Mole, the word comes from the Nahuatl, molli, is always among the most emblematic of Mexican dishes. There are multiple varieties of moles, each prepared with different chiles and spices. This mixture is then thickened with corn, vegetables and sometimes with a meat stock. And then it’s set to stew.
The interesting thing about mole is that over the decades it’s continued to evolve. More and more chefs and restaurants strive to include a mole on their menus, with original dishes inspired by nothing but that original dark sauce. Dishes today range from the most traditional to the most modern and extravagent. And they always bear something of the original identity in their complex characters and flavors.
Among the most popular is “mole poblano.” But as there are so many versions of moles in the city, the best moles in Mexico City are often far and away from those concocted originally in Puebla, or Oaxaca or Guerrero. From the pot, they come red, black or sometimes green, but for all the best moles in Mexico City start with the list below.
One of the city’s true classics, Azul is at home in an impressive old building and prides itself on a rather high Mexican gastronomy. The house mole is rather on the traditional side, but for the adventurous, there’s also a sweet version served with duck.
With very fair prices, La Poblanita’s portions are very generous, and the mole enchiladas, are not to be forgotten. Overall, a traditional and rather “poblano” style menu should fill up even the most finicky of guests.
A favorite since the 1940s, Los Panchos has been recommended by world-renowned chef, Enrique Olvera. One of the city’s most varied menus, the house mole is one of the star dishes, and always comes out not just sweet, but exotic, multi-layered and complicated.
Always esoteric, El Cardenal has been one of the best Centro restaurants for as long as anyone can remember. Most famous for the breakfasts, at lunchtime all the niceties go away and the real guns come out. A chicken breast stuffed goat cheese ought to get you going but the red mole is easily among the best moles in Mexico City.
Easily one of the most recognized eateries in the city, Pujol usually makes lists of the best in all Latin America. Cuisine is distinctly Mexican while the atmosphere is sophisticated and minimalist. Among the most popular of dishes is the “mole madre/mole nuevo,” made through a fusion of ancestral and modern techniques.
Priding itself on traditional and contemporary Poblano recipes, many of the moles are from carefully secreted recipes, each with a unique flavor. Order the chilaquiles with mole or the guava mole, both of which are exceptional.
El Familiar – Milpa Alta
San Pedro Actopan may be practically the world capital of mole and the majority of inhabitants dedicate themselves in one or another to the production of the sauce. El Familiar offers one particular mole with walnuts (mole de nuez), which goes spectacularly with almost anything. But the three-mole enchiladas offer an amazing sampler for those unwilling to commit.
2016 was a banner year, not just for good eats and good coffee, but for seeing some of our old favorites really come into their own. Hopefully not lost in all of the rave reviews were these ten top-notch new restaurants – perhaps the best New Restaurants of the past year. As we see it, these are the ones who are just getting going.
Photo above: Mia Domenicca
A Mediterranean corner in Colonia Roma, Mia Domenicca always feels like cooking for friends. Priding themselves on a kitchen that turns out truly memorable dishes, the place is casual and friendly, but the menu should leave no doubt that you’ve got some pretty sophisticated friends.
Taking the concept of “comfort food” to some considerable extreme, La Roma is not just good for the soul. With considerable attitude, it’s not really a biker kind of place (though it looks like it). Specializing in burgers, plenty of their sandwiches will meet the expectations of higher-browed clientele, and deeply satisfying, some of their heavier dishes will beg to be revisited.
Chef Jair Téllez’s next evolutionary step after winning acclaim for Merotoro and Laja (in the Valley of Guadalupe), Amaya’s menu is still more sophisticated. A fusion of Spanish and Mexican cuisine, the wine (raro or not) is also carefully selected for outstanding results.
The new place at the Four Seasons, Zenaya is seafood to write home about. Starting with traditional recipes from Nayarit, Chef Tonatiuh Cuevas traveled to the coast to soak up the seasoning of the beach. Quality and freshness have been well noted by some of the city’s most vocal citics.
Mexico City’s most beloved Japanese chef brings a much-needed update to the concept of Mexican-Japanese food. With an extremely traditional menu, you get the hyper-simple technique and the full blown Hiroshi treatment for every dish. This is not one to miss.
A pure vegetable-based cuisine for everyone, every dish is created with organic and artisanal ingredients. Soups, salads, and hamburgers all attest to the fact that vegan can be not just edible, but even really good, and without mammoth portions.
Innovative, high-quality dishes, in an unpretentious environment, Lucas focuses on seasonal everything, and so everything is fresh. With a nice mix of cocktails, for Roma Norte this is a decidedly sophisticated corner of the night.
