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Mexico City Neighborhood Guide: San Rafael

Check out this pleasant area just off the bourgeois-hipster Condesa-Roma circuit

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San Rafael was established in the late 19th century as one of the first stately neighborhoods outside of the city center. Located off of the bourgeois-hipster Condesa-Roma circuit, it maintains a residential calm. With a mix of architectural styles, hidden galleries, and half a dozen theaters, this is a pleasant ‘hood to spend an afternoon walking through. Don't skip checking out the abandoned, magnificent Cine Opera theater.

See guides to all of Mexico City's greatest neighborhoods — plus everything you need to know about eating in DF, one of the best food cities in the world — in the Eater Guide to Mexico City.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. La Polar

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Guillermo Prieto 129, Mexico City
Mexico City, Mexico
+52 55 5546 5066
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Open since 1934, La Polar has two things on the menu: birria in broth and birria out of broth (the broth comes on the side). Get either and garnish with salsa and onions while two mariachi bands will battle for your attention.

2. Cochinita Power

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Ignacio Manuel Altamirano 19, San Rafael
Mexico City 06470, Mexico

With a glowing neon sign and a slick interior, this new restaurant serves cochinita pibil in many guises: in tacos, tortas, panuchos (a fried tortilla stuffed with black beans), and on chilaquiles. It's located on the same block as Casa Maauad, an artist residency and by-appointment gallery.

3. El Califa de Leon

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Ribera de San Cosme, San Rafael, 06470 Ciudad de México
D.F., Mexico

A literal hole in the wall, the fifty-year old el Califa de León is the iconic taquería of the neighborhood. Steak, costilla (rib), or gaonera, (thinly sliced griddled beef), are held by tortillas mopped with liquid fat and showcase the pure flavors of corn, salt, and beef.

4. La Tonina

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Serapio Rendon, San Rafael, 06470 Ciudad de México
D.F., Mexico
+52 55 5535 1737
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Northern-style Mexican food is a challenge to find in Mexico City, which makes La Tonina's handmade flour tortillas and machaca (dried meat which has been rehydrated) all the more delicious. For dessert, get gorditas de nata. The little masa pancakes' sweet, toasted aromas perfume the entire restaurant.

5. Boca del Río

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Ribera de San Cosme 42, San Rafael, 06470 Ciudad de México
D.F., Mexico
+52 55 5535 0128

A first-rate cantina serving all things from the sea: tostadas, mariscos, ceviches, and shark quesadillas. And cold beer. The décor is charmingly stuck in the '70s.

6. Muebles Sullivan

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Calle James Sullivan 55, San Rafael, 06470 Ciudad de México
D.F., Mexico

Evidence of the artistic element creeping into the neighborhood, Muebles Sulivan is a sparse, well-lit cafe, with modern furniture, upscale paletas (popsicles), and coffee service. They have movie nights, too.

1. La Polar

Guillermo Prieto 129, Mexico City, Mexico City, Mexico

Open since 1934, La Polar has two things on the menu: birria in broth and birria out of broth (the broth comes on the side). Get either and garnish with salsa and onions while two mariachi bands will battle for your attention.

Guillermo Prieto 129, Mexico City
Mexico City, Mexico

2. Cochinita Power

Ignacio Manuel Altamirano 19, San Rafael, Mexico City 06470, Mexico

With a glowing neon sign and a slick interior, this new restaurant serves cochinita pibil in many guises: in tacos, tortas, panuchos (a fried tortilla stuffed with black beans), and on chilaquiles. It's located on the same block as Casa Maauad, an artist residency and by-appointment gallery.

Ignacio Manuel Altamirano 19, San Rafael
Mexico City 06470, Mexico

3. El Califa de Leon

Ribera de San Cosme, San Rafael, 06470 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico

A literal hole in the wall, the fifty-year old el Califa de León is the iconic taquería of the neighborhood. Steak, costilla (rib), or gaonera, (thinly sliced griddled beef), are held by tortillas mopped with liquid fat and showcase the pure flavors of corn, salt, and beef.

Ribera de San Cosme, San Rafael, 06470 Ciudad de México
D.F., Mexico

4. La Tonina

Serapio Rendon, San Rafael, 06470 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico

Northern-style Mexican food is a challenge to find in Mexico City, which makes La Tonina's handmade flour tortillas and machaca (dried meat which has been rehydrated) all the more delicious. For dessert, get gorditas de nata. The little masa pancakes' sweet, toasted aromas perfume the entire restaurant.

Serapio Rendon, San Rafael, 06470 Ciudad de México
D.F., Mexico

5. Boca del Río

Ribera de San Cosme 42, San Rafael, 06470 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico

A first-rate cantina serving all things from the sea: tostadas, mariscos, ceviches, and shark quesadillas. And cold beer. The décor is charmingly stuck in the '70s.

Ribera de San Cosme 42, San Rafael, 06470 Ciudad de México
D.F., Mexico

6. Muebles Sullivan

Calle James Sullivan 55, San Rafael, 06470 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico

Evidence of the artistic element creeping into the neighborhood, Muebles Sulivan is a sparse, well-lit cafe, with modern furniture, upscale paletas (popsicles), and coffee service. They have movie nights, too.

Calle James Sullivan 55, San Rafael, 06470 Ciudad de México
D.F., Mexico

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