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Where to eat in Mexico City

l
LES Snob Jul 31, 2008 07:00 PM

Staying in Polanco, but don't mind traveling to other neighborhoods. Looking for recommendaitons on fish, and traditional mexican. Would love a combination of upscale, casual, and neighborhood (really casual)

Thanks.

  1. o
    onocoffee Jul 31, 2008 09:46 PM

    I have to recommend El Bajio for traditional Mexican. Then there's El Ocho in Condesa and La Buena Tierra, also in Condesa.

    Of course, there's lots of great eating in the markets and on the streets of Mexico City. Just be adventurous, look for lines and go for it.

    1. j
      jimj Aug 1, 2008 11:22 AM

      check out this site--http://www.mexicocityfood.net/
      El Bajio is a top choice for classic Mexican (Alejandro Dumas 7 in Polanco
      )Contramar in Colonia Roma (Durango 200) is one of the best seafood places in town--lunch only (get there before 2pm)

      1. mjs Aug 1, 2008 02:56 PM

        For traditional mexican i recommend Fonda el Refugio, Liverpool 166 Zona Rosa. 5207-27-32

        1. Carb Lover Aug 3, 2008 12:00 AM

          I know that many people and guide books recommend El Bajio in Polanco, but I was underwhelmed on our visit for a Sat. lunch in late January. The food was mediocre to decent. The carnitas taco was relatively bland, and our main dishes (husband got their signature egg dish and I got the nopales stuffed w/ cheese) were just ok. I found the service to lack the warmth we experienced in other eateries. On top of this, they charged the "cubierto" or cover charge and also charged us for the items we ate from their bread basket. Being naive tourists, we thought the basket was complimentary and didn't see any indication of a charge on the menu nor did the waitress attempt to inform us (I can understand basic Spanish). Overall, this left a bad taste in our mouths...

          We enjoyed a nice dinner at Maria Bonita in the Hotel Camino Real. They have a number of seafood selections on the menu, and we especially liked the smoked marlin tostadas and the veracruzan-style huachinango (snapper). The atmosphere is modern and hip, but we dressed casually and didn't need a reservation. It's a little pricey but worthwhile if you are in the area.

          To be honest, we had pretty unremarkable meals at most sit-down restaurants in Mexico City. My favorite bites were things like roast chicken and potatoes from a fonda on Cinco de Mayo, fresh fruit smoothies from La Canada near the Holiday Inn, churros and chocolate from Churreria El Moro. Gosh, I hope I'm not butchering the names of these places since this was in January. We stayed a few nights in the zocalo area at Hotel Catedral, and their breakfasts (included in the room rate) were a great way to start the day. It looked like a lot of local business types came for their power breakfasts. I still remember how sweet and perfectly ripe their papaya was.

          I would definitely stay away from Los Girasoles which felt like a terrible tourist trap and waste of time, money, and precious stomach space. The food was an insult to the vibrancy of what Mexican food can be. Sanborns, Cafe El Popular, Cafe de Tacuba were also meh, but were convenient at the time. We didn't make it to El Cardenal near the zocalo since they closed so early (around 6:30pm). I wasn't really interested in the alta cocina places for this trip, but maybe next time.

          I mainly regret not being more adventurous with street food since there was some tasty looking eats in the commercial section south of Bellas Artes and around the Ciudadela market. Next time!!

          Have a great time and I look forward to your report back...

          2 Replies
          1. re: Carb Lover
            g
            gueraaven Jul 11, 2009 07:00 PM

            sorry you had a bad experience at el Bajio - I would say normally the food is quite yummy. Just a few comments on the two charges.... It's pretty common here for restaurants to charge a cover, and it's always listed on the menu so that you know what you are getting into. (Of course, you didn't know to look for it so it was an unpleasant surprise, ick.) Restaurants do this especially when they are popular for looooong afternoon lunches (as Bajio is) where families sit for hours without getting pressured to buy or drink more. Mexican restaurants do not move as many tables as their American counterparts, so they have other charges to help make the profit they need.

            And, it's well known here that the basket of sweet bread at breakfast costs per piece - usually about 5-10 pesos each. It's just one of those customs in another country that's different - they didn't explain it to you because your waiter probably had no idea that this isn't customary in the US. They definitely weren't trying to nickel and dime you... it's absolutely standard practice in Mexico.

            1. re: gueraaven
              g
              gomexico Jul 13, 2009 06:59 AM

              I've always considered the charge for the cubierto as a fraudulent practice and though the more expensive restaurants may charge it it's not commonplace overall.

          2. t
            topawers Aug 4, 2008 03:09 PM

            Hey, I am from Mexico City but live in Chicago at the time. Here are some recommendations, hope they come in handy.

            Give in to Mexican eating times, I know this is hard for some, but a restaurant experience is not quite as good when you're eating by yourself. Try to hit lunch after 2 (a bit later if you can on weekends) and dinner around 9 (an 8:30 reservation is still good, since you'll probably won't start eating until 9). Also, Mexican's drink their cocktails after lunch or dinner, and there's also the sobremesa tradition (long after-meal table conversations), so when you pass by a restaurant at 6PM on a Saturday and it's packed, those people aren't there for dinner, they're there from lunch. You have not experienced a true Mexican weekend meal until you have lunch and dinner at the same place. But that's only on a cultural note, since you'd probably want to be visiting the city instead of drinking in-between meals. Again, at night, some restaurants will remain packed until 1 AM for the same reason.

