The Mexico City Guide
It feels like Mexico City is going through a major moment, where all the things that used to make it such a vibrant, cosmopolitan city, are just that much better now. We’ve always loved the tacos and the incredible street food that you can find on practically any corner, but now chefs like Enrique Olvera at Pujol and Jorge Vallejo at Quintonil are deconstructing classic recipes and taking them to the next level. Then there’s the art scene, where it’s no longer just about iconic 20th-century artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, but about new, world-class art institutions like the Soumaya, and the Museo Jumex that have both landed in the last five years. Even tequila has possibly been outdone by hundreds of boutique mezcal brands that spring up on an almost monthly basis. The list goes on. Basically, Mexico City, or CDMX—as it’s now known—just got a whole lot awesomer.
El Globo5 de Febrero #28, Colonia Centro
Conchas, Orejas, Garibaldis, Bolillos, Teleras, etc., El Globo carries all the traditional breads and pastries, and is a weekly and sometimes daily stop in some households. Even though it's a large chain, there's still a nostalgic charm to its shops, the first of which opened in the 19th-century. Staff wear old-school pinstripe uniforms and you select your own breads and take them to the counter on battered pewter trays.
Abarrotes DelirioColima 114, Colonia Roma | +52.55.5264.1468
After the success of her restaurant Delirio, Monica Patiño opened up a smaller, more minimal locale in the Roma named Abarrotes—a reference to the old-fashioned general stores where people used to shop before the arrival of the major supermarket chains. Here she sells her carefully selected produce, freshly baked breads, prepared foods, local jams, honeys, wines, and other special treats. And for those who need a quick gourmet fix, there's a window outside serving up coffees, desserts, and the ubiquitous tortas.
Mercado RomaQueretaro #225, Colonia Roma | +52.55.5564.1396
A fun take on the traditional covered markets, the Mercado Roma is a one-stop-shop for indie gourmet snacks. Here, many of the city's up-and-coming chefs and food brands have set up shop selling everything from fresh juices, to fair-trade coffee, Spanish tapas, classic Mexican snacks, and more. The stand not to miss is Umami which dishes a selection of sushi-style burritos. Always crowded at lunch time, visitors can take a spin, choose their treats, and try and find a spot at the wooden communal tables stationed at the back.
Maque CaféAv. Ozuluama #4, Colonia Condesa | +52.55.2454.4662
Many traditional Mexican pastries like the Concha and the Oreja can be traced back to French origins, so this pretty Parisian-inspired café makes perfect sense. Here, coffees, Mexican egg breakfasts, and perfect pastries are served in the airy dining room and outside on a leafy, secluded corner in the Condesa. Besides the bread, the best thing about this place are the old-school pinafores and lacy aprons that the bakers wear.
La MichoacanaPrado Norte 411, Lomas de Chapultepec
This widespread franchise of kitschy popsicle and sorbet stands is a classic (and especially fun for kids). They experiment with plenty of more out-there fruit flavors, like maracuya, guava, mamey, walnut, and the like, though nothing beats a simple lemon popsicle.
Panadería RosettaColima 178 A, Colonia Roma | +52.55.5207.2976
You'll be lucky if you can grab a seat at this charming and teensy hole in the wall, but you can always take their incredible pastries and snacks to-go on a walk around the Roma. The Panadería is an extension of the acclaimed Italian restaurant Rosetta, where chef Elena Reygadas was churning out European breads and pastries of such quality, that its own separate bakery (now two) was in order. The croissants, cinnamon rolls, ricotta rolls, and focaccias are pretty perfect, and a nice break from the traditional Mexican classics.
Nevería RoxyFernando Montes de Oca #809, Colonia Condesa | +52.55.5286.1258
The Condesa locale of this authentic soda fountain and sorbet (nieve) shop has been around since the late 1940's, serving up light sorbets, milkshakes, and ice cream sundaes. Today it remains pretty much unchanged and totally retro, with the addition of a few well-executed replicas in other Mexico City neighborhoods. While they'll put together a mean banana split, a single scoop cone of any of their sorbets (lemon, mandarin, mamey, chicozapote, melon, pineapple, etc.) hits the spot.
