I'm from Mexico City, and these are 9 places to eat I swear by for tacos, seafood, and authentic local fare

Advertisement
I'm from Mexico City, and these are 9 places to eat I swear by for tacos, seafood, and authentic local fare
  • I'm a travel writer from Mexico City who has eaten at some of the city's best restaurants.
  • The food scene in CDMX is incredibly authentic, and has great late-night eats and street food.
Advertisement

As a travel writer from Mexico City who loves food, I’ve learned there’s always something to discover when it comes to restaurants in my hometown.

As a travel writer from Mexico City who loves food, I’ve learned there’s always something to discover when it comes to restaurants in my hometown.
The chefs working at Migrante's open kitchen.Jennifer Fernández Solano

I have places I never get tired of as my go-tos, but I also like to stay up to date with new openings, some of which become favorites, too.

The food scene in CDMX, which is what we locals call our city, never wants for options, in my experience. Between the street food and late-night eats, classic spots serving authentic cuisine from different regions in Mexico, and the new venues with one-of-a-kind dishes, there are choices looming on every corner.

Expect some street food, classic tacos, seafood dishes with a Mexican twist, and some international cuisine in the mix. These are the places I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to any friend visiting the city, and where I return to for some of my favorite dishes and experiences time and time again.

I dream of the pastor especial from El Huequito.

I dream of the pastor especial from El Huequito.
El Huequito's pastor especial is a shareable a stack of pork and tortillas.Jennifer Fernández Solano

I never realized how much I loved tacos al pastor until I started spending long spells away from CDMX. Even though I have found taco shops abroad, I've never found authentic tacos al pastor outside of Mexico.

Once I finally gave El Huequito a try, my appreciation for pastor reached new heights. Besides the signature tacos, the restaurant serves a variety of alambres, burritos, and tortas. I recommend ordering the "pastor especial," which is a stack of pork meat smothered in salsa next to a pile of tortillas. It's meant to be shared and the menu says it serves up to eight tacos, but in the past, I've devoured one on my own.

El Huequito started as a hole-in-the-wall on the sidewalk in 1959, according to its website, and has since expanded into a local chain with 10 locations around the city. This makes it a reliable place to stop for an affordable and delicious meal, in my experience. True to the name, which means little hole in English, each location has a casual, lunch counter feel.

Advertisement

El Turix's only meat on the menu is cochinita pibil, it's that good.

El Turix's only meat on the menu is cochinita pibil, it's that good.
Cochinita pibil is one of my favorite Mexican dishes, and I think El Turix does it best in Mexico City.Jennifer Fernández Solano

Cochinita pibil, or Mexican-style pulled pork, is the only meat on the menu at El Turix. I personally don't mind, because it's the best I've had in the city.

I almost always get back in line for a second helping while eating here, whether I order a torta, tacos, or panuchos, which is a tortilla stuffed with refried black beans and topped with cochinita and pickled red onion.

Located in the ritzy Polanco neighborhood, I think El Turix's casual atmosphere adds to its charm. It's grab-and-go, with no seating. Guests order at a bare-bones window, and can watch the server dip tortillas in the meat sauce and scoop up the juicy pulled pork. I usually eat my meal standing up on the sidewalk, and the sauce can get messy, so I make sure to grab napkins. As a fan of spice, I also like adding a few drops of habanero sauce to the tacos to make the flavors pop.

For fresh seafood in shareable servings, I head to Mi Compa Chava.

For fresh seafood in shareable servings, I head to Mi Compa Chava.
Mi Compa Chava serves seafood-centric dishes like this shrimp, tuna, scallop, and octopus tower.Jennifer Fernández Solano

Mi Compa Chava is a recent addition to the Mexico City food scene that opened in April 2021. It immediately got local buzz, and to this day, my friends and people I know in CDMX are still talking about it. When I first visited last December and again this January, I could see why.

The restaurant serves Mexican-style seafood, and the menu is brimming with fresh oysters, blood clams, and aguachiles, which is a spicy, ceviche-like dish. There are two locations in Roma and Coyoacán, and I recommend making a reservation in advance, as it can be booked two to three weeks ahead. They accept walk-ins, but I've heard friends say waiting times can be up to two hours.

I ordered "La Señora Torres," on my last visit, which was a tower of layered shrimp, tuna, scallops, octopus, avocado, red onion, and cucumber, topped with a house-made hot sauce. I was glad I went with friends to help me finish it because the portion was massive. We followed with the pescado zarandeado, a large grilled fish in chili paste. I was too full to fit in the scallop tostadas, so I'm saving that dish for my next visit.

Advertisement

Páramo serves my favorite tacos de jamaica in a trendy, dimly-lit eatery.

Páramo serves my favorite tacos de jamaica in a trendy, dimly-lit eatery.
The multi-sized tacos de jamaica keep me coming back to Páramo.Jennifer Fernández Solano

I love Páramo's vast selection of gourmet tacos, but I return time and time again for their Jamaicón taco, made with jamaica, or hibiscus flowers, fresh cheese, avocado, and onion.

Another quirk of this restaurant is that the tacos are available in different sizes — taquito, taco, and cazuela, which means saucepan in English and is the largest size. I recommend starting by ordering three varieties of the smallest tacos and then more of your favorite to round off the meal. Wash it all down with one of their delicious mezcal cocktails.