            Some of the places I mention are somewhat touristy, most are local, and great.

            Most of the good restaurants of Mexico City are concentrated in a few areas of town which are.
            Polanco.
            Las Lomas.
            Condesa/Roma.
            Santa Fe.
            San Angel/Pedregal.
            A few of them in Centro (the historic Center of the city).
            Condesa/Roma & Polanco are relatively close to each other and close to the center. It’s where most stuff happens in Mexico City in terms of nightlife, tourism, hotels, museums, etc.
            Lomas starts west of Polanco and goes all the way up to Bosques and then Santa Fe. Lomas and Bosques are the most upscale residential parts of town, and for the same reason, a lot of great restaurants and posh local nightlife.
            Santa Fe is the most modern part of the city and it’s mainly offices, cool buildings and apartments. Death on weekends. Most of the restaurants located in there are outposts of other good restaurants in Mexico City to serve the business crowd.
            San Angel and Pedregal are located in the southern side of the City.

            Upscale & Upscale casual.
            For traditional Mexican San Angel Inn is a classic. The place itself is worth the experience, it’s an old Hacienda. In the San Angel district.
            Izote and Aguila y Sol are great for contemporary Mexican. Unfortunately, Aguila y Sol is temporarily closed due to trouble with the local government regarding their parking lot space (politics), but do call since it’s supposed to be re-opening anyday. Both are in Polanco.
            La Taberna del León is my favorite restaurant in the city and is based around traditional Mexican, seafood and signature dishes by Mónica Patiño. It’s in Pedregal/San Angel.
            Naos is Monica Patiño’s restaurant in Palmas, in the Lomas district. It’s basically a modern version of La Taberna del Leon, sharing most of the menu with slight differences. To me, even when Naos might be swankier, La Taberna, classier and more elegant, is still the best.
            Pujol is Enrique Olvera's signature cuisine. An excellent choice.
            I won't include French, Italians, etc, since you probably have lots of good ones (I don't know where you're from, but there's plenty of great French in the US). What I will include is a couple of Spanish places since Mexico is probably where you find the best Spanish food outside Spain.
            Guria is arguably the best Spanish restaurant in the city. There are two locations, the original one in La Roma and the younger one in Santa Fe. Both are great, the Santa Fe location, is obviously newer, modern and happening.
            Bakea is another great option and considered one of the best in the city. It's also a hidden gem, in a residential area, away from anything related to tourism and full of powerful-but-discreet locals. Although a bit more serious and elegant, it's still worth the french-basque fare. Located in Lomas.
            Biko has been gaining a lot of attention lately, siganture meets Spanish. Polanco.
            And finally, D.O. another great option for Spanish in Polanco.
            El Cardenal (2 locations, one in the historic center near the Zocalo another one in Palmas in the Lomas district) is also good for Traditional Mexican, and it closes at 6:30 because it's only open for lunch.
            A good piece of advice here, try the traditional Mexican restaurants like San Angel Inn, El Cardenal, etc, as lunch spots. Most people do so because traditional Mexican can be heavy for dinner. Guria is also a better lunch spot than a dinner one. The rest of them (Izote, Pujol, Aguila y Sol, Biko) are great dinner spots. La Taberna del Leon is perfect for dinner any day of the week or a Sunday lunch.

            With al due respect for the other people posting in this thread, I would ignore the derogative comments towards El Bajio and recommendations of La Buena Tierra (which by the way closed its Condesa location).
            Fonda El Refugio, also mentioned above is a classic. Both this one and El Bajio are fondas, totally casual places of traditional Mexican, botanas and antojitos. And most of the times, cheap. Consider fondas like trattorias or brasseries to Italian and French. I do have to say that I haven’t been to Fonda el Refugio in a long time, it’s been around forever, but I have no reason to believe that it has changed.

            Seafood. This is pretty simple. La Mar, Contramar and Puntarena. All of them for lunch, actually Contramar is only open for lunch. In this case, violate the rule of eating after 2 PM in Mexico and try to be there around 1:30, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. There are no reservations and it’s hugely popular. It’s in the Condesa district, and has a brother called Entremar in Polanco which will most times be full but nothing compared to Contramar (and do check if they take reservations). The latter of course, is livelier and full of cool people. In both, the best way to do it is to share a lot of appetizers, and then (if you’re still hungry) you can order an entrée.
            Puntarena has two locations as well, the 1st one in Palmas and the second one in San Angel. Don’t miss the langostinos and the Pescado a talla (with 3 chiles).
            La Mar is in Santa Fe and specialized in cebiches. It’s Peruvian.

