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Sep 8, 2009 02:55 AM

Mexico City Recommendations Needed

Mexico City Recommendations Needed. We are a family of 4 including two kids ages 6 and 7 who are staying at the Embassy Suites on the Paseo de la Reforma between Insurgentes and Bucareli. Price is not an issue. We eat anything and are hoping to eat authentic.

We are flying in on Christmas Day (Hopefully stuff will be open!!!) and probably spending the day in the Historical District and need dinner recommendations there. Day 2 will be a Saturday and we will probably see the Pyramids and then head down to Zona Rosa so we need a Dinner recommendation there. Day 3, Sunday, will be a long day. I think Xochimilco in the morning and if there is a bullfight, head there in the afternoon. We then need dinner recommendations near the Stadium back up towards the hotel.

Also, how formal are restaurants? Can we wear shorts or are jeans or slacks or dresspants required?

Thanks for any help!

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  1. Hi, I would start with Nicholas Gilman's site
    and order his book as well.
    For the Centro Historico I would definitely do El Cardenal
    The Zona Rosa is NOT what it used to be, the only restaurant of note is Fonda El Refugio which I consider uneven at its best.
    You can check out the Mexico City tourist web site with tons of info, including restaurant listings with phone numbers.

    As to Christmas Day Dec. 25, you are probably going to be limited to hotel restaurant dining.
    The other important thing to remember is that the main meal of the day is "comida" which is between 2 and 5 PM.
    And for more on Mexico City check out my site
    Have a great time!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ruth in Condechi

      All of the food you'll find will be "authentic," so drop the thought it isn't from your mind.

      The first thing I suggest for you to do is to take the time to work your way throught the many helpful and informative prior discussions - and I suspect you'll find more restaurants to your liking that you'll have time to visit. Then, ask away with the questions - for more information, clarifications, etc.

      About shorts in the city: you will see them throughout. You don't wear shorts in fine dining restaurants in Mexico City just like you shouldn't wear shorts at fine dining restaurants in Chicago or San Francisco, or Istanbul. But, you will be tourists and you really shouldn't dress to suit the expectations of others. Many Mexicans wear shorts, particularly children, so you won't feel out of place from what I've witnessed. Travel for your own enjoyment, not that of others.

      The Zona Rosa is one of the principal and best for some tourists sections of the city, full of "authentic" restaurants, live bands, entertainment, pedestrian street or two, lots of shops, etc. and I suspect you will enjoy it.

      The time you are going to visit will be very quiet in the city, though - and some businesses will be closed or have restricted hour the week between Christmas and New Year's - and many city residents will leave for a beach destination. Though most people will still be at home in the Federal District, they'll likely stick close to home. Though, Mexicans like to be tourists in their own country -and own city, as well - so enough people will be out and about and enough tourist sites will be open to enjoy . . . even nicer to enjoy at this "quiet" time of year.

      Bring some cool/cold weather clothing with you because nights may be cool/or cold for you at that time of year . . . depending upon where you live now.

    2. Here is the city web site:

      And shorts are definitely NOT for most restaurants or even for walking in the city. It sets you apart immediately as a "tourist".

      1. Don't wear shorts anywhere in Mexico City, besides they are unsuitable for wear in any great capital cities. Plus it will be too cold for them so you don't even need to pack them. Historic District: Sanborn's on Cinco de Mayo might be open Christmas Day and while I don't really recommend Sanborns as a rule this one is housed in a fabulous blue tiled building. If the Opera Bar is open across the street, it's wonderful. The Gran and Majestic overlook the Zocolo and they should be open Christmas Day.
        Zona Rosa: I like Fonda El Refugio, one of the best in MC.

        3 Replies
        1. re: bronwen

          1) No shorts.
          2) Here's a thread that has the standard recommendations, though there are others and I don't agree with all the comments in the suggested thread:

          3) Do buy Nick Gilman's book. He leaves out a couple of my faves, but I'm not telling...
          4) No idea why anyone would want to go to La Zona Rosa (with kids, no less) for food or anything else, particularly after a day at Teotihuacan. Coyoacan or La Condessa are better choices. I was wowed by El Tajín last time I was in DF, but they close early.
          5) The Sanborns in La Casa de Azulejos is on Madero, not Cinco de Mayo. Opera sí, is on Cinco d Mayo, and although the food is only serviceable to good, it's pretty much obligatory.
          Have fun!

