Photo: Melissa Biggs, Baños
Updating a 20+ year old guide. Corrections and suggestions are welcome. We plan to reveal the new and improved guide in 2019.
Where to eat
Los Girasoles, Tacuba #8A. Adjacent to the National Art Museum and the Carlos IV statue, this restaurant offers a new take a traditional cuisine. Valet parking is available.
La Casa de las Sirenas, Republica de Guatemala #32. Restaurant and tequila bar behind the cathedral. Choice spot on the roof for people-watching.
Sanborns Casa de Azulejos, Avenida Madero #4. A national landmark. The patio of this 16th-century manor has been converted into one of Mexico City’s most famous restaurants. This is the flagship of the Sanborn’s restaurant chain. Less known is that the business was started by a pair of Gringo brothers just before the Mexican Revolution.
Cafe La Blanca, 5 de Mayo #40. Just a few blocks from the Zócalo, this is an airy cafe with good coffee and gigantic windows that showcase life in the centro.
Cafe Tacuba, Tacuba #28. It’s not just a Mexican rock band. This is one of the classier restaurants in the centro with great meals, often accompanied by live music, particularly in the afternoon and evening. Try their excellent tamales!
Restaurante Vegetariano, Filomeno Mata #13. Located on a pedestrian walkway between Avenida 5 de Mayo and Avenida Madero, this popular restaurant features generous portions of vegetarian fare. Open daily 8am-10pm.
Dos Naciones, Bolívar #58A – Con tres bebidas coma todo lo que quiera por persona
De la India, El Salvador #42 (corner of Bolívar)
La Faena, Venustiano Carranza #49. The incongruous mix of plastic chairs, high ceilings and mannequins sporting bull fighter attire lends the appearance of a once elegant cantina overtaken by squatters. The signature painting of a man picking a nocturnal fight with a bull is a frequent backdrop to electronic music shows. Fluorescent lights illuminate what the broken chandeliers cannot. TripAdvisor
Coffee and Dessert
Churreria El Moro, Lazaro Cardenas (Eje Central) #42. Churros, the cinnamon-sugar-coated pastries that taste like funnel cake are served with steaming hot cups of hot chocolate — Mexican and French styles are highly-recommended. This famous establishment is more than sixty years old and open 24/7.
Pasteleria Ideal, Avenida 16 de Septiembre #18. Not a restaurant but a bakery with a cavernous interior. If you see people walking around town with boxes wrapped in light blue paper, you’ll know they bought confections from this place. Ideal for early-risers, the bakery opens at 6:30am. and does not close until 9pm. Try the jello.
Cafe La Habana, Morelos #62 and Bucareli. Actually, a few blocks west of the historic center of town, this cavernous spot is frequented by reporters who work in the nearby newspaper district. This cafe opened in 1954. Hot milk never tasted as good as when served with expresso coffee in steaming hot lecheros. Don’t burn your fingers!
Mercado San Camilito, Plaza Garibaldi. The market has a row of good restaurants serving pozole and other Mexican specialties. Highly recommended is the combo stand (#15 and #16 — Los Güeros). Afterwards, visit Tenampa, Mariachi Headquarters and sample some pulque on the plaza square.
Where to stay
Hotel Catedral, Donceles #95; 5518-5232. Just a few blocks from the Zócalo and the Templo Mayor, this hotel offers clean rooms and a sparkling lobby. The roof-top veranda has one of the best views of the historic downtown.
Hotel Diligencias, Belisario Dominguez #6, 5526-5840. Two blocks from Garibaldi Plaza, the hotel maintains a quiet, family-friendly ambiance. Parking is next door. Website
Hotel El Salvador, República del Salvador #16, 5521-1008. Website
Hotel Monte Carlo, República de Uruguay #69. This is where D.H. Lawrence stayed when he wrote The Plumed Serpent.
Hotel Virreyes, José Maria Izazaga #8; 5255-21-4180. Six floors of ample, well-illuminated rooms. Website
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