            A few others.
            If you do wander into French, et al.
            Champs Elysses may be one of the most traditional elegant restaurants in town and famous amongst politicians. I guess it used to be more popular ten years ago, but it’s still great.
            For Japanese look no further and go to Suntory (there are two, the Reforma location in Lomas is better) or it’s younger, hipper, swankier brother in Santa Fe, Shu.
            L’Osteria del Becco in Polanco is a great Italian.
            La Gloutonnerie, signature/French. En vogue.
            Jaso. Haven’t been but it’s been talked about everywhere. Signature cuisine.
            La Viña Gourmet is a very local off the beaten path neighborhood restaurant, and one of my favorites, probably because I used to go there a lot. It’s in my old neighborhood, Pedregal, a mainly upscale residential area in the southern side of the city. It started out as a wine and deli store, and then it became a great restaurant with a great and vast selection of wines.
            Ivoire is a fine French in Polanco with a nice rooftop bar.
            Alaia is a great Spanish in Pedregal.
            MP Bistro is Monica Patiño’s take on Asian. Pretty well done. Polanco.
            For good Chinese Hu-Nan, one in Lomas one in San Angel.
            Bistro Mosaico has three locations, the original Condesa one, another in San Angel (south) and another in Santa Fe. The food is great in all of them, the San Angel setting is really nice.
            Los Canarios is a great lunch spot, a mix of Mexican traditional and homemade dishes with Spanish. It has two locations, one in Polanco, in Masaryk, and another very nice one in Santa Fe.
            There are many Argentinian restaurants in Mexico City, and most of them have great meat. El Rincon Argentino in Msaryk (Polanco) is a classic. I personally like Barrio Sur, again a neighborhood spot, but very casual and nice. And by the way, it’s Uruguayan (don’t tell an Argentine, but it’s pretty much the same). And La Alcantarilla, even more of a local neighborhood place, up in Desierto de los Leones, but it has one of the nicest and most relaxed settings in the city. It’s also über casual.
            Café-O is a international cuisine neighborhood place in Lomas that I go to a lot. Nice ambience, very local and casual but nothing special, mostly if you’re from out-of-town and have only a few nights.

            Breakfast. Three great spots, La Lorena in Lomas, Bondy in Polanco and Maque in Condesa.

            … this is just a shortlist (though a long one). There’s obviously much more places to go to, and we could do an entire book on DF’s taquerias and cantinas. But when it comes to restaurants I believe this is as good as it gets. I look forward to hearing from your experiences and do enjoy this great city.

            14 Replies
            1. re: topawers
              l
              LES Snob Aug 4, 2008 05:00 PM

              Awesome info. Not sure if I missed it, but is there a place you would recommend for lunch on a day when we are hanging out around Zocalo?

              Thanks

              1. re: LES Snob
                t
                topawers Aug 5, 2008 07:31 AM

                You could do El Cardenal, the one in front of the Alameda. Or, I didn't include this one, you can go to Danubio for Spanish seafood.

                1. re: topawers
                  m
                  MazDee Jul 19, 2009 09:32 PM

                  Resurrecting an old thread because your report was so excellent, topawers. I note that you never mentioned Izote, and I have not seen a recent review. I am planning a trip to México City for August, and eating well is very important! Old reviews of Izote have made my mouth water, but it is expensive and I would like to know that it still is worth it. I have noted La Taberna del Leon, El Cardenal at the Alameda Sheraton, El Bajío. I also want to try the Russian place, Kolobak if we have time, and a Lebanese place (from other posts). I live in Mazatlán, where we have great seafood and simple food like carne asada and tacos, but much else is missing! In other words, good food can get boring without a bit of variety.

                2. re: LES Snob
                  b
                  bronwen Aug 5, 2008 08:29 AM

                  Las Sirenas has a lovely view of the back of the cathedral and I like the food (and the bar!). If you're in the Zocolo you really should go to the Majestic, the Holiday Inn or the Gran as they've marvelous views of the square. If you like pasta I like the Hotel Gillow restaurant, their four cheese pasta is super. Also you must go to the Opera Bar on 5 de Mayo - the best bar in town, I think. Across from Alameda Park there's a super Spanish restaurant, Meson del Cid, which transports me back to Spain, it is beautiful.

                3. re: topawers
                  Mari Aug 5, 2008 09:54 AM

                  Could you tell me more about Bondy? Apparently they have the best conchas anywhere. Is it a breakfast only type of place? Do they make their own bread in-house?
                  Thanks

                  1. re: Mari
                    t
                    topawers Aug 5, 2008 07:44 PM

                    I guess it´s open for lunch as well, but the best, as you say, are the conchas. They make their own and you can have a great breakfast and finish it off with a concha.

                    I forgot to mention another of my favorite lunch spots, La flor de Lis in Condesa. Traditional hommade style food. Some of the best tamales.

                  2. re: topawers
                    x
                    Xacinta Oct 20, 2008 06:22 PM

                    Those are the restaurants i go in mexico city..i wonder if you also like the ones i go in chicago: braxton; japan 77, mesón de sabika, café ibérico, berghoff, lawry´s, lunch at the little travelers (after a little shopping) and breakfast at the egg factory. *Tourists don´t always like what we like in México. I British friend hated la alcantarilla and loved Mariscos La Curva ...we have gotten there only because we had no other choice, we were stocked in Ave Toluca´s traffic. Maybe it has to do with ¨the Mexico¨ they want see.

