I’m not one for “best” lists: they’re superficial, presumptuous and tired. But everyone likes to sum up and take stock. For lack of a better time of year to do it (Ramadan might be a good alternative), I have taken a few moments to assess the food scene in our great capital, looking back on some of 2009’s better culinary happenings. Like just about everything I do, this list is subjective and should be taken with a grain of fleur de sel.
1) My favorite restaurant in Mexico City: D.O.
(Hegel 406, Polanco tel. 5255 0612)
I like what they’re doing; although one could complain about the ‘greatest hits of Spain’ phenomenon, D.O.’s is eclectic, smart and constantly changing. Ingredients are top-notch, service is discreet and the place lacks pretention.
2) Best newcomer in the foreign category: Astrid y Gastón
(Tennyson 117, Polanco, tel. 5282 2666)
I’m wary of ‘branches’ – A & G already exists in Lima, Madrid etc., but this one stands out. The young chef’s interpretation of Alta Cocina Peruana is savvy.
3) Best Mexican newcomer: Casa Mexico
(Génova 70, Zona Rosa, tel. 5525 4997)
A great new option in the no-longer-chic-since-1960 Zona Rosa. The compellingly eclectic regional/traditional menu is expertly executed. No clichés here.
4) Best Hole in the wall: El Huequito
(Ayuntamiento 21 between Dolores & Aranda, Centro)
El H reigns supreme for tacos al pastor; some say they’re the oldest one.
5) Best Chinese restaurant: Ka Won Seng Restaurante Chino
(Albino Garcia 362, corner of Av. Santa Anita, Col. Viaducto Piedad)
The most authentic one we have. It’s not as inconveniente as it seems, just go to metro Viaducto – it’s worth the schlep.
6) Best Pizza: L’Atelier de Quim Jardí (Closed)
(San Luís Potosí 121, (corner Jalapa, Col. Roma, open only evenings)
Recently re-inaugurated as Avant Garde, you can’t beat this place for pizza con ambiente. Now if they’d only hire a good publicist…
7) Best new bar: La Capital
(Nuevo León 131, Condesa)
I prefer this airy Condesa space and more mature crowd to that of the movie star boys joint down south. And the food is good. Really it is.
8) Best old bar: Covadonga
(Puebla 121, Roma)
Some things never change. I certainly hope they don’t, anyway.
9) Best dive: Pulquería Los Duelistas
(Aranda 28, near Ayuntamiento, centro)
I was SO glad to see this, one of the oldest surviving pulquerías, re-open its swinging doors after a long absence.
10) Best street food: El Caguamo
(corner Ayuntamiento & Aranda, centro)
This one was really hard to come up with – name your favorite child. But for consistently excellent seafood, it doesn’t get better.
11) New places to keeps an eye on in 2010
Diana (Hotel St. Regis) – our gastronome friend Ada raves; Oca – we’ll see what the critic from the Washington Post has to say; Mero Toro – anything Contramar anti-diva Gabriela Cámara does can’t be bad; Tonalá 20 – an amazing Porfiriato mansion in la Roma that isn’t open, doesn’t have a sign and tells you to go away if you knock- doesn’t it make you want to go?
A note to my readers: I have inaugurated a new blog as a forum for my non-Mexican writings. See GOOD FOOD PLANET.
Don CuevaJanuary 16, 2010
We haven’t been to any of those places except El Huequito (the Calle Bolívar location.) It’s been years and we plan to return on our next visit to Mexico City. My favorite there are the Tacos Ingleses.
Lbiscaia January 16, 2010
Thanks for the tips. As a newcomer in MX would appreciate if you could give addresses…as some of the places could not be found on Google..:) Tks! LB
Catherine January 16, 2010
Thanks for this list – a group of us are off to try casa mexico tonight…
Sonora Tim January 18, 2010
Thanks for the advise. My mother and father are down there visiting Mexico City for a couple of weeks. I’ll be sending this post entry for them to check it out. Thanks once again.
Anonymous January 22, 2010
Yes, please…address for Casa Brava. I’ll be in D.F. on the 30th with friends and would love to try it.
Don Cuevas February 18, 2010
I located Pulquería Los Duelistas on Google Maps. It’s in the heart of the chicken district! The area is very unattractive, but you never know what treasures lurk.