Those of us hailing from cooler, rainier climates perhaps don’t take easily to the idea of dining al fresco, but in tropical Mexico, there’s no better way to enjoy a meal. From street vendors to upscale restaurant-goers, everyone enjoys eating in the open air once in a while, whether it be curbside or rooftop. Read on for our guide to the top al fresco dining options in Mexico City.
Incredibly flavorful Japanese cuisine in a contemporary location, Tori Tori cannot be missed. Founder of Tori Tori Dr. Katsumi Kumoto Kawasaki has five branches across Mexico City, but the Temistocles Polanco branch really has the standout alfresco dining options. Enjoy king crab cakes and yakimeshi on low-to-the-floor seating in the garden terrace, dominated by a white, mesh-like sculpture. Spread over several levels and terraces, Tori Tori has received much attention for its architectural achievements, not to mention its food and extensive range of sake.
Azúl Histórico boasts a prime location in the historic centerof Mexico City, making it perfect for sightseeing tourists to stop by for brunch or lunch on their tour of the center and escape the hustle and bustle of the city’s streets. You enter directly onto the pretty courtyard which is decorated with suspended jars containing candles, casting a soft glow over the place for those dining in the evening. The location is truly remarkable, so what better place to try some Mexican delicacies, such as crunchy grasshopper guacamole or huitlacoche.
Another incredibly central al fresco dining option in this buzzing city, El Mayor offers something truly special – bird’s eye views of the Templo Mayor, the Aztec ruins that are just off the edge of the Zócalo. On the top floor of Librería Porrúa, El Mayor is also just behind the stunning Mexico City cathedral, meaning if a view is what you’re looking for, this is the place to be. As far as the food goes, stop by for breakfast or lunch on the way to the Templo and take your pick of dishes from the international menu.
Inspired by the New York neighborhood of the same name, Brooklyn Rooftop provides a cosmopolitan bar/restaurant vibe. On weekends, stay a while longer after your meal and savor a cocktail while taking in the live DJ sets on the terrace. The food on offer here can be strictly defined as American comfort food – pastrami sandwiches and clam chowder, with a little British home comfort thrown in, in the form of fish and chips. Excellent service, combined with the food and the location, makes Brooklyn Rooftop the perfect bridge to take you from the early evening to the early hours.
A long standing Mexico City favourite, Contramar is one of the best restaurants in the capital. Since 1998 they’ve been dishing up exquisite takes on coastal delicacies, seafood and ceviches, and the quality has never dropped. Grab a table on the atmospheric patio to take proper advantage of this spot and absolutely make sure to try the red snapper or the iconic fresh tuna tostadas, accompanied with chipotle mayonnaise.
Head to Coyoacán and dine al fresco at one of the area’s most frequented and long running restaurants. Corazón de Maguey is owned by the same people who run Los Danzantes (another great Coyoacán option, if you’re interested), and this informal spot is always plenty busy. Choose from any one of the excellent Oaxacan dishes, and make sure you knock back a mezcal or two with your meal for the true Oaxacan experience.
Hotel Condesa DF is a sure thing if you’re looking for luxurious al fresco dining in DF. The kitchen is headed up by executive chef Romain Fouquet, but the real draw of this popular location is the gorgeous, fourth-floor rooftop patio that affords excellent views over Chapultepec Castle and Parque España. Pick from the French fusion menu or the sushi options, or even head down early for breakfast and take advantage of the so-called ‘healthy bar’.
The spectacular courtyard at this expensive but well-worth-the-investment restaurant makes it a shoo in for our guide to Mexico City’s best al fresco dining spots. Central Central is a tapas bar which offers all manner of charcuterie (including organic cheeses and cold cuts of cured meats), champagnes and seafood which you can enjoy like the Spanish and French intended – in the open air! How very continental of you. Plus, the views over Santa Fe aren’t to be sniffed at either.
Formerly Haciendo Goicoechea, what is now the San Ángel Inn is a renowned dining option that has been serving up classics of Mexican and international cuisine for decades. A favourite of the local elite and travellers alike, you can dine al fresco in the quaint courtyard, with its lovely, central, colonial fountain and atmospheric lighting. The perfect option for a relaxing and romantic meal, we recommend trying out the chiles rellenos or chiles en nogada, if you’re there in the right season.