Mexico City Restaurants
J by José Andres
Campos Elíseos 252, Polanco
The renowned Spanish chef José Andres has landed in Mexico City making himself at home with yet another culture's ingredients. At the recently revamped W Hotel, he's created a new sort of fusion cuisine incorporating traditional Mexican ingredients like avocado and zucchini flower and giving them the Spanish tapas treatment. In fact, it's the tacos and the tortas on the menu that are the most popular here, especially when they're accompanied by one of the restaurant's signature Gin & Tonics served in a large globe glass. With its terrace overlooking the neighborhood's quiet streets, and a long traditional tapas bar, this is the perfect place for long business lunches and after work drinks.
San Angel Inn
Diego Rivera 50, Colonia San Angel
Admittedly there are plenty of other places to experience great Mexican food in the city, but few are as legendary and stunning as the San Angel Inn. Located in a colonial ex-monastery, with a beautifully manicured courtyard, cozy interiors, and an ever-present trio who make the dining room rounds, it's pretty transporting. In fact, before the city sprawled in the '50s and '60s, it was a weekend countryside retreat, hence the name.
Durango 200, Colonia Roma
There is nothing like lunch at Contramar: And by lunch, we mean comida, an extended main meal which begins roughly around 3pm and continues through the afternoon and into the early evening. On any given day at around that time, the Contramar is a cool cross section of the local scene: business men and women on long lunches, big extended families at their weekly family get-together, local artists, actors and musicians, and a few in-the-know tourists all come together over fantastic tostadas de atun, ceviches, and a great variety of excellent coastal cuisine. The airy dining room is always packed, and a little loud, but that only adds to the buzzy vibe, as do the wonderful wait-staff who stick around year after year. Simply put, this is a classic. The owners, Pablo Bueno and Gabriela Camara are behind a few of the city's best restaurants but this is definitely their masterpiece.
Newton 55, Polanco
With a small and inconspicuous entrance on a tiny, quiet street in Polanco, Quintonil would be easy to miss if it weren't for the number of fans and accolades it's gathered since opening. Pujol alum Chef Jorge Vallejo and his wife, restaurateur Alejandra Flores, opened their simply decorated, airy dining room in 2012, and have made a name for themselves not only for their warm hospitality, but for dissecting traditional Mexican dishes, using quality ingredients, and making them anew and totally fresh. Some of the best dishes are the simplest, like the crab tostadas and the green rice topped with an egg, avocado, and fresh cheese. It's Vallejo's light and refreshing comfort food that's earned him a place among the best restaurants in the country and the world.
Colima 166, Colonia Roma
Located in what was once a Beaux Arts mansion in the Roma neighborhood, Rosetta has a distinctly homey feel, with a dining room painted in pastel frescoes that wind through the restaurant's many rooms. Here, chef and owner Elena Reygadas—who trained with Giorgio Locatelli at his restaurant in London—dishes out a daily-changing menu with fresh burrata to start, fantastic risottos, stunningly delicate pasta dishes, and house-made bread so good she's now opened two bakeries. This is undoubtedly the best Italian in the city and it comes with its fleet of die-hard fans, so reservations are a must.
Temistocles #61, Polanco
Japanese is one of the few foreign foods that locals will regularly trade in for a Mexican meal, and there's a spectrum when it comes to quality. The arrival of Tori Tori has upped the ante (and with it, the price). This chainlet has been around since the 90's, but in the last few years the outposts have all had a major facelift. The most notable is the location on Temistocles in Polanco where two prominent local firms, Rojkind Arquitectos and Esrawe, have given the restaurant a futuristic and somewhat nightclub-y feel. The menu here is pretty extensive with everything from simple nigiri to classic mayo laden rolls, but the marinated tuna rice bowl, and the sushi cake—crispy morsels of rice topped with a slice of shrimp, salmon, or tuna—are where it's at.
Altata 22, Colonia Condesa
Choosing your taqueria chain in Mexico City is kind of like choosing your soccer team: It's likely to cause some debate and is a marker of age, social standing, tastes, and politics. The main divide seems to be between El Farolito and El Califa, so much so, that there is one street in the Condesa where the two warring factions are directly across from one another. Both serve great tacos, whether its steak, nopal, chicken, pork belly, or the standard al pastor (spit-fired, marinated pork), but each has its own specialties. Farolito, which is slightly more old-school has its own salsa especial recipe, a mix of all their salsas thrown together on the grill—dangerously spicy and addictive. Meanwhile, the Califa, the hipster's taqueria of choice, offers "the Costra" which was invented in a taco stand outside one of the upscale nightclubs in the 90's and became legendary: it's a tortilla topped with an abundant amount of crisped cheese and then filled with a meat topping. Try both: We try to be non-partisan when it comes to tacos (though we're starting to lean toward El Califa).
Anatole France 100, Polanco
From the imposing gold doors, to the bright pink floors, to the Oaxacan embroidered seat cushions, to the fantastical way the dishes are presented, Chef Martha Ortiz's restaurant nestled in the very cool Las Alcobas boutique hotel teeters on gaudiness. Her vision is so complete, though, that it somehow totally works. The food—multicolor quesadillas, violet infused house-made breads, hibiscus water, margaritas garnished with cactus tuna, sweets that are dished out on wooden toys—is a whimsical take on Mexican flavor, and a completely immersive experience.
Alejandro Dumas 7, Polanco
There are a few prominent grand dames of Mexican home-style food and Carmen "Titita" Ramirez Degollado is one of them. She opened her first spot in 1972 in the off-the-beaten track Colonia Cuitlahuac, teaching a team of women the dishes she grew up with in Veracruz, and gaining so much acclaim that she's since opened 4 more restaurants. The kitchens remain all-female, the decór remains colorful and tastefully folksy, and the recipes are still the ones Titita discovered over the years. Any meal here should begin with the Veracruzan platter, which is packed with a selection of mini-tamales and fried masa gorditas.
Rio Ebro, Colonia Cuahtemoc
The best seats in the house at this authentic Japanese spot are at the bar, and the only way to go is omakase, letting chefs Hiroshi and Daisuke do their thing. It's not a stretch to say that in a city where the Spicy Tuna roll is still considered the real thing, Rokai is a revelation. Needless to say, there's no mayo in sight here. The chefs hit the markets each morning for the freshest fish that's flown in daily, and then make incredible sushi, sashimi, ramen and dumplings until they run out. Get there early or you'll miss the day's best dishes.