Five Glorious Breakfasts to Fuel Your First Trip to Mexico City
The only thing better than breakfast in Mexico City? Breakfast that won't cost you precious minutes of mural gazing because you woke up in Polanco and schlepped to a Condesa bakery before your 9:00am appointment at the Palacio Nacional. To help you survive rush hour in this notoriously gridlocked city, we've paired five CDMX breakfast standouts with some of the parks, sites, and museums we'd consider musts for first-timers. The DF's fascinating (and often confounding) syncretic history is simply not compatible with low blood sugar. Given the local affinity for late-lunching, we'd suggest adhering to a strict chilaquiles-before-churches policy.
At El Cardenal, a stone's throw from the 16th-century Zócalo, bow-tied servers and stained glass windows offer a glimpse of what a festive breakfast in this historic 'hood might have looked like in the 1970s, if not in the days of Cortés. But the menu is pre-Hispanic-inspired, and huevos are the move, whether you have them scrambled with guajillo chili sausage or in an omelette with maguey blossoms and tomatillo. The critical thing is to order the bittersweet hot chocolate, which is whipped tableside using a traditional molinillo—and trademarkably frothy. As one local connoisseur sagely advised: "El chocolate es para el cuerpo, la espuma para el alma." Chocolate is for the body, foam for the soul.
El Cardenal; Calle de la Palma 23
Truth: Sprawling archaeological complexes should not be attempted on an empty stomach. And yet, if you're hoping to have some alone-time with the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, a sit-down meal may not be the most practical way to kick off your day-trip to Teotihuacan. Our advice? An elevated pit-stop. If you're staying anywhere in the vicinity of Roma or Condesa, have your driver swing by the more serene Juárez location of Panadería Rosetta, which opens at 7am (7:30 on Sundays). Order a coconut macadamia juice and a take-away box of Mexico City's finest pan dulce. Remember, you're scaling the Pyramid of the Sun today, so a balanced desayuno of guava danishes, fig croissants, and cacao buns is perfectly justifiable. Those steps are steep. And there are 245 of them. And with the altitude...
Panadería Rosetta; Calle Havre 73
La Casa Azul—Museo Frida Kahlo
Fonda Margarita is easy to love. There's the family vibe, the filling, affordable fare, the coal-fired cazuelas, the breakfast mariachi. Situated in residential Colonia del Valle, in the southern part of the city, everyone's favorite fonda is perhaps a bit of a trek first thing in the morning (and you do want to show up first thing—top-sellers are often scarce by 10 or 10:30). A bit of a trek, that is, unless you happen to be headed for Frida and Coyoacán. In which case, queue with the regulars, (and be neighborly—they'll soon be your tablemates), order a cinnamon and piloncillo-sweetened "café de olla" (no lattes in these parts), and dig into home-style churros or chicharrón. Follow your neighbor's advice and sample the infamous "refritos con huevo", a lard-forward egg and black bean patty that's delicious as it is unprepossessing. A warm tortilla helps!
Fonda Margarita; Adolfo Prieto 1364
Roma & Condesa
Where to kick off your lazy stroll through two of the city's most ramble-worthy colonias? Our vote goes to the Condesa location of Maque, a revered local chainlet where you can contemplate the Mexican pastry canon: glazed "cuernitos" (little horns), empanadas de cajeta (the DF's answer to dulce de leche), ear-shaped "orejas" that come sugared or whole wheat, and conchas in three sizes (you're welcome, Goldilocks). But there's more to Maque than meets the carbo-loader's eye. The chilaquiles are some of the city's best. Ditto to the nopal and orange jugo verde. If possible, hold out for a sidewalk table on the Av. Ozuluama side of the corner building; you'll be able to watch Parque México yawn to life and keep an eye on the pinafore-frocked pastry chefs kneading away through the glass windows.
Maque; Avenida Ozuluama 4
Maybe it's the fruit vendor across the street who tipped his sombrero—or the sidewalk welcome from the posse of pets whose humans are inside downing rosemary rolls and espresso. Maybe it's the way the eastern sunlight streams through the half-open accordion doors onto vintage china-clad tables. Somehow, we just can't seem to have breakfast at Lardo and not have a really really good day. Elena Reygadas (the genia who's also responsible for Panadería Rosetta) has a gift for marrying elegance and warmth, and this all-day Mexican-Mediterranean charmer is no exception. But if your morning at Lardo doesn't leave you feeling existentially nourished, at least you'll be well-positioned for a sally into the Bosque. So take in the views from Chapultepec Castle, wander the botanic gardens, and spend some time exploring one of the park's landmark museums: the formidable (but fabulous) Museo Nacional de Antropología or the more focused Rufino Tamayo.
Lardo; Agustín Melgar 6