Simón Alberti epitomizes hospitality. One of Mexico’s top bartenders, his warmth and enthusiasm (not to mention skill) behind the stick at Mexico City’s Licorería Limantour earned the Roma Norte destination countless accolades.
Limantour and its team are “constantly evolving, constantly researching, constantly innovating the Mexican cocktail scene,” he says. It’s no wonder it was on the World’s 50 Best Bars list three years running
Born in Venezuela, Alberti arrived in Mexico City by way of Buenos Aires in 2016. He recently left daily operations at Limantour to work with Mezcal Ojo de Tigre, but found time to give VinePair an inside tour — and advice on how to order mezcal in a Mexico City bar.
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Here’s everything that’s worth drinking, eating, and doing in Mexico City, according to Alberti himself. “¡Salud!”
“Kaito is the ‘go to’ bar for industry professionals. It is an izakaya in the Colonia del Valle neighborhood, so kind of far away from the ‘main’ cocktail scene, which makes it even more interesting. When you get there, everyone is super friendly, the food is great, cocktails are awesome, they throw the best parties, and host best guest bartending shifts… It’s so fun! Luis Miguel all around! Order the Maneki cocktail, and be sure to try the ramen before checking out the karaoke room.” Location.
“Baltra is this dimly lit, cozy and comfy small bar in Condesa. Service is very cool here, and the cocktails are super tasty with a minimalistic, simple concept. Dani, the head bartender, is the best host you’ll ever come across in this city. Don’t miss out on the Regal Highball — I know this cocktail is about to [leave] the menu, but don’t worry, you can still order it off-menu. Dani says so.” Location.
“Fifty Mils is the bar at the Four Seasons Hotel in Mexico City. Right now, it’s ranked 45th in the World’s 50 Best bars. And it IS one of the world’s 50 best bars! From the moment you walk the long hallway that leads to the bar, everyone makes you feel like you’re unique, like you’re royalty. When you get to the bar, the bartender greets you very graciously, with that kindness and hospitality that Mexicans have very naturally… Cocktails, creativity and experiences are out of this world in this bar. Try the Bugs Bunny cocktail, or go for the Bartender’s Recommendation.” Location.
“Bósforo is this small, dark mezcaleria downtown. If you’re looking for the best mezcals in town, you can find them here. The service isn’t great (it’s actually kind of rude) and it can get crowded quickly, and downtown after dark isn’t the best place to hang out. So…go early. When there’s not that many people around, the staff is more hospitable. You can chat and get the mezcal and the experience you’re looking for. Mezcals are poured in 1-ounce shot glasses, in order for you to spend less and try more (and not get so wasted)!
Here’s a general guide as to how to order the right mezcal for you, and not spend 30 USD for a shot of mezcal. First, be very kind. Second, start with an Espadín if you’re not familiar with mezcal. You can always ask if they have a favorite Espadín from Oaxaca, or which is their newest Espadín on the menu. That should get you started. Then, you can go deeper into mezcal. Try Cupreata (from Guerrero), Tobalá (Puebla or Oaxaca), Tepextate (any), Jabalí (any), and finally Pechuga. (Any Pechuga will do, and they’re quite expensive in comparison to other mezcals).” Location.
“Casa Franca is this old house in the beautiful, romantic neighborhood of La Roma. It is an antique house, dating probably back to the beginning of the 20th century. It has been fully furnished with long comfy couches and carpets, just so you can get comfortable enough to experience the live jazz/blues band playing that night. The atmosphere is completely intimate and the cocktails are cool, but the music and ambiance are everything in this place. This is totally a date night kind of bar. Order the Naked and Famous cocktail.” Location.
“Limantour is very interesting because it is a high volume bar that has… a deep concept of what Mexico should taste like in a cocktail, without detaching from people. People understand Limantour, and like it… You can visit Limantour and have a great experience without necessarily being a connoisseur of the cocktail industry.
“The drinking experience at Limantour is different because ambience is different. There’s such a fun energy around. It’s like the vibrant city, the culinary expressions, the colors in Mexico City’s streets and the Mexican natural-born hospitality all come together and make sense when you’re having a cocktail at Limantour… And the always relaxed and friendly service is what I think keeps Limantour among the best bars in the world today.” Location.
