The Best Restaurants in Mexico

Mexican chef Enrique Olvera is the owner, head chef and mastermind behind Pujol in Mexico City
Mexican chef Enrique Olvera is the owner, head chef and mastermind behind Pujol in Mexico City | © REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Northern England Writer

Mexico is known for street food culture. But this penchant for kerbside dining can distract from the many innovative restaurants here taking gastronomy to new levels. A haute-cuisine hop along the best fine-dining restaurants in the capital will be surprising, exciting and well worth the loss in pesos. Here are the best restaurants in Mexico.

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1. Pujol

Restaurant, Mexican

The mere mention of Pujol pretty much says it all nowadays, so legendary is Enrique Olvera’s Mexico City restaurant. It consistently ranks among the best restaurants in the world and, unsurprisingly, the best in Mexico. Olvera serves a highly innovative take on Mexican cuisine, which combines pre-Hispanic favorites with avant-garde techniques. The highlight is the mole madre, his signature take on mole sauce that’s been aged for hundreds of days.

2. Pangea

Restaurant, Mexican, French

Pangea in Monterrey tackles traditional Mexican cuisine – with a twist – head on. Led by chef Guillermo González Beristain, it’s been serving traditional regio (Monterrey) dishes with a French influence since 1998. And from as far back as 2003, it’s been a recipient of many awards. For a bit of everything, opt for the tasting menu, where you can sample top-notch aguachile, a tamal and finish with a petit four.

3. Origen

Restaurant, Mexican

It’s widely acknowledged that Oaxacan cuisine ranks among the best and most exciting in Mexico. At Origen, in the city of Oaxaca, you can get front-row seats to this Oaxacan dining revolution and enjoy contemporary takes on traditional dishes whipped up by head chef, and Top Chef México winner, Rodolfo Castellanos. Using predominantly local ingredients, Castellanos puts quirky touches on his typically Oaxacan dishes. For an extraordinary experience, book yourself the chef’s table and let Castellanos create a special, personalized menu for you and up to nine of your besties.

4. Laja

Restaurant, Mexican

The simple gable-roofed building of Restaurante Laja, in Ensenada, is painted white and sits on a slope covered in desert plant life
Courtesy of Laja

Established by chef Jair Telléz, Laja has a menu that flows with the seasons, incorporating the fresh, organic produce available at the time. Established in 2001, it’s still going from strength to strength, charming customers with playful dishes that bring together an eclectic range of cuisines; Mexico, China, the US and Italy are all represented.

5. Alcalde

Restaurant, Mexican

Established by chefs Francisco Ruano and Luis González Rodríguez in 2013, Alcalde has rapidly become a dining hot spot in Guadalajara. It’s best known for sourcing hyper-local produce and putting Jalisco firmly on the fine-dining map. Their stylish take on classic dishes is reflected in the décor, which is bright, modern and features a particularly beautiful tiled floor.

6. Quintonil

Restaurant, Mexican

Quintonil in Mexico City is run by husband-and-wife team chef Jorge Vallejo and front-of-house Alejandra Flores. Notable principally for its dedication to using homegrown products in contemporary Mexican dishes, it has its own orchard, from which it gets several ingredients. The chilacayote mole is particularly delicious.

7. Kuuk

Restaurant, Mexican

In one of the oldest and most beautiful mansion buildings in Merida, Kuuk is intimate with a welcoming environment, but best known for its spectacular ten-course tasting menu created and executed by chef Pedro Evia. Extravagant in both taste and appearance, Kuuk ranks among the best culinary experiences in the Yucatan Peninsula. There’s an impressive selection of top-quality wines, too, with a fine collection of Mexican bottles.

8. Sud 777

Restaurant, Mexican

Chef Edgar Núñez’s fine-diner in the Pedregal neighborhood of Mexico City is a regular botherer of World’s Best lists. His ingredients are as local as you can get: from the restaurant garden and from the ancient floating farms known as chinampas in Xochimilco. The menu itself is a whirlwind of taste and color, best experienced via the tasting menu.

Unwind on your vacation south of the border by seeing the best wellness retreats in Mexico. Or if you’re flying into the capital, check out the best luxury hotels in town places to stay and the top spa retreats.

Additional reporting from Sam Murray.

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