The Condesa’s 10 Best Restaurants

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The Condesa is jam-packed with eating establishments, high, low and everything in between…
Here are my current favorites in the high-ish category.

Chef Alam Méndez of Pasillo de Humo

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1. PASILLO DE HUMO
Pasillo de Humo is a fine, casual spot located upstairs at the Mercado Parian in the heart of Condesa. It is an extraordinary Oaxacan ‘antojería’ under the baton of chef Alam Méndez. The restaurant, which opens for breakfast as well as comida and cena, offers classic regional specialties such as crispy flat tlayudas, tamales, intriguing egg dishes served in polished clay cazuelas and of course, colorful moles.

See my previous post: Oaxacan Smoke: Pasillo de Humo

Pasillo de Humo
Mercado Parian, Nuevo León 107, upstairs, Condesa
Open Monday – Wednesday 9 a.m. – 10 p.m., Thursday – Saturday until 11 p.m., Sunday until 7 p.m.
Per person: $150 for breakfast to $500 for dinner with a couple of drinks
See Google maps

2. MERKAVÁ
Daniel Ovadía’s Merkavá, which opened its doors early this year, is unprecedented. It is our country’s first representative of modern Israeli Cooking. Dishes associated with the myriad cultures found in Israel, not only Jewish, is offered in the astutely collated menu. The food is forthright, neither reductive nor compromised – it evokes the old world while acknowledging the supreme ingredients found in the new, gently coaxing the diner into believing that it is comfort food… and that’s an admirable accomplishment.

See my previous post: Daniel Ovadía’s Merkavá Brings Jerusalem Home

Merkavá

Av. Amsterdam 53, Condesa
Tel. 5086 – 8065
Open Tuesday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 11:45 p.m., Sunday until 6 p.m., closed Monday
Average per person: $400
See Google Maps

Hummos con pimiento at Merkavá
Chef Pedro Martin, Kaye

3. KAYE
Kaye, (pronounced as “calle”) located on pretty, tree-lined Alfonso Reyes, is the venue for chef Pedro Martín. The chef, who was born and trained in the Canary Islands in Spain, has fronted the kitchens of several more traditional Spanish restaurants in the city, but here combines his love of classic Iberian cooking with a true appreciation of what Mexico has to offer. The space is airy, bright by day, cozy at night. Kaye is one of the most romantic spots in the Condesa.

Kaye
Alfonso Reyes 108, Condesa
Tel. 55 7045 1722
Open Monday – Saturday 1 p.m. – 12 a.m., Sunday until 6 p.m.
Average per person: $600
See Google Maps

4. CEDRÓN
Cedrón, whose name translates as “lemon verbena” is housed in a sunny former residence on leafy Av. Mazatlán. The kitchen is in the capable hands of chef Alejandro Fuentes who travels to the Central de Abastos, the capital’s huge wholesale market, to buy what’s best. His cooking can best be described as French/Mediterranean with a strong Mexican influence. Beautifully composed salads might be followed by a simple, perfectly grilled fish or a risotto of morels. Breakfast, from croque Madame to chilaquiles is a pleasure here as large windows afford a view of nothing but trees and the bread is baked in-house.

Cedrón
Av. Mazatlán 24
Tel. 2155 6403
Open Sunday – Tuesday 7:30 a.m. – 11 p.m., Wednesday – Saturday until midnight
Average per person $600
See Google maps

A delight from Cedrón (photo courtesy Cedrón)
steamed dumplings at Asian Bay

5. ASIAN BAY RESTAURANTE
An ample array of expertly prepared Chinese dishes is offered in this meeting place for Mexico’s Asian community. It’s set in an old house where young chef Luís Chiu, Mexican of Chinese ancestry, grew up. The large menu is multi-regional, based in Canton, but there are Szechuan, Hunan and Shanghai offerings as well. On Sundays, dim sum carts circulate from 11 to 5. This is certainly the most refined Chinese food to be found in the city.
See my previous post: Chinese New Year: Asian Bay

Asian Bay
Av. Tamaulipas 95 (between Vicente Suarez & Campeche)
Tel. 5553-4582
Open Monday – Thursday: 12:00 -10:30 pm, Friday, Saturday, until 11:30 pm, Sunday, 11-9
Average per person: $400
See Google maps

6. POLEO
Poleo’s kitchen is in the adept hands of Rodolfo Castellanos of Oaxaca’s Origen. He happened to be elected Top Chef Mexico and the judges chose well. This chef possesses the rare ability to combine, utilize and be inspired by ingredients that call to him from the market while remaining firmly rooted in the essence of a recipe, never losing sight of tradition. The restaurant, named for a type of mint used extensively in the region, features dishes whose titles will not surprise but whose presentations will.
See my previous post: Oaxaca Goes Modern at Poleo

Poleo
Amsterdam 225, Condesa
Tel. 5087 2132
Open Monday – Friday 1:30 to 11 pm, Saturday 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Per person $600
See Google Maps

Fideo seco Oaxaca-style
Lardo's Elena Reygadas, former "Best Female chef" at S. Pellegrino's 50Best

7. LARDO
The lively Lardo, whose name may frighten diet-conscious English speaking customers, in fact offers light Italian food. It is one of chef Elena Reygadas’ venues for great house-baked breads, small pizzas, pastas, salads and breakfasts. Tables fill up fast but it’s always easy to snag a spot at the long counter.

See previous post: Nearly Perfect: Rosetta

Lardo
Agustín Melgar 6
Open daily from 7 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Tel. 5211 7731
Average per person $400
See Google maps

8. TANDOOR
Indian restaurants in Mexico are few and far between. Tandoor, located in a former private house, is the oldest; its Polanco location opened 30 years ago. An array of standard appetizers such as samosas and pakoras, masala curries—the super picante vindaloo is my favorite—and fragrant rice dishes are done with care. Ambience is laid back and Indian cooking supplies are sold for do-it-yourselfers. Taj Mahal is also recommended ; see post.

Tandoor
Av. Amsterdam 72 (at Parras)
Tel. 55530 9592
Open Monday – Saturday 1 – 10:30 p.m., Sunday until 7:30.
Average per person $400
See Google Maps

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9. CANTINA LA CAPITAL
La Capital is a really a post-modern cantina, that is to say, it’s a hip restaurant bar that attracts an international after work crowd to its large open room and outdoor patio. Well prepared food, both light – tostadas de atún, guacamole, sopes de tuétano and more substantial dishes like fideo seco and chile/lime grilled fish emanate from the open kitchen. Cocktails, are, as to be expected, expertly concocted. Ambiente music is retro/latina and played at a reasonable decibel level.

La Capital
Nuevo León 137
Tel. 5256 5159
Open Monday – Wednesday 1:30 – 12 a.m., Thursday – Saturday until 1 a.m., Sunday until 6 p.m.
Average per person $300
See Google Maps

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10. MERTORO
The Baja-Med kitchen at Merotoro is in the capable hands of master chef Jair Téllez, also of Amaya (here in CDMX) and Laja in Ensenada, who makes sure even the simplest dishes – a grilled fish or steak – are perfectly done. The constantly changing, unpretentious and quirkily creative menu offers eight entradas, seven main dishes and four desserts. Ingredients are chosen selectively and strategically, with an eye to seasonal freshness, smart combinations and respect for Mexican tradition.

Merotoro
Av. Amsterdam 204
Tel. 5564-7799
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 1:30-11:00 p.m., Sunday 1:30 – 6 p.m. (closed Monday)See Google maps

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About The Author

Nicholas Gilman is a food writer based in Mexico City; he’s author of Good Food in Mexico CIty: Food Stalls, Fondas, Fine Dining.