Liliana Lopez

When Colombian-born, Mexico City-based food and travel journalist Liliana Lopez gets home, the thing she craves most is tacos. For The Local Tongue, the former editor of Food & Wine en español (and other Spanish food titles) talks about her favourite addresses in the Mexican capital, from go-to taquerias and cocktail bars to fine diners that live up to the hype. When she’s not filing copy for the many international titles she contributes to, she’s customising city guides around the world for clients and friends.

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Taco Love

If I’ve been away travelling, the first thing I want to eat when I get back to Mexico are tacos in any form. One of my regular places for tacos is Los Picudos, just one block away from home, where they serve tacos al carbon (meat grilled over charcoal). I also like the ones from El Parnita called tacos viajeros and the tacos al pastor from a popular chain called El Califa.

Creative Mexican Food That Goes With the Season, Mezcal From Small Producers and Spectacular Views

The location of my new favourite restaurant is a lovely second-floor terrace overlooking the treetops of the Condesa neighbourhood. It’s enlivened with music that mixes genres from Spanish rock to alternative hits. The relaxed atmosphere, mezcal from small producers and natural wines create a setting for a great, tasty time. The service is warm and friendly and the menu, which changes with the seasons, gets very creative and will have things such as tostadas de medregal with crispy peas and lemon cream or tetelas (Mexican triangle-shaped corn masa treats) with unusual stuffings like goat cheese, date paste and pistachio dressing. Esquina Común is only open from Friday to Sunday and you only get an exact address when you book via their Instagram page.

A Commitment to Quality Ingredients

Another one of my favourite restaurants in Mexico City is Maximo Bistro. I love anything that chef Eduardo “Lalo” García does. He has such a commitment to produce quality and everything ends up tasting extremely good. At Maximo Bistro his menu changes almost daily, but I always order one of his tostadas, aguachiles or ceviches. I also love to have breakfast at Lalo!. Everything is delicious, but I always order the chilaquiles with a side of bacon. I love chilaquiles; I could eat them at any time of the day, but Mexicans eat them for breakfast. I love his French bistro Havre 77 as well.

Excellent Seafood

Contramar is a classic spot and great for lunch. It serves excellent Mexican seafood, the best tuna tostadas, tuna carnitas, and tacos of esmedregal (cobia). Mi Compa Chava is the new massive success at the La Roma neighbourhood. Great place to taste seafood from Sinaloa, and to drink beer and micheladas. La Señora Torres is a stellar, most Instagramable dish featuring scallops, shrimps, octopus, fish, avocado and a special spiced salsa.

Regional Mexican Cooking

Although it’s far, Nicos is known for giving a subtle twist to traditional Mexican cuisine. The sauces, moles and guacamole are to die for. If you opt for something more casual, head to El Parnita and order tacos viajeros or just go next door to Expendio de Maíz, where there is no menu and corn preparations are the stars of the daily menu.

Dinner Reservations in Mexico City

Em is an intimate and minimalistic restaurant where chef Lucho Martínez applies some Japanese touches to his well-executed dishes using Mexican and seasonal produce. He does a tasting menu, but there is an a la carte option too. You can say that it’s casual fine-dining with sophisticated and powerful flavours. Quintonil‘s contemporary cuisine puts Mexican flavours and products at the centre with technique, creativity and dedication. Although you can order a la carte, go for the tasting menu and be sure to include the pairing. At Pujol, the aim is to showcase the extensiveness and complexity of Mexican cuisine in a modern way, where corn and ancestral pre-Hispanic techniques are the backbone. Try both the tasting menu and the taco omakase. Chef Edgar Nuñez’s approach at restaurant Sud 777 is to develop a Mexican vegetable cuisine, an exotic concept if you take into account that animal protein is very important in the Mexican culinary heritage. At restaurant Rosetta, Mexico and Italy meet in subtle and powerful preparations, such as the pastor meat tartar or the tagliatelle with Italian sausage and chile de arbol. Make sure to leave room for dessert.

Playing With Spice

To experience the local casual dining scene go to Masala y Maíz, a restaurant that explores the intersection of spices between Mexico and India. They opened a new venue in the San Miguel Chapultepec neighbourhood called Mari Gold. It’s good for breakfast or lunch. Botánico is the new hotspot: one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city with a cactus garden nestled in a mid-century house. It’s a modern Mexican bistro with tasty and beautiful dishes.

Mercado El 100

One of the good things that this new world order brought is cooking at home. Mercado el 100 is my compulsory Sunday treat where everything is organic. To take a look at what’s in season or even to get a Mexican souvenir, head to this incredible food market.

Great Breakfast Options

Chef Elena Reygadas has interesting and solid concepts. You can also enjoy her breads, pastries and Mexican preparations in Lardo, Café Nin or Panaderia Rosetta. El Cardenal in the historic centre, Niddo, Lalo and Jarilla are also great breakfast options.

Mezcal Nights

Star chef Enrique Olvera is behind Ticuchi, a bar with interesting cocktails and a mezcal menu with no brands – just producers – and some lovely bites and dishes that emphasise the Oaxacan gastronomy. For great cocktail programs, head to Limantour, Bar Las Brujas or Baltra where Tuesdays are for martinis. Also check out Salón Rosetta from chef Elena Reygadas and ask for an hoja santa martini.

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