Mexico City: Where Our Senior Editor Will Return Once Her Travels Resume

Seven days of solid snacking, stretchy pants and sheer bliss.

Trees and other Mexico City foliage
Baskets of chiles for sale in Mexico City
There are more than 150 varieties of chillies in Mexico. Chiltepin peppers are known for packing intense, but short–lived heat.

With our 2020 travel plans temporarily on hold, we find ourselves returning to memories of past adventures, finding joy in journeys that resonated, inspired, elevated — and that taught us something meaningful about ourselves and the wider world we share. In this new series, we revisit our best–ever trips with you, and hope you’ll do the same for us. This week, senior editor Camille Cardin‑Goyer travels back to a trip from the fall of 2019 – where she discovered all the best Mexican food, from delicious hand‑held street foods to open‑air eateries to fine dining and more.

enRoute Tell us why this trip in particular keeps coming back to you now – what made it so memorable?

Camille Cardin–Goyer My well–being largely revolves around food, and the people I enjoy it with. A month into lockdown, I’m in a cooking rut. My pantry is crammed with beans, I’ve lost my groove in the kitchen and my urge to eat out and discover new flavours – precisely what brought my (chef) boyfriend and I (zealous foodie) to Mexico City in the first place – is out of control. In search of recipe inspo, I’ve been frantically scrolling through the impressive collection of food photos I shot on that trip.

Related: Discover Pulque, Mexico’s Drink of the Gods

ER What kinds of traditional Mexican food did you find on your culinary adventure?

CCG The CDMX food scene is a sprawling food paradise I’ve wanted to discover the second I saw how Pujol chef‑owner Enrique Olvera was transforming traditional Mexican cuisine on Chef’s Table. “I hope you’re hungry,” is what my boyfriend said when our plane circled around the monster city; we were there to eat. We spent a week following the scent of fresh tortillas, charred meats and ancho chiles wafting through warm air, biting our way through the city, from one antojito (“little craving”) to the next. We indulged in every street–food staple we came across, discussing flavour contrasts while creamy guac oozed down our fingers, debating where to head next over shots of Mexico’s best moonshine, and ended every day with an omakase dinner on fine china, in some of the world’s best restaurants.

April 24, 2020
A plate of octopus at restaurant Pujol in Mexico City

Octopus, chintexle pepper and pickled carrot at Pujol.

Mexico City food

ER Why is Mexico City such a good destination for foodies?

CCG It’s a huge melting pot of cultures and that is reflected in the food. We originally thought there could be “no such thing as too much Mexican food” but were happy to have a taste of Italy or Japan a few days into binge–eating through our list of must–try Mexican favourites. Mexico is also a promised land for everything local and fresh. The country’s size and biodiversity allow for the best fruits and vegetables to grow in abundance and they’re accessible and affordable pretty much anywhere.

The large green fuerte avocados didn’t disappoint, neither did the tomatoes (which make up most Mexican dishes), guanábanas (similar to jackfruit with flavours of strawberry and banana), or jicamas (a popular root veggie usually sliced and sprinkled with lime juice and chili powder). Then there’s also the contrast between street stands – you can have the best meal of your life on a busy street corner, out of a foam plate wrapped in a plastic bag – and world–renowned hotspots that you’ll never forget.

Related: A Photographers’ Guide to Mexico City

A plate of omakase with chopsticks
Grilled baby corn at Hiyoko, a kushiyaki restaurant where local ingredients are skewered and given a Japanese twist.
A group having dinner together at Cafe Nin in Mexico City
Café Nin, a Juarez neighbourhood go–to – and the latest from renowned Mexico City chef Elena Reygadas – serves up unbeatable lattes and pastries.

ER Thousands of street joints, neighbourhood favourites and high–end restaurants are spread out across the city. How did you choose where you were going to eat?

