Mexico City is a daunting place. Trying to find the best places to eat across the D.F (as locals refer to it) would be about as productive as trying to see the whole city in one trip. With that in mind, we've narrowed down some suggestions on the best places to grab a bite within the city's famous Centro Histórico.
Cafe de Tacuba
Founded in 1912, Cafe de Tacuba is a mainstay of the Historic Center. The restaurant hosted the wedding reception of Diego Rivera and Guadalupe Marin in 1922 and has always had close ties to the arts since then. It's also hosted most of Mexico's presidents since the days of Porfirio Diaz. Of course, all the historical importance in the world won't save you if the food isn't good, but luckily, Tacuba is well-equipped to demonstrate that it deserves its longevity. The enchiladas tacuba are a particular favorite, and the pineapple empanada is also a legend.
Cafe el Popular
Cafe el Popular is a no-frills, local favorite. If the most important part of a meal is the food itself, this is where you go. Plus, you can go anytime—they're open 24 hours a day. There's a wonderful selection of pan dulce at breakfast, and the horchata, hot chocolate, and coffee all receive high praise, as well. But breakfast isn't the only thing they get right. If you can brave the crowd during the day, you'll find the rest of the menu is well worth it. You aren't guaranteed an English-speaking server and you will have to wait, but the prices are just as great as the food.
Azul Historico is a tourist favorite, offering nouveau cuisine twists on traditional Mexican foods on a semi-open patio under a canopy of vines. Various regions of Mexico have representation on the menu, offering a nice overview for people who are visiting the country. Azul moles adhere to Oaxacan traditions while their cochinita pibil represents Yucatán cuisine. While there's definitely a stronger emphasis on presentation here than at Tacuba, Azul Historico still gives you a great sweet spot between cost and a quality meal.
Padrinos Centro shares a building with Azul Historico, with similar seating on a courtyard patio. The food is a little pricey, but a solid menu with a strong emphasis on seafood makes up for it. If you're a fan of fish, this is the place to go. For ambiance, there's a vertical garden in the dining area that holds aloft a bicycle. The green wall serves as an art installation, a beautification attempt, and a contribution to efforts to clean up the city's air.
Los Girsaoles is situated near the art museum and looks out over Tolsa Square. The restaurant specializes in pre-Hispanic Mexican cuisine, meaning that you're in for a bit of an adventure. One famous entrée consists of maguey worms, ant larvae, and grasshoppers. If you're not feeling up for anything quite so out of the ordinary, there is still a solid menu of more familiar fare, which is also done well. You'll pay a little more for the chance to branch out into unusual culinary territory, but most people find the experience well worth it.