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Dec 25, 2008 09:25 AM

splurging for hip, eccletic dining in Mexico City for the first time

I'm new to this site, but not new to eating in Mexico. I lived in Mexico City and Puebla for 1.5 years total. I ate wonderfully and upon my return to visit my friends and former coworkers this year, I would like to go to a hip, chic, cocina NUEVA mexicana place in Mexico City (not traditional Mexican food, please). When I lived there I was doing non-profit work and making less than 5000 pesos a month, so I could barely afford comida corrida.

However, I ate plenty of wonderful, traditional Mexican food (mainly at people's homes, street food and comida corrida). Now, I'd like to try eating the way the fresas (wealthy, snobby people) for just ONE NIGHT! Keep in mind even though I've crossed back over the border, my budget is still "non-profit on a splurge", so I'd like to keep it no more than $100 USD for two (including a drink or two each). I'm looking for new and exciting flavor combinations, not something I can find on the street or at comida corrida. I want to be blown away. :)

I've researched and the ones I'm looking more closely at are: Pujol, Jaso, La Tecla and maybe Contramar.

Could folks please give me SPECIFIC ideas of what would be on the menus, and, of course, an idea of price? I see lots of recommendations on here, but little specifics about menu (even it it changes I want to be inspired but what was eaten at one point).

(PS The rest of the time I will be eating like my old Mexican life- tlacoyos, tamales, tacos en el mercado, pozole, arroz, frijoles, etc. So, I really want a unique flavor combination)

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  1. Hey, I'm in Mexico City right now on a vacation (my wife's family lives here) and as always, I've eaten like a king on a poor man's salary. Well uhhh, poor in my country anyways.

    I went to La Tecla with my family last week, and with a bunch of drinks for 4 people, the total with tip came to around $1,250 pesos, which is less than $100 US at the moment. The menu was astonishingly inexpensive.

    I wouldn't say it came close to comparing to the high end restaurants in Toronto, it really didn't, but I had a great time and the food was good. I didn't walk away blown away, but also because I was with family I didn't order as I normally would.

    What did we have... A salad with apples, walnuts and a creamy vinaigrette... Some other salad I forget.. My mother in law had some kind of big soup, it was tasty, had mushrooms in it... We had Cabrito tacos as a starter (I think it was one of the more expensive appetizers at like $120 pesos) to share among us.. For a main I had a great Arrachera steak, very rare the way I like it.. It was $110 pesos, again on the expensive side somehow someway.. The rest of my family had other kinds of steak, but they didn't look like a steak to me, thin, small, not steak imo.

    We had 4 cognacs with cokes with quality cognac, my wife had a amaretto straight, and my mother in law had a margerita.. I was disappointed they didn't have a list of drinks other than wine, because I was thinking new and hip also means some quality cocktail concoctions for the wife.. But I did see some other people with fruity drinks.. Kinda weird. The cognac was very tasty, they put a tiny hole in a can of coke, put the cognac in a glass, then shake up the coke and spray it into the glass, creating a foamy mix.. Delicious.

    Also we ordered 2 deserts.. The flan was really great, and the small pie thing with apples my wife ordered was horrible to say the least.. It was like eating a shoe, very hard and tasteless.. The ice cream that came with it was great though.. Also keep in mind I am SO not a critic.. I love all food, so when I say something is bad, it really was bad. :)

    If I was to go again, I would have taken more time (my 11 month old baby was with us, so that kind of sped things along) to enjoy salad, soup, and eaten up a whole whack of the appetizers. The mains were a disappointment to me, although I did really enjoy my Arrachera steak. I would not order any of the other steaks. Generally at these kinds of places I find the appetizers more creative and appealing, and for $50 pesos how can you go wrong ordering a few.

    Mains were all around $80-90 pesos, appetizers in the $50-60 range, soups and salads also $50-60. Ridiculously cheap. Seafood was more expensive, $120-180 if I remember right.

    Our cognacs were around $80 pesos each. Had we not ordered alcohol, our bill would have easily been less than $1000 pesos for 4 people.

    I'd still recommend you go there, it was a nice place, good atmosphere, servers practically attached to your table, and the prices were great.

