Courtesy of Emília
Courtesy of Emília
Named after the chef’s daughter, Emília is one of the newest—and best—restaurants in Mexico City.
If you’re going to CDMX, iconic restaurants like Pujol and Contramar are still worth a reservation. Just be sure to add these eight new places to eat to your itinerary, too.
Whether you crave street tacos or prix-fixe menus, the food scene in Mexico City has long been a draw for travelers—and the openings in 2018 only make the case for a visit stronger. Notable newcomers have popped up all around the city, and run the gamut from a casual market stall known for its fresh seafood to a bistro that would feel right at home in Paris to even an inventive ice cream shop dedicated to using local ingredients.
Planning a trip soon? Here are the eight latest restaurants in Mexico City you don’t want to miss.
This impeccably designed, much-anticipated restaurant—named for chef Lucho Martinez’s young daughter—opened in early December in the central Cuauhtémoc neighborhood’s growing Little Tokyo district. A gleaming open kitchen and marble U-shaped dining counter set the stage for a menu of nine to 12 seasonally driven dishes with a Japanese bent, like duck with eggplant, yuzu dashi, and chile verde. Prepaid reservations are available via Tock up to two months in advance.
Chef Joaquín Cardoso and his pastry whiz partner Sofia Cortina recently debuted El Roma Bistrot on a tranquil street off of La Roma’s Plaza Rio de Janeiro. The simple, yet stylish interior feels like a French bistro, while the menu takes cues from Cardoso’s grandmother, who was born in Cuba. There’s tons of seafood, including an amazing fish crudo, grilled catch of the day, and soft-shell crab served over beans and rice.
A talented mother-son team is behind Niddo, an indoor/outdoor café that opened in late November 2018 in a sun-lit corner space a on quiet La Juarez street. Chef Karen Drijanski—who formerly hosted cooking workshops and dinners through her company Nativa Cocina—runs the open kitchen, and her menu is full of crave-worthy dishes you could eat again and again. Breakfast includes everything from chilaquiles to overnight oats, while lunch may be a grilled-cheese sandwich or an organic chicken salad with wild rice. A number of dishes pay tribute to Drijanski’s Jewish heritage—think chocolate babka and the best bagel and lox in town.
Technically, Masala y Maiz opened at the end of 2017—but for still-unclear bureaucratic reasons it was shut down the following April and had a highly anticipated relaunch in September just south of Chapultepec Park. The menu, which blends the flavors of Mexico and India, is inspired by the chef-owners: Mexico-born Norma Listman and Saqib Keval, a SoCal native with Indian and East African roots. Don’t miss the tetela with duck confit and mole, and the esquites made with coconut milk and served with chile mayo—plus a freshly baked doughnut for dessert.
There’s no menu at Mariscos Don Vergas, a convivial seven-seat counter in Mercado San Juan, a short walk from the Zócalo. Buzzy chef Luis Valle flies in fresh seafood from his home state of Sinaloa, transforming ingredients like marlin, octopus, scallops, and shrimp into aguachiles, tacos, ceviches, and more. It’s open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 a.m. until there’s no food left—so get there early and plan to wait a bit.
There are only 16 bar seats at Nom, a speakeasy-inspired, sign-less spot that opened in early 2018 in Polanco. This means diners have an up-close view of the chefs in action, nearly sitting right inside the kitchen within an arm’s-reach of the fridge. Reservations are a must to experience the omakase-style menu (five courses for lunch, and nine for dinner), which changes constantly and has included artfully prepared dishes like wagyu tataki and poached lobster with avocado, wasabi, and mango pico de gallo. The optional pairing features solely Mexican wines.
Kaffir lime. Grapefruit. Greek yogurt and rosemary. Watermelon and mezcal. Even the Mexican herbs of hoja santa and epazote. There’s certainly no shortage of creativity when it comes to the all-natural flavors that José Luís Cervantes (aka Joe, a former line cook at Pujol and Quintonil) turns out at the pint-sized gelato shop he opened in early 2018 in La Juarez. He also makes seasonal varieties, like pan de muerto for Día de los Muertos and, for the winter holidays, tejocote, a fruit used in a traditional Christmas punch.
It’s easy to miss this no-name, no-menu spot known as “the sale of corn”—mostly because it doesn’t look like a restaurant at all. Opened by Guerrero-born chef Jesús Tornes and the owners of next door’s El Parnita in early 2018, it has just a few tables and benches right on the sidewalk and there’s no door in sight. Inside, dishes like tlacoyos and quesadillas—which combine tortillas made with native corn and whatever ingredients are available that day—are cooked on a piping-hot comal in what looks like a kitchen you’d see in the countryside.
>> Next: Plan Your Trip with AFAR’s Guide to Mexico City
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