          1. re: kcward

            Zona Rosa off the list. After the pyramids, probably gonna head to the hotel, clean off, and then go to the anthropology museum til it closes followed by Cena at Pujol.

            Sanborns is on my list to check out, if only for a drink during our walk through the alameda/zocalo.

            1. re: Raboi

              I'd vote for simply walking past the Sanborns (or peeking in) and having a drink at Bar Opera on your way from the alameda to the Zocalo. Sandborns is kinda like a department store with a cafe (Nordstroms), granted, in this case, in a cool building.

        2. Weighing in here, I'll echo the 'no shorts' comments. Don't do it, please.

          Ditto the comment from Ruth about comida. Make your main meal of the day at midafternoon, sometime between 2 and 5PM.

          Zona Rosa is a very sleazy area right now. I wouldn't go at all, and especially not to eat.

          As for El Cardenal, be sure that you go to the one in the Sheraton Alameda, not the other branch. You'll love it.

          Last year another poster here had Christmas dinner at the Antigua Hacienda de Tlalpan, on the far south side of the city. She posted back and said that she (and her mother, if I recall correctly) loved it. They took a taxi there and back. Here's the website: which includes their menu.

          For a child-oriented treat, take your kiddos to the Monumento a la Revolución. It's any child's Christmas heaven. They (and you) will have fun. Read about it here:

          There's lots more about Mexico City in the December 2008-January 2009 articles on Mexico Cooks!



          3 Replies
          1. re: cristina

            Completely agree with the Monumento a la Revolución suggestion.

            1. re: cristina

              El Cardenal for comida on the 25th if its open, walk through the alameda/zocalo the rest of the day and then hit the monumento that evening. thats the plan, at least until i change it.

              1. re: Raboi

                FYI, the attractions that used to be at Parque Alameda Central during the Christmas holidays have been moved to the Monumento a la Revolución.


            2. Cena de Navidad is the most important, formal meal of the year for most Mexicans. I would make a reservation in advance. Ex-Hacienda de Tlalpan, San Angel Inn, Hotel Presidente Chapultepec, Hotel Camino Real, Restaurante del Lago, all those would be great, and i´m sure there are much more choices.... But even if you are not able to make reservations, all Sanborn´s nationwide are open during x-mas and new year´s, some would have live music, and for both days they have a special x-mas menu, we go there every Jan 1st, since everything else is closed, besides we love their pecan cream soup that is part of this x-mas menu, we wait the rest of the year to taste it..... In a Mexican traditional Cena de Navidad you would find turkey with meat stuffing, romeritos, pierna de cerdo, bacalao, ponche. If you speak some Spanish i would highly recomend going to a pastorela, Pastorela de Tepotzotlán is huge, most of it is in old Spanish so no one understands what the actors are saying, but it is much more a visual show, like in opera, if you know the plot you can pretty much understand what´s going on, a big banquet is offered at the end, pozole, pambazos, tamales, ponche, there are many other pastorelas, Casa de la Cultura Coyoacán, Ex-Convento de Churubusco, etc... they´d usually have at the end tamales and atole........Mexico City is not Cancun or Acapulco, most of the year is too cold to wear shorts. During the summer it rains every day and that lowers the temperature a lot, during Eastern it gets hot enough to wear shorts, but for the rest of the year....bring a light sweater....It´s going to be great !! you´re going to have a wonderful time, i´m happy for you.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Evaristo

                A friend told me that Coyoacán is famous for its Pazole so our plan on sunday morning is to hit xochomilco in the morning then head to Coyoacán for the afternoon and a bowl or two of Pazole. Any specific place you recommend there?

                1. re: Raboi

                  Pozole at Higuera market in Coyoacan is to La Coyoacana Cantina which used to be La Guadalupana......Don´t miss the Interactive Economy Museum, the only one in the world, my kids loved it, they made their own money, credit cards...3 blocks away from El Cardenal Sheraton.

                  1. re: Evaristo

                    "used to be La Guadalupana"??? WTF? When did that happen and why? What's changed?