“A super-fresh-food concept. Everything they cook arrives the very same day in the morning, and they get to work very quickly to get a fully prepared, fresh dish to your table in the middle of this naturally lit garden in an old colonial house in the La Roma neighborhood. Also — and I can’t stress this enough — they make their own bread every morning. So delicious! I would recommend the gnocchi con crema de limón, hongos y parmesano. WITH the homemade bread. Order freakin’ extra of it.” Location.
“You can find this restaurant in Mexico City in a couple of different neighborhoods, but it’s originally from Guadalajara, a city known for its unique cuisine and for being the land of tequila. La Docena has incredible Mexican cuisine with different types of dishes, specializing in seafood. Actually, it is the best place in town to try Baja Kumos, a species of Kumamoto oyster that grows in Baja California, Mexico. The flavor of the Baja Kumos is intensely briny, and the salinity gives way to signature creamy, cucumber notes. It’s faintly metallic on the finish.” Location.
Comedor de los Milagros
“This is a very fun place in La Roma, with everything you want to eat and try from Latin America, all under the same roof. You have different types of cuisine, ranging from Argentina all the way up to Mexico, with styles like Uruguayan, Venezuelan, and Colombian being my personal favorites. It is definitely a great place to come watch a game, grab some beers with friends, or try their excellent food and cocktails. Opt for the arepas (either the Pelúa or Reina Pepiada). Also, try some empanadas uruguayas.” Location.
Carmela y Sal
“Chef Gaby Ruiz runs this new bad boy in town… They have revisited versions of many traditional Mexican dishes, and they have a special touch for whatever seafood they get their hands on. It’s very, very busy, so you should always try to make a reservation for Carmela y Sal. They have very high-end cocktails and a wide variety of wines; to eat, try the tiradito de pulpo y camarón or ceviche. Location.
“And last but not least… street food! Mexico is all about street food. The food is so good, and with little money you can get the royal treatment at lunchtime. There are many places famous in the city (street food-wise), and everyone you come across will tell you that they know THE best place. I will recommend a very good, easy-to-find, delicious place you should try. You should definitely go to the corner of Álvaro Obregón e Insurgentes in La Roma and eat until your pants won’t fit anymore.
“Also, try one of the many local markets, such as Medellín or San Juan to try different dishes and immerse yourself in the whole market extravaganza experience that is one of a kind. As a disclaimer, of course there can be some sanitary issues concerning street food, so please consider them if you’re not used to this. Tacos carnitas are a must-try (either pierna or lomo) and make sure to try all the sauces.” Location.
Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City and Las Alcobas
“So, I haven’t stayed in these hotels, so I couldn’t tell you firsthand what service and everything is like in the rooms. But, I’ve visited both several times, and well, they’re both beautiful. Las Alcobas is a super-modern and stylish boutique hotel overlooking the neighborhood of Polanco. The Four Seasons is one of the best hotels in the city because of their high international standards, their support to Mexican food (their restaurant Zanaya has one of the best chefs in town). I have a close bond to this hotel because the Fifty Mils is there, and I hang there a LOT. Location and location.
“I love Coyoacán. It has this small-town vibe, though it’s well inside the city. It’s like a different universe. On the weekends, there’s always a party, a celebration, or some cultural event to attend; the food is great, both in the markets or if you prefer going to restaurants. My favorite place in Coyoacán is definitely the Cineteca Nacional, which is the National Cinema center. The building is awesome; walk around, lay on the grass, buy geek cinema paraphernalia and then hop into a movie.” Location.
“Roma and Condesa are totally walking neighborhoods. Wanna know what’s good? Don’t Yelp, just grab your coat and take a walk. Coffee places, restaurants, bars, architecture, people, crazy shops emerging from every corner…you name it, it’s there.” Location.
“Chapultepec is this big park right in the center of the city. It’s the best place to chill during the weekend and maybe get to know some Mexican traditions. Order a Michelada or a Clamato and sit around the lake. Or visit the museums inside the park (Modern Arts, Tamayo, Castillo de Chapultepec, and Anthropology).” Location.