                    1. re: Xacinta
                      cristina Oct 21, 2008 09:44 AM

                      If anyone is in Morelia this week, I will be giving a talk that in part addresses this topic at the 3rd edition of DIGESTIVAL (www.digestival.com). The talk is scheduled for Thursday, October 23, at 5:00PM in the Museo del Estado, Morelia.

                      Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

                      1. re: cristina
                        kare_raisu Oct 21, 2008 12:29 PM

                        on the subject of where to eat in DF?

                        1. re: kare_raisu
                          cristina Oct 22, 2008 08:00 AM

                          On the topic of "the Mexico they want to see"--and taste.

                          Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

                          1. re: cristina
                            DiningDiva Oct 22, 2008 10:19 AM

                            Looks like an interesting conference. Perhaps you could post some of the salient points from your presentation and others after it's over?

                    2. re: topawers
                      n
                      ny_km Dec 3, 2008 06:22 AM

                      Hi, I am an obsesive foodie, raised in Mexico City, currently living in NY.
                      All of topawers recommendations are dead on.

                      As for where to eat near el Zocalo, I would second the recomendation for Casa de las Sirenas. It is right behind Catedral and it has a fantastic terrace overlooking the Zocalo. It is never crowded, prices are just a little above average (maybe 45 bucks per person), service is top notch, and the food is at the same time very traditional, creative and very well prepared. Try the gallinita en mole de mango.

                      El Cardenal (either downtown or in Palmas) is amazing but I would recommend that place more for brunch (their Anise Roll with Natas, and their Huevos Veracruzanos are quite memorable)

                      And to complete the Bondy tip: they make a fantastic Chile Poblano sauce... try it in enchiladas, chilaquiles or over fried eggs (Huevos Bondy). And of course their conchas alone are worth the trip. After breakfast walk a bit around the park and get a load of the fantastic houses around there. You can also have lunch there, but their best dishes are breakfast dishes.

                      Enjoy!

                      1. re: topawers
                        s
                        SocksManly Dec 26, 2008 09:11 AM

                        Topawers, very good recommendations, thank you!!! Can I trouble you for some Mexican recommendations in Chicago? I'm in Mexico City right now, and my christmas present for my wife is to take her for a trip to Chicago in the spring or summer, driving from Toronto for a few days. I know it's not relevant to this thread, maybe there's already a post on the Chicago board you could point me to... But honestly I'd trust your suggestions more anyways. :)

                        Thanks in advance,

                        1. re: SocksManly
                          r
                          racheljana Dec 26, 2008 02:43 PM

                          Not to give unsolicited advice that you were asking of Topawers, but I am posting my thoughts on the Mexican food that I've encountered in my 9 months in Chicago (having moved from Mexico). You can find it on the Chicago section, so we don't confuse folks looking for DF spots.

                      2. Ruth in Condechi Aug 6, 2008 08:44 AM

                        Well I must say that I'm keeping all these rec's! Great post topawers, but recommendations are very subjective based on the diners likes and dislikes.
                        With that said I'll put in my 2cents.

                        El Bajio may be stretching its self thin with 5 locations now. Titita can't be every where at once, so I would opt for the original in Azcapotzalco Dirección: Av. Cuitlahuac 2709 Atzcapotzalco 02260
                        Teléfono: 5234-3763/ 5341-9889
                        Rango precio: $150 por persona and that per person price is PESOS not dollars.

                        The second to open was the Parque Delta location on Ave. Cuauhtemoc between Viaducto and Obrero Mundial. Also very good. And it may just be that I am not a 'Polanco' devotee but i do prefer these two other locations to Polanco.

                        As to Spanish, are you up for Vasco or Austurias style? The selection is enermous but the place I love to go for ambience and travel ease is Casino Espanol on Isabella la Catolica close to Calle Madero, in the Centro Historico. Go to the second floor to be seated and if you can go on Sunday, but early. Again 'comida' is the meal of the day especially on Sunday when its family day, so arrive between 1 and 2 PM to get a table. The Museo Estanquilla is also on this street and if you go to the terrace (take elevator to last floor, exit make right turn go up 1 flight) you'll get a grand view of La Purisima church.

                        As to Zocalo dining/viewing options my suggestion is Puro Corazon ( no minimum, no excessive prices) in the Arte Mexico building. Go for an agua fresca or a mezcal it doesn't matter, the view is wonderful. Then look at the artesian crafts, some very good. All the hotels listed by bronwen for the Zocalo won't let you in any more just to look, they'll charge you for buffet dining that I wont even describe.

                        I second the El Cardenal suggestion, you never know who will sitting next to you.Last week at the Palmas location I was between Jose Cuevas and Cuauhtemoc Cardenas. Great for people watching.
                        The one in the Shearton Hotel on Ave. Juarez is a welcome respite after touring the MAP and the Museo Mural Diego Rivera. It has a culinary take off of the famous mural.
                        Right now is Chile en Nogada time and they do a wonderful rendition of the dish at either location.

