With a population of almost nine million people, the high-altitude capital of Mexico is a diverse cosmopolitan city. Known locally as CDMX, this centuries-old city is one of the hottest destinations for foodies. Boasting some of the world’s best (UNESCO-recognized) street food as well as its top-rated restaurants, there’s something for every taste and budget. Here, not only can you can find Mexican food that runs the gamut from ancient recipes to modern innovations, but there’s also an abundance of worldly cuisine inspired by its global population.
There’s plenty of opportunities to take part in the local food scene, to dive as deep as you dare into the delicious corners of this sprawling metropolis. Get ready for an amazing food adventure as you consider this list of the top things to do in Mexico City for foodies.
1. Get lost in the city’s largest food market
Mexico City has some amazing local food markets, including the city’s largest retail market, Mercado La Merced. Covering 88,000 square meters (which doesn’t even include the thousands of additional tianguis, or street vendors), it’s a must-see for traveling foodies. The market features everything from household items to mole sold by the kilo. You can buy herbal remedies, shop for clothes, or even purchase a whole cow.
If you’re cooking for yourself, you’ll find an endless sea of fresh fruit, vegetables, chiles, and spices from local farmers. Or, if you’re here to eat, choose from an abundance of food stalls offering everything from tacos to posole.
Tip: To make the most of La Merced market, hire a tour guide to help you navigate your way through the winding labyrinth.
2. Take a food tour
If you want to be able to eat like a local or find out who’s got the best tacos in town, a great way to accomplish that is by taking a food tour. Mexico City has plenty on offer. You can get an insider’s look into local markets, drink in a typical cantina, and explore neighborhoods that are off the tourist map.
If you’re a foodie looking to discover one of the best things to do in Mexico City, put this at the top of your list. With so many markets, street food vendors, and restaurants, it helps to have a local guiding you through the noise.
3. Sample mezcal and tequila with a local expert
Tequila may be most widely known for the margarita, but Mexican spirits have a lot more to offer than a one-hit wonder.
With over 9,000 mezcal producers in the country and nearly 300 million liters of tequila being made each year, to say there’s a great variety in flavor feels like an understatement. In addition, there’s other alcoholic beverages made from the agave plant you may not have even heard of yet, like pulque and bacanora.
Learn about how these spirits are made, listen to ancient stories, and taste the differences between them all.
Whether you’re a cocktail enthusiast or simply interested in culture and history, booking a tasting tour will broaden your knowledge and respect for the traditional beverages of Mexico.
4. Discover CDMX’s coffee scene
For anyone whose morning doesn’t start until that first cup of coffee, there’s plenty to discover in a land that’s one of the world’s largest producers of coffee beans. Within the bustling streets of Mexico City, you can find yourself sipping a hot brew that could rival a coffee made in any hip town in the United States.
Throughout trendy neighborhoods like Juárez, Condesa, and La Roma, you can find cafes that source their beans from the nearby states of Veracruz, Chiapas, or Oaxaca. Many of them roast their own beans and buy only from Mexican coffee farmers. Here, coffee brewing is taken seriously, and meant to be enjoyed slowly rather than taken to go.
There are cafes serving organic coffee and baristas that expertly combine art and science into one final masterpiece of caffeinated perfection.
Try a brewed-to-order siphon drip at El Ilusionista or an organic espresso from Disfrito Fijo Club de Ciclismo.
5. Eat all the street food
When considering what to do in Mexico City, this one is absolutely non-negotiable. The ancient city is known worldwide for its amazing street food. Often eaten standing up, street food is adored by locals and tourists alike.
Be sure to try tlacoyos, blue corn masa that’s stuffed with your choice of meat or cheese filling and cooked to order on a charcoal-fired grill. Of course, every kind of taco, tamale, and quesadilla is also available throughout the city.
6. Treat yourself in one of the world’s best restaurants
While Mexico’s capital is well-known for its humble street food, it also happens to host some of the best restaurants in the world. It wasn’t until recently that Mexico City embraced the fine-dining scene. World-famous Mexican chef Enrique Olvera is known for elevating the culinary status of the country. Since the inception of his restaurant Pujol in 2000, a door was opened for other local chefs to show the world that Mexico can compete with any of the top food destinations worldwide.
Try one of his tasting menus at Pujol in the Polanco neighborhood. Other famous restaurants include Fonda Fina and Quintonil, the latter of which was named one of the 50 best restaurants in the world.
7. Take a cooking class
Feeling inspired after a meal at Pujol? Take some of Mexico’s culinary wisdom home with you by taking a cooking class. You’ll learn tips and tricks from local chefs about traditional cooking methods and go home with authentic recipes.
Whether you want to master salsas, learn to make authentic tacos, or meet local and international foodies, there’s an awesome variety of cooking classes in Mexico City to choose from.
8. Try something you’ve never eaten before
For those daring foodies out there, there’s several foods in Mexico City that may be out of your comfort zone. Insects are an important protein here, and you can find items on menus like cricket tacos and grasshopper guacamole. Perhaps one of the most popular insect dishes here is escamoles, or ant eggs. Lovingly dubbed “Mexican caviar”, they’re often thrown into tacos, omelets, and sprinkled on top of tamales.
Don’t have the stomach for eating bugs? Try the famous Dorilocos, a regional specialty that some describe as nachos on steroids. Usually served straight out of the Doritos bag, Dorilocos are made with layers of Nacho Cheese flavored chips, multiple sauces, pickled pork rinds, chopped crunchy vegetables, and candies. This sweet, sour, salty, and spicy dish is a favorite after-school snack or antojito (appetizer).
9. Support the craft beer movement at a microbrewery
When you imagine drinking craft beer at a local brewpub, Mexico City may not be the first place that comes to mind. But amidst some of the world’s largest breweries that call Mexico home, a small but determined craft scene is beginning to emerge.
Be sure to check out Cervecería Cosaco, considered to be the country’s first craft brewery. Other popular choices include Escollo, Crisanta, and Cru Cru. You can find classics like pale ales and porters as well as locally-inspired cervezas flavored with regional ingredients.
10. Visit the chocolate museum (and eat chocolate)
Mexico is known as the birthplace of cacao, once thought of as the “food of the gods”. Chocolate has a rich and nuanced history, and a trip to CDMX wouldn’t be complete without taking the time to learn about the history and process of chocolate making. The MUCHO Museo del Chocolate in the Roma district offers the opportunity for that.
Of course, the museum also provides tastings in addition to artwork and history lessons. Be sure to visit the museum’s downstairs chocolatería to take part in the Mayan tradition of drinking chocolate. They also have chocolate for sale in their gift shop.
If the museum leaves you with a desire for more, there are multiple chocolate shops throughout the city. Check out Tout Chocolate for bars and bonbons and Que Bo for “evolutionary Mexican chocolate” from award-winning chef José Ramón Castillo.