Mexico is known for a vibrant and delicious street food culture, and this penchant for curbside dining can sometimes lead us to forget that many of the restaurants spread across this vast country are also of world-class caliber. Whether you want contemporary takes on Mexican classics, or something entirely unique, then Mexico’s fine-dining scene undoubtedly has the spot for you. Here are the 10 best restaurants from across Mexico that you must enjoy at some point.
The mere mention of Pujol pretty much says it all nowadays, so legendary is Enrique Olvera’s Mexico City restaurant. Even though Pujol has recently opened the doors in its new Polanco location, the restaurant itself has been around since the early 2000s, experiencing a meteoric rise in recent years; nowadays, it sits at number 20 on the World’s Best Restaurants list. If you want a new take on Mexican cuisine, which combines pre-Hispanic favourites with innovative techniques, you probably should have made a reservation months ago.
Moving north, Pangea in Monterrey is another restaurant that is tackling traditional Mexican cuisine (with a twist) head on. Led by Chef Guillermo González Beristain, Pangea has been serving up 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, making it one of the best restaurants in Mexico. It seems times have changed little in terms of Pangea’s internationally recognised contemporary cuisine; in 2016, it was considered the 19th best restaurant in the world.
Ensenada most often steals the limelight for the whale-spotting potential its coastline offers and for its proximity to Baja’s infamous wine country, but Corazón de Tierra is one restaurant putting this northern town on the map in the culinary world. The restaurant, situated in the Villa del Val, is one of the many projects of Chef Diego Hernández Baquedano, who relies on seasonal produce from the surrounding areas to create an ever-shifting, constantly revamped menu. While it’s not cheap, the tasting menu is worth the splurge.
It’s widely acknowledged that Oaxacan cuisine ranks as some of the best in Mexico. Why else would so many national and international chefs be jumping on the Oaxacan dining bandwagon if not? At Origen in Oaxaca City, you can get front row seats for this Oaxacan dining revolution with some of the contemporary takes on traditional dishes whipped up by head chef, and former Top Chef México winner, Rodolfo Castellanos. Using predominantly local ingredients, Castellanos puts quirky touches on his typically Oaxacan dishes, which will leave you charmed.
La Canica in San Miguel de Allende has brought together the snacking, street food cultures of Spain and Mexico effortlessly, transforming the casual act into practically a fine-dining experience. Launched by Michelin-starred Spaniard Paco Roncero and Mexico-native Luis Pablo Domínguez, La Canica serves up everything fusion, including typically Spanish croquetas with a more Mexican-inspired chipotle dip, burgers and salads. Enjoy everything in the open courtyard of this quaint San Miguel hot spot.
French-Mexican fusion cuisine in the picturesque city of Cancun doesn’t get better than at Du Mexique, a restaurant currently headed by Chef Benjamín Ferra y Castell. First established by Chef Alain Grimond way back in 1989, the Sonya Grimond-led team relaunched Du Mexique in 2006. Situated right in the heart of Cancun, Du Mexique’s menu is expansive and delicious, while their wine menu is unsurprisingly fantastic. As for the décor, the art hanging on the walls just complements the laid-back, romantic vibe.
The second Ensenada entry comes courtesy of Laja, an established restaurant that may well ring a bell with foodie fans. Established by famed chef Jair Telléz, Laja is a restaurant the rotates the menu on a regular basis according to the seasonal, fresh and organic produce available at the time. Established in 2001, it’s still going from strength to strength, charming customers with the playful dishes that bring together an eclectic range of cuisines; Mexico, China, the US and Italy are all represented in some way.
Established by accomplished chefs Francisco Ruano and Luis González Rodríguez in 2013, Alcalde has rapidly become one of Guadalajara’s hot spots known for sourcing its produce hyper-locally and putting the already amazing Jalisco firmly on the fine-dining map. Their stylish take on classic dishes filled with local ingredients is reflected in the décor of the place as well, which is bright, modern and features a particularly beautiful tiled floor, as well as some colourful light installations.
Our second and final Mexico City entry is the excellent Quintonil, run by husband-and-wife team Chef Jorge Vallejo and front of house Alejandra Flores. It ranked just two spots below Pujol (at number 22) on this year’s World’s Best Restaurants list, having peaked at number 12 last year. Notable principally for its dedication to using homegrown products in the contemporary Mexican dishes in which it specialises, it has its own orchard, from which it gets several ingredients. The chilacayote mole is particularly delicious.
Situated in one of Merida’s oldest and most beautiful mansion buildings, K’u’uk is an intimate restaurant with a welcoming environment known for its spectacular 16-course tasting menu created and executed by Chef Pedro Evia. Extravagant in both taste and appearance, K’u’uk is genuinely one of the best culinary experiences on the Yucatan Peninsula. Their impressive selection of top-quality wines isn’t to be sniffed at either, but if you’re not into grape-based drinks, you can indulge in one of their equally well-made cocktails.