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Dec 8, 2013 04:06 PM

Mexico City report - mostly in Polanco

My partner and I spent 5 days over Thanksgiving, stayed in Polanco and had some excellent meals. We were visiting friends who are Mexico City natives, so between their favorites and places I read about on CH, we had a nice variety. I hope this will be helpful to future visitors.

I can recommend the following:


Wonderful Basque/Northern Spanish. Loved the division of the menu into modern and traditional dishes. We had some of each, and all were superb. Best non-Mexican meal we had.

Villa Maria

Touristy but not a tourist trap. Very good traditional food, nice decor, LOUD, lots of large groups, mariachis, huge frozen Margaritas with very little alcohol, dirt cheap for the quality and quantity.

DO (Denominacion de Origen)

Another Basque/Galician place, pretty traditional. Had a wonderful whole fish baked in salt crust. Reasonably price and nice atmosphere.

Fonda del Refugio

Wonderful traditional Mexican in Zona Rosa. We got a tour of the kitchen and saw how they make the tortillas from scratch (beginning with the raw corn), best tortillas you will ever have. They make their own sausages, etc. This is not to be missed.


Modern Mexican in a lovely setting. Very creative food, excellent service, a casual but classy place.

San Angel Inn

Gorgeous hacienda located in Altavista (worth a taxi ride from Polanco). We went on Sunday afternoon, when the place is filled with family groups. It is hugely popular. The food was surprisingly delicious as even the friends we went with had said it was good but not great. They mix Mexican with French. For my main course, I had calf brains with tomatillo sauce. Wonderful! There are plenty of more conventional choices for the less adventurous. The Margarita was the best I had on this trip.

We loved Mexico City and look forward to returning.

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  1. I too love Mexico City. Next time try Hacienda de los Morales, El Cardenal and go to the main Sanborn's for breakfast because the building is phenomenal!

    13 Replies
    1. re: bronwen

      Interesting that you mention Los Morales, as my sister was there on her only trip to Mexico City, 35 years ago, and thought it was phenomenal. Unfortunately, she forgot to tell me about it until after I returned. I will definitely keep it in mind.

      1. re: rrems

        Thanks for the write-up. I plan to head for Oaxaca this winter and am thinking of adding a few days in DF. Your report has given me some impetus to do so.

        Would you recommend staying in Polanco for the proximity to good eating? Other areas as good as that?

        1. re: erica

          Polanco is a great place to stay. Most of the hotels there are quite pricey. I stayed about a month at the Hotel Polanco, well located on Edgar Allen Poe, a short walk from Parque Lincoln, Chapultepec, and Mazaryk (and Pujol!). Also easy access to Reforma, Constituyentes, and the Periferico for neaby destinations. Perfectly acceptable, and half the price of the name brands.

          1. re: Veggo

            A nice little place is Maria Cristina (actually in Zona Rosa) - not expensive with a sweet coffee shop. Of course, the triumvirate of Hyatt, W, Intercontinental, are all ideal and in a great location - I stayed at the Hyatt last time which is great but it is expensive for Mexico City.

            1. re: bronwen

              I think the high hotel rates in that area is because of the many foreign embassies nearby. The U.S. embassy on Reforma near the angel is actually in the earthquake zone, but it is such a good location we will never give it up. We don't allow our personnel to live nearby, which has been problematic.

              1. re: bronwen

                I've stayed at the Maria Cristina many times. It's safe, comfortable and centrally located. And there is a decent taqueria right down the street (Rio Lerma) in back of the US Embassy.

                The last time (2009?) I stayed there tho' I thought it was in need of some sprucing up and then I heard last month that they had done some renovations. Rates are always reasonable.

            2. re: erica

              We stayed at the Residencia Polanco, which is very charming. You can read my report on Tripadvisor. The Capri Suites is also very nice. These are even cheaper than Hotel Polanco, and a fraction of the cost of the big name hotels. The location is perfect for getting to restaurants, all within a 5 to 20 minute walk.

              Polanco is definitely the place to stay for great food, though as you can see we did venture out for a couple of meals. Taxis are cheap, so it's easy to get to other areas.

              1. re: erica

                Polanco is on the ritzy end of the scale; too fancy for my taste, though I enjoy the occasional visit. You'll have better access to a wider range of casual restaurants if you stay in Condesa or Roma.

                1. re: erica

                  In Condesa, there is the high-style, high-priced Condesa DF and then there's my choice, The Red Tree House B&B - everything about it is great, and to keep in Chow form, one of the best things about it is the included breakfast that in addition to a full buffet of fruits, cereals, pastries (including irresistible churros!), they make a really tasty different hot main dish each morning, such as chilequiles, huevos mexicana, enchiladas suisas, etc. There are lots of dining destination places (a bit more mid-range than Polanco) to walk to within a few minutes, such as Azul Condesa, Mero Toro, Lampuga, Bistrot Maximo, etc. and the nearest Metro is Chapilchingo, which as noted elsewhere on the board is chock-full of Chow-worthy street food stands.

                  1. re: foodeye

                    Second the Red Tree House. Can also recommend the Villa Condesa which is around the corner from Condesa DF.

                    1. re: DiningDiva

                      +2 for The Red Tree House. the proprietors are so friendly and helpful. Wonderful place to stay. Highly recommend.

                      Also near The Red Tree House but less expensive (and TRH is often booked full months in advance) is the clean and serviceable Hotel Roosevelt.

                      +1M for Maximo's Bistrot. It's one of the hottest places in town right now, deservedly so.

                      Biko. Sigh. I had high hopes and had heard good things and accordingly went there to celebrate an important milestone. In all candor and even after several months' reflection, I have to say that was one of the worst meals and worst restaurant experiences of my life. It was so bad that I kept waiting for Alan Funt to step out from behind a curtain somewhere and tell me it was a joke. (The bill was no joke - they even tried to charge us for several of the dishes that we ordered but never received).

                      1. re: MrsPatmore

                        Wow. Sorry to hear about Biko. We had perfect service and the food was just wonderful. I hope that means they've solved whatever problems they had when you were there.

                        1. re: MrsPatmore

                          I've heard nothing but universal praise for The Red Tree House but make your reservations early. I tried to get a room for a friend there and they were booked solid for, I don't remember, many many weeks.

                          Agreed on Hotel Roosevelt -- decent hotel, decent rates. I stayed there for two or three months when I moved to Mexico City. Just try to get a room on the Popocatépetl side in the back. Av. Yucatán and Insurgentes are quite noisy. There's a nice little Oaxacan restaurant right by there, La Casa Del Mole Negro.

                          Reports from Biko seem to be highly polar. A while back the Mexican actress Ana De La Reguera brutally slammed them on Twitter.