The Fascinating Gastronomic Heritage of Mexico City

Discover the diverse cultural heritage of Mexico City, where a rich history and people from all over the world have left a lasting impact on the city's cuisine. Explore the Historic Center's rich tapestry of flavors, colors, and aromas through traditional dishes.

The Fascinating Gastronomic Heritage of Mexico City
Mexico City's Amazing Culinary History. Credit: INAH

Mexico City has a rich history of openness and diversity dating back to its pre-Hispanic origins. People from far away who wanted to create a shared memory and a symbol of their territory's identity built Tenochtitlan, a city on a lake.

When the New World was found, people from all over the world came to live there. This made the city's openness even stronger. Over time, Mexico City has welcomed hundreds of refugees and exiles from all corners of the globe, who have left a lasting impact on the city with their cultures, traditions, and cuisine.

The Historic Center of Mexico City boasts a rich tapestry of flavors, colors, and aromas, reflecting the diverse backgrounds of its inhabitants. From the traditional migas served for over 50 years in Barrio Bravo de Tepito to the Mole Nupcial, created in the Historic Center, it's impossible to speak of a single cuisine in the area. A walk through places like San Juan Pugibet Market, Barrio de la Merced, and Chinatown offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the city.

Migas la Güera

Celia Patiño López, the grandmother, started a business selling tamales, coffee, and rice pudding. However, sales skyrocketed when she added migas with pork bones to the menu, as suggested by a customer. Today, La Güera's delicious migas continue to draw in locals and tourists alike, all flocking to the rough neighborhood of Tepito to try the dish.

The migas are made with white bread (bolillo), which is soaked and mixed with spices, chili, and a pork bone broth. The cooked pork bone is added just before serving, making the dish both simple and delicious, as well as filling.

Migas la Güera de Tepito
Migas la Güera de Tepito. Credit: INAH

It's said that a visit to Tepito isn't complete without trying La Güera's migas. Located at 12 Toltecas Avenue in the heart of Barrio Bravo, the restaurant has been featured in numerous press and television reports and is even a popular stop on tourist tours of the area.


8 bolillos
1 kg of pork bone
8 guajillo chiles
2 ancho chiles
Salt to taste
3 garlic cloves
250 g onion
1 bunch of epazote
dried and browned chiles de arbol in oil

Migas la Güera
Migas la Güera. Credit: INAH


Place the bolillos in a bowl and cover them with water. Soak for half an hour. Soak the guajillo and ancho chiles in boiling water for five minutes. Drain the chiles and grind them with two cloves of garlic and the onion.

In a large pot boil the pork with garlic, onion, and salt to taste. Once the pork bone is cooked, remove it from the pot, and in the broth add the ground chili and the soaked bolillo. Boil until it is seasoned and rectify the salt.

Place the bone in a deep dish and bathe it with the bread broth and season with oregano, lemon, and chile de árbol dorado.

Chicken Tinga Machete

According to Mrs. Amparo, the business began in the 1960s, making large quesadillas, around 40 to 45 centimeters in size. After the passing of the business founder, Amparito and her husband took over and worked hard to bring the business back to its former glory.

However, their clientele had dispersed, and they had to find the right seasoning to appeal to their audience once again. They continued to make the large quesadillas until they grew to their current size of 70 centimeters. Now, three generations of women work at the business, and they joke that with each generation, the size of the quesadilla, also known as a machete, continues to increase.

Machete de tinga de pollo
Machete de tinga de pollo. Credit: INAH

The menu boasts 17 different fillings, including chicharrón, meat, cheese, brains, mushrooms, rajas, squash blossom, huitlacoche, tinga, beans, and chorizo, among others. They also created a special dish called "El Champion", which is a combination of their specialties like "El Sazón de mi Tierra," chicharrón with plantain and cheese, the Hawaiian with ham and cheese and pineapple, the Cuban with a bit of everything, and the Swiss made with three different types of cheese.

Thanks to social media, the business is once again popular, and people come from all over the world to try Los Machetes de Amparito in Colonia Guerrero.

Machete de tinga de pollo
Machete de tinga de pollo. Credit: INAH


1 shredded chicken breast
2 sliced onions
½ kg of tomato
4 morita chiles
3 medium garlic cloves
chicken broth powder
60 cm machete (tortilla)


Heat with a little oil, and add the onion until it sews a little. Grind the tomato with garlic and the morita chili, pour it and once it boils a little, add the shredded chicken breast. Season with a little salt and bouillon powder. Let it boil for about 10 minutes and the chicken tinga is ready. Fill the machete and heat it with a little oil.

Mole Nupcial (bridal Mole, Wedding Mole)

Fonda Mi Lupita, established in 1957 by Rosendo Gutiérrez Sánchez and Jovita Zetina, is renowned for its unique take on the traditional mole from Toluca in the State of Mexico. The mole referred to as "Mole Nupcial", is a blend of two family recipes, one from Santiago Tianguistenco, the birthplace of the owner's father, and the other from Ocuilan de Arteaga, where the owner's mother was from.