CCG Navigating Mexico City can be daunting. We chose to stay in the charming enclave of La Condesa for its location – just a short (and safe) walk to Roma Norte – its many restaurants, and cool vibe. Being able to go by foot after one too many tacos (or margaritas) is a must. We read restaurant reviews, talked to friends, made a list of some of the places where we wanted to eat and booked a few dinners ahead of time. (Call me crazy but making sure we had a table at Pujol – 12th on the World’s 50 best list – was done weeks before we even bought our plane tickets.) Then, we were spontaneous when it came to street food and snacks, except when that landed us on a hen rice soup or cheese quesadilla worth going back for.

Related: How to Eat and Drink Like Alison Roman in Mexico City

ER What was the most memorable meal of your trip?

CCG Pujol was definitely my favourite dining experience, but it’s also one of the most memorable meals I’ve had to this day. First, the restaurant – a converted Polanco city house – features lush gardens and indoor courtyards, so it feels like you’re inside and outside at the same time. The service – friendly and professional, not contrived – makes you feel like a welcomed guest in chef Olvera’s home. Our waiter recommended an amazing Baja California Cabernet Sauvignon when we told him we weren’t up for the wine pairing, and never made us feel like we were taking too many pictures of our food. And finally, the food – worth standing on your chair to get the perfect flatlay shot– is a seven–course tribute to the country’s rich culinary history. My highlights were a “street snack” of grilled baby corn on the cob, dipped in a chicatana (flying ant) mayo, sprinkled with cotija cheese; the Mole Madre (if you watched Chefs’ Table, then you know this dish — is a 2,046 days–old sauce on a plate); and a seabass ceviche in a cacahuatzintle (heirloom corn) juice, with yuzu and celery. I like to collect restaurant menus when I’m travelling, and Pujol’s is still up on my fridge five months later.

A path winds around a tree in a Mexico City garden
Green spaces offer peace and quiet amid the urban chaos.

ER What was the most surprising or unusual food you had?

CCG Insects! Whether it was a crunchy chapulines (grasshoppers) taco or a rich and velvety chicatana sauce, there’s a reason eating of insects is commonplace in Mexico — it’s because they’re simply delicious. Though I have yet to try maguey worms (found in some mezcal bottles), which are sold in every farmers’ market in the city to be fried or roasted.

ER What’s your travelling style?

CCG I’m definitely the adventurous foodie type. To discover new ingredients and flavours, which is the number one reason I travel, you can’t be picky. My rules are simple when it comes to eating in foreign countries: I check the length of the lineups and eat where locals eat. I make a point of finding those back–alley joints crammed with people, it’s a great way to meet locals – food is one of the greatest conversation starters – and have them recommend other joints only they know about.

Street food at the Tuesday market in La Condesa
A banana market stall in Mexico City
Street food at the Tuesday market in La Condesa.
Bananas for days at La Condesa’s weekly farmer’s market.

ER If you could return to Mexico City tomorrow, what’s the first thing you’d do?

CCG I would go straight to Ricos Caldos de Gallina Luis, a family–owned eatery in Roma Norte, and order a bowl of hen rice soup and the enchiladas verde, slathered in green tomatillo salsa. We randomly landed on this place on a side street on our way to get breakfast at a panaderia close by and decided to stick around when we saw the people lined in front.

Served with large handmade tortillas, the soup, a light hen broth packed with flavour, contains rice, chickpeas, a large piece of juicy and tender meat, and is topped with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime. It’s the simplest yet most delicious soup in the city (and it fills you up for less than $3). Then I’d head west into La Condesa for the local weekly farmer’s market. Every Tuesday, three blocks of streets in La Condesa are blocked off to traffic and turned into an array of stalls, where you can buy fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs from indigenous men and women. I would get some maracujas (local passion fruit), mangoes and cherimoyas, a fruit with a sweet and juicy white pulp, and find a nice quiet park to eat them in.

We’d love to hear about your favourite travel memory. Just send us a photo and 50–100 words about why this trip in particular had such an impact on you – and why you can’t wait to go back.