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Editor’s note: Award-winning cookbook author, chef-restaurateur and television personality Rick Bayless is a renowned expert on Mexican cooking and a frequent traveler to Mexico City. He recently shared with us his list of must-visit places in Condesa, Roma/Roma Norte and Polanco.

Contramar: great vibe, up-to-date traditional (definitely not old-fashioned) seafood. Go by 1:30 to avoid wait. Closes by 5 or 6 p.m. Durango 200, Roma, +52 55 5514 9217 / +52 55 5514 3169.

MeroToro: contemporary Baja cuisine by Chef Jair Téllez. Great local craft beer and wine list to accompany the strongly seafood menu. Very comfortable. Amsterdam 204, Condesa, +52 55 5564 7799 / +52 55 5564 1188.

Máximo Bistrot: market-driven cuisine that ranges from a few traditional Mexican flavors to those of modern American and European kitchens. Excellent cooking by chef Eduardo García, though don’t expect a menu filled with moles and pipianes. Plan ahead; reservations are hard to come by. Tonalá 133, Roma, +52 55 5264 4291.

Tacos Hola/Tacos El Güero: guisado tacos (what we might call “skillet” tacos, since all the fillings are simmered or skillet-prepared) in delicious soft corn tortillas. With 20 or so fillings on display in earthenware cazuelas, treat it like a tapas bar: order a taco of one filling, then another and another, until you’re satisfied. A great way to taste lots of different traditional preparations. Amsterdam 130, Condesa, +52 55 5286 4495.

Tacos Gus: an offshoot of Tacos Hola. A little more upscale, with a bar (!!). Delicious food. Ometusco 56, Condesa, +52 55 5271 6090.

What I think of as the Condesa Taco Triumvirate: Farolito (I like the grilled meat tacos here, as well as the charcoal-roasted tacos al pastor and the cochinita pibil tacos), Tizoncito (they claim to be the originator of tacos al pastor, but I’m not sure they could come very close to proving that; the salsas are great, though) and El Califa (it’s gone upscale and modern, and it seems to be working out). El Farolito: Tacámbaro 4; Tizoncito: Tamaulipas 122, +52 55 5286 2217 / +52 55 5286 8671; El Califa: Altata 22, +52 55 5271 6285 / +52 55 5271 7666.

Panadería by Rosetta: Chef Elena Reygadas has one of the best bakeries I’ve visited anywhere. Though she’s deeply inspired by the Italian kitchen, she cooks passionately with Mexican ingredients. Don’t miss the benchmark pan dulce called a concha, the pan de pulque (leavened with the natural wild yeast from the fermented agave sap called pulque). Really, you can’t go wrong here. Colima 166, Roma Norte, +52 55 5533 7804.

Pujol: Chef Enrique Olvera has truly put Mexico on the international modern fine-dining map here. Every year he jumps on the San Pellegrino list [of the best restaurants in the world], now bumping up toward the top ten. In addition to his remarkable, out-of-the-box, conceptual, deeply rooted tasting menus at Pujol, he is a tireless promoter of Mexico’s ingredients and culture, culminating in his internationally renowned MesAmerica conference each May. The greatest luminaries of the food world (yes, the entire world) come to participate. Francisco Petrarca 254, Polanco, +52 55 5545 4111.

Quintonil: Chef Jorge Vallejo is doing some really remarkable things in his modern Mexican kitchen – a little less conceptual than what you’ll find in Pujol, very delicious and satisfying, as both deeply rooted and very modern. Newton 55, Polanco, +52 55 5280 2680 / +52 55 5280 1660.

Markets: San Juan market, near the centro, is the chefs’ market and it’s remarkable for its wide variety of wild mushrooms, meat, fish and specialty vegetables. Closer to the restaurants I’ve suggested is the Medellín market (Campeche 101, Roma Norte), a perfectly manageable neighborhood market (if your neighborhood is upscale and has a lot of shoppers from all over the Caribbean and South America). I love shopping at Medellín. By the time anyone reads this, Mercado Roma will be open, and it promises to be one of the coolest specialty markets in the world – lots of specialty producers and prepared foods, a restaurant or two, a bar and a club. A very cool design, very cool concept.

If you’re downtown near the Zocalo, check out Downtown, by the same developer as Mercado Roma. Have a meal at Chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita’s Azul Histórico, shop in all the Mexican-vision, designer-y boutiques, taste the most unique (and delicious!) chocolates at Chef José Ramón Castillo’s QueBo!, and even spend the night at the very hip Hábita Group hotel – all in the same, ancient-looking historic center complex. Isabel la Católica 30, Centro.

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James Young and PJ Rountree and Scott Dummler

Published on April 30, 2014

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