With over 20 ingredients, including toasted, cooked, and fried elements, the mole is elevated with the use of high-quality ingredients like botanero peanuts and mulato chili, sourced directly from Toluca and Puebla. The nut cakes added to the mole also enhance its flavor.

Mole nupcial
Mole nupcial. Credit: INAH

The mole is a cherished dish in the Historic Center and could even be considered part of Mexico City's intangible heritage. The mole was rumored to be so popular that the chef of Los Pinos would come to buy it, and some presidents were said to be customers. The mole was also popular among embassy employees, who would take 20 to 30 kilos of it back to their home countries, including Russia, China, Paris, Italy, Spain, and various Latin American countries.

The manager of Fonda Mi Lupita, named in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe, takes great pride in the quality of their mole and declares, "I bring mole instead of blood." With over 50 years of history, Fonda Mi Lupita continues to offer a unique take on a classic dish that has captured the hearts and palates of locals and visitors alike."


Recommended earthenware casserole

2 kg of fresh rosemary
6 nopales
¼ kg dried shrimp with head
¼ kg of pink cambray potatoes
½ kg of Mole Nupcial
100 g shrimp pulp for the pancakes
2 to 3 eggs
bread crumbs
salt to taste
baking soda


Clean the rosemary by removing as much of the stem as possible, washing it under running water, and draining it. In a saucepan heat a little water with a teaspoon of baking soda and when it is boiling, add the rosemary to cook until it has a bright green color. Once it is cooked, drain and save to remove excess water and store for later use.

Clean the shrimp and remove the head (which will be used later) and soak it in a little water. Cook the potatoes and then add them to the dish. Cut the nopales into strips and cook them in water with a little salt and a teaspoon of baking soda in a copper pan so that they do not take a black color and do not release too much slime. Once they are cooked and have a bright green color, drain them.

Remove the eyes from the shrimp heads and fry them in a little oil. Once fried, blend them with a little water and boil them in the casserole where the rosemary will be cooked.

Mole nupcial
Mole nupcial. Credit: INAH

For shrimp pancakes (tortitas)

Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Beat the egg whites until stiff and add the yolks to continue beating. Add the shrimp pulp with a sifter or strainer and mix evenly along with a teaspoon of royal and bread crumbs to make dough to make pancakes of the desired size to fry them with oil. They should have a golden color so that they do not taste burnt. To prevent the dough from sticking to your hands, you should grease them with oil. The oil used to fry the pancakes will be used to fry the shrimp heads.

In the casserole containing the liquefied mixture, add the "Mole Nupcial" and a little more water until dissolved (not too watery). Add the rosemary, nopales, cooked potatoes, shrimp, and pancakes. Let them cook and stir constantly so that they do not stick together or burn. You can add a little more water to taste so that they are not too thick. To serve they can be accompanied by a little white rice.

Pancita la Güerita

In 1951, Silvina Frausto began selling pancita in the hallway of her home in Toltecas 12 to support her family. She was known as "La Güerita" and served her community for 34 years. Her granddaughter, María Mónica Frausto Patiño, carried on the family tradition and took over the business in a location near her childhood neighborhood. She learned the pancita recipe from her grandmother, adding her unique touch, and has been serving the dish for 36 years.

Pancita la Güerita
Pancita la Güerita. Credit: INAH

The Bendito Barrio de Tepito (as Mónica affectionately calls it) has embraced the pancita as a beloved tradition. Over time, the menu has expanded to include huaraches, sopes, quesadillas, enchiladas, and pambazos, among other dishes. Today, the third generation is ready to continue the legacy of this septuagenarian family business.


1 kg of beef belly
½ kg of whole beef leg
½ kg of book and rennet
8 guajillo chiles
1 large onion
½ head of garlic
3 sprigs of epazote
3 tomatoes
oregano to taste
salt to taste

Pancita la Güerita
Pancita la Güerita. Credit: INAH


Wash the meat very well under running water. Boil over high heat in a pot with enough water the beef belly, whole beef leg, the book, and the rennet with half of the onion, garlic, and salt.

In a separate pot, boil the guajillo chiles and tomatoes until they change color. Blend with the rest of the garlic, onion, and a little oregano. Pour this mixture into the pan of the pancita and add the epazote. Boil until the meat is cooked.

Serve with chopped onion, lemon, fried chiles de árbol, oregano, and warm tortilla chips.

Mexico City Historic Center Restaurant Guide

Baltazar, Los Árabes de México
Motolinía 33, Col. Centro.

Los Machetes Amparito
Héroes 192, Col. Centro.

Min Botanero
Dolores 23, Col. Centro.

Fonda mi Lupita
San Juan Market, entrance from Delicias, Buen Tono 22-local 4, Col. Centro.

Café La Pagoda Centro
Av. 5 de Mayo 10-D, Col. Centro.

El Gran Cazador
San Juan Market Ernesto Pugibet 21, Local 100 - 101, Col. Centro.

Migas la Güera
Toltecas 12, Barrio Tepito, Col. Morelos.

Food Festivals in Mexico City

Neighborhood Fair in October.

Day of the Dead parade and offerings in October and November.


INAH, Guía Gastronómica de las Ciudades Mexicanas Patrimonio Mundial, pp.25-35.