                        All for now, good dining to all.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Ruth in Condechi
                          nychilanga Aug 22, 2008 12:13 PM

                          I ate at the El Cardenal on Paseo de Palmas this week and the pan dulce y las natas y el chocolate were outstanding! the rest of the breakfast tortilla de lisa, huevoss con longaniza, y enchiladas michoacanas were eh...not great at all. And this was a VERY expensive almuerzo- around $550 pesos for 3.
                          After eating at the original location en el centro historico, I thought that in the future I would stick to the pan y maybe get a fruit plate or something...and now I recommend that that is the way to go!

                          I agree with Ruth on the people watching...on Wednesday am around 11am it was 100% ladies who brunch! I def. needed to be wearing more make-up!

                          1. re: nychilanga
                            Ruth in Condechi Oct 17, 2008 02:42 PM

                            Hi nychilanga! Also ex-New Yorker living in Condesa.

                            Get in touch.

                        2. c
                          cholulo1 Aug 6, 2008 08:55 AM

                          By far my favorite restaurant in Mexico City is:

                          La Tecla
                          186-A Durango, Col. Roma
                          + 52 55 5525 4920

                          The food is some of the best Mexican food I've ever had...seriously. And be adventerous! Eat at some mercados and street stands. I've had some fo the best birria at a stand in Colonia Indepedencia. I forget the street but I go there everytime I am in DF.

                          Have fun!!!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: cholulo1
                            c
                            Cachetes Aug 21, 2008 12:17 PM

                            I am just back from two weeks in Mexico City, and agree that La Tecla was one of the dining highlights of my trip. We went twice. My favorite was a chicken dish stuffed with flor de calabaza and mole poblano. Rather than one or two blossoms, it was full of flores, and the salsa was a perfect match. Finished that night with a flan made with guanabana and salsa de mango - sweet and tart. Yum. Acoompanied by four hours of great conversation and wine, and not being pushed out the door so they can turn the table, it gets put high on my list of great evenings out with friends.

                            Elsewhere on this board, people have hailed Tizoncito (I know, different style place than La Tecla), so I tried it out. The first day was fine - I had an alambre de pollo, which was tasty, but not great. What changed my 'fine' rating of Tizoncito to a 'subpar' rating was my subsequent trip to El Califa, in Condesa just a few blocks from Tizoncito (I just looked up the address online: Altata 22, Col. Condesa). I avoided El Califa on my first pass b/c it had a very hip vibe to it and I was alone. I returned with friends a couple of days later, and ate some truly superb tacos de pollo al pastor. The chicken was perfectly flavored, and accompanied by onion, cilantro and pineapple. Four excellent salsas on the table to try with them (I loved their chipotle, but also enjoyed a searingly hot salsa de rajas that literally prevented me from speaking for a few minutes after - great stuff). Friends who had the tacos de bistec were even more pleased - I'm not a beef eater, but they looked, and according to my friends, were delicious. And, in the end, the place was cheaper than Tizoncito for much better food. This was confirmed when few days later I ended up at Tizoncito again, only to be horribly disappointed by their effort at tacos de pollo al pastor - drab, flavorless, muddled. No onion, no cilantro, no pineapple. When I returned to El Califa for one more lunch, I also ordered the nopales con queso - wonderful. If you are looking for good tacos in Condesa, I recommend El Califa.

                            My other culinary delight was when I stumbled upon an excellent torta on Calle Donceles (don't know the name or address of the place, but if you walk north along the street on the west side of the National Cathedral, when you get to Calle Donceles, turn left, and the place is your first restaurant on the left). They had an array of tortas. I had one in which they used a telera style bread, almost with the texture of a good Italian bread (crusty on the outside, melt-in-your-mouth soft on the inside), and added chicken (not a huge slab, but rather cut up almost in rebanadas), rajas, aguacate, cebolla, etc. etc., but the best part was the pineapple and salsa they added. The salsa had a warm spiciness, but wasn't overwhelming. Excellent - perfect torta in my book.

                            Sorry I don't have more to report - I stayed with friends, and they ended up cooking a lot.

                            1. re: Cachetes
                              p
                              Peter Cherches Dec 12, 2009 11:51 AM

                              I can't agree more with the comments on La Tecla. Not only was it my best meal my 3 days in Mexico City, it was probably my best dinner of the year. Started with an app of mini gorditas w/ black bean, stuffed with cochinita de pibil and topped with escabeche onions. That was superb but outdone by my main course, a sea bass filet stuffed with oodles of flor de calabaza served with a huitlacoche sauce. Dessert was a labor intensive tableside preparation of crepes with a coffee/brandy caramel sauce. All this with a half bottle of Rueda and tip cost about $38 US. I enjoyed this more than Contramar, and found that Fonda el Refugio is probably coasting on reputation--my pipian colorado had lukewarm meat in it, obviously prepared beforehand and hastily reheated to put in the sauce.

                              http://petercherches.blogspot.com

                              1. re: Peter Cherches
                                ChefJune Dec 12, 2009 01:25 PM

                                Pete, did you get to Azul y Oro? Maybe the best Mole de Olla I have ever had. Ruth says certainly one of the best interpretations. and his Pan d'Elote was soufflé-like.

