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May 22, 2006 12:24 PM

Mexico City

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We are going to Mexico City for Memorial Day weekend -- two adults and two young teens. We'll be staying at the Four Seasons which will be swanky but I am looking for some good (great) places to eat. I'm interested in casual places that have terrific food. Gracias!

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  1. s
    Serious food hound

    People here have highly praised "Casa Merlos", "La Bella Lula", and "La Taberna del Leon".

    I've been to all three more than once, and I can guarantee a PHENOMENAL gastronomic experience at all three. In fact, every time I go down to Mexico, I go to at least one of them - and often times to all three, if time permits.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Serious food hound

      Thanks for the infor. Yes, I've read that the mole' at Merlos are terrific. Have you ever heard of a seafood place called Contramar?

      1. re: Yllas
        Serious food hound

        Yes, I've been to Contramar. I found it a bit over-hyped. It was an enjoyable meal, and the food was fine, but nothing memorable. For my taste, the three other places are much much better in terms of FOOD - Contramar is a bit better if you want to hang out with the hipster/trendy/yuppie crowd of the Condesa neighborhood though.

        1. re: Serious food hound

          Thanks again. Can you perhaps recomend to places that might serve just normal mexican -- causal and cheap.

          1. re: Yllas

            There is a small inexpensive taqueria called El Caminero, Rio Lerma 138, that is within walking distance of the Four Seasons. Good tacos, cheap, very casual.

            1. re: Yllas

              Here are some "regular" places from our list:
              Mercado de Comidas, Coyoacán
              A few blocks from central plaza in Coyoacán; there is an outdoor seafood restaurant that is fabulous (look for the long,long tables) but we go for the INCREDIBLE tostada stand inside in the middle- has to be seen to believed-heaping platters of filling- even our friends from Paris were amazed.

              Coox Hanal
              Isabel la Catolica 83, 2nd floor, near c/Mesones, (Centro Historico)
              Incredible Yucatecan food- only for lunch. Try: Sopa de Lima, Panuchos, Pan de Cazon, horchata to drink. Very cheap!

              La Gran Cocina Mi Fonda (Lopez 101, Centro) This humble but charming eatery serves its regular customers home-cooked Spanish food with a Mexican touch--succulent roast chicken. A full meal costs no more than US$4 – the decor and prices unchanged since 1950.

              El Tizoncito, (corner of Tamaulipas and Nuevo León, Condesa) This place claims to be the originator of tacos al Pastor, quien sabe? But they are excellent and their salsas are too.

              El Gúero (Avenida Amsterdam 135 near Michoacán, Condesa) has great tacos de guisado, with several vegetarian choices: try the cooked leafy greens quelites or acelgas (swiss chard) or coliflór (fried cauliflower.) This hole-in-the-wall has appeared in Saveur magazine.

              1. re: nick
                Serious food hound

                I always forget to alert people about this gem:

                Neveria Roxy (in the Condesa Neighborhood, in Mexico City).

                BEST ice-creams EVER. period.

                no words will do justice here. try it yourself.

      2. Hands down, the best meal I've had in D.F. for a long time was this past November at Alkimia in the Colonia Pedregal. Alkimia is innovative and creative; it's focus is on taking traditional Mexican ingredients and dishes and presenting them in updated, non-traditional ways. It also has a commitment to cooking seasonally, which in Mexico provides extremely interesting options, and locally. The exec. chef at Alikimia is an alumnus of El Bulli in Spain and Le Cirque in New York City.

        I also had an exceptionally good meal at Pujol in Colonia Polanco in NOvember as well. Service was stellar. I was less enamored of Izote, but a lot of people really like it.

        Aguila y Sol (Moliere 42 & Masaryk in the Polanco) and Tezka (in the Hotel Royal in the Zona Rosa) are two top destinations for fine dining. The San Angel Inn in Coyocan does old world continental dining in great style and in very comfortable surroundings.

