A Guide to Mexico City’s Diverse Gastronomy – Part 1
Mexico City’s Diverse Gastronomy
The name Mexico City might make you conjure up images of Tacos but cosmopolitan Mexico is home to all kinds of food.
Regional specialties from all over Mexico jostle for space with international cuisines. We wanted to show you Mexico City’s diverse gastronomy by giving you a short tour of the main areas.
The main restaurant areas are in Polanco, Condesa and Roma, Centro, Zona Rosa, Avenida Insurgentes from Viaducto to Copilco and more recently Santa Fe.
Classic Old School Mexican Food
For classic, old school Mexico City experience and superb Mexican cuisines, you should try El Cardenal Alameda for breakfast and lunch. Los Girasoles, Aguila y Sol and Restaurante El Cardenal also make for excellent choices while for something more affordable, you can head over to Café Tacuba. If you love bakeries, head to Pasteleria Madrid that usually has fresh bread twice a day, but if there is a rush of customers, they will bake the thing as many as four times a day.
Visit El Globo, a French style bakery, which sells both French and traditional Mexican pastries like orejas, éclairs, empanadas, and rosca during New Year.
Another great experience is to dine in an old converted hacienda. Azul Historico is a favorite of tourists and you can also try Hacienda de los Morales and El Bajio.
For those of you who are not averse to experimenting, the most ubiquitous food is Mexican street food or the one sold in puestos, i.e. food stands located on sidewalks or almost anywhere wherever there is some room. Taquería Aguayo in Coyoacán and the Tostados Coyoacan in the Coyoacan market near the Frida Kahlo museum are two places that you should definitely check out for crunchy fried tortillas accompanied by delectable toppings ranging from the ubiquitous beef, chicken and pork, to the exotic ceviche, fish and octopus.
Head over to La Merced (the central market located on the pink line of the subway at the stop “Merced”). There are several restaurants as well as stands serving delicious food. Huaraches, which are something like giant tortillas with different toppings/fillings, are popular here, as are alambres. Also try out the Torta Cubana.
Another place to try out if you are on a budget is the numerous omida corrida(set menu) restaurants , frequented by many office workers. Most of them offer good food at reasonable prices ($35 to $60).
And of course, if you are one of those tourists who searches for a home away from home wherever they go, you will be happy to know that almost all major American fast food chains have franchises here. You will see McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut, Carl Jr’s, Domino’s Pizza, TGI Friday’s and many more. Reforma and Insurgentes Avenues have Starbucks around every other corner. El Jarocho in Coyoacan is another place you can try for coffee. New branches are coming up due to its ever growing popularity.
You can have a slightly tough time finding vegetarian options in street food. Gatorta (tortas and tacos) and Por Siempre (tacos) are the only exceptions. Both are in Roma. However, vegetarian food is commonly available in the larger restaurants. The key phrases, for vegetarians or vegans, are “sin pollo” (no chicken), “sin carne” (no meat), “sin huevo” (no eggs) and “sin queso” (no cheese). A combination of hand movements and excitedly pointing to the menu along with these phrases will usually ensure that the waiter gives you alternatives.
Your journey to Mexico City’s diverse gastronomy will be incomplete if at the end of a long day of sight-seeing and other touristy rigors, you do not visit one of the Cantinas (local bars) for a couple of drinks. Head to the La Opera bar, a historic bar open since 1876 and before you get sloshed on tequila served with excellent sangrita, look around for a tiny hole in the ceiling where Pancho Villa (prominent figure of the Mexican Revolution) shot his pistol.
Keep in mind that wherever you go in Mexico City, there is no difference in prices if you sit inside or outside, it is the same if you eat at the bar or sit at a table. Tipping (propina in Spanish) is expected, with 10% being the standard for all restaurants. You can tip less or not tip at all for poor service.
We hope that you will now have a better idea of Mexico City’s diverse gastronomy. As you can see it is not all tacos and quesadillas.