As great in size as it is in diversity, Mexico City is a capital meant to be explored with the senses. The city has long been home to an incredibly varied culinary scene, ranging from traditional Mexican restaurants to fine dining hotspots serving international fare, but the landscape has evolved even further over the past decade, with creative cocktail bars, inventive fusion eateries and third-wave coffee shops making their mark. In a city where the scent of tacos beckons from street corners and, a couple of blocks later, a world-renowned chef is serving a seasonally inspired menu at his highly coveted restaurant – it’s all worth tasting.

For Gourmet Gastronomy: Máximo Bistrot

From the buzzing streets of Colonia Roma, step into a stunning space filled with natural light, where plants and wooden details bring the inside in. It’s the perfect setting for enjoying Chef Eduardo García’s gorgeous creations made with seasonal ingredients and flawless technique. A farm-to-table pioneer in Mexico City, Chef García works with regional suppliers whose impossibly fresh vegetables, cheeses and fish guarantee the ever-rotating menu is constantly filled with dishes that let the ingredients shine.  

The experience at Máximo is available as a nine-course tasting menu – with or without pairings – or à la carte. Two things to remember: make your reservations a few weeks in advance, and always order the sweet onions cooked in whey with Comté cheese. 

For Stunning Views: Ling Ling

Crowning the Chapultepec Uno tower on its 56th floor, Ling Ling soars above Mexico City granting unbeatable views from lunch to dinner, while modern murals, curved wooden beams and hanging plants make the interior quite picture-worthy, too. A concept by the Hakkasan Group, the restaurant reinvents the Japanese izakaya with a modern twist, blending dishes like robatayaki-style skewers and temaki with other iconic Asian specialties, like Kung Pao chicken and Thai fried rice. The extensive menu and its many shareable dishes, paired with a lively vibe, make Ling Ling a perfect spot for sunset cocktails, dinner with friends or a memorable date night – especially if you manage to score the Tres60 table, positioned at the end of the dining room for 360-degree vistas.

For People-Watching: Contramar

An icon of Colonia Roma and the entire city, Contramar is a veritable temple of seafood and socialising. The airy dining room, where the bright blue mural and wicker details transport you to Mexico’s beautiful beach towns, is also a prime location for watching the locals. From Monday to Sunday, grab a seat and a menu, and watch as a parade of Chilangos and tourists feast on Chef Gabriela Cámara’s much-lauded creations.

Here, fresh fish and seafood are the stars of a varied menu in which Mexican coastal delights, like shrimp aguachile, fish ceviche and plenty of fish and seafood tacos, meet international specialties like Galician-style octopus and pasta with clams. Classic dishes that have probably made it to your Instagram feed, like ‘a la talla’-style fish (a gorgeous whole fish in red adobo and parsley rubs), tuna tostadas and strawberry meringue cake, are all worth the hype, but make sure you leave space for exploration.

For Local Flavours: Nicos

It’s a family affair at this Mexico City treasure, where Chef Gerardo Vázquez Lugo and his mother, Elena Lugo, have built and maintained a legacy of heartfelt service and traditional cuisine for more than six decades. As ambassadors of the ‘slow food’ movement and firm believers in supporting Mexico’s farmers and purveyors, the duo’s kitchen pays tribute to the country’s ingredients, history and incomparable love for spending time around the table.  

Lunch at Nicos means sharing a no-frills, relaxed space with an always-lively crowd of families, friends, colleagues and couples. Menu highlights include a memorable goat cheese soup, plus classics like guacamole, Caesar salad and café de olla, all prepared tableside. Should you go for breakfast (it’s usually easier to score a morning reservation), don’t skip the Huevos Encamisados, a traditional Yucatán recipe featuring fried eggs cooked inside a tortilla.

