The first thing any visitor to the Mexican capital will take in — probably while staring out the window in awe as their airplane descends over the intense, urbanity-on-steroids sprawl — is the sheer size of this town, 573 square miles in total. It’s densely populated and patchworked with distinct neighborhoods, each with its own culinary identity. It would take several lifetimes to get to know all of the street stands, holes in the wall, neighborhood favorites, and high-end destinations in this city.
Yet this list — 38 restaurants, dishes, and culinary experiences that define Mexico City’s gastronomic identity — should offer a comprehensive starting point for any visitor. It includes the obvious and the overexposed; it also includes hidden gems. It covers longtime buzzing neighborhoods like Roma and Condesa, as well as newer destination districts like San Miguel Chapultepec and Juarez. There are tacos, tortas, tasting menus, and tamales. There are enough sweets to satisfy the most dedicated concha enthusiast and some old-school breakfasts for the nostalgists. Whatever the type of place, it provides standout food and a taste of something visitors can’t get back home.
Updated, December 2022:
All over the city, menus are becoming hyper-focused on specific themes, like a single region of Mexico or a family of ingredients. Most of the innovation is coming from young Mexican chefs, who are committed to culinary research and enjoy geeking out over fermentations, mushrooms, and traditional beverages. Beyond the A-list restaurants included in every international ranking, these days it’s worth a walk around the Santa María la Ribera and Escandón neighborhoods, where there is a world of small projects boasting charming ambiance and homey cooking styles.
We update this list quarterly to make sure it reflects the ever-changing Mexico City dining scene.
Natalia de la Rosa is a Mexican food writer, mezcal collector, and culinary guide based in Mexico City.Read More