        Other options could include:

        Chon - sorry dont' have an address
        El Candelero - 1333 Insurgentes Sur (visit the cave of the Mulattos)
        Casa LammAlvaro Obregon and the corner of Orizaba in the Colonia Roma
        Cafe Tacuba - Tacuba 28, okay food, better ambience
        El Bajio - Ave. Cuitlahua 2709 in Colonia Azcapotzalco, been around a long time serving traditional food
        Fonda Rufugio - Liverpool 166 in the Zona Rosa. Also been around a long time
        El Cardenal in the Sheraton in the Centro Historico
        Danubio - Uruguay 3 in the Centro Historico, for seafood
        Coox Hanal for Yucatan style food - Isabel la Catolica 83, 2nd floor, Centro Historico

        2 Replies
          1. re: Gayla

            I second Pujol. We were in the DF in February and it was my favorite high end meal of our 10 day visit. Very special. We also stayed at the Four Seasons, btw, and it was fabulous. Have a great trip - I love Mexico City.

          2. If you're serious about Mexican cuisine, a trip to Patricia Quinatana's Izote may seem like what others might consider a trip to French Laundry. I had one of my top 5 meals there. It's modern, clever and delicious without being cute or forgetting the cuisine of Mexico. The red mole from hibiscus flowers over shrimp still haunts me.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Earl Grey

              I've eaten at Izote and while it was good it certainly missed being great. Tezka, Aquilar y Sol and Pujol are all better than Izote

              1. re: DiningDiva

                There are a lot of things to consider. I think the other places are fancier and probably better as "fine dining", hipper or more traditional, but I can't imagine not ranking Quintana as one of the countries finest and most influential chefs.

                Something she did struck a chord with me!

                1. re: Earl Grey

                  Then perhaps I misunderstood your original statement equating Izote to the French Laundry, which is clearly fine dining in anyone's book :-). Patricia is, indeed, one of the Mexico's best chefs, but there are a growing number of young chefs that are now doing what she does, and beginning to do it better. And this is not necessarily a bad thing, because it bodes well for the entire Mexican dining scene. Contemporary Mexican is still a developing concept and there's lot of room for growth, new ideas and new faces.

                  Some of the best meals I had in 2005 were in Mexico City. I was underwhelmed at Izote - in spite of Ms. Quintana stopping by our table - only because meals we had at other restaurants were better and/or more interesting and more.

                  1. re: DiningDiva

                    Sorry- I meant FL in terms of food mecca rather than fine dining.

                    In fairness to La Quintana, can you go into more detail? A lot of it is of course subjective but it sounds like she made some wrong turns.

            2. Well, we'll see where this reply ends up since there was no "reply" link on the last post.

              I don't think it was a case of Patricia Quintana taking a wrong turn, so much as it is a case of other chefs catching up to her and what she's doing, and some of them being capable of passing her by. As generations come and go there is always a changing of the guard. I don't think it's that she's being displaced, it's just that there is a whole new generation of chefs that have grown up with less tradition, have traveled, perhaps trained in the U.S., Europe or both and are now bringing their skills and ideas back home and applying them in to traditional foods and recipes but with much less pressure to conform to the food traditions and methods of previous generations.

              Nothing we had at Izote the night we ate there was poorly done or substandard, it just lacked the shot of "oomph" that the food at other places had shown. Where they clearly had sass, pizazz and sparkle, Izote merely dazzled. Kind of the difference between something that is bright and bold and new, as opposed to something that has been around a while and has developed the rich patina that time seems to create.

              2 Replies
              1. re: DiningDiva

                It's funny, I have two other friends that have eaten there and one had my experience and the other had yours, and I respect both their opinons! Maybe it's safe to say it's inconsistent!
                I picked up her new mole book and plan to work my way through it, starting with the flor de jamaica mole that still haunts me.
                Maybe it was the company or the cocktails, but as I said, something that night just spoke to me and connected in a way I rarely get in a restaurant.

                1. re: Earl Grey

                  The night I dined at Izote there was very little Spanish being spoken by the clientel in the restaurant. I'd hazard to guess it' wasn't a local crowd <g>. Seemed mostly like embassy/diplomatic/business/corporate types. Didn't see connected Defenos at that meal.

              2. I just spent two months in Mexico City, and I second the El Caminero recommendation. I also liked La Tecla, in Condesa/Roma--creative food and nice atmosphere, but low-key and not too expensive (the ancho chile stuffed with sweet plaintain in a cilantro (I think) sauce was especially good). I've heard that Aguila y Sol is overrated, but haven't been there.