Anthony Bourdain in Mexico City: 10 Spots Where Tony Ate

It’s easy to forget sometimes: while we just call it “Mexico,” the country is formally named the “Estados Unidos Mexicanos.” The United States of Mexico. To say that any one region completely represents them all is a gross simplification – just as it would be to say that Mexico City represents Mexican food like Washington D.C. represents American food. (Spoilers – both are untrue!)

Anthony Bourdain visited Mexico City twice: to film season 5 (episode 1) of No Reservations, and again to film season 3 (episode 4) of Parts Unknown. The latter was more journalistic, focusing as much on food as on the politics of the city at the time – but between the two shows, you can get a great sense of the diversity of Mexican food and all the city has to offer.

Anthony Bourdain in Mexico City Hero

If you’re planning a trip to Mexico City, you’ve come to the right place. Below you’ll find information on both of Tony’s visits and all of the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Mexico City, as well as what he ate. You can use this as a guide or let it be an inspiration for finding your own food adventures in the Mexican capital.

Want to watch the episode where Anthony Bourdain visits Mexico City?
The No Reservations episode is available on Amazon, Hulu, and Apple TV, and the Parts Unknown episode is available on Amazon and Apple TV.

In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Mexihcah (Triple Alliance) peoples, among others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.

This post was originally published in May 2022, and was checked and updated in August 2023.

Where Anthony Bourdain Ate in CDMX

Anthony Bourdain in Mexico City Map
Click to interact with the map!

I always think it’s important to map out as many places as possible when covering Tony’s travels and meals, because it helps provide some context if you’re planning to visit the same spots. This updated map shows there are plenty of delicious options within the central part of the city.

No Reservations (2009)

After visiting Oaxaca and Pueblo during A Cook’s Tour, Bourdain makes a perhaps long-overdue return south of the border to explore more of Mexico in the “Mexico” episode of No Reservations.

During this trip, Tony confines his visit to the country to vibrant Mexico City and a couple of places on the outskirts. He’s joined by Carlos, the head chef at Les Halles in NYC who’s from Puebla – like many of the Mexicans that work with Tony in his restaurant. Below you’ll find all the places these two friends visited. 

Cantina La Mascota 

Anthony Bourdain in Mexico City - Carnitas

Bourdain begins his day by paying a visit to Cantina La Mascota. The cantinas have a particularity that is that the more you drink the more free food you get. So, of course, Tony orders a tequila.   

It doesn’t take long until the waiters come back and bring carnitas, tender juicy stewed and pulled pork loaded on a warm tortilla and heated immediately. With another shot of tequila comes a plate of Fava beans and cactus soup. Then, he indulges in a gordita de chicharrón, a fried tortilla filled with fresh cheese, cilantro, fried pork fat, and salsa. 

Doña Anastasia 

Anthony Bourdain in Puebla - Zucchini Blossom Quesadilla

If Tony knows something is that in Mexico City, street food is king. His next stop is an unassuming food stall that belongs to Doña Anastasia. Her specialty? Blue corn tortillas. She has been making blue corn tortillas for eight years by the time Tony visits. She has a spectacular assortment of stuff to fill the quesadillas, from sausage to brains.

However, Tony leaves his carnivore self aside and goes for the sauté spinach and zucchini flower filling. Needless to say, it’s sublime. 

Unnamed Carrito 

While the quesadilla with veggies was delicious, Bourdain know that when in Mexico, one must have meat. So, his next stop is an unnamed carrito in the Zócalo. He indulges in a taco de lengua (tongue) and taco de tripa (tripe), both sprinkled with onion lettuce, cilantro and topped with fresh salsa. 

These tacos were so good that he admitted they became the constant crew meal while they were in Mexico City, even when they weren’t rolling!

If you know the name of this carrito, please let me know in the comments!

El Huequito

Anthony Bourdain in Mexico City - Tacos Al pastor

Tony won’t leave Mexico City without having tacos al pastor, the most famous and typical dish of Mexico City. So, he heads to his last stop before leaving the city to explore the surrounding region, El Huequito. This carrito has according to many the best tacos al pastor in all Mexico City. 

Pulquería (unnamed)

During his pass through Xochimilco, home to Mexico City’s famous canals, Tony goes to a pulquería. Even though Tony’s previous experiences in pulquerías didn’t exactly end right (too many drinks), he follows his friends Carlos and Martín and makes a stop to have some pulque, the fermented sap of the maguey cactus. In this pulquería, they offer numerous flavors of pulque: oyster, guava, pistachio, and walnut. 

Before leaving, Bourdain drinks a round of home-brewed aguardiente de caña (an anise liquor) that a couple of friendly patrons invite him and his friends. 

Again, if you’re familiar with the area and can share the name of this pulquería, please let me know in the comments!