Bastardo, like the child of none-too-respectable parents, is nothing if not creative. Chef Jorge Avedaño latest venture brings always unusual ingredients to the table and the results are something like a mix of down-home and high society. Among the best new restaurants, this is not one to underestimate.
Granada’s not just a bunch of overpriced condos for girls from Toluca. The second Granada entry in this year’s list, is a fusion of Mediterranean, Asian, American and Spanish food all from Valencian chef Ricard Camarena. Eclectic is a ood first word to describe it, but the flavors and technique somehow all make sense here – if nowhere else.
For daily delights inspired by a traditional bakery, you shouldn’t have to climb Mount Everest. But that’s where you’ll find this new and rather exclusive bakery and coffee shop with a pretty good menu tacked on to keep it innovative. Contemporary Mexican food comes in ample servings to make it one of the best new restaurants of the past year. And the terrace, for lunch is one reward for venturing out to Lomas.
For old-school Capitalinos – including those who’ve settled here from other countries – Tepito’s terrible reputation is always overshadowed by one tremendous undeniable fact. Some of the best places to eat, hands down, are still to be found here. Tepito is the city’s center of boxing, wall-to-wall tianguis that never end, and lots of other, even less savory things.
It’s always been this way, since way before the Spanish even arrived, so if you’re ready to eat with true gusto, and you’ve got a good sense of adventure, you’re in for a real treat. There’s no feeling that you missed out on something in Mexico City once you’ve eaten your way through the best Tepito restaurants, and Tepito itself. Here are the seven best places to get going.
One of the grand traditions of Tepito, it’s said that, in fact, that migas were themselves invented here. A tasty broth of tomato juice livened up with bread and a few pork bones, the varieties are nearly endless. Migas “La Güera” is undoubtedly the right place to sample the dish for the first time, because in fact, the place survives almost entirely through repeat visitors coming back for more. Open for lunch only, they can get too crowded so try to head there during the week. Weekends can see a line out the door.
Address: Calle Toltecas No.12, Col. Morelos (across from Mercado 14)
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Reportedly the best tacos and flautas anywhere, the name comes from a legend of tacos with very little meat. If one is lucky enough to find a taco with more meat than usual, then their culinary fortunes will be that much more! With potato quesadillas for your vegetarian friends, it’s a small neighborhood place where everyone eats standing, in the Mexican way.
Address: Matamoros corner with Tenochtitlán, Col. Morelos
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
El Correo Español
After more than 50 years in business, El Correo Español is reputedly the place for goat in the city. From goats fed only on milk, the flavor is said to be absolutely unique. Heavily marinated in a secret house recipe, true fans swear by the flavor and the place is usually packed. Recommended especially for larger parties, portions tend toward the staggering.
Address: Peralvillo No. 30, Col. Morelos
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Phone: 5529 0087
The “temple of viscera,” don’t get turned off too early. Everything that can go into a taco, goes into a taco here. Tacos Ramiro is also a major eatery for fans of every cut of steak and of exceptional quality too. Among Tepito Restaurants, it’s one of the oldest and most well-respected.
Address: Calle Aztecas No. 54, Col. Morelos
Hours: Wednesday to Monday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Phone: 5526 8193
Specializing in Michoacan high cuisine, El Jorullo is recognized in the neighborhood for the “molcajete” grinding bowl in which many of the signature dishes are served. These can include meats accompanied by nopales, cheese, onions, chilis and avocado.
Address: Calle Libertad No.119, Col. Morelos
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Phone: 5529 5905
Inside the public market (#36), don’t get thrown by the surrounding chaos. Chicken breasts stuffed with ham and cheese and breaded in oatmeal and amaranth are a heavenly specialty not to be underestimated. Perfect for the low-cholesterol lunch, there’s a whole variety of fruits, vegetables, and related grains to please even the most fickle eater. But the cordon bleus are particularly memorable.
Address: Mercado 36 Tepito, Corner Rivero & Toltecas
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
20 years on, the heart of the local foods market still turns around the famous “quesos carnes” at the Coco Loco. Served with soft cuts of meat, seasoned with salt and served in flour tortillas and bathed in the house’s immaculate salsa, these tacos won’t be soon forgotten. A rich coconut water (agua de coco) makes it a true tropical delight, and right here among your favorite Tepito restaurants!
Address: Mercado 14, (Mercado de comida tepito) Interior No. 39, Corner Matamoros & Toltecas
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Main Image Above: flickr.com/OctopusHat