updated 5/7/2007 1:16:58 PM ET 2007-05-07T17:16:58

As in most of the world's major cities, dining in Mexico City is sophisticated, with cuisine that spans the globe. From high chic to the Mexican standard of comida corrida (food on the go), the capital offers something for every taste and budget. The Polanco area in particular has become a place of exquisite dining options, with new restaurants rediscovering and modernizing classic Mexican dishes. The Centro Histórico led a resurgence of ultra-hip restaurants and clubs open for late-night dining and nightlife, which has spread to the Condesa and Roma neighborhoods -- now known as the SoHo of Mexico City. Cantinas, until not so very long ago the privilege of men only, offer some of the best food and colorful local atmosphere.

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Everybody eats out in Mexico City, regardless of social class. Consequently, you can find restaurants of every type, size, and price range scattered across the city. Mexicans take their food and dining seriously, so if you see a full house, that's generally recommendation enough. But those same places may be entirely empty if you arrive early -- remember, here, lunch is generally eaten at 3 p.m., with dinner not seriously considered before 9 p.m.

Zona Rosa & Surrounding Areas--If you're up for a culinary adventure, dine at the student-staffed Restaurante Escuela Monte Servino at the Colegio Superior de Gastronomía, Sonora 189, Condesa (tel. 55/5584-3800), the training ground for Mexico's up-and-coming chefs. It's in a lovely room overlooking the Parque México. The menu varies, and there are a few misses among the hits, but this is a great way to sample the latest culinary trends. The ever-changing five-course fixed-price lunch costs just $18. Wines by the glass are available. It's open weekdays, and reservations are a must.

¡Café, Por Favor!--If you think espresso bars are a new phenomenon, or coffee drinks a development of recent years, you may be intrigued to learn that in Mexico, drinking good coffee has been considered an art form for generations. Some of the best coffee can be found in small cafes that have a crowd of regulars who congregate to catch up on the local chisme (gossip).

Café La Habana, downtown at Bucareli and Morelos, is one of the most famous, a longstanding cafe with a rich history -- and a reputation for strong coffee, all roasted and ground in-house. Ask the waiter and he'll tell you how Fidel Castro and Ché Guevara planned the Cuban revolution while sipping an espresso cortao. It's open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

More European-style coffeehouses are in the Zona Rosa, frequented by businesspeople and trendy urban residents. Some of the most popular are Salón de Té Auseba and Duca d'Este, both on Hamburgo near Florencia. They serve excellent coffee and scrumptious cakes, as well as a variety of herbal teas. The sidewalk cafe Konditori, Genova 61, is another good option, on a pedestrian-only street. Open daily 7 a.m. to midnight.

The Condesa neighborhood, east of Chapultepec Park, is another top cafe zone. El Péndulo, Nuevo León 115, close to Insurgentes, is a favorite. It combines its cafe setting with a book and music store, and so tends to draw intellectuals, writers, and students. It frequently hosts live music and poetry readings. It's open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

For a complete listing of Frommer's-reviewed restaurants, visit our online dining index.

Frommer’s is America’s bestselling travel guide series. Visit Frommers.com to find great deals, get information on over 3,500 destinations, and book your trip. © 2006 Wiley Publishing, Inc. Republication or redistribution of Frommer's content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Wiley.


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