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If it seems like your Instagram feed is overrun with photos of Mexico City lately, you’re probably not imagining things: the Ciudad de México has seen a sharp uptick in tourism in recent years, with visitors eager to experience its friendly vibe, incredible food culture, sparkling art scene, and rich history (the city is home to four UNESCO World Heritage sites).
It’s easy to see why folks are feeling the Mexico City vibe: the city is an easy flight from most areas of the United States; has a currency ratio that means your dollars go far; so much art, food, history, and culture that it’s impossible to see it all, and a friendly, welcoming vibe that belies its nearly 9 million inhabitants. If you haven’t visited yet, now is the time. It’s impossible to see it all, but we’ve narrowed the good stuff down to our favorites.
Masala y Maiz
Rather than creating new dishes that mash up their South Asian and Mexican ancestry, co-chefs Norma Listman focus instead on showcasing the already-existing commonalities in their native cuisines, telling the story of food migration and cultural exchange. Even without the strong community ties, the restaurant would be easy to love with dishes like a Mexed-up version of patra, a traditional Gujarati dish of colocasia leaves stuffed with rice flour and spices which the chefs reimagined with hoja santa and garbanzo paste. Calle Gobernador Protasio Tagle 66A, San Miguel Chapultepec II Sección, 11850.
With locations in Condesa, Centro Historico, and the University Center, this relaxed-but-upscale spot is an ideal place to sit down for a menu of classic Mexican fare. Their mole—dark, sweet, thick and complex—is a real treat, as is the thick and hearty chicken tortilla soup that comes served in a tall ceramic La Catrina. Pair a meal with a sip of mezcal from their varied list. Av Nuevo León 68, Hipódromo, 06100.
Rosetta, with its elegant, Mexican-influenced Italian cuisine and magnificent, old colonial space, is a wonderful spot to have dinner. But even more appealing is a breakfast at its sister bakery. Chef-owner Elena Reygada makes what is arguably some of the best bread and pastries in the city; don’t miss the guava roll, composed of flaky, buttery laminated pastry dough filled with barely sweetened fresh cheese and dollop of guava purée. Colima 179, Roma Nte., 06700.
This over-the-top gorgeous spot on the southern side of the city, filled with plants and the sound of trickling water, is one of our favorite places to indulge in one of Mexico’s famously long, lingering lunches. Plates are inventive but never overwrought, with dishes like duck and mole amarillito and squash blossom with huitlacoche and local vegetables. End the meal with a frosty carajillo, a cocktail made with a mix of coffee and herbal, sweet Licor 43. Blvd de la Luz 777, Jardines del Pedregal, 01900.
American expats Scarlett and Jake Lindeman have put together a cozy, charming all-day café in the city’s Juarez neighborhood that expertly mixes the vibe of a Mexico City neighborhood spot with a chic NYC restaurant. Expect kale salads, fried chicken sandwiches, and a just-right selection of wines, beers, and mezcal. Calle Dinamarca 44, Cuauhtémoc, 06600.
You can’t talk about food in Mexico City without mentioning Quintonil, the restaurant helmed by Alejandra Flores and her husband, chef Jorge Vallejo, that’s become a dining hot spot—it currently holds the city’s highest ranking spot on the San Pellegrino & Acqua Panna’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Plates are focused on the foodways of Mexico, with a particular eye towards sustainability and local eating. Think dishes like Atocpan style mole, charred avocado tartare with escamoles, and roasted mushrooms with hoja santa. Av. Isaac Newton 55, Polanco, Polanco IV Secc, 11560.
Art & Culture
Palacio de Bellas Artes & Templo Mayor
One of the city’s most iconic—and most beautiful—buildings, this ornate building in the city’s historic center is the home of some of the most famous murals by Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and others, as well as the home of the Ballet Folklorico. Tour the art deco interior and then walk over to the Templo Mayor, the main temple of Tenochtitlan which dates to the 14th century and which was finally excavated beginning in 1978. Av. Juárez, Centro Histórico, 06050.
The former home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera—and the house Kahlo grew up in—is a brilliant blue, lush and leafy monument to Frida Kahlo and her work. Stepping from room to room, you’re steeped in the artists’ larger-than-life presence, from the kitchen to the studio to the room that Frida convalesced into the bathroom that was locked, full of treasures, for fifty years after her death. Londres 247, Del Carmen, Coyoacán, 04100.
This humming, 24-hour flower and food (and piñata) market in the eastern part of the city is one of the best to visit for its sheer vibrancy. Wander the stalls and don’t leave without trying some calabaza en tacha (candied pumpkin) or a tlacoyo, a fat corn tortilla stuffed with fillings and cooked on a flat pan. Guillermo Prieto 45, Jamaica, 15800
The most-visited (and arguably most well-known) of Mexico’s art museums, the always-free Soumaya is worth seeing for the architecture alone—Mexican architect Fernando Romero designed the museum’s new soaring, spacecraft-like building which opened in 2011. What’s inside is equally impressive—the collection houses more than 66,000 works of art, from pre-Hispanic pieces to a large collection of European old masters. Blvd. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra 303, Granada, 11529.
Small enough to see in a couple of hours, the Museo Tamayo is also one of the city’s best spots for contemporary art. The permanent collection houses mainly artist Rufino Tamayo’s personal collection, which includes works by Miró, Picasso, Rothko, and many others; the rotating exhibits bring in the work of artists like Nancy Spero and Yayoi Kusama. It’s situated right in Chapultepec Park, close to the Anthropology Museum and the Modern Art Museum, and a short car ride from the Soumaya and Jumex. Paseo de la Reforma 51, Bosque de Chapultepec, Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc, 11580
This small gallery, one of the best known in the city, is a must-see for contemporary art enthusiasts. Opened in 2008, after nearly a decade of showing art in temporary spaces, Kurimanzutto is now one of the most established pillars of the city’s contemporary art scene. The small gallery changes its exhibitions frequently and represents plenty of internationally known Mexican artists—Gabriel Orozco and Damián Ortega are both repped here. Governor Rafael Rebollar 94, San Miguel Chapultepec I Secc, 11850.
This modern boutique hotel is nestled in captivating Juarez, a neighborhood dotted with the former mansions of wealthy families, buildings that have been saved from decline by a wave of chic restaurants and bars in recent years. The hotel itself is small but stylish, with sleekly decorated rooms and an open common space where you’ll cross paths with locals on business trips and expats chatting in the lobby. Coffee and breakfast outdoors on the top deck in the morning, and tiny sweets brought by your room every night add to the charm. Hamburgo 32, Juárez, 06600.
Intimate and cozy, this 35-room boutique hotel in the city’s posh Polanco neighborhood—hovering over one of the city’s best shopping stretches, Avenida Presidente Masaryk—is outfitted with a stunning spiral staircase and interiors designed by Yabu Pushelberg. The property also boasts one of the city’s top restaurants—Martha Ortiz’s playful and elegant Dulce Patria—and a small but luxe spa. Av. Pdte. Masaryk 390, Polanco, Polanco III Secc, 11560.
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