney. You can certainly do your own ordering, but we recommend letting the chefs make those decisions for you - which will certainly include several bottles of natural wine.
You have a lot of eating priorities when you’re in Mexico City - but a Oaxacan breakfast or lunch at Pasillo de Humo needs to be towards the top of your list. This is a big, light-filled restaurant in Condesa with plenty of room for a group - so getting in won’t be much of an issue. What’s tougher, however, is deciding what to eat once you’re here. Everything on the menu seems (and is) worth ordering, and to do this place right, you need to try multiple types of mole and at least one tlayuda - which is like a crispy, open-faced quesadilla. If you need further ordering inspiration, just go stand by the open kitchen in the center of the restaurant where chefs are caramelizing onions, stirring big pots of chorizo, and melting cheese between tortillas. We will warn you, though, you might want to stay there forever.
This tiny taqueria specializes in guisado - stewed meats and vegetables. The tacos here are huge, especially if you ask for yours with all the toppings: guacamole, beans, and cheese. Make a stop while you’re walking around Condesa, get a seat at the table on the front sidewalk, and eat your tacos in the sun while you continue your calculations of how quickly you can quit your job and move here.
Condesa DF is one of our favorite hotels in CDMX and their rooftop bar and patio is a major reason why. This sprawling patio is a fantastic place to post up when the midday heat hits and all you really want to do is sit on a comfy chair and drink tequila cocktails for a few hours. Its fourth-floor vantage point provides fantastic views of the tree-lined streets of Condesa and, on a clear day, the volcanoes off in the distance. If you get hungry, they have a sushi menu that’s perfect for snacking.
Eating in Mexico City on Sundays gets tricky because most restaurants and businesses are closed. Another place (in addition to La Docena) that stays open is Lardo, a fantastic all-day Mediterranean spot from the same people who run Rosetta. Early lunch is definitely the time to come here when the menu expands to include things like nduja and burrata pizza, mango tiradito, and our favorite grilled octopus in the city. They don’t take reservations at lunch, so expect a bit of a wait on the weekends. That said, putting your name in and taking a stroll through Parque Espana to watch all the neighborhood dogs socializing isn’t a terrible way to spend 45 minutes.
El Farolito is the most convenient taco joint you’ll find in the city, considering there are 24 of them and they’re all open very late. The tacos al pastor are great and you should also order a chicharron de queso - basically a crispy piece of cheese. Eat as many tacos as you can and try every sauce available. Then wash it all down with a horchata.
Ojo de Agua is an airy, quaint spot with its own little fruit and vegetable stand. You’ll find salads topped with avocado, sandwiches, acai bowls for breakfast, and refreshing smoothies. They also have lighter versions of our favorite Mexican dishes, like huevos ahogados (poached eggs in a spicy sauce) and molletes (an open-faced sandwich made with a baguette, refried beans, and queso).
Centro Historico is home to museums, the Zocalo plaza, and what we have to assume is the largest Mexican flag in the known universe. It’s also where you’ll find Taqueria Los Cocuyos making excellent tacos 24 hours a day. This tiny stall is basically just a cauldron full of different meats, a well-worn cutting board, and a salsa station, but that’s really all they need to deliver some of our favorite tacos in the city. Each one is made to order with whatever meat you want from the simmering pot chopped up, tossed onto a fresh corn tortilla, and topped with onion and cilantro. Everything here is excellent, but we like the longaniza and campechano (a mix of carne asada, longaniza, and chicharones) the most.
A night at Bosforo feels like you’ve been transported to a different universe - one where sipping mezcal while sitting on sweaty, thatched floors and listening to tribal jungle sounds blast over the loudspeaker is the only way to enlightenment. This bare-bones mezcaleria in the heart of Centro Historico is where you go with the intention of staying for one drink only to crawl out three hours later feeling like you went on an unintentional spiritual quest. The phone number of a local shaman in your pocket says maybe you did.
Located about a block away from the Zocalo, this local institution, which originally opened in 1969, serves arguably the best breakfast in the city. Before looking at the menu, go ahead and order the nata, which is clotted cream created from boiling raw milk. Pair it with a concha, a soft sweet pastry bread with a sugar crust for a breakfast appetizer. Then go crazy with chilaquiles, enchiladas, poached eggs in clay pots, and omelettes with ingredients you’ve probably never heard of. Best to get here early or be prepared to wait.
If you started reading this list scanning for the best taco spots, focus your eyes here. El Turix is a little hole-in-the-wall taqueria and home to not just the best tacos in CDMX, but some of the best you’ll find anywhere in the world. The menu is small (there are four things total) and served Yucatan-style, meaning everything will be filled with sweet, citrus marinades and salsas. Your first order of business needs to be the cochinita pibil tacos, which come with slow-roasted pulled pork cooked with achiote paste and citrus juices, but it’s the panucho, an open face tortilla with thicker corn dough, that’ll be the reason you come back again before you head to the airport. Know that there is very limited seating here, so expect to eat your tacos like everybody else - while sitting on the curb with your face buried in plastic wrap.
