By Cristina Alonso
Updated: January 20, 2017
Alamy

With meat-centric Northern states, bountiful coastal areas, and a complex culinary tradition, Mexico has a cuisine so rich and diverse that even the most seasoned travelers (and eaters) need years to be able to fully explore its depth. In fact, natives from each region are quick to say their local specialties are the best and will challenge anyone who tries to disagree. Luckily, visiting Mexico City means you can taste regional dishes from all over the country (from the northernmost city in Baja California to the very tip of the Yucatán peninsula), and the only traveling you need to do is between neighborhoods. Just like the country’s states, cities, and villages, these restaurants vary in size, price, and personality, ranging from family-style dining to super-hip ambiance. But there’s one thing none of them will sacrifice: the incomparable flavor that comes from Mexico’s unique ingredients, recipes, and mostly, its heart.

El Bajío

Veracruz-born Carmen “Titita” Ramírez oversees the extensive menu at all 11 locations of this beloved eatery, serving specialties from her native state, as well as from regions like Yucatán, Oaxaca, Puebla, and beyond. Feast on bean-filled plantain empanadas, zucchini flower quesadillas or their famous Michoacán-style carnitas. If you’re there for breakfast, don’t miss the fresh carrot-and-orange juice. 

Restaurante Humberto’s

This low-key restaurant’s namesake, Don Humberto, hails from one of the country’s most prolific culinary regions: the Yucatán peninsula. Dishes like sopa de lima (spiced chicken broth with vegetables and lime wedges), cochinita pibil (pork in an orange-achiote marinade) and papadzul (egg-filled tortillas in a chile-tomato sauce) grace the menu, created by Humberto’s son, Enrique López.

Restaurante Nicos

At this family-style joint, you can expect old-school, 19th century recipes, plus homemade bread and tortillas –all of which fits perfectly with their slow-food credo. Though it’s hidden in Clavería –a neighborhood that offers little tourist attractions– specialties like artisanal goat cheese soup, Barra Vieja snapper (grilled in a chile sauce) and Veracruz-style coffee are worth the trek.

El Parnita

Head to this kitschy-cool joint in the city’s hip Roma neighborhood for a couple of mezcals paired with antojitos like tortas, tacos and the very popular rellenitos (chipotles filled with beans, cheese and avocado), many of them based on recipes from the owners’ families. Their excellent michelada and Viajero Parnita tacos (pork, avocado and purple onion) work magic on even the worst of hangovers.

Dulce Patria

Every dish that emerges from the kitchen is presented as an edible work of art, often on plates, in boxes, or other special vessels Chef Ortiz has had made by Mexican artisans.

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