A great part of Mexico’s territory is coastal, which means that a great part of the country’s cuisine is based on seafood. And yes, even though Mexico City is nowhere near the ocean, thanks to effective distribution, the city’s chefs get fresh fish and seafood everyday, allowing us to enjoy some of the best ocean-inspired creations in the country. While each restaurant has its own style and personality, there are a few dishes that should be tried no matter where you decide to eat. One is vuelve a la vida: The name means “come back to life,” because this cocktail made with crabmeat, clams, oysters and shrimp, mixed with a citrusy sauce, is the perfect revitalizing meal after a night of partying. Another basic is pescado a la talla, a Guerrero specialty that consists of a grilled red snapper rubbed in a chile guajillo-based spice mix. For total enjoyment, make sure to pair your seafood with an ice-cold cerveza. Here are five places not to be missed:
With marine murals and an exposed kitchen, this perpetually packed Roma eatery was already a seafood institution before the neighborhood became trendy. Its tuna tostadas (with chipotle mayo, caramelized onions and avocado) and fish carnitas have been widely imitated across the city, but the loyal clientele knows that Contramar did it all first. For dessert, you can’t go wrong with the coconut flan or fig tart.
Beloved chef Jair Téllez (known for his Ensenada restaurant, Laja), brings the flavors of Baja California to Mexico City in this surf-and-turf joint, outfitted with reclaimed wood and Edison bulbs. Feast on dishes from the rotating menu, like light ceviche, vuelve a la vida or grouper on a bed of pureed cauliflower, and pair them with wines from the bountiful Ensenada region.
Crab ceviche, lobster thermidor, oysters au gratin and shrimp are among the more than 100 items that you’ll find at this classic downtown house, where every single dish is cooked to order. Many items have Basque roots, and the wine list focuses on Spanish varietals. Notice the hundreds of autographed napkins on the wall–you’ll likely recognize a few names.
Located in the bustling Prado Norte area, this crustacean-centric spot serves snow crab legs and grilled King crab, plus seafood carpaccios, tostadas, and excellent tuna tacos. Neighbors, business people, couples and groups of friends keep it busy seven days a week, which inspired the owners to open a casual, soup-and-sandwich spot across the street called Cangrejería.
With two locations in the city (and two more in Acapulco), this market-meets-restaurant features seafood from the coasts of Baja California, Sinaloa and Coahuila—and all the way from Alaska, Japan, Europe and Chile. That means you can try simple dishes that let the ultra-fresh seafood shine, like octopus cocktail, soft shell crab tacos, fish quesadillas and salt-baked branzino.