                                1. re: ChefJune
                                  p
                                  Peter Cherches Dec 13, 2009 08:12 PM

                                  No, didn't get to Azul y Oro. I guess I'll have to go back to Mexico City soon.

                                  My highlights were the full dinner at La Tecla, the tuna tostadas at Contramar, breakfast at El Cardenal and the atmosphere at Cafe de Tacuba (plus octopus ceviche and pozole in Coyoacan).

                          2. a
                            aventinus Dec 1, 2008 10:41 AM

                            I stayed in the Sheraton near the zocalo. I must say that the restaurants in my hotel were very, very good. El Cardenal was superb. Before 8 am, local business people in suits and nice dresses line up to eat breakfast there, and for good reason. The food, the service, and the ambiance are top notch. Comida there was one of the best meals I've had in quite a while. Try the fish marinated in beer and spices in cooked in leaves like a tamale. Also good was another restaurant in my hotel, the so-called wine bar. As a wine bar per se, it was good, nothing too special. They had some high end bottles like Gaja and low end decent bottles like Marquis de Caceres. But the food was quite good--I really enjoyed the risotto with shrimp in tequilla sauce.

                            For an authentic, very downscale place, I had a good experience at a place called the Corona Cantina in the old downtown. This place was crowded with locals. It served things like exquisite pulpo (in ink) tacos for $1. I probably had five pulpo dishes in Mexico, each around $8, and none were as good as those tacos. It also had complimentary pickled carrots and peppers that were delicious, and a wide range of Mexican lagers that were good with the food (but would make the people at Beeradvocate or Ratebeer cringe). Very downscale though, and not for the fussy.

                            1. s
                              SocksManly Dec 2, 2008 01:46 AM

                              First of all, I have to say, I'm disappointed at how many CH'ers here go to Mexico City and look for trendy upscale establishments like they're used to at home... It's like the home of soul food, looking for anything else is blasphemy in my opinion.

                              Couple places in Mexico City I can recall the names of that I enjoy:

                              La Polar, for the Birria.. My favourite Mexican food, a lamb stew. This restaurant pretty much only serves that I think, at least I could care less what else they make heh :) Great place, good atmosphere, and amazing food. I love how they'll give you more soup stock if you're running low for free, like a meatless refill.

                              El Lago, for high end impress your date type place.. Very good food, not overly expensive, but expensive for Mexico City to be sure. Delicious.

                              Honestly if you did 0 research and just walked around and tried things, you couldn't find a better city to do that in. Just finding some of the places will give you enough of a headache to not care. Just look for the lineups.

                              1. n
                                ny_km Dec 3, 2008 06:38 AM

                                I notice you don't have any street food recommendations yet. Here some close to polanco:

                                On Ejercito Nacional and Ferrocarril de Cuernavaca, in front of a bakery called Elizondo, at around 6:00 in the afternoon and until maybe 11:00 at night, you'll find two great stands: one of quesadillas ( I like mushroom and cheese, and chicharron) and one of elotes (corn, sold both on the cob and in esquites). This spot has been deeply appreciated by out-of-towners I've taken there.

                                Not far from there, on the Glorieta de Legaria you will find the BEST tacos de cochinita I've had. Just drive around the roundabout and I think the stand is on the west side... you'll see the crowds.

                                Google 'elizondo mexico city' for a map. Legaria is one avenue north from Ejercito Nacional.

                                Both are safe places to eat, just stick to bottled water or soda.

                                1. Ruth in Condechi Jan 5, 2009 09:01 AM

                                  If you still have time get the book Good Food in Mexico City by Nicholas Gilman. Check out his site
                                  http://www.mexicocityfood.net/

                                  1. m
                                    mfkfisher Jan 17, 2009 01:22 PM

                                    We just returned from Mexico City on January 15. Most of the time we eat in fondas, taquerias and other small, soul-food spots. But on our last visit, we had an amazing dinner at Aguila y Sol (now closed), so we thought we would try one blow-out meal at a nuevo cocina spot, and chose Izote, whuch I had heard a lot of good things about. What a disappointment! To begin with, the place looks like an upscale American taco chain (except for the white tablecloths), with a generic, vaguely Aztec bas-relief around the walls. No drama, no style. I speak decent Spanish but my husband does not, and there was no server with any English skills at all. (Not something I'd expect at a homey place, but, just like in France or Italy, not unusual at a high-end restaurant, especially because 4 of the 6 occupied tables were English-speaking.) The menu was translated into English. My husband started with a three-ceviche selection -- one was a delicious version of the West Coast tomato-sauced ceviche, but with plenty of acidity and spice, not ketchup-sweet like those so often are; another, billed as a soy-sauce, bitter orange ceviche was pure soy sauce -- boring, boring, waste of what seemed like really fabulous scallops. I had a 4-tamale plate that, on paper, was four different fillings, but in the mouth, the three cheese-based fillings tasted identical, and identically bland. My duck tacos with mole main course was simply adequate, the mole perfectly fine but nothing setting it apart, and my husband tried the steak tip tacos, which, for $24US, were underwhelming. Chewy beef, a little botana of shredded lettuce, yawn. They did have a woman hand-making tortillas, which were very nice. The best course was dessert, a perfectly ripe fresh guava served with goat cheese, cream, a creamy ice cream and a caramel-like syrup. Before dessert, they came to the table with an open bottle of dessert wine and 2 glasses, and asked if they could "offer" us a digestivo. (The waiter used the Spanish verb ofrecer.) As I said, my Spanish is decent, and the gist I got was that they were offering us a glass of dessert wine, not an unusual thing to do in a restaurant at this level. My husband accepted, and they poured a half ounce or so into a tiny little glass. (The wine, a Mexican bottling, was nothing special.) You guessed it, it showed up on the bill for 120 pesos, a hair under $10US. I discussed it politely with the waiter to the best of my ability, but he refused to remove it from the bill. Not a big deal on a tab of about $120US, but what a blah experience. We went back to the market halls and food stands the next day, much happier.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: mfkfisher
                                      cristina Jan 17, 2009 07:28 PM

