Eating out seems to be the main pastime in the capital, with reasonably priced restaurants, cafés, taquerías and juice stands on every block.
Costs vary enormously. You can get a decent comida corrida pretty much anywhere in town, even in the fancier neighbourhoods (though not in Polanco or Condesa), for M$35–70. Otherwise, there are excellent bargains to be found all over the city in small restaurants and taquerías, but as you move up into the mid-range places you can expect to pay something approaching what you would at home. At the top end you can soon find yourself paying big money, especially if you order something decent from the wine list. In upmarket restaurants, a cover charge of M$10–50 per head is commonly added to the bill.
The choice of where to eat ranges from traditional coffeehouses to fast-food lunch counters, taking in expensive international and rock-bottom Mexican cooking along the way. There’s a small cluster of Chinese restaurants lining Dolores, just south of the Alameda, and food stalls in markets throughout the city: Merced is the biggest, but not a terribly pleasant place to eat. At the back of Plaza Garibaldi, however, there’s a market hall given over to nothing but food stands, each vociferously competing with its neighbours. Mexico City also abounds in rosticerías, roast chicken shops, serving tasty set meals and crispy chicken with beer in a jolly atmosphere. There are quite a few good ones on 5 de Febrero. For lighter, sweeter fare, try a jugería (juice bar) or a pastelería (cake shop). Both are good bets for flavourful and inexpensive breakfasts.
More so than anywhere else in the country, Mexico City is flooded with chain restaurants. American franchise establishments are well represented, along with slightly classier Mexican chains such as Sanborns and VIPS – on the whole, you’re much better off with a comida corrida.
The area around the Zócalo and west through to the Alameda is packed with places to eat, and there are plenty of tourist traps in the Zona Rosa, but for serious dining, especially in the mid-range, head to Condesa, about twenty minutes’ walk south of the Zona. We’ve mentioned a few options in this area, but they are really just starting points, and the real pleasure is in simply wandering around and seeing what grabs your fancy. Top-class restaurants are mostly concentrated in Polanco. The southern suburbs of San Ángel and Coyoacán are also good hunting grounds and it is worth sticking around for your evening meal after a day’s sightseeing.