La NicolasaClavería 235, Colonia Clavería
If you ever wondered how and where chefs like Enrique Olvera of Pujol find the rare, organic, regional ingredients that even locals don't know about, it's at this famous delicatessen in off-the-beaten-track Colonia Claveria (though there's a new-ish sister shop in Condesa now, too). Here, Chef Gerardo Vazquez Lugo, the man behind the wonderful Restaurante Nicos, and one of the main representatives for Slow Food in Mexico, sources the best regional products across the country, from Oaxacan cheeses, to foraged mushrooms, ancient grains, dried chilies, and more.
Dulcería de Celaya5 de Mayo #39, Colonia Centro | +52.55.5521.1787
This is one of the most beautiful candy shops in Mexico, if not the world. In the same spot in the Centro for over a century, the space itself is a relic from a time past: The wooden display cabinets, baroque-style mirrors, and even the sign haven't changed in over 100 years. The sweets haven't changed much either, as the Dulceria is one of the only places where you can still find such an array of traditional sweets from cajeta, to mazapan, to cocadas, to an insanely sweet, perfectly moist pay de rompope (eggnog cake).
Tlalpalería GastronómicaYucatán 84 Local E., Colonia Condesa | +52.55.5264.1927
The guys behind the ever popular El Parnita have gone out and revealed some of their secret ingredients at this new gourmet shop. They're stocking all their favorite finds from across the country—cheese, wine, chilies, spices—along with their own jams, moles, olive oils, etc. They've also designed beautiful packaging, not to mention gift boxes, making this an ideal place to buy hostess gifts and mementos.
Culinary Backstreets Walking Tour
So this isn't a specialty shop at all: it's actually a website and awesome tour company that organizes several monthly food tours in the Centro Histórico (and will lead you to some of the best specialty shops and purveyors). They've done an amazing job of finding rad street food stands and old-school treasures, and creating a totally enlightening tour that doesn't feel trite or touristy in the least. It's worth booking ahead as their small expeditions fill up quickly.
Ojo de AguaGlorieta Citlaltepetl 23, Hipódromo Condesa | +52.55.6395.8000
Freshly squeezed fruit juices are a regular part of everyday life in Mexico city. You can buy them by the liter at any local market, and with rare fruits like guava, pitahaya, and watermelon, the variety of combos is hard to beat. So it was only a matter of time before someone came along and made it all a bit healthier. At Ojo de Agua, they make fruit juices fresh from the ingredients in their rustic, market-like display, along with the healthier, green juice options—many with cactus leaf—ginger shots, and the like. In addition to the juices, their menu of super fresh salads and veggie sandwiches come as a nice relief from the tacos and tortas that make up most every other day's dining.
Chiquitito CaféAlfonso Reyes 232, Colonia Condesa | +52.55.5211.6123
It was only a matter of time before Mexico City got its own hipster fair-trade artisanal café, and this teensy one couldn't be more on point when it comes to sustainability. As the name implies, the perfectly roasted and brewed espresso comes from a small grower in the state of Veracruz, which is famous for its coffee. Fittingly, they serve up a great café con leche, a warm and sweet milky coffee drink that's famous in that part of the country, along with cappuccinos, matcha lattes, chai teas, and more.
Churros El MoroEje Central Lázaro Cardenas, Centro Sur | +52.55.5512.0896
This legendary "churreria" has been open in the same locale in the Centro since 1935 when the Spanish owners bought the property and imported the Spanish fried-dough delicacy to Mexico. They've been going ever since, in the same old building, with floor to ceiling tiled interiors, and the same menu of churros and four hot chocolate varieties—the thick Spanish version, traditional French style, cinnamon and vanilla-infused Mexican variety, and Swiss, which comes with whipped cream. There are a couple of new specialties on offer, including their take on the ice-cream sandwich, but nothing beats dipping a plain churro into a mug of hot chocolate. If the Centro is too much of a journey, they have a new stand at the Mercado Roma.