The Best Things I Ate in Mexico City

Mangos Mexico CityI went to Mexico City with two chefs and one of them said that it may be possible that I like food more than he does. That could be true— in Mexico City. Here I always have anxiety that I’m constantly walking by a hole in the wall with the best tortas or pozole or gorditas. I have meals on my way to meals, this time on the way to to an upscale seafood restaurant I stopped at a packed table on the street crowded with bowls of consomé and golden dorados covered with lettuce and crema. I also want tacos before bed, doesn’t matter if we just got back from dinner.

Here are my favorite eating and drinking experiences this trip.

Random Neighborhoods:
Clavería
Nicos

Around since 1957, Nicos serves traditional regional Mexican dishes that don’t often show up on menus. I enjoyed the bean soup, with three different types of beans, ladled over strips of tortillas, dried chile de arbol and a creamy pijijiapan cheese (from Chiapas). The escamoles were my favorite, ant larvae sated in butter, onions, and epazote at the table, which we enjoyed in blue corn tortillas. Don’t knock it until you try it, they taste like corn and scrambled eggs. They were a little short on the mezcals that were available, but they did have a nice list of agave spirits from various regions. A white tablecloth kind of place, make a reservation. If you’re only in DF for a few days, keep in mind that this place is pretty out of the way and I would suggest saving it for another trip.

Coyoacan
Tostadas Coyoacan
Tostadas Coyoacan

DSC05886
Frida’s house may be the Casa Azul, but the tostada section at the Coyoacan Market is the Pasillo Amarillo. Backdrops of pale yellow poster menus frame the four tostada stands that make up Tostadas Coyoacan. The waiters’ shirts, hats and placemats are different shades of yellow too. But it was the tinga that blinded me. Stewed chicken, sweetened by piloncillo with a chipotle chile that lingered, it was one of the best tostadas I’ve ever had. They also have a bunch of juice options.

Cuauhtémoc
Lonchería Bravo
Tortas Mexico City

Hipster torta place? Sure. Wrap-around windows looking out into the street and the restaurant next door, high tables and bar stools, and white tiled walls give this place a New York kind of feel. Not your average torta stand, they’ll put anything from octopus to chile-stuffed marlin to calamari in a torta. The bread itself was good unlike most tortas. I liked the special al pastor with a layer of beans and pineapple, and the turkey ahogada, soaked in a mild tomato and chile salsa. Sandwiches are definitely more than a street torta, ranging from $80-$100 pesos.

Roma/Condesa
Seafood
Contramar
Contramar Tuna Tostadas
Gabriela Cámara’s seafood hotspot is a blur of blue and white decor, charming waiters, and plates of seafood tostadas crossing the dining room. I nabbed a table for one outside on the sidewalk and ordered a single tuna tostada (their signature dish) and indeed the citrus and soy marinated sashimi topped with crispy leeks and a single slice of avocado lived up to the hype. Make a reservation.

La Docena
Docena DF oysters

Eating in DF can get meat heavy, so come here for some relief. The corner oyster bar of this restaurant extends onto the sidewalk and a red cart of coconuts greets you on the way in. Find clean, tasty seafood like fresh and grilled oysters and crab tostadas. Their signature dish is the oysters with bottarga and slices of otoro. There are some nice options for wine, beer and they had a bunch of mojito variations if that’s your thing. I could spend an afternoon here.

Tacos
Tacos Don Abel

For an evening neighborhood taco snack hit up this hole in the wall, run by a retired doctor and worked by a taquero nicknamed Lechuga (lettuce). There’s pastor, suadero, longaniza and campechano (a mix). My boyfriend’s friend Chido told us about this place and met us there. Based on his red eyes and sluggish demeanor we assumed he was blazed but turns out he had eaten a tarantula at the San Juan market while showing a crew from Vice Mexico around, and was now having an allergic reaction. The doctor prescribed him some antibiotics while we enjoyed the longaniza and the suadero with the bright orange chile de arbol and peanut salsa. Open until 10 pm on weekdays, 1 am on weekends. On Medellin and Coahuila.

El Califa
Tacos Califa Roma DF

Tacos Condesa Roma DF
Holy mother of tacos, come here, get a costra and then have a five minute conversation in your head to justify why you can have a more. A costra is a flour tortilla filled with griddled cheese and a meat filling, we liked the costilla and gaonas, and the pastor was good too. Tip: They also offer it with lettuce instead of tortilla which— not gonna lie— was pretty good. Thanks to Omar for the recommendation.

Coffee
Boicot Cafe
coffee roma df
Light roast, good coffee in beautiful barro negro mugs. Nice sidewalk seating in a central part of the neighborhood.

Cardinal
Coffee dorks come here, they’ve got coffee beans from some interesting areas in Mexico, sourced by season, and natural or honey processed. For the hipster-cool coffee program, it’s a warm place lined with globes, teal wood panels and sidewalk seating. I saw people using their computers here, in case you’re looking for a laptop plop.

Drinks
La Clandestina
Clandestina Mezcal Bar Mexico city 2

la clandestina

A cozy mezcal bar with exposed brick walls, colorful wood tables, candles, magazine-plastered bathrooms and little nooks to hide out in (or have a couple awkwardly make out at the table behind you). We liked the papalome lima, with a lemongrass nose and almond-y lime finish, and the papalome pechuga, which tasted like Mexican chocolate. You can ask for glasses by the 1 oz which makes it easier to try different ones.

Depertamento
Why half the people here were dressed like they were straight out of the 70s is still confusing to me, but the old school funk and soul music was on point. Come here later in the night for a dark bar in what looks like a very swanky apartment with a patio, two bars, dance floor, and rotating DJs.

In between meals:
Roma/Condesa
Check out MODO for rotating exhibits. I liked wandering on Guanajuato, Colima, and Jalapa. I also got my hair did at this retro-punky salon called Famous on Guanajuato and Jalapa.
Hair Salon Mexico City Roma
Right next door, there are two record stores on Jalapa (here’s the link to one).
On Calle de Oro between Insurgentes and Av Oaxaca (which is in the direction of Contramar if you’re coming from the above area) there’s a tiangis (market) that takes over the street on Wed and on weekends.

In the centro, don’t miss this exhibit on Mexican fashion at the Palacio Iturbe. If there’s anything I love more than Mexican food it might be the textiles, and the ones here are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen, and they’re from all regions of the country.

For more places to eat in Mexico City, including my favorite pozole place, check out this post too.