Mexico City in 5 Meals


A food tour through the Mexican capital blends heritage and high–concept dining.

In 2010, traditional Mexican cuisine was added to UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Translation: Mexico’s culinary traditions are worth preserving. But preservation doesn’t mean predictability; as a foodie–focused trip through the megacity proves, local chefs are putting their own twists on traditional dishes while celebrating the flavours that put them on the map.

February 20, 2023
A table of refreshments on the balcony lounge at Las Alcobas overlooking Mexico City
Aurora Spa massage table at Las Alcobas in Mexico City
Las Alcobas

Las Alcobas

Situated in the ultra–chic Polanco district, on Mexico City’s answer to Rodeo Drive, jewel–box–sized boutique hotel Las Alcobas treats cuisine seriously from the moment you check in to your room. There, you will find a minifridge stocked with (complimentary!) traditional snacks like tamarind candy, marshmallow–chocolate lollipops and chili–dipped dried mango. Start your day like a local with a guests–only “power breakfast” in the hotel's Anatol restaurant, where enfrijoladas and chilaquiles are on the menu alongside more traditional morning fare like fresh papaya and scrambled eggs. Dinner at Anatol showcases thoughtful, farm–to–table dishes, including bone marrow flatbread. Book a private guacamole workshop led by Chef Rodrigo del Valle to get a crash course in the beauty of simple, fresh ingredients (no blenders and no garlic required). Another hotel perk comes on a different kind of menu: You can order an herbal bath soak right to your room, care of the hotel’s Aurora Spa. We loved the Jet Lag sachet, made with camphor and lemongrass.

Three appetizers from the kitchen of Las Alcobas in Mexico City
Las Alcobas

Culinary Experience Tour

Book a Las Alcobas culinary tour for an insider’s guide to eating your way across the city (other available tours cover archaeology, local markets, the arts scene and more). We started with street food, snacking on tacos al pastor alongside busy city workers, and ended with a private dinner and demo at the loft of Calli Private Kitchen chef Alfredo Chávez. Throughout the experience, expect insight on everything from organic corn to Indigenous history to lessons on picking out a good restaurant – try gauging a kitchen’s quality by eyeing the freshness of the limes on display. We also had time for a tequila tasting and a flight of smoky mezcal shots: “Don’t swallow it, absorb it” advises Chávez.

Restaurante San Angel Inn

Old–world luxury reigns at this 17th–century hacienda. Reserve a patio table for the best in people watching – lunch here is a perfect excuse to get dressed up – and let the dapper waiters present a multicourse, Euro–inflected menu on crisp white table linens and elegant blue–and–white china painted in Mexico. Find gourmet staples like Serrano ham with cantaloupe and lobster thermidor alongside corn torte and shrimp tacos, plus an abundance of classic French pastries for dessert. Bonus: It’s just across the street from the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Studio House Museum, where the late artists’ separate homes are famously connected by a walkway.

Romantic table settings in the courtyard of Azul Historico in Mexico city
Oaxacan tortilla soup served in a ceramic “Catrina” doll vessel at Azul Historico in Mexico City
Azul Historico.   Photo (right): Nan Palmero

Azul Histórico

Tucked away just off the bustling shopping and sightseeing streets of Centro, the city’s historic centre, under a canopy of manicured branches flecked with glowing oil lamps, this open–air courtyard restaurant is an oasis for tourists and locals alike. Lauded chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita was behind the push for Mexican food’s UNESCO status, and his menu is a crowd–pleasing collection of the country’s iconic flavours. For a traditional dish done right, be sure to get the best – and most elegantly presented – Oaxacan tortilla soup you will ever taste. It comes inside a ceramic “Catrina” doll vessel, and is served with a golden spoon. We also loved the mole negro as well as the mezcalitas (mezcal margaritas) in a rainbow of flavours, including tamarind and hibiscus.

Roasted beets with fig puree, toasted macadamia nuts and yogurt from Máximo Bistrot
The sunny dining room of Máximo Bistrot in Mexico City
Máximo Bistrot.   Photos: Alejandro Yanes

Máximo Bistrot

A towering indoor ficus tree provides a striking focal point for this hotspot’s modern decor. Also find: rustic wooden tables, tall tapers in copper candlesticks, potted geraniums, hanging boughs of rosemary, and a serene desertscape tapestry covering one wall. The hyperseasonal menu boasts refined dishes just experimental enough to keep things interesting for frequent diners. Think stone crab tostadas, grilled Wagyu in mole, and goat cheese ice cream with phyllo and guava. On the cocktail menu, try an avocado leaf sour or a gin and corn martini (it’s also a great place to explore the burgeoning world of Mexican wines). Founder chef Eduardo García was featured in Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, and, like the show, a night here makes it clear: Mexico City can compete with any major dining destination in the world.