Plant-based eating has been part of the Mexican diet and culture for centuries. Milpa, an agricultural system historically used by peoples throughout Mesoamerica, relies heavily on corn, beans, and squash. That culture is alive and well in Mexico City, where you’ll find at least a couple of street carts in every neighborhood utilizing fresh ingredients from the milpa: nixtamalized masa to make fresh items like quesadillas (made without cheese in many cases) or tlacoyos, filled with ingredients like squash blossoms, huitlacoche (corn smut), wild mushrooms, or quelites (an herb similar to spinach).
Building on these roots, Mexico City’s vegan and vegetarian communities have expanded significantly in the last decade. Gone are the days when plant-based menus began and ended at raw veggies and lettuce salads. The Roma and Condesa neighborhoods make up the epicenter of vegan culture in the city, partly due to the influence of travelers and remote workers from the U.S. and other countries, but the area is also host to a vibrant weekend bazaar culture, which fosters up-and-coming cooking projects and helps evolve pop-ups into permanent fixtures of the vegan scene. Though the city is home to its fair share of cheeseless pizza and acai bowls, the strongest vegan restaurants in Mexico City offer a true sense of place and a distinctive point of view.
Note: Not all of the restaurants on this list are strictly vegan. Street vendors may use cheese in some items without stating so, or grease their comals with lard. Confirm cooking methods and ingredients fit your dietary needs directly with restaurants or vendors before partaking.
Natalia de la Rosa is a Mexican food writer, mezcal collector, and culinary guide based in Mexico City.Read More