When you tell someone you’re visiting Mexico City, there’s about a 50% chance they’ll respond by saying, “Oh are you going to...what’s that place called?” If you feel like talking to this person, then finish their sentence with “Pujol.” This high-end Mexican spot in the middle of Polanco is one of the most well-known restaurants in the world, and it’s where you should go with a small group of friends if you’re looking to have one splurge meal in Mexico City. The beautiful, low-ceilinged space feels like a meditation retreat for billionaires and the huge number of servers silently move around like a veteran ballet troupe. There’s a ten-course taco omakase at the bar as well as two tasting menus in the dining room (each one around $100 per person) that use traditional Mexican ingredients to create delicious dishes that look like they’ve been airbrushed in preparation for a magazine cover. Whichever tasting menu you choose, the star will be the mole, which has been cooking continuously since 2013 and tastes like incredibly light and complex melted chocolate. Just know that reservations open up a year in advance and you’ll need to plan at least two months ahead if you want to get a table.
Quintonil and Pujol have a lot in common. Not only are they located a few blocks from each other in Polanco, but the chef at Quintonil also worked at Pujol, and Pujol’s most famous dish - the mole madre that’s been cooking since 2013 - was initially made to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Quintonil. Quintonil serves one of the best moles we’ve ever had as well, and the menu has a similar focus to Pujol’s on local ingredients and beautiful presentations. They offer a rotating tasting menu for about $125 per person or you can order a la carte, in which case you’ll need to order the crab tostada with habanero mayo and the ant chorizo with creamy, cheesy rice. If you can’t get a dinner reservation, which is difficult because they’re only available two months in advance, then come for one of the best lunches in this city. Or any city.
Neveria Roxy serves the best ice cream in Mexico City. There are tons of flavors and they’re all excellent - we like the Mexican fruits, like mamey or guanabana. They have a few locations around the city, but the best one is in Polanco, which has a beautiful park nearby to walk around in with your ice cream.
Mexico City is no stranger to theatrical speakeasies and our favorite is Jules Basement. This reservation-required bar is, in fact, in a basement, but one that can only be accessed through the door of a refrigerator in the back of a neighboring taco shop. Once you take a seat at the bar and start drinking the cocktails, you’ll realize the effort was worth it. The drinks, while not any less dramatic than the entrance, are easily among the most unique you’ll find in the city. Plus, if a mezcal cocktail served inside an iridescent skull with hickory smoke billowing from the top doesn’t sound like something you want to get involved with, you’re either lying to yourself or not the person we want to go on vacation with.
Niddo is a fantastic breakfast option if you’re staying in the Zona Rosa (Mexico City’s historically LGBT neighborhood) and have zero interest in eating at one of the many chains in the area. Actually, it’s a fantastic breakfast option no matter where in the city you’re staying. The small, indoor/outdoor cafe has a tremendous Jewish-leaning menu that includes everything from potato latkes to babka French toast to bagels and lox. The whole place is run by a mother/son team and the seating revolves around the open kitchen where you get to watch them make your breakfast right in front of you. Wait times get long during peak weekend hours, but during the week you’ll be able to walk right in.
El Califa is a well-oiled taco machine and open until 4am every day. Our favorite taco here is the al pastor, but you really can’t go wrong. If you’re on a quest to eat as many tacos as possible during your time in Mexico City, you should know this is a one-minute walk from one of El Farolito’s many locations, too.
Located in the heart of Zona Rosa, this tiki bar isn’t visible from the street, but head down a flight of stairs and through a large door and suddenly you’ll pop out in a dimly-lit room that feels like a Jungle Cruise with sex appeal. There are bonsai trees scattered around on shelves, a DJ playing music you don’t hate, and groups of well-dressed friends lounging around on furniture that looks like it came from a mid-century design exhibit. Xaman is a great spot to hit right after dinner before things get too sloppy.
This cramped, standing-room-only wine/sake bar in the Cuauhtemoc neighborhood can’t fit more than 20 people, and though it’s chaotic and you’ll probably spend half the night pressed up against the bar, it’s one of our favorite places to drink in CDMX. Our recommendation is to save this place until the end of the night, when you can be amongst the rest of the stumbly, well-dressed crowd, drinking natural wine and rare sake (including the only Mexican variety in existence), and mentally making plans to do it all again tomorrow night.
After you visit the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo house, walk next door to San Angel Inn. If the wedding scene in The Godfather actually took place in Mexico City, it would have been filmed here. Located inside a former monastery with a beautiful courtyard, this is the kind of legendary place that makes you feel like you should be simultaneously eating steak tacos, smoking a cigar, and drinking a margarita (that was shaken at your table). Yes, it can be a bit touristy, but is definitely worth a trip anyway.