World ? Caribbean & Central America ? Mexico

Mexico: Best Dining Bets

  • Aguila y Sol (Mexico City; tel. 55/5281-8354): One of the world's best Mexican restaurants, Aguila y Sol serves haute Mexican cuisine incorporating indigenous and pre-Hispanic ingredients. Acclaimed chef-owner Martha Ortiz has written numerous cookbooks, and her magical dishes overflow with imagination.

  • La Opera (Mexico City; tel. 55/5512-8959): This legendary cantina, in the style of an opulent European cafe, has attracted the capital's most illustrious personalities for decades -- Pancho Villa once shot a still-visible hole through the roof. Located in the historic center, the cantina doubles as a restaurant but is best saved as a late afternoon watering stop.

  • Adobe Fonda (Tlaquepaque; tel. 33/3657-2792): Delicious Mexican food is served inside one of those gorgeous decorative arts stores that line Tlaquepaque's Calle Independencia. The point of departure for the food is some uncommon Mexican recipes, which are then given sparkling Italian and Argentine accents.

  • El Sacromonte (Guadalajara; tel. 33/3825-5447): Various dishes delight the senses with novel tastes and textures and skillful presentation. The menu describes each dish in Spanish couplets.

  • Arrayȥn (Puerto Vallarta; tel. 322/222-7195): The colorful atmosphere may be casual, funky, and fun, but the food is seriously and authentically Mexican. The owner, Carmen, has taken her prime beef filet tacos off the menu -- wanting guests to try more traditional Mexican fare -- but you can still ask for them. Or, take her cue and order the duck confit, shrimp pozole, or homemade ice creams from indigenous fruits. Don't miss her martini made from raicilla, Mexico's version of moonshine.

  • El Mirador (Acapulco, in the Hotel Plaza Las Glorias; tel. 744/483-1221 in the U.S.): You can enjoy a great margarita at many places in Mexico, but this is the only one that serves them with a view of the spectacular La Quebrada cliff divers.

  • Los Flamingos (Acapulco; tel. 744/482-0690): If in Acapulco on a Thursday, you can enjoy a bowl of pozole, a traditional hominy and meat stew. Although you'll find it served at lunchtime throughout town, the best place to savor it is at the cliff-top restaurant at Los Flamingos. Order a Coco Loco to accompany it, and you're in for a real treat!

  • El Naranjo (Oaxaca; tel. 951/514-1878): Oaxaca has an elaborate regional cuisine, and we're delighted by what El Naranjo does with it. Each day offers a different mole in addition to several uncommon dishes. This is a wonderful place for throwing caution to the wind -- the owner is meticulous about cleaning and sterilizing foods.

  • Mariscos Villa Rica Mocambo (Veracruz; tel. 229/922-2113): Nobody else does seafood the way Veracruz does seafood, and this restaurant is the showcase for the region's cuisine.

  • Don Emiliano (downtown San Josȳ del Cabo; tel. 624/142-0266): Don Emiliano wields farm-fresh ingredients laced with Mexican tradition and emerges from the kitchen with modern delights such as stepped-up chile en nogada for Dȷa de Independencia and lemon atole with candied pumpkin for Day of the Dead. Apart from holiday menus, don't miss the regular menu, which combines the likes of locally made cheeses with roasted tomatillos and dried hibiscus flowers with beef tenderloin.

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