                                      "Ofrecer" means just that: he was offering you a drink, for which there would be a charge.

                                      Had he used the verb "invitar"...*La casa les invita a un traguito*, for example...there would have been no charge.

                                      This misunderstanding was about differences in languages, not about the restaurant's policy. You might have had results more to your liking had you talked about the charge with the capitan, not with your waiter. There are always many, many details of service that vary from country to country--even from restaurant to restaurant.

                                      It's been several years since I've been to Izote, but I loved it when I was there. I'm sorry to hear it didn't meet your expectations. I've recently heard others say similar things about the food, and when I was there three of us had a multi-course dinner for less than you paid for the two of you.

                                      Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

                                      1. re: cristina
                                        m
                                        mfkfisher Jan 20, 2009 03:19 PM

                                        Thanks for the Spanish help. As I said, my Spanish is only decent, and doesn't yet cover subtleties like this. The waiter did not offer to fetch a captain, and I never spotted anyone in the restaurant who seemed to be in charge -- dressed differently, for example. And the coverage at the door was by whoever happened to be there. But the more important point was that the food was very dull. Thanks again. Love your blog.

                                    2. p
                                      Peter Cherches Sep 11, 2009 01:51 PM

                                      I'm planning a trip around Thanksgiving. Any reports on Casa Mexico?

                                      Looks like topping my list so far are El Bajio, Fonda el Refugio, Contramar, La Tecla, and breakfast at El Cardenal and maybe lunch at Casa Merlos. I'll be staying near Zona Rosa. Anything else I shouldn't miss? Not looking for chi chi places like Pujol. Since I'm only there 3 full days, and some places are lunch only I need to strategize. Contramar & Casa Merlos are lunch-only, but it looks like the Polanco branch of El Bajio does dinner.

                                      http://petercherches.blogspot.com

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Peter Cherches
                                        p
                                        Peter Cherches Sep 12, 2009 03:41 PM

                                        Looks like Contramar and La Tecla are right near each other, and walking distance from my hotel (del Principado, on Londres two blocks east of Insurgentes). And the Reforma 222 branch of El Bajio, open for dinner, is even closer.

                                        1. re: Peter Cherches
                                          ChefJune Dec 2, 2009 07:16 AM

                                          Pete, did you get to breakfast at El Cardenal? Ruth took me there my first day and it was a WOW! Three of us shared several dishes, and one friend who has been searching, said she had found that morning what may be the best Concha in Mexico City.

                                          1. re: ChefJune
                                            p
                                            Peter Cherches Dec 3, 2009 11:33 AM

                                            Yes, it was fabulous. Concha w/ nata and escamole omelet. It was my final meal before my flight. When I'm not so busy at work I'll report on my dinner at La Tecla which may have been my "dinner of the year."

                                            1. re: Peter Cherches
                                              p
                                              pammi Dec 8, 2009 07:46 PM

                                              My husband and I are going to be in Mexico City from the 30th Decemer thru the 4th. We are staying at the Condesa. I looked up La Tecla after your comment about it and I see there are two locations. Should I go to the one on Durango or Moliere? We have dinner for one night at Pujol, but are free the other three. Any thoughts,especially for New Year's Eve? Thank you for your suggestions..

                                              1. re: pammi
                                                e
                                                Evaristo Dec 9, 2009 08:23 AM

                                                In Condesa: Specia (German), Mosaico (French? Spanish?), and sandwiches with pressed bread and great fresh exotic fruit juices at Los Frutos Prohibidos. Across Insurgentes, Colonia Roma, there´s the Spanish Covadonga, the place is old but the food is good. The "cubierto" is a 6 course meal, 3 dishes on each course, consomé al jeréz, ensalada rusa, morcilla, paella, fabada, caracoles (my fab, these are garden snails, i wouldn´t kinow if your husband might be allergic), omellete, filete capeado, brazo gitano, leche frita....that kind of dishes. On Insurgentes there´s La Buena Tierra and China Bistro, i like both.

                                        2. p
                                          pammi Dec 8, 2009 07:48 PM

                                          PS- no fish please! my husband's allergic..