Fonda Margarita

Anthony Bourdain in Mexico City - Huevos Rancheros

Back in the capital city Tony, Carlos, and Martín get up before sunset to arrive early at Fonda Margarita, Martín’s favorite breakfast spot. Fonda Margarita is a family-style joint famous for its breakfast. Here, the staff begins cooking at 1am the day before. When the trio gets to the restaurant, at least five giant cazuelas with delicious meat, beans, and stews are slowly bubbling while simmering over beds of charcoal. 

Martin asks for everything on the menu. It’s a long list by the way, let’s check what these boys had: huevos y frijoles, frijoles con huevos, huevos rancheros, a stew, pork loin with salsa verde, beef in a dark chile sauce, pigs’ feet; stewed lamb; fried chicharrón (pork skins) in a green tomatillo sauce, and tortillas, little pork meatballs in spicy jalapeño tomato.

Parts Unknown (2014)

Never one to shy away from the darker shades of humanity, many people were unsettled by the episode when Anthony Bourdain returned to Mexico City. In addition to a few great meals, Bourdain put on his photojournalist hat again to show the violence, death, and dismay that many in Mexico felt at the time of filming. I won’t focus on those aspects, but instead will stick to the places he visited.

Cocina “Laura” (CLOSED)

Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that the first place that Bourdain visits on-screen in Mexico City is no longer in business. There are several restaurants of the same name in Mexico City, but the first one that comes up in my research, the Cocina “Laura” which used to be located on Av. Congreso de la Unión in the Santa Anita neighborhood, closed at some point between when Tony visited in late 2013 or early 2014 and today. (If you know this is incorrect, please let me know in the comments and I’ll fix it ASAP.)

During his visit – which was after meeting boxing title-holder Jorge La Tierra ringside – Bourdain sits down with La Tierra for the kind of traditional, cheap meal that many aspiring boxers will fuel up with after a hard workout. The dish isn’t given a name but primarily has eggs, beans, and rice, all staples of Mexican cuisine.

Migas La Guera

Anthony Bourdain in Mexico City - Migas

During his visit to the neighborhood of Tepito (more on that below), Bourdain sits down with blogger Jorge Pedro and writer Alfonso Hernandez at Migas La Guera. This no-frills spot says its specialty in the name: Migas.

A dish of cracked ham bones, with garlic, onion, and cascabel pepper, thickened with stale bread and leftover tortillas, which causes Tony to note that “you make something really awesome out of nothing,” since so many of the ingredients are those that might otherwise be wasted or thrown out.

Maximo Bistro

Anthony Bourdain in Mexico City - Tortillas

For a sample of the nicer dining options in Mexico City, Anthony Bourdain then meets up with chef Eduardo Garcia, who owns and is head chef at Maximo Bistro (not to be confused with a restaurant of a very similar name, and which seems to be the second location of this original, in Tamaulipas).

At the time of Tony’s visit, Garcia’s restaurant was one of the most sought-after restaurants in the city, yet still couldn’t avoid the sting of corruption and scandal of limelight despite its popularity.

Tony doesn’t sit down to eat, but rather stands with Garcia in the kitchen, trying dishes as they are made. He samples both sauteed abalone with roasted serrano, brown butter, and lemon, and a taco filled with confit suckling pig topped with homemade salsa.

Bonus: The Mercados in Tepito

Anthony Bourdain in Mexico City - Michelada

As mentioned, Bourdain spends time in the area of Tepito, which has an iffy reputation today for visitors. The area is known for its mercados, where you can find anything from bootleg DVDs to incredible local dishes at no-name (or locally-known-only) restaurants.

While exploring with this guide, the blogger Jorge Pedro Uribe Llamas (who later went on to write for the Bourdain-funded site Roads & Kingdoms if you want to read his work), Tony grabs a freshly mixed Michelada. This concoction – which usually includes beer, lime juice, sauces, spices, tomato juice, and chili peppers – is a distinctly Mexican libation and pairs well with the chaotic surroundings.

While Anthony Bourdain only visited a few spots in Mexico City for food and drink, his admiration for the city and country were evident in the episode and he filmed a number of other episodes in Mexico including Oaxaca, Baja/Tijuana, Piedras Negras, and Puebla. I’ll have recaps for those cities coming soon!

Mexico City Food Tours to Try

If you’re looking to enjoy the best flavors that Mexico City has to offer beyond the places that Bourdain visited, I’ve chosen a few Mexico City food tours that I think honor the spirit of the city and Tony would approve of:

Have any questions about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Mexico City, or do you have an update about one of these restaurants? Let me know in the comments below.

Skyline Chili Review - 3-Way

Valerie is a travel writer currently based in Cleveland, but her favorite destinations are Alaska, London, and Jordan – only one of which Bourdain ever visited! You can find her writing on Lonely Planet, Forbes, and her travel blog, Valerie & Valise.

4 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *