Dining in Mexico CityThe most buzzed-about local restaurants in this sprawling city—elegant or otherwise—specialize in authentic Mexican cookery. This is not the cheese-slathered, chile-spiked food that many people think of as generically “Mexican,” nor is it necessarily the regional specialties that have ended up on menus across the country as well as north of the border.
For one thing, ingredients are often exotic, like nopales, fleshy pads of cactus, or cajeta, a sweet caramel flavoring made from goat's milk. Menu items can be unusual, too: squash flowers, chapulines (grasshoppers), gusanos de maguey (worms) fried and served with guacamole. And street food comes in every imaginable form, including some choices that will challenge the most adventurous palate (tacos featuring meats like beef tongue or pig snouts).
Of course diners still crave classic fare, and El Cardenal is one of the best places to eat in the capital to sample the glories of traditional Mexican cooking, whether it's plantain turnovers stuffed with earthy black beans, gorditas (thick, fat little corn tortillas) filled with white cheese or a jet-black, chocolate-infused mole sauce ladled over chicken enchiladas. And dessert is not something to be turned away—capirotada is a scrumptious concoction of fried bread drizzled with honey, studded with peanuts and plump raisins and layered with cheese.
If you're looking for a traditional fine-dining experience—with prices to match—the dependable choices are in the big, expensive hotels along Paseo de la Reforma or in the Polanco neighborhood north of Chapultepec Park. At such establishments reservations are advised, and jackets are suggested for men.
The Mexican chains Vips and Sanborns have locations throughout the city and are good for a casual meal. Another casual alternative is the taco stands found on almost every street corner. Tacos al pastor, shreds of roast pork, grilled onions and cilantro heaped on a small tortilla, cost around 15 pesos apiece and are a popular late-night snack.
The El Globo bakery chain, with locations throughout Mexico, offers good-quality breads and pastries at low prices. For the homesick there are plenty of American fast-food outlets, including Burger King, McDonald's, Pizza Hut and Subway.
Reservations are needed for trendy and popular nearby restaurants in the Polanco, Zona Rosa, Condesa and Roma neighborhoods. Another cluster of good restaurants and cozy sidewalk cafes are in the southern suburbs of San Angel and Coyoacán. Casual, family-style places are the rule in the vicinity of the Zócalo. Many restaurants close on Sunday.
Approach cocktails and liquors with caution if you are unaccustomed to the altitude. Also be aware that imported wines and spirits are heavily taxed; Mexican beers and wines are much less expensive. Although the better restaurants customarily use purified water, avoid green salads, unpeeled raw vegetables and unpeeled fruit if you have a sensitive stomach. To be completely safe order drinks without ice cubes, or drink bottled water.
Restaurants often cater to the local custom of eating the main meal of the day in the early afternoon, then a lighter supper around 9 p.m. or later. Most begin to serve breakfast around 7:30 a.m., comida (lunch) about 1 p.m. and dinner after 7:30 p.m. From 2 to 4, restaurants can be crowded with a lingering lunch crowd; if you eat dinner before 9, on the other hand, you might have the place to yourself.
Don't expect every server to have a fluent command of English. A knowledge of basic Spanish or a handy phrase book not only helps in communication but also in deciphering menus. See the Lodgings & Restaurants section for AAA Diamond designated dining establishments.
Mexico City, DF
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
2,240 meters (7,347 feet)
Secretaría de Turismo (SECTUR) headquarters, Presidente Masaryk #172; phone (55) 3002-6300 (English spoken). Persons needing legal assistance should contact this department at the Ministry of Tourism.
Dial 060 and ask to be connected to an English-speaking operator if you need immediate assistance.
In general, the police in Mexico City should be contacted only as a last resort. If your car is stolen, however, you must report it to the police, as you will be liable for any subsequent crimes in which the vehicle is involved.
Paseo de la Reforma #305 (M: Sevilla or Insurgentes, line 1); phone (55) 5080-2000. The embassy is open for general business Mon.-Fri. 8:30-4:30; closed U.S. and Mexican holidays. There is a protection officer on 24-hour duty to advise you in the event of robbery, assault, major loss, accident, illness or death; Mexican law takes precedence in such instances. Information regarding attorneys and translators also can be obtained.
Calle Schiller #529, just north of the National Museum of Anthropology (M: Auditorio, line 7); phone (55) 5724-7900. Open Mon.-Fri. 8:30-5; closed Canadian and Mexican holidays.
Phone (55) 5658-1111. This government-operated agency can help coordinate a search for missing persons or lost, stolen or towed vehicles; the hotline is answered daily 24 hours. The LOCATEL office is in the southern suburb of Churubusco at Calle Heroes del 47 #113, 3 blocks south of the National Museum of Interventions; phone (55) 5484-0400.
Consumer Protection Offic
Contact the Consumer Protection Office (Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor, or PROFECO) if you feel that you've been cheated or ripped off regarding a service or purchase; phone (55) 5625-6700 or 01 (800) 468-8722 (toll-free long distance within Mexico).
The ABC Medical Center (Centro Médico ABC) is several blocks south of Chapultepec Park at Calle Sur #116, at Avenida Observatorio (M: Observatorio, line 1); phone (55) 5230-8000. All major credit cards are accepted. The Mexican Red Cross (Cruz Roja) is located at Calle Luis Vives #200, between Avenida Ejército Nacional and Avenida Homero (north of Chapultepec Park in the Polanco neighborhood). It is open 24 hours; phone (55) 1084-4505.
Local Phone Calls
All calls made from landlines are charged as local calls. Prior to Jan. 1, 2015, there was a separate price structure for long-distance calls (designated by the acronym LADA, or larga distancia). There also are no long-distance cellphone charges; dialing either a local cell number or a long-distance cell number from a landline is charged as a local call. Calls made to a cell number must include the prefix 044.
The News is an English-language newspaper published Monday through Friday in Mexico City. Major U.S. newspapers are available at many newsstands the day after they are printed.
Av. Presidente Masaryk #172 Mexico City, DF . Phone:(55)3002-6300
The rates charged by banks and casas de cambio (currency exchange houses) don't differ that much, so currency exchange is a matter of convenience. Most banks exchange currency Mon.-Fri. 9-noon, but you may have to wait in line; exchange houses often are open weekdays until 5 and may be open Saturdays as well. Exchange houses and ATMs are concentrated along Paseo de Reforma, in the Centro Histórico and in the Zona Rosa. The Sanborns chain of restaurants also provides ATMs.
Street crime—from relatively benign offenses like pickpocketing and purse snatching to dangerous armed robbery—is an ever-present risk. No part of the city is immune, even the upscale Polanco neighborhood and other areas frequented by tourists. One way to avoid being mugged or robbed is not to wear expensive jewelry or watches.