One thing that separates Mexico City from many other cities in Mexico is the amount and diversity of ethnic food. From staples like Sushi & Italian to Lebanese and Greek – the city has got you covered.
I decided to take a step back from my diet of Tacos and Tortas and create my own Ethnic Food Challenge in Mexico City. For this round I chose one restaurant from four types: Thai, Russian, Indian, and Korean. I factored in the food quality, décor, service, and of course price in my evaluations.
Since this is Hittheroadbarr instead of handing out a 1-5 Star rating, I am giving out “Barr” ratings for each restaurant. Dig in to see who received the most Barrs!
Restaurant name: Pad Thai
Location: Av Sonora 49, Roma Norte.
I’ve passed this spot a few times, as it’s near my apartment. Thai food became one of of my favorites after visiting Thailand a few years ago. It’s a great take-out dinner go to for me when I’m in the states. Pad Thai is my kind of comfort food.
Thai Spring rolls: The rolls were huge in size, and definitely meant to be shared. Inside they were stuffed with carrots, greens, shrimp, and rice noodles. It was accompanied with a sweet & sour chili. It felt more like food I would eat at a wellness retreat than a Thai Restaurant. I’d rate it average at best.
Chicken Pad Thai: The staple of a Thai restaurant, and their version did not disappoint. I was given a massive serving with noodles, chicken, peanuts, egg, and “greens”. I liked it wasn’t overcooked and the noodles had that classic sauce flavor that I have enjoyed in Bangkok and New York restaurants. To me it was comparable to what I would find in a typical NYC joint.
Service: Overall, it was good. The place was busy at 3 PM on a Sunday and they quickly took my order, including patiently waiting for me to pull up “bean sprout” on my phone to show what I didn’t want on my Pad Thai. The food was delivered quickly and the check came without a hitch.
Final Price: 235 Pesos ($13 USD). This is about what you could expect to pay in NYC with a lunch special for pad Thai.
I will give them 3.5 out of 5 Barrs. The food was solid without being great, and the price was reasonable. Service gave them a bit of a boost as they were eager to deliver.
Restaurant Name: Soviet & Co.
Location: Calle Celaya 4, Hipódromo Condesa
Who’d have thought I’d only have to walk 10-minutes from my apartment in Mexico City to return to “Mother Russia”. I spent two months in St. Petersburg in the summer of 2016, and haven’t had much Russian food since then.
Upon entering Soviet & Co. I was immediately transported into a Russian Kitchen with all the décor. The only thing missing was an actual Babushka (Russian grandma).
I went with a baltica beer. This was the budlight of St. Petersburg Russia when I was there. To my surprise, there are 9 different types: ranging from light to dark – I went with a Baltica 7. It was a good choice as it was both light and the perfect refresher between Russian food samplings.
Red Borscht: How can you eat Russian food without having some Borscht! This was the most impressive item I ate, as the sour cream blended perfectly with the beet-root and minced beef. Props to the chef on this soup.
Varenecki: These flour dough filled dumplings were stuffed with potatoes. For a single portion they served almost 20 (granted they were pretty tiny). Even with the added sour-cream I wasn’t overwhelmed with the flavoring here, but it is a pretty simple food so I wasn’t expecting much.
Syrnik: Two grilled pancakes stuffed with strawberry jam and condensed sweet milk. It was a nice ending to what turned into a very large meal.
Service: At 6:00 pm we were the only ones in the restaurant. Still, the waitress was quick, friendly, and gave good suggestions. I was happy to practice speaking a bit of Russian at the end, by offering the tip in Russian.
Final Price: $433 Pesos ( $23 dollars). For several portions split between two people I think this was a fair price. The beer was surprisingly more expensive then the soup :).
The final Barr verdict here is 4 Barrs for excellent service, unique décor, and quality food. Would I come back here? Survey says: Da (Yes in Russian).
Restaurant Name: Taj Mahal
Location: Francisco Márquez 134, Condesa
This is one I was craving for a long time, as I had not had Indian food since October in New York City. Something about the mix and variety of spices has turned me into an Indian food fan in the last two years. I used to fear “spicy” indian food, but minus Vindaloo it’s usually pretty reasonable. How would Mexico City compare to what I’ve had?