The dining room can get a bit loud, so I prefer booking a table in one of the venue's adjoining rooms that are smaller and beautifully decorated. Páramo is also located above two sister restaurants that I think are worth checking out. El Parnita is a buzzy spot with cocktails and live music, and Expendio de Maíz is a tiny, omakase-style Mexican eatery with inventive corn-based dishes made from scratch.

Pujol is my choice for a splurge occasion with out-of-town friends.

Pujol is my choice for a splurge occasion with out-of-town friends.
I’ve been to Pujol many times over the years and it never disappoints.Jennifer Fernández Solano

I've eaten at Pujol more times than any other fine-dining restaurant. Ever since head chef Enrique Olvera was featured on Netflix's "Chef's Table" in 2016, different friends urged me to book a table at his venue in affluent Polanco. Over the years, I've seen it evolve from the cozy original location to its current, larger and breezier venue with a filling tasting menu and an omakase option.

The seven-course tasting menu changes seasonally, although some dishes are consistent. The times I've been, I've always been served a dish of smoked baby corn and a dish of two different mole sauces, one freshly made and the other aged for 2,500 days, according to my server. There's an option to add a wine pairing, but as it's already a pricey meal, I prefer ordering a few cocktails instead.

I think Pujol is a great choice for those looking for a luxury, celebrity-worthy experience. Once when I was here, I saw actor Diego Luna of "Narcos" and "Star Wars" fame.

Advertisement

Bella Aurora serves up Mexican-Italian fusion in a plant-filled patio.

Bella Aurora serves up Mexican-Italian fusion in a plant-filled patio.
I love how the chef fuses Mexican and Italian flavors.Jennifer Fernández Solano

Bella Aurora is a restaurant in the Roma Norte neighborhood that fuses Mexican and Italian cuisine, and is open daily for brunch and dinner. When I eat here, I love dining on the covered terrace. It's filled with plants and feels like being in a garden, which I think is fun for a date night or an outing with friends.

You won't go wrong with any of the pastas, in my opinion, and there are also pizzas, seafood, and steak dishes. A favorite item I've tried was the casarecce with beef tail ragu.

The restaurant is run by local chef Elena Reygadas, who also owns the nearby Rosetta and Panadería Rosetta, a bakery I love to stop by for fresh guava rolls and delicious conchas.

Migrante serves beautifully presented courses from an open-plan kitchen.

Migrante serves beautifully presented courses from an open-plan kitchen.
Admiring the staff hard at work in the open kitchen was one of my highlights.Jennifer Fernández Solano

One of the things I appreciate most about a visit to Migrante is the chance to meet the chef, which in my experience doesn't happen often at fancy restaurants.

This is a restaurant I'd choose for a special occasion or night out as I think it's a memorable dining experience. Tables are grouped in front of an open-plan kitchen, so from my seat I could watch chef Fernando Martínez lead his staff in the open-plan kitchen. I also thought the decor was striking — there were origami birds hanging from the ceiling, and a world map carved in cement on one of the walls.

Guests have the option of ordering a la carte or choosing the five or nine-course menu. When I visited, I went big for the nine-course menu and was glad I did. Foams, puffed up quinoa, edible flowers, and savory churro batter are some of the surprising ingredients I tasted, and each course was beautifully presented.

I also appreciated that the friendly staff explained how each of the dishes were made using cooking techniques from around the world, as they said Migrante's aim is to use food to represent the migrant experience and transcend borders.

Advertisement

For a refreshing and filling dinner with friends, I go to Izakaya Kura for its large menu of authentic Japanese dishes.

For a refreshing and filling dinner with friends, I go to Izakaya Kura for its large menu of authentic Japanese dishes.
I recommend mixing things up with some authentic Japanese from Izakaya Kura.Jennifer Fernández Solano

If you find yourself in need of a break from tacos and carb-centric Mexican fare, I recommend Izakaya Kura, a Japanese tavern with authentic flavors and enough variety to refresh your palate.

Unlike most Japanese restaurants I've been to in Mexico City, Izakaya Kura serves mainly small bites and shareable plates, including dishes like karaage chicken, butter scallops, and pan-fried oysters.

There are more options like rice bowls, ramen, and sushi, as well as wagyu beef sold by the gram, and a large selection of sake and shochu. There's a lot to choose from, but I recommend going for the yakitori, which are grilled skewers of various meats and vegetables. I like ordering a mix of meat and veggie skewers for a satisfying meal.

The pad thai at Galanga Thai House is one of the few I've tried in CDMX that I've loved.

The pad thai at Galanga Thai House is one of the few I've tried in CDMX that I've loved.
I can’t go a month without having some great Pad Thai.Jennifer Fernández Solano

Finding Southeast Asian cuisine in Mexico City is not as common as in large American cities, in my experience. Galanga Thai House was a standout in my eyes when it first opened in 2015, and soon the restaurant became so successful it expanded to a much larger location. Saying that it has the best pad thai in the city is an understatement — it's one of the few I've tried in CDMX that I've really loved.

Its current location has a palatial atmosphere, tastefully blending a decor like plants and rattan ceiling lamps with mid-century touches of velvet chairs and ornate wall moldings. I like to come here for lunch to break up the work day with a lychee or passion fruit mimosa, and catch up with a friend while sharing the soft shell crab pad thai and green chicken curry. I'm also a big fan of their tom yum soup.

Advertisement