Where to Eat around The Westin Santa Fe, Mexico City

Mexico City is characterized by its diverse, ancient neighborhoods and brought to life by the many cultures that inhabit them. Follow your curiosity towards a market selling local produce or a museum showcasing the city’s history and you’ll never run out of places to explore in-between.

Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico
After a couple of days in Mexico City, once you’re well-rested and adjusted to the altitude, why not try a little street eating? After all, some locals do it every day, and the techniques vendors use have been in place for centuries, if not millennia. A good jumping-off point is the sometimes-grilled sandwich known as a torta. The ingredient combinations are endless, ranging from egg, shredded chicken, and pork loin to the Mexican piece of breaded beef known as a milanesa—and the list goes on. String cheese and chipotles or pickled jalapeños add a lot of flavor, but do it your way. A lot of customers at a stall is good sign both in terms of taste and cleanliness. With a torta under your belt, start thinking about tacos. Or that spot with the caldo de pollo chicken soup, perfect for all kinds of add-ins. Soon enough you’re a seasoned streeter.
San Ángel Inn, Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Years ago when Mexico City’s southern neighborhoods were in fact small, independent cities, the quarter known as San Ángel Inn was a sylvan getaway for well-heeled urbanites. No longer an inn, the area’s namesake—a former Carmelite convent from the eighteenth century—persists as an iconic, country-club-style restaurant and lounge. Its venerable walls, gardens, and fountains call up colonial gentility and ward away the urban chaos just outside the door; strolling mariachis are the sole “disruption.” Sip what many believe is the city’s best margarita amid an impeccable, songbird-serenaded garden.

This used to be a hacienda, but it was turned into a restaurant almost 50 years ago. The food is phenomenal and the margaritas are famous—in fact, they’re my favorite thing on the menu. There is always a band or a pianist playing.
With almost 20 years at the helm of a dining room that’s jammed every afternoon, Gabriela Cámara at Contramar must be doing something right. For one, the seafood on offer—traditional, even homey recipes, impeccably prepared—is among the freshest available. Service is quick, yet warm and enjoyable. It brings in a well-dressed, deliberately coiffed crowd that loves table-hopping, seeing and being seen, and air-kissing; but most of all, they relish digging into house specialties like the fish carnitas, the legendary tuna tostadas, and the grilled pescado a la talla (ordered by weight, and served in a red adobo or a parsley rub). Some afternoons (especially Fridays) you can’t believe the waiters have actually squeezed one more person in, yet everyone is very glad they came. Desserts are especially recommended. Open for lunch only—which may explain the sense of urgency at the door.
Cuauhtémoc, Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico
My guide, Paco, a.k.a. Francisco de Santiago, 46, is a full time tour guide, and also a former child chess champion and bullfighter (“that was many kilos ago”), orders a flight of artisanal mezcal samples at our first mezcalería of the evening, and instructs me on the proper way to taste the purest of agave drinks. “You spread the mescal on top of your hand, like this, then wait for the alcohol to evaporate, then smell it for citric, floral, or smoky tones.” After smelling, a sip, then another for good measure, you take a bite of orange slice dipped in crushed maguey worms and sea salt. After that, we dive into the city’s tacos and street food, beginning our night with two cups of esquite—boiled corn kernels mixed with lime, chili pepper, and mayonnaise, which we bought from a father-son team who have been working the same street corner for 22 years. I booked my 4-hour “late-night taco and mezcal tour” with Eat Mexico Culinary Tours. Francisco de Santiago of Mexico also runs Every Angle Tours (desantiagotours@gmail.com, tel. 55-2086-0851, $85–145 per person, depending on tour, includes food, beverage, transport, guide); all kinds of specialty culinary tours, or an all-day Frida Kahlo tour of the city.)
Colima 179, Roma Nte., Cuauhtémoc, 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Perhaps it’s more interested in diner loyalty than in snagging prizes, but chef Elena Reygadas’s original Mexico City restaurant is still beloved—and busier than ever. So while a few greatest hits linger season to season, there’s always something new to try, inspired by food of the Mediterranean (or the Middle East, or Paris) but supported by the just-picked ingredients only Mexico knows. It invites repeat visits where patrons count on impeccable breads and pastas, delicate greens, and sauces that never cloy or overwhelm, plus some of the freshest fish and tenderest viands to be had in the city. The setting—a venerable town-house patio and parlors, decorated in florid, provincial filigree and anchored by lovely vintage furnishings—is one of the city’s most romantic.
Rosario 156, Centro, Merced Balbuena, 15100 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Mercado de la Merced, Mexico City’s largest traditional food market, is full of little neighborhoods. Wander the districts devoted to everything from nopales—sometimes stacked five feet high—to pyramids of limes and columns of banana leaves. For a quick snack, try tacos de guisado: tortillas topped with chicharrón prensado or mole verde. If you’re feeling more adventurous, sample the maguey worms or the ant eggs. Mercado de la Merced is located just east of the main zócalo, just a few blocks north of the boulevard Fray Servando Teresa de Mier.
Av. Pdte. Masaryk 407, Polanco, Polanco III Secc, 11550 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
A nondescript shopping arcade in a tony neighborhood might not be the place you’d expect to find one of the world’s top restaurants—but if there’s any place that reinforces the adage about not judging a book by its cover, it’s Mexico City. Biko has been ranked on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for years now. The two executive chefs aren’t as visible as other local chefs on the list, but that may be because they’re constantly in the kitchen, turning out memorable dishes. Guests can order off one of two menus: one is more traditional-inspired Basque cuisine, while the other is contemporary. Expect playful presentation and exceptional service.
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