Mexico City is an international metropolis with everything from Korean barbecue to top class Japanese sushi. You can enjoy homemade pasta at a little Italian restaurant or amazing burgers on just about every street corner. The surprisingly difficult thing is finding a Mexican restaurant where you can sample local delights in a family-style setting.
Here’s a collection of the best Mexican restaurants in Mexico City.
Pujol restaurant in Mexico City is so popular that you will need to a make a reservation months in advance. © Ronaldo Schemidt /Getty Images.
Pujol is perhaps the most well-known Mexican restaurant around the world. Head chef, Enrique Olvera, was one of the first chefs in the country to modernize Mexican cuisine and dared to serve food that was previously only ever found at street vendors in his fine dining restaurant.
In 2013, Restaurant magazine named Pujol the 17th best restaurant in the world. This means it’s nearly impossible to get a last minute reservation, so if you want to dine here on your trip to Mexico City, be sure to get your reservation in at least two months in advance.
To nab a reservation at Merotoro you better plan ahead. Located in one of the busiest restaurants in the upscale suburb of Condesa, the only way to get in is to call (don’t worry, they speak English).
Merotoro serves food and wine from the Baja California region of Mexico. Think huge plates of seafood and perfectly sweet Sauvignon Blancs.
Delicacies like chapulines, as seen here in Oaxaca, are among the variety of dishes on the menu at Yuban. © Calavera Photography /500px Studio
If you’re coming to Mexico City, but want to sample the famous cuisine of the state of Oaxaca, Yuban is the place to go. I never knew so many types of mole sauce existed before coming to Yuban.
And for the brave of heart, try chapulín tacos. These little crickets are a specialty of the Oaxaca region and when they’re fried up and served in a spicy sauce, you might just forget you’re eating a bug.
For classic homestyle dishes, Cafe de Tacuba is as good as it gets. The restaurant has been around for over 100 years. © Laura Bronner/Lonely Planet.
Cafe de Tacuba
In operation for over 100 years means Cafe de Tacuba must be doing something right. From the outside, the restaurant looks like a little hole in the wall, but once you’re inside, you’ll wonder why you haven’t heard more about this hidden gem.
This Mexico City institution's breakfast enchiladas will set you up for the day and their beef with mole sauce will have you scraping your dish clean with your fresh corn tortillas.
Nico’s is a restaurant beloved by locals, but it’s not in chic Polanco or hipster Roma. You’ll have to trek out to the local neighborhood of Claveria to enjoy the delights of Nico’s. It’s worth the metro trip or taxi ride though, we promise.
It's on the San Pellegrino list of Top 50 Restaurants in Latin America. This is where you go to sample classic Mexican dishes in a family-style setting. All of the meat dishes come with rich sauces and a pile of piping hot, handmade tortillas.
Though this family-style restaurant has a few locations in the city, their Polanco spot is the most convenient if you’re staying in the city center. It’s a casual place where you can sit down and sample all of the best antojitos (snacks/appetizers).
What really brings the locals back to El Bajío again and again is the carnitas or braised pork. The pork is made daily by experts from the state of Michoacan, where the dish originates. They prepare their carnitas with tequila and beer and after hours of braising, the meat melts in your mouth.
Casa de Tona offers a hearty Mexican soup that can be prepared with meat or vegetables. © Laura Bronner/Lonely Planet
La Casa de Toño
When it comes to its pozole, a traditional Mexican soup usually made with pork, there are two options at La Casa de Toño – meat or vegetables. If you order the meat, be prepared to find every part of the pig in your bowl. The vegetable version comes with corn and zucchini flowers.
If you want to sample a few more dishes, this popular Mexico City chain also serves tacos, tostadas, quesadillas and enchiladas. Don’t leave without having the flan de la abuela (grandma’s flan) for dessert. It’s the best in the city.
El Cardenal is the place to go for a traditional Mexican breakfast. © Laura Bronner/ Lonely Planet
To sample some traditional Mexican breakfast foods, join the locals and head to El Cardenal.
While the restaurant is open all day and serves classic Mexican fare that’s worth waiting in line for, it’s the breakfast that makes it so beloved around the city.
Enjoy a Mexican-style hot chocolate with nata bread to dip into it, and that’s just the appetizer. You can dig into huge plates of chilaquiles, enchiladas or an omelette cooked with ant larvae, it’s a delicacy.
Quintonil combines its fine dining reputation with a very laid back atmosphere. Only a few blocks away from the upmarket Pujol, in Polanco, Quintonil serves food that is just as spectacular, but skips out on the need to book a table four months in advance.
The menu changes every season so you can taste fresh Mexican produce when it’s at its peak. You’ll always find plenty of seafood, mole sauces, and nopales (flat cactus) on the menu.
Looking for a fresh take on Mexican flavors?
Fonda Fina's menu is broken down into three sections. First you choose which type of meat you’d like. Options include roasted chicken, beef cheeks or octopus. Next you select what type of sauce you’d like to have with it. If you’re not sure which mole to choose or what level of spice is right for you, be sure to ask the waiters. Their English is excellent.
Finally, you choose your side. I personally recommend the garlic-roasted potatoes. They go well with everything.
Fonda Fina is tucked away down a side street in Roma Norte and fills up throughout the week, so booking a table is recommended.
Get more travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers sent straight to your inbox with our weekly newsletter.