During a recent visit to Mexico City, there were several times when I thought to myself: Wow, I wish we had a dining experience like this in Los Angeles. I was surprised to find many locations where the ambiance impressed me as much as the food.
One such place was Mercado Roma in the Roma neighborhood of Mexico City, considered by many to be Mexico City’s most “hipster” ‘hood. Like Manhattan’s Chelsea Market or Los Angeles’ modernized Grand Central Market, Mercado Roma is a new-wave food hall that in-the-know foodies will want to include on their itineraries. Open since summer 2014, Mercado Roma is similar to stateside upscale markets and offers a variety of foods, ranging from traditional to fusion, local to international and decadent to healthy. There are many well-known chefs and restaurants among the 60-or-so vendors, including Que Bo! chocolates and the Azul eateries.
Expect lattes, cheese, fresh bread, pozole, chicken tortas, kabobs, Coyoacan sandwiches, Portuguese tarts, fresh oysters, ceviche, cactus tacos, chocolates, churros and even — wait for it — French Dip sandwiches. While Mercado Roma is the type of spot that eschews signage for subtlety, you can find a written explanation that demystifies the French Dip. Indeed, a room full of food options is a good place to remind oneself that exotic flavors, ingredients and dishes are relative.
The health-conscious will find their spirulina, hemp seeds and quinoa at the specialty market upstairs — plus it’s a nice vantage point for taking in the gorgeous mosaic-tiled floors and animated atmosphere. Mercado Roma is full of trendy, good-looking and well-dressed folks, and they like to gather on the rooftop at Biergarten Roma, Mexico City’s first beer garden that also sells German food.
Actually, fans of Chelsea Market and Grand Central Market might like Mercado Roma even better. There’s an indoor-outdoor feel, created by windows revealing a wall-sized vertical garden in the outdoor patio, plus a communal vibe emphasized by big tables and an open floor plan. Some might snub the place as gentrified and nontraditional, but they would be missing the point. Mercado Roma is what’s trending in Mexico’s lively culinary scene.