Over the course of the last several years, I’ve traveled the world as a digital nomad. With my boyfriend and little dog in tow, I’ve had the unique pleasure of eating in cities and towns most people have probably never heard of. From Luang Prabang, Laos to Dahab, Egypt, to Berat, Albania, to Concepcion de Ataco, El Salvador, very few meals from such places on my journey have disappointed my hungry heart.
To be honest, it’s hard not to enjoy food from a foreign land. There’s something about travel that inspires a unique type of curiosity, especially when it comes to dining out. For me it’s usually going somewhere outside of the box and almost losing myself down the unbeaten path on my way to lunch that puts a twinkle in my eye and a satisfying meal in my belly. So you can imagine my surprise when I landed in Mexico City, one of the biggest and most populous cities on Earth, and found myself constantly being blown away by absolutely everything I was eating.
If you’ve visited CDMX before, it’s easy to understand why. Food is the heartbeat of Mexico City. If you close your eyes and listen carefully, you can literally hear it pounding; The sounds of the roasted sweet potato carts being pushed down the streets, the simmering of pork being braised for hours at various taco stands, the exceptional live music being played from the hip speakeasy jazz clubs at 2am. The food scene is the rhythm the entire city lives to.
Where to eat in Mexico City if you have a small/ medium budget
One thing that is in no short supply in CDMX is amazing places to have brunch. Mexicans and Expats alike seriously love brunch in this part of the country… Seriously. Of all the many restaurants we enjoyed on sunny Sunday mornings, Petit Roquefort was by far my personal favorite.
What started as a traditional sandwich shop has since become so much more. Petit Roquefort combines incredibly refined French cooking techniques with some of the highest quality and freshest ingredients found in Mexico. I frequented the location in Juarez which is attached to an awesome art, design, and bazaar space.
Try the Chilaquiles. I know it sounds strange to order this from a French sandwich shop, but I promise you won’t be sorry.
Nestled in the heart of the Roma Norte neighborhood is this epic 3-story public market. If you’re crunched for time in the city and want to try some of the best food it has to offer all in one place, Mercado Roma is for you. If you’re in town for who-knows-how-long and want a great place to lounge around to enjoy a cold beer, grab a great snack, and meet some cool people, Mercado Roma is also for you. It’s where to eat in Mexico City 101.
Basically, this place has something for everyone. From expensive imported cheeses, to vegan tacos, to local Mexican-made liqueurs and coffees, they have it all.
Pro tip: walk the entire market before deciding what to eat. The puestos have so many different options to choose from. And don’t skip the beer garden on the top floor, especially if the weather is good.
Lines for tacos in this town are earned. Los Cocuyos, one of the city’s absolute best taquerias located in Centro, is well deserving of the lines that greet its customers any time of any day. It’s true, in a city with a population of over 21 million people it’s hard to know for sure which tacos are actually worth the wait, but I can personally guarantee this spot will not disappoint you. If I’d have to pick one taquería where to eat in Mexico City every day, Los Cocuyos would be it.
You’ll arrive at a small walk-up similar to those you’d find slinging pizza or meatballs on nearly every corner in NYC. Here your attention will be immediately drawn to a huge simmering pot of meat slowly cooking in caldo and pork fat on full display. The Campechano tacos are the most popular, but don’t be shy about the fall-off-the-bone brisket. Los Cocuyos is a meat lover’s paradise conveniently located in taco heaven.
This traditional Mexican restaurant specializes in Yucatecan cuisine. After 6 months of living on the Yucatan Peninsula and feeling somewhat of a connoisseur, I was excited to taste what Montejo had to offer. It turns out, a lot!
Come here for an authentic Mexican dining experience complete with unofficial live music and locals taking up the tables playing dominoes or enjoying the sobremesa. Stay for the Conchinita Pibil and Sopa de Lima. If you’re feeling like indulging a little, don’t miss the Queso Fundido con Chorizo. Top things off with a classic Carajillo and you’re in for a wonderful meal with friends.
Where to eat in Mexico City if you want the high end experience
Now, for the pièce de résistance – Maximo Bistrot, one of CDMX’s finest restaurants and a favorite of the late great Anthony Bourdain. You would expect nothing less than the finest from chef Eduardo García, who’s an alumni of both Pujol and Le Bernardin. Maximo’s concept is simple: take the best locally grown, fair-trade ingredients and make them shine! It’s one of Mexico City’s first true farm-to-table fine dining restaurants that sources its produce from the chinampas of Xochimilco and the nearby estado.
This place is something truly special. From the impeccable service, to the incredible value, to the exquisite interior design, to the flawlessly executed menu of candidly elevated Mexican-inspired French cuisine, I strongly advise against leaving Mexico City without a visit to Maximo. If you’re looking where to eat in Mexico City, look no further.