Four Restaurants in Mexico City in 24 Hours

Perfect ceviche in Mexico City.

Couldn't get enough of this perfect ceviche at Emilio.

While planning a recent business trip, I knew the sightseeing would be limited, but I didn’t know I would spend almost the entire time in four restaurants in Mexico City in 24 hours.

It was a lesson in how business is done in Mexico, and fortunately, it was a delicious one.

We flew direct out of Tijuana, which is a breeze now with the Cross Border Express (CBX). Parked the car in long term parking ($20 a night) and we were through customs and at the gate in 15 minutes. It was an outstanding experience that I hope more San Diegans will try.

Crossing the border on the CBX bridge.

When you walk across the CBX bridge, you walk right across the border.

We were starving when we landed, so our host directed us to a very late lunch at a charming restaurant in Polanco called Emilio. Little did I know that this was the start of our four restaurants in Mexico City odyssey. We ordered a perfect ceviche, little rounds of foie gras with fresh fig and what we thought was going to be a duck taco, but was more like a duck egg roll with a tangy-sweet sauce. Surprising and delicious.

Foie Gras at Emilio in Mexico City.

Little bites of Foie Gras? Yes, please.

Duck tacos at Emilio in Mexico City.

Have you ever seen duck tacos like these?

The restaurant is situated across from Lincoln Park (yes, there is a statue of Lincoln, as well as MLK!) a lush green beltway with a large pond and several pieces of public art. We sat on the open patio and the people watching was superb. Musicians who play loudly for pesos, would stand in front of the patio, but it’s part of city life and they moved on after five minutes or so.

Our host showed up as we were finishing and after a swift café, we went to our hotel, the gorgeous Live Aqua located in Bosques de las Lomas. A little off the beaten path, he had recommended the hotel since it was close to his office and it exceeded my expectations, in design, room comfort and service.

Stunning interior design at Hotel Aqua Live.

Stunning interior design at Hotel Aqua Live.

Design detail in the lobby of Aqua Live Mexico City.

As a book lover, I was taken by this design detail in the lobby of Aqua Live.

We left our bags and walked through the adjacent mall, ending our jaunt at Costa Guadiana where he promptly ordered tequila for the table. The second meal had begun and we had barely finished digesting our first.

But, as is done in Mexico, we sipped our tequila (El Aguila, a dangerously smooth sipping tequila) and chatted for quite a long while. We eventually ordered a few small plates, including a spectacularly colored and flavored cochinta pibil appetizer. We walked back to our hotel and had an excellent night’s sleep.

Pre-dinner tequila in Mexico City.

Now this is how you start a proper meal in Mexico City.

The next day, after a few hours of work, we rolled over to one of our host’s favorite restaurants, Loma Linda. We headed up to the second floor patio and it was buzzing. Mind you it was already 2 pm, but lunch was really just happening in earnest at that hour.

Lunch started with beers and wine (we had a lovely red from Adobe Guadalupe, one of our favorite wineries in Valle de Guadalupe). Have you ever heard of Jugo de Carne (meat juice)? I had not and though I was a little hesitant it was fantastic. A very rich beef broth, thick but without any chunks in it, served with slices of lime, Worcestershire sauce and steak sauce. A little squirt of lime was all it needed and I believe it was created to soothe what ails you.

Our waiter brought a tray of raw meat to the table and our host selected three cuts. The food was all served family style, including guacamole, pork tacos, incredibly flavorful corn (I really wanted more of that) and crispy, puffy small potatoes (need I say more?). The meat arrived on a smoking hot plancha that was placed in the center of the table and was accompanied by homemade corn tortillas and various salsas.

The level of service in Mexico City is something to behold. From the time we sat at our table to being served drinks and our soup was about 12 minutes. There is such a high level of staff to customers that they can really deliver on service.

At the end of our meal, I tried a shaken Carajill – a coffee cocktail enhanced with Licor 43. I don’t know how I’ve missed this treat considering all the times I have been to Mexico, but I am so happy to have discovered it.

Lunch lasted about 3 hours.

We went back to the office for some more meetings and work and then took a quick break before heading out to dinner.

Public Art in business office in Mexico City.

Oh, just some incredible art in the lobby of a business office.

I couldn’t believe it, but we were going to experience four restaurants in Mexico City within about 24 hours.

We wanted to see at least a little of the city so we drove into the center of town to a restaurant called Blanco Colima in the Roma section. The whole area is beautiful, but as you can see, the historic nature of the building made this a very special place.

Blanco Colima, in the historic Roma district of Mexico City.

Blanco Colima, in the historic Roma district of Mexico City.

Once again I started with El Aguila, which worried me as I was already starting to get used to this idea. We ordered a variety of cold and hot small plates and there were a couple of real standouts (I couldn’t get great photos as the restaurant was so dark).

A tiradito of pulpo was the flavor profile I so love in Mexican food. They know how to create the perfect balance of savory, sweet, salt and acid in a dish.

But the dish that bowled over the entire table was dessert.

Cake filled with Manchego cheese and guava glace at Blanco Colima in Mexico City

Looks simple, but this cake filled with Manchego Cheese was an extraordinary dessert.

Imagine a small cake, not too sweet, with a slightly caramelized top crust, filled with Manchego cheese. Oh but that’s not all. It was served with a glace of guava on a membrillo sauce (quince paste). We all wanted another, but couldn’t bring ourselves to order it after all the food we had eaten. We dissected this dessert and I hope to one day create something that comes close to it.

Waiter preparing for the next day at Blanco Colima in Mexico City.

Preparing for the next day at Blanco Colima.

I would gladly eat at four restaurants in Mexico City in 24 hours again. The city was sprawling, chaotic, full of incredible architecture, gracious people and truly delicious food. Can’t wait to go back.