The first thing any visitor to the Mexican capital will take in — probably while staring out the window in awe as their airplane descends over the intense, urbanity-on-steroids sprawl — is the sheer size of this town, 573 square miles in total. It’s densely populated and patchworked with distinct neighborhoods, each with its own culinary identity. It would take several lifetimes to get to know all of the street stands, holes in the wall, neighborhood favorites, and high-end destinations in this city.
Yet this list — 38 restaurants, dishes, and culinary experiences that define Mexico City’s gastronomic identity — should offer a comprehensive starting point for any visitor. It includes the obvious and the overexposed; it also includes hidden gems. It covers longtime buzzing neighborhoods like Roma and Condesa, as well as newer destination districts like San Miguel Chapultepec and Juarez. There are tacos, tortas, tasting menus, and tamales. There are enough sweets to satisfy the most dedicated concha enthusiast and some old-school breakfasts for the nostalgists. Whatever the type of place, it provides standout food and a taste of something visitors can’t get back home.
Update, Spring 2021:
Great as the CMDX food scene is, the industry was not immune to the pandemic that ravaged the globe. Thousands of restaurants closed permanently, and those that survived stayed afloat by reinventing themselves with new takeout options, weekend pop-ups, and meal kits. But with a year-round temperate climate enabling plenty of outdoor dining and pandemic pivots that have proven to be long-term moneymakers, the city’s restaurant scene is currently geared up for a much-needed recovery.
Note: Check with venues for up-to-date business hours and dining options, as local authorities may still enact last-minute changes to COVID-19 restrictions.
Price key per person, excluding alcohol:
$ = Less than 200 pesos (Less than $13 USD)
$$ = 201 – 500 pesos ($14 to $30 USD)
$$$ = 501 – 950 pesos ($31 to $50 USD)
$$$$ = 950 – 1500 pesos ($51 USD and up)
See guides to all of Mexico City’s greatest neighborhoods — plus everything you need to know about eating in CDMX — in the Eater Guide to Mexico City.
Eater’s bringing this map to life with a trip to Mexico City, brought to you by Black Tomato. See the full itinerary and book a food-filled trip now.