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Bruna, Guadalajara
Photograph: Courtesy Bruna

The best restaurants in Mexico

The best restaurants in Mexico offer a variety of traditional dishes and innovative new foods from states across the country.

Written by Lola Méndez (Time Out), in association with Visa
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Mexico is home to some of the best cuisine in the world with an abundance of traditional dishes that hail from various states and pueblos. No two places prepare tacos the exact same way whether it be from a street stall to a high-end dining establishment. Eating in Mexico is a culinary adventure that will tantalize the taste buds. Taste regional and seasonal dishes across the country’s top tourist destinations including Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, and Mexico City. These are 20 of today’s best restaurants in Mexico, including new spots that preserve traditional cooking practices and others that celebrate contemporary Mexican cuisine.

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Best restaurants in Mexico

Cancun 

Cancún’s claim to the 50 Best Restaurants in Latin America is a contemporary experiential multi-sensory dining experience. Located in the Azul Beach Resort, Le Chique serves a tasting menu created by mastermind Chef Jonatan Gómez Luna which brings together the diverse flavors of Mexican cuisine such as beef tongue with black mole.

San Sebastian del Oeste

Set in a garden in the Sierra Madre mountains in the Pueblo Magico of San Sebastian del Oeste, this restaurant serves dishes prepared with ingredients from its chemical-free farm. Order a-la-carte or choose between the vegan or non-vegan five-course tasting menus. Try a cocktail made with the in-house raicilla.

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Puerto Vallarta

The non-touristy neighborhood Ixtapa is home to this celebrated small restaurant that serves creative cuisine inspired by traditional Mexican flavors. Presentation makes each bite a feast for the senses. For instance, dragon fruit brings color to a plate of aquachile, and pink corn dough is served with a cow-tongue soup.

Guadalajara

Guadalajara’s Bruna is helmed by Chef Garza who creates contemporary Mexican dishes. Sit outside in the garden enveloped in mist and choose from beef in mole negro, citrus butter scallops, or curried mussels. For dessert, have a Belgium chocolate bunny inspired by the contemporary art in the adjoining Galería BRUNA.

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Mexico City 

One of Mexico City’s newest culinary offerings is from the celebrated Chef Mario Espinosa. Tencüi is set in a colonial mansion with the entire menu dedicated to the versatility of fungi. From mushroom stews to mushroom-infused cocktails and mushroom-forward desserts, the versatile ingredient fungi—an inherent part of Mexican cuisine—is served innovatively.

Punta Mita

Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita’s newest dining establishment is MEZ. The mezcalería offers over 70 mezcals. Enjoy a unique mezcal cocktail paired with grilled mezcal street corn or slow-cooked mezcal pork ribs. As the neon pink sign says, “El amor se acaba el Mezcal no” meaning “Love ends, Mezcal doesn't.”

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Mexico City 

Mexico City is full of street food. Expendio de Maiz Sin Nombre puts a spin on that tradition by offering a menu-less dining experience where the chef prepares their choice of dish based on seasonal harvests. Sit at the communal table and keep asking for another plate until you’re satiated.

Todos Santos 

This Todos Santos farm-to-table establishment is a place for Chef Javier Plascencia to play with his curiosity for taste, thus crafting a culinary journey for diners. The Baja California native creates a menu incorporating farm-fresh ingredients including locally harvested oysters, garden-picked zucchini carpaccio, and roasted cauliflower. Save room for a flan with guava.

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Valle de Guadalupe 

The new Valle de Guadalupe slow food restaurant features a daily menu that’s curated based on what ingredients are readily available including freshly caught seafood. The fully outdoor seating boasts incredible views of the surrounding wine country. Walk-ins aren’t accepted and reservations are recommended at least two weeks in advance.

Valle de Bravo

This zero-waste restaurant in Valle de Bravo is all about creating environmentally conscious and delicious meals by using seasonable sustainably sourced produce. The menu changes weekly based on the local harvest. Daily plates on offer range from broccolini served with tahini, kale, and seeds, to a trio of open-faced sandwiches.

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Puerto Vallarta

Located next to the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, this tiny restaurant serves celebrated dishes from across Mexico, including Oaxacan tlayuda. Opened for two years, what makes Mezcal y Sal memorable is that each cocktail is elaborately prepared –some are served in a bouquet of flowers, and others are surrounded by rosemary smoke.

Mexico City 

This new spot in Mexico City serves an eclectic fusion of foods including shiitake gyoza, pizza, and pasta made from scratch including gnocchi and ravioli, followed by decadent desserts such as blueberry cobbler. Pair your meal with a craft cocktail such as an apple honey lavender vodka concoction, or natural wine.

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Los Cabos 

In Los Cabos, Chileno Bay Resort debuted a new female-led Mediterranean and Latin American fusion restaurant inspired by the laid-back aesthetic of sea-side living. Helmed by Chef Eliana Godinez, patrons can choose from woodfire oven pizza and homemade pasta, side dishes of veggies including roasted Brussel sprouts, or hummus musabaha.

Ensenada 

Ensenada's coolest restaurant bar serves regional cuisine by Diego Hernández paired with cocktails by bartender Alexandra Purcaru. Small plates are meant to be shared including cilantro salad, charcoal roasted beets, veal gizzard taco, and more. Cocktails have a Mexican twist such as the Oaxaca old-fashioned with oyster sauce and mole bitters.

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Puerto Vallarta

The burgeoning vegan food scene in Puerto Vallarta recently welcomed this joint that serves a vegan rendition of street food like pozole and tacos at street food prices. What started as an evening pop-up around the corner at Vegetarian Mary’s is now a stand-alone hole-in-the-wall spot for $1 tacos.

Mexico City 

Azul Restaurant's newest location is in the heart of Mexico City’s Polanco neighborhood. Chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita is known for rescuing traditional recipes from regions across the country and transforming them into unique plates. Azul y Oro serves chile en nogada from July to September for Mexico’s Independence Day celebrations.

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El Pescadero 

Garden-inspired cuisine is available at this beautiful eatery in El Pescadero. Dine in the lush garden and enjoy wood-oven pizza, the fresh catch of the day, or local organic poultry enhanced with garden-fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Save room for dessert including seasonal fruit chia seed pudding and banana cheesecake.

Tulum 

Tulum is a plant-based eaters paradise. Tierra is a vegetarian spot within a holistic retreat accommodation. The menu is 100 percent toxin-free and dismantles the misconception that eating veggies are boring by serving vegetable-forward renditions of typical Mexican plates like garbanzo tlacoyo, enmoladas, cauliflower aguachile, and a selection of vegan meat tacos.

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Puerto Vallarta

Perked on a hill in Puerto Vallarta, this new tapas and wine bar offers sweeping views of the ocean and mountains. Enjoy nightly buy one get one free wine specials while surrounded by lush plants—vivero means plant nursery in Spanish. Check the events calendar for live music, bottomless brunch, and more.

Cancun 

Al Pastor is the fan favorite at this Cancun taqueria, or if you’re really hungry order the San Diego Burrito with half a kilo of beef, chives, fried potato, gouda cheese, guacamole, and garlic cream. Wash down your order with the agua del dia, aka the fruit-infused water of the day.

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