One Tradition, Two Styles in Mexico City

One Tradition, Two Styles in Mexico City

Finding good Mexican cuisine in Mexico City isn’t hard to do, but narrowing it down to the best of the best, with so many options, can be challenging. Whether it’s super traditional recipes that taste like they came from abuela’s kitchen or fine dining that has transformed time-honored techniques and ingredients to create delectable new dishes — the city that locals still call “Distrito Federal” (despite it being officially renamed Ciudad de México) offers an inconceivable spectrum of options. We’ve narrowed it down to two must-not-miss restaurants to try while in Mexico’s mega metropolis.

El Pozole de Moctezuma

Don’t let the amateur photos on the website dissuade you from trying the pozole, a traditional Mexican stew made with hominy and pork or chicken, and seasoned with cabbage, chili peppers, onion, garlic, radishes, avocado, and limes. There are different varieties and styles of pozole, and El Pozole de Moctezuma offers what locals consider one of the most authentic. The restaurant, worth the hunt it takes to find it, is located on Moctezuma Street, but on the block where it is supposed to be, there’s no trace of the place. Locate the number 12 address and you’ll find nothing there, except the glorious smell of simmering pork. A closer look leads hungry hunters to a doorbell with a tiny label above it that reads “pazole.” After pressing the buzzer, one enters a residential building, where it’s not uncommon to bump into actual residents.

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The signature Moctezuma Pozole is made with chicharrón (fried pork belly or rinds), sardine, a raw egg, and — the best part — a spoonful of mezcal for that perfect smoky flavor. The surroundings are meager, but the complex bowl of soup is life-changing. (Moctezuma 12, Guerrero, 06300 Ciudad de México)

Pujol

Coincidentally, the esteemed Mexican chef Enrique Olvera named his illustrious restaurant after his endearing teenage moniker, “Pujol,” a garbled delivery of pazole. The restaurant is the top brass of local culinary experiences and completes its first year in its new location at Tennyson 133 — a hop, skip, and a jump from where the 17-year-old eatery got its origins as a more formal, white-tablecloth destination for celebrating anniversaries. With its new trendy appeal, the restaurant keeps its storied sophistication but lures younger crowds with a subdued revelry achieved by melodious lounge music and obliging servers.

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Above: Courtesy of David Duran

Guests dine two ways at Pujol: in pairs at the bar or at tables where groups order from a fixed six-course menu. Either way, diners begin their meals with creative mezcal cocktails that carefully stoke their appetite. Popular choices from the menu are the baby elote (street corn on the cob) and the revered fifth course combining mole madre and mole nuevo, a sauce-based dish that’s aged for 1,258 days. Guests retire on after-dinner coffees, the bitter taste sweetened by the avocado, coconut, lime, and macadamia still coalescing from dessert. (Calle Tennyson 133, Polanco IV Sección, 11570 Miguel Hidalgo, CDMX)

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