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: pammi
                                            g
                                            gomexico Dec 9, 2009 07:48 AM

                                            It'll be a quiet time of the year in the D.F., and New Year's Eve is, from what I've experienced when living there for 6 years, relatively quiet in comparison with so many other large cities I've passed the holiday in in other countries. Many people will pass the night - NYE - at home. But, there is some activity. Many businesses close the week after Christmas, so be certain to check ahead of time if you'll be heading to a restauant for a special meal you're planning on to make certain it'll be open.

                                            When I think of festivities, good times as well as good food and liquor - Restaurant Fonda del Recuerdo comes to mind quickly. This is a well-known (amongst Mexicans in the city) restaurant featuring food (beef and seafood) from the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz. In addition to frequent "floor shows" of a focloric nature, there are always groups of mariachi playing music (pay per song, about US$5 per song). Food and liquor have always been excellent to my taste.

                                            I don't know if the restaurant opens for NYE, though. So, you'd have to contact it directly to find out.

                                            Fonda del Recuerdo
                                            Bahía Palmas 37
                                            Veronica Anzures,
                                            11300 Distrito Federal, Mexico
                                            http://www.fondadelrecuerdo.com/

                                            Chalet Suizo is another favorite restaurant of mine, situated on one edge of the popular Zona Rosa district. The menu is mostly Swiss-German in nature, mostly beef but the cold trout dishes are fantastic. This is an atmospheric restaurant and when sitting there you'll probably think you're in Switzerland. I don't know if the restaurant is open
                                            on NYE, though, and you'd have to check - but it should be open some of the other days of your visit.

                                            Chalet Suizo
                                            Niza 37
                                            Zona Rosa, Colonia Juarez
                                            México, D.F, Mexico
                                            http://www.chaletsuizo.com.mx/

                                            Hanal K’U is a Mayan/Yucateco-menu restaurant I've been hearing a lot of good things about but which I haven't tried yet - maybe when I'm back in the city in February. Check the website to see if you'd be interested. Not too many places in Mexico City feature foods from the Yucatan and if you're unfamiliar with that region of the country you might find a visit worthwhile. Again, I don't know the restaurant schedule for NYE.

                                            Hanal K’U
                                            Concepción Béistegui 1407
                                            Colonia Del Valle
                                            Delegación Benito Juárez
                                            C.P. 03100
                                            http://www.hanalku.com/hanalku.html

                                            As I've already mentioned, the city should be somewhat quiet in comparison to the rest of the year and some businesses will be closed, including some restaurants.

                                            So, these are my few places for you to consider for your visit.

                                            Have a great trip.

                                            1. re: gomexico
                                              p
                                              pammi Dec 9, 2009 12:30 PM

                                              Thank you,thank you,thank you! Any answers about my La Tecla question- Durango or Moliere location?

                                              1. re: pammi
                                                p
                                                Peter Cherches Dec 13, 2009 08:08 PM

                                                I went to the one on Durango and it was fantastic. If you're staying in Condesa, that's closer. I found Polanco to be in general a bland upscale neighborhood that could be in any city in the world--California Pizza Oven, Gloria Jean's Coffee....Probably better for residents than visitors, IMO.

                                                I've written more extensively about La Tecla on my blog, but the gorditas with cochinita de pibil, the fish filet with flor de calabaza & huitlacoche sauce, and the crepes with coffee-brandy-caramel sauce were all amazing.

                                                1. re: Peter Cherches
                                                  p
                                                  pammi Dec 14, 2009 07:06 PM

                                                  thank you for all your help! I will try it for sure..

                                                  1. re: pammi
                                                    m
                                                    mimisusu Dec 27, 2009 06:44 PM

                                                    Just came back from Fondo etc., and found it pretty terrible, indifferent at best. Weirdly tasteless much of the food and the rest not so complementary, the guac tasting of unripe avocados, badly needing lime juice and salt; the salsas (and I had to ask for a chile one) tasting old, as if they'd turned, one of tomatillo almost flourescent green. Strange. My mole enchaladas obviously had been sitting around. Stale.
                                                    The service was iffy. I got the sense that it was all a big joke at the expense of tourists. It can't have been that way always, but it sure was tonight.

                                                    1. re: mimisusu
                                                      cristina Dec 28, 2009 05:23 AM

                                                      mimisusu, what and where is Fondo? I just read through this whole thread and don't find any reference to it. Give us the full name, please, so we'll know. Thanks.

                                                      Link: http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com

                                                      1. re: cristina
                                                        m
                                                        mimisusu Dec 28, 2009 07:17 PM

                                                        Sorry, so frustrated that I spent one of a few nights eating badly that I blew the spelling of Fonda el Refugio.
                                                        That said, just came back from Tecla in Polanco, which was empty but really good.

                                                        1. re: mimisusu
                                                          g
                                                          gomexico Dec 29, 2009 05:11 AM

                                                          Fonda del Refugio is probably one of the most over-rated, over-hyped restaurants in Mexico City and for at least the past decade I have not understood why people go there. It must be the guidebooks geared toward unsuspecting foreign tourists that leads people to choose it. About other, better restaurants in the city - this is about the quietest week (together with the Semana Santa holiday week) in the industry and some places close because of the slowness.

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