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.
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.
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.
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.
Quesadillas Maria Isabel
Emilio Castelar 14, Polanco
Pretty much every single dish at this old-school luncheonette is fried, and so incredibly worth it. The main highlight are their quesadillas (pockets of fried masa filled with cheese and a choice of potato, chorizo, spicy rajas, etc.) which are served sizzling on plastic plates. After one or two of these babies and their famous flan after, an Alka-Seltzer comes in handy, as does a long walk—a treat in this beautiful old neighborhood dotted with boutiques, bars, and cafes.
Tennyson 133, Polanco
Enrique Olvera's Pujol tops pretty much every list when it comes to dining in Mexico City. Using native ingredients like ant eggs and huitlacoche (a delicacy made out of corn fungus), he's completely deconstructed Mexican cuisine molecular gastronomy style, so while some of the ingredients may be recognizable, the flavors on offer are totally new. Here, in a small, dark, and unassuming dining room decorated with white tablecloths and stark white tableware, it's Olvera and head chef Erick Guerrero's culinary experiments that take center stage: There might be an egg hidden in a puffed tortilla, or a taco may come in liquid form. The daily-changing prix fixe menus are full of surprises, and a must-do when in town. Photo: Fiamma Piacentini
Francisco Petrarca 258, Polanco
Eno is Chef Enrique Olvera's mini-franchise of casual and considerably more affordable cafes (Olvera did Pujol). True to style, he's using traditional Mexican ingredients but making them relevant to a more modern, city-based clientele. The lunch hour is prime time here, when the long bar and all the tables are full—all three branches are cleverly located in major office areas. If you can nab a seat, go for the Tepache, a fermented pineapple drink not dissimilar to Kombucha, to help digest one of the meaty tortas—aka the ultimate Mexican sandwich served on traditional bolillo bread rolls.
Presidente Masaryk 407, Polanco
The team of chefs at this long-standing, Basque-influenced favorite on upscale Masaryk are so serious about the fusion cuisine they've created between their Basque roots and the Mexican ingredients on offer, that they've come up with their own name for it: Cocina Gachupa. It consists of some truly modern, almost sculptural dishes, along with traditional favorites like tortilla and stuffed peppers. Plus, the food here is meant to be savored with a good glass of wine, and the selection here is on point, with everything from the best of Mexican wines from the Baja Peninsula, to a few great French bottles, and of course an excellent list of unusual Spanish finds.