There are a lot of fancy restaurants in Polanco, the upscale neighborhood where you will find international 4- and 5-star hotels and wealthy tourists. I am sure that many of them produce excellent food. We ate at one of them, which I will not name because I really have no desire to trash them (they delivered exactly what they promised, well, and the service--while a bit overly fussy for my tastes--was excellent.)
My beef is that I've had essentially the same genre of food, slightly better--and less expensive--in several restaurants in Tucson, and particularly at Cafe Poca Cosa. This suggests to me that high-end Mexican can only be so good, and I might have had it already. Good to know...back to the taqueria we go...
On our last night, however, we did treat ourselves to the more affordable (but still a bit pricy by Mexico City standards) La Tecla in Roma. This was excellent, and I would rank it among my favorite dining experiences in Paris, Saigon, Hanoi, Chicago, etc., etc. We had a tostada with sashimi-grade tuna, caramelized onion, and chipotle mayonnaise that was to die for. I had a steak with twin sauces of stilton and huitlacoche (don't knock it till you've tried it), and M had a fish dish; both were solid. Dessert (which I didn't even bother ordering at the other place) was an impossibly airy flan with cajeta sauce and a boozy crepe dish with a bunch of berries set on fire at some point. Awesome.
The cantina is probably the thing that your "standard" Mexican restaurant in the US is most trying to recreate--casual places with big tables, wandering mariachis, reasonably priced food, and they don't mind if you linger for hours playing dominoes and drinking beer. However, you are unlikely to hear the words "careful, hot plate!" and not everything comes entombed in processed cheese.
We ate at two cantinas--one of which I cannot recall the name of, but it is the one the southeast corner of Obregon and Cuauhtemoc [Ed: per my wife it is called La Autentica]--and at El Centenario near the heart of the Condesa neighborhood. But the one we really loved was La Opera between the Zocalo and the Alameda. (We just had drinks there.) That place was like stepping back in time.
Tacos and tortas
You can't go far in Mexico City without tripping over a small place that sells tacos and/or tortas (usually both). As far as I can tell, they range from good to really, really good. If you see a big hunk of meat on a spit near the entrance, just go in and order a couple of tacos pastor (they will probably cost about $0.75 each.) We had a lot of these, but the best we had were at La
But seriously, it is pretty hard to go wrong eating at any of these places as far as I can tell. This made up the majority of our food consumption (and stretched our travel