Mexico City: Top Restaurant Choices for All Budgets

By Carole Reedy

Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, perhaps flavor lies in the tastebuds of the consumer. Since food and restaurant preferences vary widely among individuals, here we cite expert recommendations as well as personal observations from citizens and travelers populating this grand metropolis.

The breaking news of the summer is the list of the 50 BEST RESTAURANTS IN THE WORLD as named by The Diners’ Club World’s Best Restaurants Academy and sponsored by S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna. The voting committee consists of more than “950 trusted and well-traveled gourmets,” among them chefs, restaurateurs, critics, food writers, and highly regarded foodies.

This year Mexico City boasts three in the top 50. All are located in the fashionable Polanco area and, as you might imagine, reservations are essential, often weeks in advance. The price per person for food at each of these top eateries exceeds 1000 pesos. (Note that few restaurants are open on Sundays in Mexico City.)

PUJOL: Chef Enrique Olvera’s inventions have graced this list in the past few years, finding its place in 2015 at number 16 on the 50 BEST list. (Olvera has recently opened another successful venture in New York City called Cosme.) This chef has reinvented “la cocina Mexicana.” With a fixed-price menu (1,300 pesos per person including the 16 percent IVA tax), Olvera offers six or so tastes of his ingenious creations. You’ll almost always recognize the main ingredient, with the surprise arriving in the preparation and combination of spices. Examples include: Huitlacoche, molleja, higado; Tamal de papa, hoja santa, ensalada de frijol crillo; Tacos de barbacoa, adobo de chile guajillo, hoja de aguacate, puré de aguacate. Pujol is open Monday through Saturday, 1:30 pm to 10:30 pm. Address and phone: Francisco Petrarca 254/ 5545 4111

QUINTONIL is ranked number 35 on the list. I t ‘ s k n o w n a s a contemporary Mexican restaurant and by many is recognized as serving the best pastries in the city. All meals end with a sorbet of nopal with lime and salt, a favorite with a l l d i n e r s . T h e partnership of Jorge Vallejo and Alejandra Flores brings together both knowledge and experience to provide the best cooking and service dynamic. “The everyday home-style flavors…remind us that simplicity and hospitality do not have to be at odds in haute cuisine.” Open Monday through Saturday, 1 pm to 5 pm and again at 7 pm to 11pm. Address and phone: Newton 55/5280-2680

BIKO, another favorite with sophisticated diners, comes in at number 37 this year. Basque chefs Mikel Alonso and Bruno Oteiza bring us the flavors of their homeland, which they fold together with Mexican traditions and ingredients. Open Monday through Saturday, 1:30 pm to 5 pm and 8 pm to 11 pm. Address and phone: Masaryk 407/5582 2064

Worldwide best . Eager to try restaurants in other parts of the world during your travels? Spain walks away with the coveted number 1 spot for its EL CELLER DE CAN ROCA in Gerona (or in Catalán ‘Girona’). The Top 50 list isn’t the only place this restaurant appears as number 1 in the world. This year it was one again named the best restaurant in the world by the magazine Restaurant. The food is traditional Catalán. Edward Owen of The Times calls the cuisine ‘a fusion of traditional dishes with surrealist touches.’ Unsurprisingly, Paris leads the city list with four additional reasons to travel to the gem of Europe: number 12 L’ARPEGE, number 21 LE CHATEAUBRIAND, number 36 L’ASTRANCE, and number 47 ALAIN DUCASSE AU PLAZA ATHENEE.

Charming and tasty options in DF BISTROT MOSAICO: San Angel

There are several Bistrot Mosaicos in the District, but we visited the one in San Angel, right on the corner of Insurgentes Sur and Avenida de la Paz. The restaurant provides ample parking; just drive into the entrance. For those taking public transport, the Metrobus stop La Bombilla is steps away from the restaurant.

Leaving the busy intersection to enter the portal of the restaurant, you’re transported to another world, one of peaceful gardens and no traffic noise. Bistro Mosaico provides indoor and outdoor dining, though even if you’re inside it feels as if you’re in the garden due to the orientation of windows, ample space, and the flora. The food is varied, though French offerings are evident, my personal favorite being the Tartine Provencal. The mix of French and Mexican works nicely. Quesadillas de huitlacoche are often a specialty of the day. Desserts are to die for and the wine list is varied. As is so often true, it’s more cost effective to buy wine by the bottle than by the glass.

We were a group of 17 women during our last visit and were treated with care and efficiency, not rushed, in a private room. Consider this delightful spot for your office Christmas luncheon for a festive beginning to the holidays. Gerente Héctor Alegría Briseño and his staff will exceed the needs of your group. Most branches of Bistrot Mosaico are open seven days a week from 7am to 11pm. Only the Reforma location has reduced hours. Note that there is also a Bistrot at the airport! But for pure ambiance and tranquility while dining, vale la pena to make the trip to San Angel.

LALO!: Colonia Roma Fun, casual dining, ideal for a late Saturday or Sunday morning breakfast, with a varied menu. Seating is at one big table, which encourages casual conversation rather than intimate dining. It also makes it easier to sneak a peek at the impeccably prepared dishes, the genius of the restaurant’s creator Eduardo Garcia, as they arrive at the table. There are egg selections, of course, one beautifully prepared with salmon, as well as the famous French Toast. Also served are sandwiches, salads, and fresh bread, as well as a nice variety of juices and coffee. Prices are very reasonable for the fine quality of the ingredients, preparation, and ingenuity. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 7 am to 7 pm

ROSETTA: Colonia Roma Basking in its well-deserved popularity, Rosetta requires reservations well in advance. The Italian selections of seasonal variety are innovative and clearly prepared with much care. Prices are relatively high, but your meal will be worth it. I have visitors from the US who want to return with each visit as the menu varies (a real plus for repeat visitors, except for those like me who return to a restaurant for their favorite dish). Hours are Monday through Saturdays from 1:30 pm to 11pm

EL DIEZ RESTAURANTS: Very simply, looking for good arrachera (the specialty of all Argentine restaurants)? El Diez restaurants are the place to go. There are several throughout the city, located in just about any neighborhood you’re visiting: San Angel, Roma, on Reforma in Cuauhtémoc, etc. The other specialty of Argentina, the empanada, is also served. In addition, baguettes and hamburgers, as well as chorizo argentine style, are found on the menu. The house wine, named El Diez, is an excellent value. There are special packages for takeout and delivery, as well as pizza and salads for vegetarians. The hours of service depend on the location, but most branches are open seven days a week from 1p to 11p.

One thing for certain in Mexico City: you’ll never be at a loss for a good restaurant, regardless of your budget. And if you find yourself hungry between meals, stop for a snack on the street where there are vendors galore. Provecho!

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