The best restaurants in Mexico City: 25 essential dishes to eat | ET REALITY

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How do you sift through Mexico City’s roughly 57,000 places to eat (more than twice as many as New York City) and choose the most essential dishes? “In a city like Mexico City, how is it limited? It’s crazy. Exercise is absurd to begin with,” says Gabriela Cámara, chef and owner of contramar and three other restaurants in the Mexican capital, at the beginning of the video conversation I had organized to do just that: identify the specific meals or bites (or drinks) that best represent the metropolis’ formidable food scene right now. Still, Cámara was up to the challenge, as were the four other panelists she had convened, all of whom live in Mexico City either year-round or part-time: Ana Dolores, the chef and owner of Common Corner restaurant in the Condesa neighborhood; Anais Martínez, who founded the Curious Mexican, a street food tour company, and recently opened Herd, an all-Mexican natural wine and cocktail bar in Narvarte; the gastronomic writer Alonso Ruvalcaba, author of the guide “24 Hours of Food in Mexico City”(2018); and Carla Valdivia Nakatani, art director of T Magazine, who divides her time between Manhattan and Mexico City, where she co-owns a boutique in Rome. Before we met as a group, I asked each participant to nominate about 10 dishes, including a sweet and a drink, from 10 different places, from fine dining restaurants to street carts and market stalls. We then spent two hours and several subsequent emails and phone calls debating our choices, trying to narrow down the 50-plus nominations to 25 to produce a list like those in the ongoing T 25 series dedicated to food in Paris and New York. .

As is often the case with these types of initiatives, that longer initial list for Mexico City had only a few duplicate dishes (Jenni’s green mole quesadilla and Al-Andalus date cake), reflecting not only the varied tastes of the panelists but also their individual tastes. gastronomic experiences throughout the gigantic city, home to some 22 million people in the metropolitan area. But the panel did share one obvious preference: They overwhelmingly favored the classics, both in terms of food and supplier (traditional recipes rigorously used in taquerias, cantinas, street stalls, and the like) over gastronomic magic. In the end, only three non-traditional restaurants made the cut (although Cámara’s Contramar received three nominations for various dishes, including the famous tuna tostada, before he reminded the panelists that his own restaurants were excluded). When I asked the group why they collectively gravitated toward casual, mostly older spots even as the city seemed awash with trendy new restaurants these days, the consensus was that many of the newcomers lacked originality (“They all seem “Equals. Or strangely French”). ”says Valdivia Nakatani) and seemed designed to attract the recent stampede of expatriates. And for these locals, at least, the city owes much of its culinary greatness to the people who safeguard the dishes that have been passed down from generation to generation, whether those rooted in pre-Hispanic traditions or those inherited from the immigrants who came to Mexico decades ago. . Nostalgia came up a lot in our conversation, but that doesn’t mean innovation has been completely overlooked.

The biggest challenge was deciding which of the seemingly endless varieties of tacos to include. Instead of removing options, more were added; any suggestion of reduction was met with good-natured groans. In the end, after several emails and subsequent phone calls, we finally reached a compromise and agreed to include only five in the final list, which appears below in unsorted alphabetical order. But no list of this nature can please everyone. Consider it an inspiration to make your own and you’ll see how absurd and deeply rewarding an exercise it can be. —Deborah Dunn

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