Like the Russian Restaurant, I entered as the only patron. I immediately dug the decorations: a Taj Mahal painting, hindu god head, and even Bollywood playing on the TV.
Appetizers: My friend and I split three Vegetable Samosas to start. They were smaller than the ones I have had before, but had a nice blend of flavor with the green dipping sauce. We also indulged in some Pakora Vegetables, which quite frankly were too salty. Garlic Naan was a nice addition that was enjoyed before and after the main entrees.
Entrees: We decided to split the Chicken Masala and Chicken Tikka Jalfrezi. I found it a bit odd that rice cost extra, so we ended up with one saffron rice and one regular white.
The Tikka Jalfrezi was the most interesting with a mixture of green peppers, chili and ginger. The Masala had a coconut and almond cream that worked together. I actually think the Saffron Rice was the best dish with a hearty mixing of vegetables.
Service: Here is where some Barr ratings are lost. They first said they didn’t have any cold Dos Equis Amber, before returning and saying they did. After bringing our meal they didn’t check up on us at all and I had to go up and ask for a second round of drinks.
Final Price: $810 pesos for 2 ($43 US Dollars) Not a cheap meal by any means – and I really didn’t like the almost $6 dollar upcharge on the Saffron Rice.
They received 3 Barrs. While the food was tasty, the service and upcharges left a sour taste in my mouth . I would return but am also curious about other Indian options in the area.
Restaurant Name: Min Sok Chon
Location: Florencia 45, Juárez
I decided for my final stop on the ethnic food tour to get some Korean. I feel like Japanese and Chinese food get more attention, but the Korean food I have had in the past has been some of my favorite (thank you Koreatown NYC).
Props to Dan Vineberg from the New Travel for giving me this recommendation.
This spot was located near Zona Rosa in what appears to be an up-and-coming area of Korean Food. The restaurant itself feels like a bit of a hole in the wall upon entering, but no frills isn’t always a problem.
The menu was pretty expansive and my knowledge of Korean food isn’t as good as some of the other on this list. We asked the waiter what was the most like Miso soup. He recommended the Doejang Jigae soup as a popular choice. For my entrée I went with the Jeyuk Bokkeum. It is a slightly spicy Korean Pork stir fry.
The Doejang Jigage Soup: Well at least it looked good. To be quite frank though, I could only stomach 2-3 sips. This fermented soy soup had such a strong smell and taste that I couldn’t fathom taking any more. I understand it’s a popular Korean soup, but I wish the waiter would have given us more accurate information about it.
Jeyuk Bokkeum: If the soup was the worst thing I had in my ethnic food tasting, the Jeyuk Bookeum was perhaps the BEST. The pork was marinated in a spicy chili pepper paste and seasoned with garlic. I do appreciate that they toned down the spice for me (gringo habits). Mixing in some white rice it was quite the savory dish.
Side Dishes: As is typical in most Korean Restaurants, they handed out small sides of several dishes. I enjoyed the potatoes and eggplant the most. The Kimchi taste I am still getting used to. Overall, it is a nice way to complement the flavors of the food by mixing in the various sides that are offered.
Service: There was only one waiter for around 7-8 tables over two floors. As a result, it’s hard to fault him for having a lot to handle. I had to go up and ask for a second drink, but it was quickly given to me.
Final Price: 470 pesos ($25 USD). For the amount of food and a few sodas the price was more than fair for two people.
’They will get 3.5 Barrs for mostly quality food, and a fair price.
The soup may haunt my nightmares, but the pork stir fry has me itching to return. I think in the future, I would try a Korean BBQ spot that you can go in a group and share the food. I also think with this kind of food it may help to find a native or Korean food pro who can give you advice and explain the various dishes.
That wraps up the inaugural Hittheroadbarr Ethnic Food Challenge in Mexico City. Each restaurant had its pros and cons, but the winner by a small margin is Soviet & Co. I hope to sample more ethnic food in Mexico City over the next month. Tell me in the comments what the best ethnic food you have had in Mexico!