The Historic Center of CDMX is the true heart of the capital. A bustling district where city life converges to create its best element – diversity. The small streets are a window to the past, but also a reflection of the current Mexico. It is a place of merchants, where life starts early and is full of intensity. For a peek into this way of life, here are 10 classic restaurants in the center that you must visit. From small bakeries to restaurants with contemporary proposals, it’s a fascinating place where you can eat deliciously.
El Rey del Pavo
On Motolinía, La Casa del Pavo remains present in the past. Founded in 1901, this traditional tortería serves the flavors of old Mexico. Among the many options, the turkey torta reigns supreme. Served in telera bread and with pickled chiles, it is a simple but satisfying dish.
Calle de Motolinía 40, Centro Histórico, Cuauhtémoc
T. 55 5518 4282
Danubio has proudly been serving diners who love its fish and shellfish menu for more than 85 years. The secret to their flavors, they say, is in the wood ovens and the use of original recipes from the founders. The seafood platter is amazing, but you won’t go wrong with any of the menu options.
República de Uruguay 3, Centro Histórico, Cuauhtémoc
T. 55 5512 0912
Their motto is “the art of good eating and drinking in the Spanish style” and they follow it to the letter. In an environment that emulates medieval times, the Centro Castellano is a culinary institution in the center. From the paella to the baked suckling pig, their mission to satisfy customers has been going strong for more than 60 years, and they achieve it every day.
República de Uruguay 16 y 18, Centro Histórico, Cuauhtémoc
T. 55 5518 6080
The aromas and flavors of the Middle East are on full display in Al-Andalus. Headed by Chef Mohamed Mazeh, it’s a highlight among food in the center. Located on Calle de Mesones, this kitchen offers something for everyone. From hummus to meat skewers, it’s all exquisite, including the desserts, which deserve a special mention. Treat yourself and order the baklava.
Mesones 171, Centro Histórico, Cuauhtémoc
T. 55 5522 2528
Located in a beautiful Porfirian building, El Cardenal has been a benchmark for Mexican fare in CDMX for more than 50 years. With a menu that draws on the best of regional Mexican cuisine, the ingredients used in each dish are of the highest quality. For example, the cheeses they use are made on their own ranch. If you want to taste the real Mexico while visiting the Centro, El Cardenal is the place to start.
Palma 23, Centro Histórico, Cuauhtémoc
T. 55 5521 3080
El Balcón del Zócalo
Many visit El Balcón del Zócalo for it’s unmatched view of the Zócalo. But diners will be pleasantly surprised to find more than a view. With a contemporary twist on the flavors of Mexico, the creations of Chef Pepe Salinas are innovative and tasty. You only have to try the avocado risotto to realize that eating well here is serious business.
5 de Mayo 61, Centro Histórico, Cuauhtémoc
T. 55 5130 5134
Accessed through a bookstore, El Mayor is another offering splendid views of Templo Mayor and the Metropolitan Cathedral from its beautiful terrace. Once settled in on the top floor, let the experience unfold with a menu that holds a nice selection of traditional Mexican food. Their duck mole tostadas are unmissable. The cocktail bar makes for a perfect reason to linger after a good meal.
República de Argentina 15, Centro Histórico, Cuauhtémoc
T. 55 5704 7580
This fonda frequented by locals and the office worker crowds satisfies the three Bs – bueno, bonito y barato (good, nice, and cheap) – and also gets an A for abundant. La Barracuda serves typical comida corrida (multicourse daily menu) but they are truly known for their chamorro. It’s hard not to order it when the giant pot sits right in the center of the restaurant and it can be served two different ways. Be careful not to overdo it, lest you get that post-meal sleepiness.
Palma Norte 414 Locales 3 y 4, Centro Histórico, Cuauhtémoc
T. 55 5521 2630
Café de Tacuba
Café de Tacuba is one of the most traditional restaurants in the center. A meeting place for artists, politicians, and intellectuals, the old house in which it is located has seen many diners come to enjoy the traditional Mexican food that is prepared here. Founded in 1912, it is still incredibly popular, especially for breakfast.
Tacuba 28, Centro Histórico, Cuauhtémoc
T. 55 5521 2048
Bar La Ópera
There’s a well-known anecdote about a bullet hole in the ceiling left by Pancho Villa, but this place’s fame comes from much more than that. The canteen’s decor underscores the incredible past of Bar La Ópera. Their menu is a fantastic pairing to the variety of drinks served, where martinis or highballs coexist in perfect harmony with chipotle snails or Galician-style chamorro.
5 de Mayo 10, Centro Histórico, Cuauhtémoc
T. 55 5512 8959