Where to Eat and Drink in Mexico City
Plan for “sobremesa”
Mexico’s gastronomy is undoubtedly vast and rich. This city is no exception. From traditional mercados, cantinas and food stands, to haute cuisine, you will be hardly disappointed by food in this city. However, beware. Montezuma’s revenge is the term for that food poisoning that only foreigners get. How to avoid it? Steer clear of eating uncooked fruits, vegetables, or seafood at unreliable or poorly cleaned spots, and consistently sanitise your hands after a day exposed to street bacteria.
CDMX is the city of the taco. Two essentials: pastor (marinated shaved pork), and bistec (beef steak). After you know those two, you may want to venture into other types. From rib to tongue, duck to chorizo, the list of combinations is endless. Tianguis or street markets have great taco options, be sure to try carnitas (braised pulled pork). They usually rotate from hood to hood, Condesa has one on Fridays on Nuevo Leon and Campeche street. The one in Napoles is on Sundays on Filadelfia street. Just remember: Whenever taquería staff says the salsa is a little spicy, it will most likely be very spicy. If they say it’s very spicy, consume at your own risk. Some notable taco recommendations are El Parnita Cantina (try the shrimp tacos), Por Siempre Vegana for vegan options, Auténtico Pato Manila with some Filipino-style duck, or El Califa and Orinoco for late night tacos. Head to the hoods section for the best breakfast tacos.
Food and drink culture is very important for Mexicans. It serves as a way to socialise. If you’re invited to a group lunch or dinner, punctuality may not be always expected, but sobremesa is. Sobremesa is the term for when food is finished but the conversation is still flowing, likely over drinks. It creates a relaxed environment for chatting and getting to know each other more, and if you try to leave before everyone else, chances are they’ll try to convince you not to.
Tequila? Leave it for your parents. Originally a drink appropriated by hipsters, Mexico City youth drink mezcal. Similarly to tequila, it comes from the agave plant and it’s just as strong, but the artisanal process gives it an earthier, smokier flavour. Whatever you do, do not shoot it. Shooting it means you are expecting low quality; good mezcal is drunk in little sips. Use water or orange slices as chasers.
With all the walking and mezcal drinking, don’t forget to stay hydrated! You’ve probably heard of tap water not being drinkable in Mexico, but even if many locals drink bottled water, tap water is safe enough, and you should be fine if drinking or brushing your teeth with it. If you prefer, buy bottles of water but try to get the big reusable ones instead of single-use bottles, as Mexico is already among the top plastic waste producers in the world.