Mexico City – the most populous city in North America - glistens at night with myriads of lights. Bustling and busy, bringing up memories of Kerouac’s caffeine-infused Mexico City Blues as well as more ancient tribal Aztec parallels. The nightlife here is absolutely unique, twisting and combining European, U.S., and indigenous influences into something truly special – cuisine included. From crowded nightclubs to fabulous restaurants to more intimate and homely places – everyone will find something to one's liking. Here are a few spots you don’t want to miss!
Do you like seafood? Well, here’s a spot to enjoy with a bunch of friends before going to an all-night bar crawl! The restaurant is called Contramar and it’s on Calle Durango. Open ‘til 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday it offers fresh fish and clams as well as an impressive selection of drinks to get the party started.
The pristine white modernist décor of the place makes the dishes stand out even more and fantastic smells fill the dining hall. There’s so much to try here, so sharing is a go to plan. Try the red snapper, slightly smoked on a grill and lavishly dressed with chilies, pesto, cumin, parsley, and garlic! It’s a bliss! The shrimp tacos served here are also exceptionally good, and don’t forget about desserts! Meringues and chocolate cake are always on the menu!
Chinese cuisine is the next growing trend in Mexico City and probably the best Chinese restaurant is open ‘til 11 p.m. The place called Hunan can be found on Paseo de la Reforma and it’s a delight!
Right from the doors, you’ll dive into this relaxing atmosphere with dim lights, comfortable seats, and attentive staff. This is a welcoming change of pace from the roaring city outside. The menu is quite modest, but ticks all the necessary boxes. The spicy chicken is perfect here – tender and savory as it should be. You should definitely try the vegetable dumplings! Oh, and if your friends still want to eat Mexican – the are delicious taquitos on the menu. The place is moderately priced but quite popular among the locals, so booking in advance is almost mandatory.
So it’s already past midnight on a weekend and your friends are dying for a steak? Well, Sonora Grill on Coyoacán 1955 is at your service with its lofty yet quite comfortable decor and an extremely friendly staff!
The spot is ideal to have some drinks, to watch a game or to listen (and dance!) to a live DJ set. The kitchen here fails to disappoint too. A hefty, juicy properly cooked ribeye steak with a delicious crust can make any meat lover cry tears of joy! Get yourself a nice side dish with mushrooms, fresh vegetables or creamed spinach to double the goodness! The place is revered for its margaritas, so it would be a crime to leave without trying!
Those seeking a more classy experience will find El Cardenal in San Angel district perfect for a romantic dinner in style. This remote spot has much to offer – from a very distinct ambiance, reminiscent of the old fortifications of the Mexican Revolution, to a very satisfying menu bursting with revived gems of the regional cuisine.
Those used to eating Mexican food from food-tucks or delivery services will be pleasantly surprised with attention to detail and subtle nuances of flavor! Just try the revered El Cardenal enchiladas – you’ll be hooked from the first bite! However, if you really want to spice up the night a little (and if your date doesn’t mind) – share a bowl of escamoles, or ant eggs! Hold on! Stay with me on this one! Sure, it may sound disgusting at first but the taste and texture are amazing! Nutty and soft, reminiscent of home cheese, this delicacy dates back to the Aztec times and can surprise even sophisticated foodies! Served with herbs and a stack of tortillas – escamoles are a must try in Mexico! El Cardenal’s menu is full of traditional recipes like that, making the place more than worthy of a mark on your map.
Finally, if you are just looking for a simpler place with a unique DIY charm and nice music – stop by Hostería La Bota in San Jerónimo in Downtown. That petit restaurant and bar - owned by a writer Antonio Calera-Grobet – looks more like a little crammed antique shop, but serves a great mixture of Mediterranean and Spanish cuisines.
The tiny, very human-sized, tables are perfect for an intimate chat but would accommodate a small company and a tray of shots, if that’s your idea of fun. The menu is equally moderate with a nice selection of tasty tapas. The seafood ones are surprisingly good and the huge portions are designed for sharing. Paella at Hostería La Bota is fantastic! That very humble, almost home-made approach to the serving only highlights an already perfect taste – definitely one of the best Paella places this side of the pond! If, after all that, you are still hungry – order a bowl of fabada! This simple, thick, but very fulfilling soup will make you happy – guaranteed.
These are just a few of the bright spots on the map of the great old Mexico City. There are even more great restaurants, bars, and nightclubs that can help you ease the strain of the work week or become an endearing tourist experience! Now go! Mix with the locals, try something new and have fun!