Vegetarian restaurants are popping up across Mexico, but Mexico City is the best place in the country for mouthwatering meatless meals.
Twenty years ago, Mexico was a tough place to find a vegetarian meal that went beyond beans and tortillas, but my, how things have changed. Plant-based menus can be found across the entire country, and Mexico City is bursting at the seams with meatless meal options. From (multiple!) vegan taco carts and trendy food hall pozole slingers to hipster brunch spots and fine dining in a shopping mall, this capital city has just about every veggie option imaginable.
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Mexico City has excellent public transportation, and many of the best vegetarian restaurants are in interesting, walkable neighborhoods, so eaters can easily head out on their own. Anyone who wants to explore the most delicious options in the city with local experts and new friends could join one of several group tour options. Vegetarian walking tours offer a quick introduction to the tastiest treats you can fit into an afternoon, while week-long vegan group tours capture all the history, culture and tradition Mexico is known for.
If you can only have one meatless meal in Mexico City, please let it be from Gatorta. Tortas are Mexican sandwiches served on fluffy baguettes piled high with your choice of meat, or vegan meat in the case of Gatorta. The most popular options are milanesa (seitan steak) and soyita pibil, a vegan take on the Yucatecán classic cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted pork marinated with orange juice. If you’re still not sure whether the soy meat sounds passable, check out this video of the Gatorta chefs working their magic at their street stall.
As one of the city’s first vegetarian restaurants, Gold Taco has serious street cred, having served up bowls of rich mushroom and hominy pozole, soy meat enchiladas, and moist tamales for over a decade. The hoja santa (holy leaf) tamale is the best and most unique, as this flavorful leaf is widely used in Mexico but rarely found in the US. Their original sit-down restaurant on Eugenia Street has the most options and is worth a visit, but anyone staying in the popular Condesa and Roma neighborhoods could walk over to their newer stall in the Mercado Roma food hall.
Sometimes referred to simply as “Forever”, this stylish vegan restaurant serves up everything from mushroom mole bowls and coconut ceviche to roasted tomato soup and squash blossom tempura stuffed with cashew ricotta. It’s also one of the few places offering vegan breakfasts, with options ranging from açaí bowls and sweet potato pancakes to Mexican brunch concoctions that are heavy on the corn, bean and “cheese”.
Vegan brunch isn’t yet too popular in Mexico City, so it can be hard to find a proper vegan breakfast, particularly on weekdays, but Plan V has you covered. Breakfast is offered every day of the week and has a bit of something for everyone, from berry-topped pancakes and açaí fruit bowls to garbanzo and soy vegan omelets. In the mood for a traditional Mexican morning favorite? Try the mole enmoladas (which are just like enchiladas, only they’re drenched in black mole sauce instead of red chili sauce) or the chilaquiles (fried tortilla chips smothered in salsa, vegan cheese, and cashew crema).
The best vegan food in any city is unlikely to be found in a shopping mall, unless you’re in Mexico City. Located on the second floor of a surprisingly green shopping mall, Vegan Inc. is serving up some of the best plant-based fare in the country. Everything on the menu is excellent, particularly the Buffalo cauliflower burgers and the cashew cheese fondue pot. Note to anyone with a sweet tooth: this place is known for their dessert, and they sell out early, so be wise and order your cake before your meal.
As the first fully vegan establishment in the city, this Roma Norte restaurant is one of the most popular and most respected. Their special blend of Mexican-Asian cuisine translates into Korean kimchi tacos with garlic-marinated mushrooms and “Mexican Ramen” soup with handmade noodles. Not a fan of fungus? This may not be the place for you, as the menu relies heavily on mushrooms, in stark contrast to most other vegetarian/vegan restaurants in the city that rely heavily on soy and seitan.
La Pitahaya Vegana in Roma Norte became famous with its intensely flavorful tacos served on bright pink tortillas. The fresh-made tortillas are made with corn, amaranth, sesame and flax then dyed with beet juice, so they’re ready for virtually everyone in the restaurant to take pictures of them for social media. The tastiest (and prettiest) tacos are the Jamaica (hibiscus flowers) and cauliflower with pineapple cream and coconut cheese, but the machaca tofu is also great. Wash them down with house-brewed kombucha and be sure to save room for almond milk ice cream for dessert.
Open-aired Veguísima is a must-try restaurant where you’ll find a good mix of locals and tourists. Their menu has a bit of everything: burritos, burgers, ramen, quinoa bowls and deep-fried avocado spears (definitely order that last one!). If you can’t make up your mind, order the enchiladas divorciadas, a trio of “divorced” enchiladas stuffed with three different fillings and topped with red and green salsas. Fillings vary daily and might include sweet teriyaki cabbage, vegan chicharrón (pork skin) or spicy fava beans. Ask about the daily “Inspiration” meal, which could be anything from lasagna to a pulled jackfruit sandwich.
Everybody loves pizza, and this Condesa establishment bakes up some of the best vegan pies in the city. Mexican-themed pizzas smothered in poblano peppers, chorizo and corn are offered alongside popular “regular” pizzas like soy pepperoni and mushroom. If pizza’s not your jam, then get the killer sopecitos, thick, pillowy corn tortillas topped with beans, soy chorizo, cashew cream and almond cheese. If you still have room for dessert, order a tiramisu or pastry topped with homemade vegan condensed milk (it goes great with their almond milk hot chocolate).
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