Published on October 2nd, 2016 | by Lydia Carey
¡Delicioso! Great Places to Eat in Mexico City’s Roma District
Mexico City is getting a reputation. It’s becoming one of the best food cities in Latin America. The world is just beginning to discover this, but it’s not a secret for those of us who live here. On the city streets you can eat something delicious 24 hours a day, 365 days a week and never have the same thing twice. Regional dishes from across the country combine with Mexican-influenced international fare to create one of the most varied culinary menus in the hemisphere.
Colonia Roma is a tiny microcosm of what you can find throughout Mexico‘s largest city. Street food stands, market stalls, fine dining and irresistible snacks are on display and on your plate from the moment you wake up till the feeding frenzy of partyers into the wee hours of the morning.
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If you wanted to spend the day eating your way through the Roma you might want to start early at Doña Emi’s for a roasted pork and olive-stuffed tamal and a Styrofoam cup of creamy corn dough atole. For something more European in style try Fournier Rousseau’s airy chocolate croissants and a steaming cappuccino. Second breakfast would be best spent at Las Tlayudas, eating some of the hood’s best chilaquiles and a cup of cinnamony Oaxacan chocolate or at Pan Comido, which has a long list of vegan, organic specialties and some of Roma’s best coffee.
Food here is more a lifestyle than just meal or two. A trip through the Roma’s various markets will reveal the bounty of what’s available for anyone with foodie curiosity. Hip Mercado Roma will ply you with local mezcal, Mexican cheeses, homemade marshmallows, fresh seafood and deep-fried churros to go. The more classic and neighborly Mercado Medellin has piping hot Colombian coffee, Cuban ice cream, endemic fruits and veggies for sample, Cuban rice and beans, crispy chicharron and Argentine yerba mate. Sundays bring organic black beans, vine-ripened tomatoes, edible flowers and hand-picked blueberries at the Mercado 100, tempting you from vendors stalls that all source within 100 kilometers of the city.
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Lunch, or comida, tends to be a late afternoon affair, but places start serving early (around 12) in hopes of catering to the myriad of nationalities (and eating habits) that all exist within the neighborhood’s 100 or so blocks. There is Cocina Conchita for Baja California street food obsessed, Aguamiel for a taste of Oaxaca, Sesame if pad thai or lamb samosas are calling your name, and Cabrera Siete for Mexican specialties from across the country. Almost every venue has outdoor seating, and people watching is mandatory in a neighborhood with five million visitors a day shopping, eating, working and playing within its borders.
An afternoon sweet tooth finds visitors making an obligatory stop at La Boheme bakery for a tiny fruit tart or a green-tea shaved ice at the Korean Mikasa market. Unmissable savory stops include a taco or two from Las Karnitas, Esquites (boiled corn with mayo, lime and chile) in the nostalgic Rio de Janeiro plaza or a mango on a stick sprinkled with tamarind powder from a roving fruit stand.
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As the sun begins to set and office workers make their way home across the city, a changing of the guard happens. Morning quesadilla and tacos de guisado (tacos with stew-like fillings) stands make way for the evening Oaxacan tamal vendors on their bikes, grilled taco stands, and the smoky whistle of the wood-fired sweet potato vendors. It’s time to find yourself a glass of wine and a great cut of steak at the La Macelleria or seasonally-inspired musings from Maximo Bistrot. Some of the neighborhood’s best pizza is served unassumingly from the wood-fired oven at Pizza Franca and an olive and aged manchego cheese feast awaits at Jamon J Jamon.
The neighborhood’s nightlife is more subdued than its rowdy next-door neighborhood, Colonia Juarez, or the masses that descend upon Polanco’s microcentro. Here diners and drinkers enjoy a starry backdrop and the tinny music of street musicians outside one of La Roma’s dozens of cafes and bars. Old men and hipsters play chess at Covadonga, the Cubans show up the Mexicans on the Mama Rumba dance floor and techies scheme over their next big app in a handful of mezcal bars dotted throughout the streets.
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Late into the night you find Roma residents huddled around revolving spits of al pastor tacos, the mesmerizing open grill at Los Parados and half dozen restaurants on Alvaro Obregon that stay up late. There’s never any reason to go to bed without food in your belly or a smile on your face.
Originally from Chicago, Lydia Carey has lived in Mexico City since 2008. For more of her insider travel tips on where to eat in Colonia Roma and the rest of the city, check out Mexico City Streets: La Roma and www.mexicocitystreets.com. Enjoy the feast!