Mexico’s culinary world is rich and fascinating, both in its flavors and in its restaurant scene. Here you can find everything from dollar fish tacos in Ensenada to some of the world’s top-tier restaurants, including Pujol and Biko, both in Mexico City. And Mexico has undergone a culinary renaissance of sorts in recent years, whereby chefs masterfully blend new techniques with local flavors and ingredients found in areas rich with natural resources like Baja California, all without diminishing the country’s rich culinary traditions.
Our list of the 25 Best Restaurants in Mexico comes from The Daily Meal’s recently published 101 Best Restaurants in Latin America and the Caribbean. In order to find the best, we consulted industry experts, local food guides, reviews, and listings, and compiled our own knowledge from experiences at restaurants in the different regions. What we ended up with was a shortlist of 214 restaurants from 25 different countries and regions. This list was then shared with our illustrious panel of judges (comprised primarily of restaurant critics, food and lifestyle writers, and assorted bloggers from across the globe), who undertook the tough task of voting for their favorites across a broad geographical area. In the interests of accuracy and fairness, panelists were asked only to vote for restaurants where they had eaten within the past 12 months.
The voting — based on region, cuisine, and the style of the restaurant (budget, casual/neighborhood, and serious dining/special occasion) — narrowed the list to an honored group of 101. The final list includes a versatile mix of restaurants from all the 28 different countries and islands nominated, with 27 restaurants from Mexico represented.
Topping our list is none other than Pujol, part of kingdom of famed chef Enrique Olvera, who also helms Maiz del Mar (see #15) and Moxi (see #4), as well as the highly-acclaimed Cosme in New York City. You’ll also find beautiful destination eateries, like Flora’s Field Kitchen, a farm-to-table eatery at the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains just outside of Los Cabos.
As you click through our list, reflect on your own opinions and thoughts on our selections — how did your favorite restaurants rank, and which one do you think should have been numero uno? In the end, we all have our own opinions on what is "best," and as we can attest from past experience, a list like this one is bound to stir up disagreements among discerning diners; even our own staff was divided over which restaurants should make the final cut.
#25 Taquería Los Parados (Mexico City)
This favorite Mexico City taquería is on the list of author Patricia Schultz’s 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, so maybe that's reason enough to pay a visit. Rick Bayless, America's most esteemed non-Mexican expert on Mexico's cuisine, chose the place to demonstrate three essential Mexican salsas on his Mexico — One Plate at a Time series, too. The menu at this casual, standing-room-only place is heavy on tacos, obviously — featured are tacos de arrachera (skirt steak), bistec con queso (steak and cheese), and chile poblano con queso (chiles and cheese), among others — but the chicharrón de queso, a thin piece of pan-fried cheese, is also a favorite.
#24 La Choza (Cozumel)
For an authentic meal in Cozumel, locals and tourists alike will direct you to La Choza. Inside the squat, yellow building with its red-tiled roof, the restaurant is big, lively, and bright, filled with archways, small wooden tables, lanterns and plants hanging from the ceilings, and colorful Mexican artwork adorning the walls. La Choza is known for its mole poblano, but equally good are its guacamole, chicken and beef fajitas, quesadillas, ceviche, pork in tomato sauce, and grilled seafood dishes (especially the fish of the day).