Café de Tacuba

It is said that every trip in Mexico City cannot be completed without a stop of at Café de Tacuba, the historical restaurant conveniently located just down the street from the Zócalo.  Café de Tacuba opened in 1912 and saw its heyday in the 1940's and 1950's.  The establishment is still going strong today, thanks in no part to its classic menu of international fare.  During our visit on the last day of our trip, we were thrilled to see breakfast included on that menu!  At this point we had had enough Mexican food to last a month - at least.  (Too bad it may have been the bacon in our omelets that got us sick with Montezuma's revenge!)

Nevertheless, the cappuccino coffee variation at this joint was simply sublime, prepared for us by our waiter at the table!  Not a coffee fan?  You may still want to check out Café de Tacuba on your next trip to Mexico City, if not simply for the beautiful interiors that include a meandering staircase awash in vintage blue and white tiles.

Café Tacuba also happens to be the name of a popular Mexican rock band.  Guess what?  They were named after this restaurant!  Check it out!

Café de Tacuba - Tacuba No. 28 Col. Centro Del Cuauhtemoc, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, 011 (52) 5521 2048

Pan dulce

No trip to Mexico City can be completed without a trip to a Mexican bakery for morning coffee and pan dulce!  There are thousands of different types of pan dulce (or “sweet bread”) found in Mexico, all with their own unique descriptive names.  (The breads shown at left are called "concha" due to their shell-like appearance.)  What is interesting about this type of baked goods is that its origins come from the rarely discussed French occupation of Mexico in the 1860’s.  During this hostile time, the local Mexican population discovered something good about their new frenemies - their crispy baguettes and other croissant-like baked goods made famous throughout Europe.  The French were eventually defeated at the battle which gave birth to “Cinco de Mayo,” but their baked goods made such an impact on Mexican bakers that pan dulce has become a staple of Mexican diet.

You can find many interesting bakeries dotted around the city and we suggest you try as many varieties of pan dulce as your stomach will allow!  While staying at the Hotel Marlowe on Indepencia in the Centro Histórico, we happened up on a great bakery just seconds down the road.  We ended up filling up our bellies (many times over each subsequent morning of our trip!)  Churros filed with creme, fruit or creme-filled croissants called "cuernos de azucar" (or "sugar horns"), delicious cookies...  Yummmm!  What makes these baked goods especially inviting is their lack of preservatives, giving them an over all light and crispy texture even though they appear much more dense.  Too bad you can’t get away with eating pan dulce for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Set of drifters tip:  Ask for the "niño envuelto" ("wrapped child") for an interesting change of pace.  Happy Eating!

Restaurant Teotihuacán

Aside from the surge of energy we felt upon touching the central point at the top of the Temple of the Sun, one of the more bizarre experiences we had while visiting Teotihuacán actually occurred outside of the complex proper.  After waking up so early for our day trip to the pyramids, we were all pretty much starving by the time our guide took us to the aptly named “Restaurant Teotihuacán.   Complete with faux Frida Kahlo paintings and ethnic dancers dressed in native garb, this cliched restaurant is clearly here to pack ‘em in, one tour group after another. 

After collapsing into our seats, we were pretty much ready to eat and drink as much as humanly possible.  Though the food was not necessarily memorable, the mariachi singers and festooned dancers were entertaining enough.  After lunch, our friend Michele needed to use the bathroom "por las damas."  Unfortunately for her, the lock on the door decided to malfunction once she had entered the inside!  We had an amusing time trying to break the door down with a table knife.  We even roped in one of the half-naked dancers to try to kick the door down with his fawn-skinned sandal!  Eventually, after about 20 minutes or so, we managed to open the door much to Michele’s embarrassment!  The whole restaurant proceeded to clap and cheer for her.  Again, though the food was nothing to write home about, the vibe was pretty festive and upbeat - which is exactly what you need after an afternoon of sun-baked trekking through ancient ruins!

Of course, sometimes you live and you learn.  A seemingly better place to eat around Teotihuacán is La Gruta (“the cave”).   Checking out photos of this space makes me wish we had known about it years ago!  What a gorgeous location!  We hope to return here some day.

Restaurante Teotihuacán - Zona Arqueologica, San Juan Teotihuacan 55800

La Gruta - Zona Arqueologica, San Juan Teotihuacan 55800, 011 (52) 594 956 0104,

Restaurante Tokyo

Restaurante Tokyo in Zona Rosa is a typical Japanese Sushi restaurant that you would find in New York, Los Angeles, or even... ahem, Tokyo, Japan!  What makes “Tokyo” special is that it is located in Mexico City!

After eating Mexican food for five days worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner, dining on something different can be very appealing indeed.  In a strange way, Japanese food reminds us of home wherever we may live.  (Perhaps we should be living in Japan?)  Tokyo features a surprisingly good selection of sushi and cooked Japanese dishes.  The beers, Kirin or Sapporo, are dutifully ice cold.  Yummy indeed!  Tokyo is open daily from 1:00 PM to 11:00 PM.

Restaurante Tokyo - Hamburgo 134, Juarez, Cuauhtemoc, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, 011 (52) 5525    3775

Italian food in Mexico?

While sauntering through the Zona Rosa for New Year’s, our group of four happened upon a cute little Italian restaurant called Raffaello.  We wanted to try it to see what the Mexican take on “Italian” would be like.  Turns out, it is pretty difficult to screw up pasta and sauce and a side of bread.

Thanks to its proximity between the street and sidewalk, long and narrow Raffaello is the perfect place to see and be seen in the Zona Rosa.  True, the food was not out of this world (and perhaps a bit overpriced due to it being New Year’s Eve), and yet, it was a pleasant dining experience overall.  Check the specials and then check out the eye candy walking by!  Raffaello is open Sundays from 1:00 PM to 11:00 PM, and Monday through Saturday from 1:00 PM to midnight.

If you are looking for a slightly more upscale Italian experience, you may want to visit La Palmera Altavista in the neighborhood of San Ángel.  We enjoyed a nice relaxing lunch on their terrace after checking out the extraordinary Diego River Museum (see “sights.")  The restaurant offers surprisingly pleasant international fare including some rather abundant salads and desserts.  The service was a little slow, though we were the first guests of the afternoon and perhaps their kitchen may not have been fully open yet.

Though the surrounding neighborhood caters to a more affluent customer, the menu pricing was still rather affordable, especially considering the free entertainment that came with our lunch.  The terrace at La Palmera Altavista just happens to face a hair salon that caters San Ángel’s high society damas.  We found much amusement at watching the transformations happening just beyond their large windows.  La Palmera Altavista is open for dinner Monday through Saturday from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM and on Sundays from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM.  They are open for lunch as well.

Raffaello Zona Rosa - Londres 165, Col. Juarez, Zona Rosa, Cuauhtmoc, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, 011 (52) 55 5207 7016,

La Palmera Altavista - Altavista 132, San Angel Inn, Álvaro Obregón, Mexico City, Distrito Federal, 011 (52) 55 5550 3768,!/group.php?gid=190442039603&v=wall