For Exotic Cuisine: Somsaa Wine & Tea Room

Stepping into Somsaa guarantees love at first sight. Set inside a restored mansion in Colonia Roma, the restaurant welcomes you into separate intimate dining areas, each with its own unique decor. The menu is equally enchanting, created by Thai-born Chef Somsri Raksamran with inspiration from cuisines across Southeast Asia. The culinary journey is packed with flavour, featuring dishes like chilli crab, Nyonya Laksa Mee (noodles with curry), chow mein and duck a l’orange. A refreshing sparkling wine selection, including surprises like sparkling sake and pet nats, as well as tea-based cocktails offer perfect pairing options. For a charming Sunday brunch, book a table at Somsaa and feast on dim sum, mooncakes and a wide assortment of teas.

For Iconic Eats: El Cardenal

With six locations across the city, El Cardenal is an undeniable classic, where love for traditions shines at every moment. In the morning, breakfast at El Cardenal starts with homemade pastries, like fluffy conchas, paired with the house’s signature hot chocolate, a foamy concoction prepared at your table. Next come morning favourites like Michoacán-style enchiladas and gorditas, while the lunch menu brings plenty of shareable goodness in the form of fideo seco (a local noodle specialty) and escamoles – ant larvae that are best enjoyed in a taco with fresh guacamole. Though all locations of El Cardenal offer an incomparable Mexico City experience, we love the one on Marconi Street, located inside a grand old house right next to the MUNAL (Museo Nacional de Arte).

For A Great Cuppa: Almanegra

At Almanegra, the approach to coffee-making is equally mystical and serious. The team does exhaustive work to connect with premium bean suppliers from Mexico and the rest of the world; the rotating coffee selection features beans from Mexico’s top coffee-producing states, like Veracruz, as well as other lesser-known but equally remarkable regions, such as Puebla and Jalisco, along with international offerings from Kenya, Sumatra, Nicaragua and beyond. Whether you’re at one of their four locations for an espresso, a drip coffee or a cold brew, chatting with the baristas as you pick your java is always an opportunity for discovery.

[Images courtesy of Jos Agüero]

For A Sweet Treat: Joe Gelato

Cempasúchil flower (marigold), tamarind and mezcal? Or Oaxacan chocolate with chilli? They might not be the flavours you expect to find at your local ice cream shop, but they’ve made this gelateria in Colonia Juárez a favourite since its opening – and the appeal goes well beyond unique flavours. Owner José Luis Cervantes (aka Joe) worked at Michelin-starred kitchens before eventually pursuing his real passion: gelato. After training at the Carpigiani Gelato University in Italy, he decided to make his dream a reality in the heart of Mexico City. Using mostly local ingredients and plenty of creativity, Joe’s constantly rotating selection also features scoops made with craft beer.

[Images courtesy of Joe Gelato]

For A One-Of-A-Kind Experience: Tencüi

The historic neighbourhood of Santa María La Ribera is home to Chef Mario Espinosa’s shrine to the fungi kingdom. At this cosy and colourful eatery, mushrooms take centre stage as the protagonists in every dish on the menu, from cocktails to entrées to desserts. Far from being a gimmick, Tencüi is the result of exhaustive research by Chef Espinosa and his team, who wanted to pay tribute to mushrooms without necessarily opening a vegetarian or vegan restaurant. In fact, you’ll find animal protein in some of the dishes, guaranteeing an experience that will satisfy omnivores and plant-based eaters alike. At the end of your meal, a trip to the upstairs mushroom chamber will provide a unique peek into the team’s prime ingredients.

For A Night Cap: Handshake Speakeasy

Trickily tucked into a hotel in the bustling Juárez neighbourhood, this speakeasy pours creativity and charm behind its sleek brass bar. The extraordinary team of bartenders, led by bar director and co-founder Eric van Beek, offers an alchemic experience where hospitality comes easy and the cocktails, while smart and inventive, never feel pretentious or out of reach. On a warm night, sip on their twist on the piña colada, a clear, fizzy concoction that resembles a highball but tastes like a tropical poolside drink. And if you’re a fan of rare spirits, you’re in for a treat: ask your bartender about the bar’s enviable collection, and sample one of their treasures neat or in a creative cocktail. Timely reservations are recommended, especially on weekends.

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