Mexico City is the culinary capital every foodie needs to visit

By Kae Lani Kennedy,
Mexico's agricultural bounty
No matter what time of year it is, Mexico has an exciting mix of fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season.  Tropical fruits such as dragon fruit, mamey, mangosteen, lychee and guava can be found in markets and street stands throughout Mexico City. 
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Spice up your life!
Peppers (Capsicum annuum) are one of Mexico’s many great contributions to the world.  Chile peppers originated in Mexico, so when it comes to bringing the heat, Mexican cuisine is where it’s at. They are the fundamental ingredient to much of the flavor in Mexican cuisine, ranging from mild, herby flavors to fiery spice that will ignite all of your taste buds.
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Corn smut is a delicacy
Huitlacoche, or corn smut as we call it in the United States, is a disease that grows on ears of corn, turning the yellow kernels into gray, puffy stones. Seems gross, but really it is a delicacy packed with 13 types of amino acids that have been enjoyed in Mexico since the Aztecs. Huitlacoche is Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, for "raven poop," which doesn’t sound appetizing, but you’ll find this corn fungus in stews and tamales or cooked plain as a side. The flavor is savory and early like a mushroom with a sweet aftertaste reminiscent of corn.
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Bug eating: Don't knock it until you've tried it
Yes, there are plenty of bugs to chow down on in Mexico City, including scorpions and crickets, often called chapulines. It’s not as bad as you might think. When bugs with an exoskeleton are baked, their insides evaporate, leaving behind a crunchy, chip-like exterior. Cover with orange juice, lime juice, salt and chili and these bugs go from creepy crawlers to delicious, protein-packed snacks!
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Holy mole
Mole is not just a sauce; it's one of the most iconic dishes made in every Mexican household and in an infinite amount of ways. Mole is made of an average of 20 ingredients and varies depending on what ingredients are in season, as well as the mood the cook is in. But at Pujol, named Mexico City’s best restaurant by the Wall Street Journal, the mole madre contains around 50 ingredients and has been stewing for over 1,400 days. As ingredients and time are added, you end up with a sauce that’s strong enough to stand alone. Mole madre is a crescendo of savory flavor that is continuously building and evolving into a delicious sauce that is different every time you try it. 
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The surprising seafood scene
First time travelers to Mexico may be surprised that fish in Mexican cuisine goes beyond fish tacos. Equidistant between the Gulf Coast and the Pacific Ocean, Mexico City has access to some of the best fish in the world. If you’re cooking up a Mexican fish feast at your Airbnb, check out the fish stands at the 150-year-old Mercado de San Juan in Mexico City’s historic center.
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No matter how full you get, there's always room for churros
There is not a moment the line at El Moro isn't out the door, and for good reason. Traditional churros have been churned out here for over 80 years. Crisp on the outside, cakey on the inside, and when dipped in a Mexican hot chocolate – bliss. El Moro is open 24/7, so you can get your churros any time.
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A toast to Mexico's most important drinks: Tequila and mezcal
There’s a lot of confusion between tequila and mezcal, and understandably so. There are so many kinds of tequila and mezcal that Mexico City has a whole museum dedicated to the types of varieties available: The Museum of Tequila and Mezcal located in Plaza Garibaldi.  Simply put, tequila is actually a subset of mezcal because it's made only from blue agave, and is produced in five regions: Jalisco, Michoacan, Guanajuato, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. Mezcal can be made from upwards of 30 varieties of agave, and is produced in 9 regions: Oaxaca (produces 85% of mezcales), Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, San Luis Potosi, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Michoacan, and Puebla. 
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Take a sip of this vicious Harry Potter-inspired cocktail at Luciferina
Known for being one of Mexico City’s most inventive cocktail bars, Luciferina in Mexico City serves drinks that are more like witch potions and elixirs. The menu features the Aragog cocktail, named after the giant spider in Harry Potter because of one special ingredient: tarantula venom. Just a drop of venom is enough to make your lips tingle and your tongue go numb. It’s a slow sipping cocktail that will send shivers down your spine quite literally. 
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Mexican ingredients get the French treatment at Lardo
The GPS says Mexico City, but the vibes scream cafe in Paris at Restaurante Lardo in the Condesa neighborhood.  This bistro serves healthy and delicious breakfasts, juices, gourmet coffees and fresh pastries, baked fresh in a brick oven. The focus on fresh, Mexican ingredients prepared in the French tradition makes for a unique cafe experience. Everything is superb, but we highly recommend the guava rolls. 
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Cocktails at Xaman are 'en fuego' – literally
In the basement of an unsuspecting building is one of Mexico City’s best cocktail lounges. Experimenting with a "shaman concept," utilizing gourds made and blessed by a real shaman as drinking vessels, mixologists have created a menu of inventive cocktails with fresh herbs and plants. And they like to play with fire – literally – lighting up the cocktails to bring out the essence of the herbs. Watch the embers fade as you take a sip and inhale the herby fragrance.
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There's a lot more to octopus
If not cooked properly, octopus can be chewy, rubbery and tasteless. But Mexican cuisine knows how to navigate cooking octopus, resulting in succulent, tender meat that’s cooked to perfection. 
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Learn while you feast at Campobaja
Having two long coasts on warm waters means Mexico has access to some of the best seafood.  Coming from a fishing family, Chef Ezequiel Hernández has made it his mission to provide excellent seafood sourced from small fisheries, acting as a purveyor for other restaurants in Mexico City, as well as serving fresh fish at his restaurant Campobaja. Chef Hernández has made it a point to educate diners on what good seafood means, and offers hands-on workshops at Campobaja where guests get to learn about the anatomy of the seafood and enhancing its flavor.
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You can thank the Aztecs for guacamole
Mexico is the only place in the world that has an avocado harvest during all four seasons of the year. As such, guacamole has been enjoyed in Mexico since the time of the Aztecs. This guacamole from Campobaja is topped with chicatanas, or flying ants – a real tip of the hat to pre-Hispanic cuisine. 
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Nopal: a food so essential it's on the Mexican flag
Nopal, or the pad of a cactus, is one of the most commonly used ingredients in Mexico. With a taste and texture similar to green beans, nopal can find its way into breakfast, lunch and dinner. Mexico harvests about 400,000 tons of nopal per year, much of which goes through the Central de Abastos, the largest market of its kind in the world.
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Elote gets a small makeover
As the mayonnaise-slathered, lime juice-tinged, chile powder-dusted elote grows in popularity in America, Mexican chefs are already working on new ways to enjoy this street food: elote with baby corn. At Maximo Bistrot, Chef Eduardo Garcia has taken the best parts of elote and applied it to baby corn, allowing you to bite straight through the cob.
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