    Good luck!

    1. I just got back home (I live in Morelia, Michoacán) after a week in Mexico City. We ate in a lot of restaurants, from low-to-high-end.

      My favorite that falls into your category was Contramar. I'd go back again any time and I recommend it highly. Four of us shared the raw tuna tostada appetizer, two orders of caldo de camarón, about 1/2 kilo of the pescado talla (two salsas), and an order of tacos de camarón, and a variety of drinks all around. By the end of our meal, were so happily stuffed that we could barely move.

      Total bill for four was just at 1300 pesos including tip.

      The food and service were marvelous, even though the wait for a table was long. Go early (around 1.30) and you'll be seated faster. This is definitely a very hip cool and groovy place to eat in Col. Roma. We loved it!


      1. I just tried to check reservations at Pujol for my possible dates (either Jan 3, 4 or 5) and it wouldn't allow me. Do you suppose it is closed for the New Year's holiday? I hope not!

        Thanks for the thoughts and the specifics! Keep them coming!

        2 Replies
        1. re: racheljana

          When you say "it" wouldn't allow you, what do you mean?

          I suspect that Pujol, like many restaurants here in Mexico, was closed on Christmas Day.

          If you like, I will call the restaurant for you during the hours it could be open today. Post back to let me know.


          1. re: cristina

            wow, thank you. The reservation platform. I tried to make a reservation at another place and it let me. I don't want to actually make a reservation so much as know if there is availability. Thanks for the offer. I can skype them, though. Also, I think I might be leaning toward la Tecla anyhow.

        2. Ok, so Contramar is off the list and Biko is on! I checked out their website and was quite intrigued with the food. Any clue on prices for the tasting menu?

          Also, someone mentioned that Margarita Carrillo de Salinas Casa Mexico will be opening this month in the Zona Rosa. Anybody have any info or thoughts on that one? I checked out her website and there was no word about it.

          Thanks for the thoughts. This site is quite helpful.

          4 Replies
          1. re: racheljana

            As a general rule, I'd never eat at a restaurant within one month of its opening, no matter where.

            1. re: racheljana

              Care to share why Contramar is off the list? I for one would be interested to know.

              1. re: cristina

                well, quite frankly, while the description you gave sounds wooonderful and I don't doubt that they do a fabulous job with their seafood, things like caldo de camaron and tacos de camaron and what not sound maybe a bit more traditional than what I was hoping for. I think I'm wanting something that gives me a little surprise. Furthermore, while I love seafood, I don't really know that I want my options quasi-limited to it for my splurge meal.

                The tostadas with raw tuna sounded very appealing as well as the possibility of bumping into Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal. :) But not enough I guess... :)

                Someday when I return to Mexico older, richer and dining not once, but perhaps twice or three times, in expensive restaurants, I won't be so picky. :) The suggestions here are really amazing, and my head will be spinning until I get to DF deciding between the places.

                1. re: racheljana

                  Sounds like what you want is variety, and with a $100 budget, I think 2 people can eat twice at different places, especially with the the exchange rate - $13.18 pesos per american dollar today I saw.

            2. Biko is a super sophisticated FUSION of predominantly Spanish, since the chefs were at Tezka (Juan Mari Arzak directed then), using some mexican ingredients.
              I'm not sure if your budget will allow a full 3 course meal with drinks and still stay under $50 USD per person
              The tasting menu, which has changes almost on a weekly basis, was averaging about $60 to $70 USD pp without drinks. The standard menus are arranged under two categories, Evolucion and then Tradicion, followed by the tasting menus.
              Entradas/Appetizers on the Evolucion menu range from $95 pesos for Sopa de taco de frijol to Foie Malanga y mango at $355 pesos. On the Tradicion you start with jamon Ibericos that range from $210 to $410 pesos, followed by the Entradas from $110 to $265 pesos.

              Have to share that for $185 pesos foyou can have Pochas a la Riojana, a plate of very delicious white beans, but still beans.
              main dishes from $185 to $495 pesos.
              You might want to take a look at again. This is a pdf of Pujol's menu and prices.
              Buen provecho!