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First Time in Mexico City

Hi All,

So I'm going to Mexico City for the first time next week and I feel overwhelmed by the choices. For a beginner in Mexico City could someone recommend an excellent primer on places that I shouldn't miss. I'm not really looking at going to the high-end restaurants for budget reasons but if someone knows of a steal please let me know.

Also, where is the best place to get a cup of steaming chocolate?

Thanks so much for your help!

Also, I'm staying near the US Embassy, so near the Pink Zone. But have no problem going to other parts of the city . . .

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  1. "Also, where is the best place to get a cup of steaming chocolate?"

    It's hard to beat the classic Churrería El Moro, on Eje Central Juan de Letrán, Colonia Centro, at the corner of República de Uruguay. Each cup of chocolate (in 3 or 4 styles) comes with 4 churros, which are ok at best, at busy times. About 40 pesos an order.
    Open 24/7.

    1. I dunno about Mexico City specifically, but I've always wanted to try huitlacoche, which is a fungal disease of corn that Mexicans actually eat, and it even fetches a HIGHER price on the markets (than a healthy cornstalk would)

      2 Replies
      1. re: peanuttree

        Huitlacoche is basically alot like a mushroom. I'm not a huge fan of it, though I did have some truly fabulous huitlacoche this summer with Diana Kennedy. Personally, I think it is one of the over-rated foods of the world. During rainy season it is quite common to see corn cobs bursting with huitlacoche (corn smut in English).

        1. re: DiningDiva

          The thing about huitlacoche, is that mostly it carries an earthly flavor and not much else, unless it is cooked with an adequate recipe. The interaction of the mushroom with other ingredients can really become alive. A bit of onions, healthy corn kernels, a dab of the right chili and the expert hand of a "señora" can turn it into a tasty quesadilla filling, of the basis for an interesting high cuisine dish.

      2. OMG, Mexico City for the first timer can be sooo overwhelming, it's sensory overload for sure. Do not miss the Anthopology museum and Chapultepec Park, you can spend days there. El Bajio in Polanco would be a good breakfast choice followed by a day in the park. The centro historico has a rich history and many, many options. Sanborn's is something of an institution in Mexico and the food can be nothin to write home about, but the Casa de Azulejos, which is close to the centro historico is a good option in that area. It's their flagship location and alledgedly the site of the invention of enchiladas suisse. The Gran Hotel just off the zocalo is a nice pit stop for a drink and a rest and they've got a fabulous stained glass ceiling.

        I'll second Anonimo's rec for El Morro for chocolate and churros. I was there on a Sunday AM early, which is not the best time, but the chocolate was good, not so much the churros. The best chocolate I've had anywhere is at Cafe Azul y Oro which is on the campus of UNAM, which is probably not close to anywhere you'll be.

        Enjoy your trip and do report back about what you tried. Mexico City is amazing. The energy is amazing, the food is amazing, the museums are amazing and the people are amazing. It's truly a world-class city (complete with world-class problems) and you can't see it all in one visit.

        2 Replies
        1. re: DiningDiva

          I was at Sanborn's de los Azulejos in the Center on Sunday and agree that it's a must see. However, I recommend the breakfast at El Cardenal in the Sheraton del Centro Historico (Av. Juarez across from La Alameda Park) for a truly special Mexican breakfast. For about the same price as Sanborn's you can eat at El Cardenal and have some of the best pan dulce I've had in Mexico and very good chocolate. There's also a Diego Rivera painting in the restaurant. The pan dulce is made in house and comes out fresh from the oven.

          El Cardenal gets incredibly crowded every morning with Mexican politicos and businessmen arriving for breakfast upon its opening at 8am.

          The pan dulce is about 1.40mxp and I don't recall how much the chocolate was. they also serve natas, like a clotted cream, with their pan dulce. The variety of regional specialites for breakfast is great - pancita, chicharron en salsa verde, cazuelas, omelettes with squash blossom. Here's the site: http://www.elcardenal.com.mx/

          1. re: Mari

            Thanks for the info on El Cardenal. It is one of the restaurants recommended to us for cabrito asado, but we never got around to dining there. We are more familiar with the Calle Palma location.

        2. Guau - have a great time! I just came back from my first visit to Mexico City. It's definitely overwhemlming - but it's an incredible city. I can't wait to go back. With such a large city, it's nearly impossible to try everything, but rest assured there's good food no matter where you are.

          Here are some of the places I ate (and would eat again):

          Bondy - Polanco
          La Buena Tierra - Condesa
          El Bajio - Del Parque Mall
          El Vip Sito - don't know where that was
          El Ocho - Condesa

          Of course, there's Los Bisquets Bisquets Obregon, Vips and Sanborns - very casual fare.

          And then there's the "street food" - stunning. Had a great time on a Sunday night eating our way through the plaza in Coyoacan. Elote, churros rellenos and coffee.

          1 Reply
          1. re: onocoffee

            Bondy has the best "milanesa" or wiener schnitzel in Mexico City and it's desserts are just delicious, gotta try the "Mil Hojas" or Mille Feuilles cake..... yummm!

            For mexican food the hottest spot today is El Bajio, excellent traditional food! Don't miss it!

          2. Here is how I would break it down:

            > Contemporary Mexican Alta Cocina.... Aguilo y Sol, Pujol or Izote
            > 19th Century Mexican.... Antigua Hacienda de Tlalpan, San Angel Inn or Bellinghausen
            > Contemporary Mexican Bistro.... Azul y Oro
            > Regional Mexican Specialties.... La Pigua (Campeche), Los Danzantes (Oaxacan), El Bajio (Xalapa), Xel-Ha (Yucatecan)
            > Immigrant Cuisine.... Grutas de Eden (Lebanese), Casino Espanol,
            > Foreign Cuisine.... best represented by various Spanish, French & Argentinian restos

            Street Foods.... where to begin.... not many cities compare to DF when it comes to this category. First things first.... have a lot of local yogurt it will help offset Turista aka Moctezuma's Revenge (not that its as common as believed)....

            Overall the hottest neighborhood is Condesa with many, casual bistro style places frequented by the Professional Class... very walkable, very cosmopolitan... just choose places full of locals and you wont go wrong.

            The Pink Zone is very outdated.... if you can change your hotel... I would highly recommend something closer to Roma-Condesa.

            1. This is late for you but for future reference...Maria del Alma in Condesa is fabulous. Tabasco-style cuisine, very nice but not totally budget-breaking, great service and amazing tamarind margaritas. We had a fantastic meal here, and then I recommended it to a coworker who went on a whirlwind weekend to DF and reported it was his favorite meal there.

              1. First if your time is limited ( as so many people think the DF is a weekend -- WRONG) ride the Turibus so you can see all the sights and, with your MAP that your hotel or the Tourism kiosks will give you, make notes.
                The Centro Historico is a full day of walking -- so many good things, the free tour at Bellas Artes of the Tiffany curtain ( Tues.-Fri. at 1 and 1:30PM), good eats, inexpensive lunch at El Popular Cafe Av 5 de Mayo 52
                Tel: 5518 6081 (info) dinner at El Cardenal, but the Good Food in Mexico City propbably has it all.

                OOPS, you've already been -- for next time.