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Worldwide //  North America //  Mexico
5 Restaurants

From Andrew Harper:

The vast republic of Mexico encompasses nearly 2 million square miles of every topography imaginable: verdant grasslands; mountain ranges; volcanic plains; dense rain forests. However, most visitors are only familiar with its shoreline. Travelers have been flocking to the beaches of Mazatlán, Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta for decades.  In recent years, the Caribbean “Riviera Maya” has become increasingly popular, as have smaller pockets of the Pacific Coast such as Zihuatanejo and Costa Alegre. A visit to the colonial heart of Mexico is worthwhile -- in particular to the cities of San Miguel de Allende and nearby Guanajuato, both located in the highlands northwest of Mexico City. These are fine destinations for amblers without agendas. Expect plenty of winding cobblestone streets, stately continental mansions and a tranquilo pace of life. Accommodations here are suitably historic and eclectic; the Casa de Sierra Nevada in San Miguel is assembled from several disparate mansions near the zócalo.

- Andrew Harper


One hour behind New York (EST). Baja California Sur is three hours behind.


Aside from the northern Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, much of Mexico consists of high plateaus with a warm, agreeable climate. Temperatures are determined largely by altitude. Winter in the mountains can bring freezing conditions, while coastal areas remain blissfully tropical. Rain falls chiefly from May-August. The most pleasant time to visit all areas is November-May. 


Peso (MXN). Fluctuating rate valued at MXN13 = US$1.00 as of April 2014. Note: Many hotels quote room rates in US$ only.


To phone hotels in Mexico, dial 011 (international access) + 52 (Mexico code) + city code and local numbers in listings.


Mexico City, Tel. (55) 5080-2000. Consulates: Guadalajara, Tel. (33) 3268-2100; Merida, Tel. (999) 942-5700; Juárez, Tel. (656) 227-3000; Hermosillo, Tel. (662) 289-3500; Matamoros, Tel. (868) 812-4402; Monterrey, Tel. (81) 8047-3100; Tijuana, Tel. (664) 977-2000.


Passport. Visit, and for travelers’ health information,


Visit before your trip.

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Set in the nightlife neighborhood of Chapultepec in Guadalajara, this colorful restaurant serves upscale cuisine inspired by recipes from a variety of Mexican regions. I enjoyed a refreshing and light cold avocado soup with yogurt, watermelon and mint; and a main course of sea bass from the nearby Careyes Coast served on an okra-like cactus paddle and topped with a rich pumpkin-seed mole.

Calle Pedro Moreno 1398 Americana Guadalajara, Jalisco

This is home to chef Enrique Olvera, an alumnus of the celebrated Everest in Chicago, who is renowned for his special take on Mexican cuisine. The interior is a study in white, with the only splashes of color coming from well-placed works of art. As for the food, while Olvera deals with ingredients that are part of the Mexican canon, he doesn’t hesitate to use them in new and intriguing ways. Thus, you’ll see dishes such as pan-seared sea scallops with a tasty corn cake and mushrooms; a wonderful squash-blossom “cappuccino,” actually a creamy soup topped with a coconut foam dusted with nutmeg; duck carpaccio with a pumpkin-seed vinaigrette and a mezcal foam, and a delicious cocoa-crusted venison served with three kinds of bananas. The service is excellent. Closed on Sundays.

Calle Francisco Petrarca 254 Naucalpan de Juárez US$55

A short taxi ride from downtown Guanajuato, the leafy “Garden of Miracles” makes a lovely setting for a leisurely lunch. The young chef carefully explained each of the nine courses on the tasting menu. Although the creative presentations were contemporary, his passion for local traditions was obvious. I especially liked the “cappuccino,” a savory cream of botil beans topped with tortilla foam and charred tortilla crumbs; and a delicate róbalo (snook) fillet topped with an asparagus-spinach sauce.

Calle Alhóndiga 80 San Javier Guanajuato

This is the Mexican cousin of Arzak, the restaurant at the forefront of the new Basque cooking in Spain. The wonderful menu offers hallmark Spanish dishes, plus many that incorporate Mexican ingredients and flair. The interior contains several different levels (one with just a single table for four), which give it a great sense of space. Starters might include an excellent broth of baby squid and a foie gras mousse with sliced mango. Among the best main courses is the sea bass in a pistachio sauce. The wine list has a terrific selection of Spanish and Mexican wines. Look particularly at bottlings from Baja.

Royal Royal Hotel Zona Rosa, Amberes 78 Ciudad de México US$55

Simply called “Lu” by Morelians, this restaurant ranks among the city’s best. Chef Lucero Soto digs deep into Michoacán cuisine, creating contemporary dishes with a strong sense of place. We selected the tasting menu, which started with three mezcals distilled from the local wild cupreata agave, and cotija cheeses of various ages. Tostadas topped with fresh tuna, arugula and spicy mole followed, along with a “seasonal soup” of mushrooms and al dente vegetables. And I loved the grilled lamb chops with a zesty peanut mole, accompanied by a tamale-like corunda.

Portal Hidalgo 229 Centro Morelia

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