The first thing any visitor to downtown Mexico will absorb – likely while staring in awe out the window as their plane flies down on steroids over the intense expanse of urbanity – is the sheer size of this city, 573 square miles total. It’s densely populated and dotted with different neighborhoods, each with its own culinary identity. It would take several lives to get to know all of the street stalls, holes in the wall, neighborhood favorites, and high-end destinations in this city.
However, this list – 38 restaurants, dishes, and culinary experiences that define Mexico City’s gastronomic identity – should provide any visitor with a comprehensive starting point. It includes the obvious and the overexposed; it also contains hidden gems. It includes long-standing lively neighborhoods like Roma and Condesa, as well as newer destination areas like San Miguel Chultepec and Juarez. There are tacos, tortas, tasting menus and tamales. There is enough candy to satisfy the most dedicated concha enthusiast and an old-school breakfast for the nostalgic. Regardless of the type of place, it offers outstanding food and a taste of something that visitors cannot bring home.
Update, spring 2021:
As great as the CMDX food scene is, the industry has not been immune to the pandemic that has ravaged the globe. Thousands of restaurants closed permanently, and those who survived stayed afloat by reinventing themselves with new take-away options, weekend pop-ups, and meal sets. Given the year-round temperate climate that allows for numerous alfresco dining and pandemic pivots that have proven to be long-term money makers, the city’s dining scene is currently geared towards a much-needed respite.
Note: Check with the venues for current business hours and restaurants, as local authorities may still make last-minute changes to COVID-19 restrictions.
Price key per person without alcohol:
$ = Less than 200 pesos (Less than $13th U.S. dollar)
$$ = 201 – 500 Pesos ($14th to $30th U.S. dollar)
$$$ = 501 – 950 Pesos ($31 to $50 U.S. dollar)
$$$$ = 950 – 1500 Pesos ($51 U.S. dollar and up)
Here’s how-to guides on all of Mexico City’s major neighborhoods, as well as everything you need to know about eating in CDMX. by doing Mexico City Eater Guide.
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