By Masahiro Iztapawood, who hasn’t stopped exploring the city for 50 years
Edited by Elodi Troskie
Mexico City’s culinary scene is one of the city’s biggest attractions for international travellers. While the popularity of street food in Mexico City is ever rising, restaurants aren’t going out of style. Over the years, the restaurants in Mexico City have evolved to cater for international guests, offering a diverse spectrum of cuisines from all over the world to choose from. Locals enjoy the international variety just as much as visitors! Narrowing down the endless list of awesome places to eat in the city isn’t easy, so here are just the tiniest taste from some of the coolest restaurants in Mexico City you can’t miss out on if you’re planning a visit to this energetic capital.
Lorea: A story-telling dining experience
Lorea is a higher end restaurant located in the cultural hotpot neighbourhood of Colonia Roma. Expect to dig a little deeper in your wallet for this one, but if you’re looking for a fine dining experience that will leave its cultural footprints in both your stomach and heart, it’ll be worth the bucks. Although Lorea serves a range of international dishes, their speciality is Mexican cuisine with the objective of genuinely connecting with their guests. Dining at Lorea is more than just a meal – it’s an interactive and immersive cultural culinary experience. The restaurant offers one menu in tasting format through which they tell a story and the items on the menu are carefully chosen to incorporate the produce of Mexico. Guests are invited and encouraged to participate in the entire dining experience as opposed to simply sitting down to order food. Lorea is open from 19:30 until 23:00 every day except Sunday and Monday. You need to book a table beforehand (online or over the phone at +52 55 91 30 77 86) and reservations are confirmed by credit card to avoid no-shows, so take note that a visit to Lorea won’t be an impulsive spur-of-the-moment decision.
Pujol: Mexico’s number one
Pujol is arguably one of the best restaurants in Mexico City and has been on the Top 50 List of best restaurants in the world for the past five years – pretty impressive. This Michelin Star restaurant was opened in 2000 by Mexico City local, chef Enrique Olvera, who studied in New York and returned to his home city to unleash his ever evolving creative variations on its Mexican food lovers. Although his culinary ideas are often inspired by other countries and cultures, both his ingredients and techniques remain deeply rooted in Mexico. Expect traditional Mexican foods like tacos turned gourmet. In addition to Pujol’s main attraction, the ten course taco bar menu, hand selected by the chef, is a six course tasting menu with four options each. Located in the relatively posh Polanco District of Mexico City, you’ll feel like a million dollars when you walk into Pujol. The service is great, the restaurant’s design is beautiful and the outdoor patio is the picture-perfect spot for coffee and dessert after your 5-star meal. Lunch is available from 13:30 until 15:00 and dinner from 18:15 until 21:45 (every day except Sunday). Reservations can be made online.
Quintonil: Creatively showcasing traditional Mexican dishes
Quintonil is another top class Michelin Star Mexican restaurant located in the Polanco District, similar to Pujol in terms of cuisine. Like Pujol, Quintonil has also earned its spot on the Top 50 List. What makes Quintonil stand out from the crowd, however, is its strict use of only fresh, seasonal ingredients, feeding the organic food trend picking up in Mexico City lately. Chef Jorge Vallejo, a former student of Pujol’s head chef, Enrique Olvera, follows contemporary Mexican cooking techniques and prides himself on his sustainable approach to the culinary arts. The vegetables and greens used in the kitchen are sourced from the restaurant’s nearby garden, ensuring Quintonil’s carbon footprint is kept as low as possible. The best way to describe this restaurant is as an urban garden hideaway. Must-tries include a green sauce sardines dish and the multicolour mamey pannacotta dessert. Quintonil is open from 13:00 until 16:00 and again from 18:30 until 22:00, every day except Sunday.
Los Loosers: The vegan’s paradise
Another goldmine for vegan travellers, Los Loosers is the place to go for top quality plant-based food. Arguably one of the coolest places to eat in Mexico City, chef Mariana Blanco changes up the menu every day and is inspired by a mixture of traditional Mexican and Asian foods. A must-try is the ramen chilaquiles, a spicy ramen noodle dish bringing together the flavours of Mexico and Asia. A variety of alcohol-free drinks are available, as well as a selection of coffees and teas that will leave you wanting more. A bonus point is that Los Loosers offer a free delivery service to your hotel room. This service can be booked through their Facebook page (note that only cash is accepted when ordering food for delivery). Getting your food delivered by an earth-loving cyclist is sure to be one of the most unique experiences in Mexico City. If you can, swing by the restaurant itself as well. Located in the beautiful Cuauhtemoc District, the design and interior of Los Loosers will get the Instagram food photographers weak in the knees. Except for Monday, the restaurant is open every day until 21:00.
El 123: Asian goodness in the heart of Mexico City
With the international food sector in Mexico City dramatically expanding over the past couple of years, Asian food has become extremely popular among locals. I know what you’re thinking: why would I go looking for Asian food when I’m surrounded by the prestige of Latin American cuisine? Well, El 123 is definitely close to the top of Mexico City’s coolest places to eat, and with reason. Located just off the famous Reforma Main Street, El 123 is a restaurant, store and art gallery all in one. The owners strive to share good food, good art and good design, all working together to feed both the body and mind. This specific street has not yet been remodelled accordingly to attract a bunch of international tourists, so it’s safe to say El 123 is a safe haven for those looking to avoid touristy crowds. In the kitchen, the Mexican chefs work together to create a fusion of Asian dishes with distant European and Mexican flavours. Definite must-tries are the green curry and green-tea rice cakes. Only cash is accepted. Open every day from 09:00 until 23:00 (only until 21:00 on Sunday).
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