The term "hidden gem" kind of annoys me, and I'm not even sure if these are technically "hidden gems", but they're fucking delicious restaurants in Mexico City, Mexico (aka CDMX), specifically around La Roma neighborhood, so I thought I would share this info, just in case you were curious. Obviously Mexico City is full of amazing food, including some incredible street food, but I only had the opportunity to spend two weeks in this wonderful city, and these were my favorites by far. Also, disclaimer, although I am a certified honky, my CDMX travel companion is Mexican, and he approves this list. Feel free to comment your favorite restaurant in CDMX, and now, without further ado, my list:
Moloch Cochinita Pibil - Located in the Roma Norte neighborhood in Mercado de Medellin, this small taco stand in the middle of a bustling market may not look like much, but looks can be deceiving. I had a lot of tacos in Mexico, but these definitely stood out to me. Not only was their meat mouthwatering, but the salsas and pickled onions were just... *chefs kiss*. Back to the meat though. Cochinita pibil is a "traditional Yucatec Mayan slow-roasted pork dish" (per wikipedia), and man oh man, it was so tender and juicy, with wonderful notes of citrus. They serve it with pickled onions and a creamy habanero salsa (other salsas also available, and just as good). They also offer soups, tortas, and burritos if you're not feeling tacos, all with their signature cochinita pibil.
Mi Compa Chava - This may be the coolest, freshest, new seafood restaurant in Mexico City, and I got to experience it first hand. They serve up Sinaloa style seafood dishes, with seafood they fly in that day from the coast. This restaurant literally doesn't have freezers because they want everything to be served fresh, so once they run out of something, they're out for the day. The vibes here are on point, the music is bumping, the service is wonderful, and the food is to die for. Fish, oysters, octopus, shrimp, etc, all cooked (or served raw) to perfection. And they kept bringing us free samples of new dishes and cocktails they were trying out? Yes, please! Get here early though- tables fill up fast.
El Autentico Pato Manila - Do you like duck and Filipino food, but you're craving it with a Mexican twist? Well then look no further. This place was so good, it was the only restaurant in Mexico City that we actually went to twice. Googling it now, it seems like there are actually 3 locations, but we went to their location in Roma Norte, which can truly be called a hidden gem, because, damn, it is hidden. The only way we found it was through an AirBnB taco tour experience. Anyway, back to the food. Duck. Need I say more? Duck taocs, multiple ways. The salsas have a Filipino twist. Cucumber in my taco? Hell yeah, it works. Duck egg rolls? Duck won-tons? Duck tortas? Yes, yes, and yes. The Kim tacos were my favorite, and all their salsas were perfect. Plus, vibes on fleek, and open late.
El Habanerito - If you're looking for classic Yucatan dishes, look no further than in the heart of Roma, here at El Habanerito. The salsas alone are worth the trip, but their tacos and cocktails are just as good too. The tacos are served on a banana leaf, and come out with 6 different types of salsas, from mild to "oh lord, I need milk". They have a sour orange habanero salsa that tasted soo good despite the tears it caused to run down my very Polish face. They also have a peanut salsa I really liked, mostly because it didn't make me cry lol. Their cocinita pibil tacos are delicious, but I hear their sopa lima is amazing as well. For next time! Side note, this place has the coolest bathroom.
Madre Café - This café I feel like is mainly for my white girls out there, although my Mexican companion enjoyed it as well. Now I only came here for breakfast so I can't speak about their other meals, but I love a good breakfast on vacation, and this place is where it's at. Lots of outdoor, lush seating, coffee, breakfast cocktails, and the food was actually really good too. It was very busy for breakfast and we had to wait, so I would suggest making a reservation. Their eggs benedict and chilaquiles made up for the wait and shitty service though!
Expendio de Maiz - I have saved the best for last. This place is... insanely good. Aspiring chefs come to CDMX and try and work here, and it's just an inconspicuous, little, hole-in-the-wall type place. So you sit down at picnic tables, outside, probably with other groups of people because there's barely any seats, and the kitchen is right next to you, literally in a hole in the wall. Your server will ask if you have any dietary restrictions or are against eating bugs, etc, and then the parade of plates begin. It's tapas/small plates style, but they just bring you whatever they're cooking, and you can eat however many plates you want till you tell them to stop. (You pay per plate, but it is insanely cheap). There's no menu, and they only accept cash. Everything is hand-made, including the tortillas, which are made with native corn, and cooked right next to you. We had to wait about 30 minutes or so to get in, but it was so worth it. Also, there's a brewery next door while you wait! This was hands down my favorite restaurant in CDMX. And I got to try ants for the first time here!
Gracias por leer y viva Mexico!