Veganism is gaining ground in this famously carnivorous city with egg-less bakeries, meat-free tacos, plant-based grocery stores and even a dairy-free ice cream parlor springing up.
Vegan to go
Los Loosers, founded in 2011 by Mariana Blanco and Yisus Pallares, offers vegan sandwiches, burgers, muffins and cakes made in an efficient kitchen in the leafy Condesa neighborhood.
"We make our own bread, our own desserts, we have a catering service for special orders, we trade at large public events, and we also cook for our customers here in our newly opened restaurant in Condesa. Yes, it's a little crazy, but also so much fun," Blanco said.
Every morning, customers use the company's Twitter and Facebook pages to place orders for vegetable-stuffed tamales, quinoa beetroot burgers and caramelized onion relish before the food is loaded into sturdy delivery backpacks, strapped to cyclists and spirited to locations all over the megalopolis.
"After 2 1/2 years of Los Loosers, people started to see how popular we were and other projects popped up inspired by us," Blanco said. "Now you can see vegan cafes, stands and restaurants all over the city."
Forever Vegano, in the Roma Norte neighborhood, is one of the most prominent plant-based newcomers, with high-end versions of Mexican classics such as tempura cauliflower tacos smothered in chipotle mayonnaise, avocado and pico de gallo. A second Forever Vegano restaurant in ritzy Polanco allows for intriguing people-watching.
Info: Los Loosers' vegan delivery service operates Mondays through Fridays to all areas of Mexico City. Sandwich and pastry of the day cost $6. Place order using Direct Message at www.twitter.com/losloosers, www.facebook.com/losloosers. Forever Vegano, 74 Masaryk, Polanco, and 54 Guanajuato, Roma Norte; www.forevervegano.com. Traditional Mexican fare with a modern twist. Entrees $5 to $8.
The rise of veganism also signals the arrival of plant-based street-food vendors in Mexico City, where tacos, gringas, tamales, gorditas and tortas are the staple street-food diet of many a Mexico City dweller.
Por Siempre Vegana Taquería is one of a handful of plant-based street-food providers enjoying popularity. At its food stand in Roma Norte, as many as six people furiously fry, sizzle, drizzle and grill vegan versions of street-food classics. Seitan, a meat alternative derived from wheat, takes the place of beef, and soy replaces pork in freshly prepared tacos brimming with pico de gallo, cilantro and seared mushrooms.
If there's too long a wait at Por Siempre (wait times sometimes exceed 30 minutes), you can stroll a few blocks to Gatorta, another vegan street trader specializing in tortas. Try the pastor made with soy meat stuffed into a soft bun overflowing with fresh tomato and spicy salsas.
More vegan eats
Condesa is one of Mexico City's most tourist-friendly districts, with a rich history of housing artists, radicals and intellectuals. It has recently morphed into a Silver Lake-style mixture of boutiques, bars and hip health-food stores.
There are numerous vegan-friendly grocery stores such as the Green Corner and Ámsterdam Markt. Hand-crafted cashew cheese sits beside almond yogurt in these high-end retailers, where weighty packs of blue corn tortillas and vegan pâté also tempt shoppers.
Condesa stays true to its outsider history with vegan restaurants such as LGBT-friendly Utopia, which serves vegan thin-crust pizzas with poblano chiles, creamy dairy-free cheeses and succulent soy-based sausages to diners draped across quirky furnishings.
Stroll toward the heart of Condesa and you will discover Capricho Helado, a vegan ice cream café with an open-door policy for dogs and puppies. My dessert bowl was an exquisite combination of decadent chocolate ice cream and a refreshing pineapple and mezcal sorbet.
Info: Green Corner, 81 Calle Mazatlán, Colonia Condesa, and other Mexico City locations; www.thegreencorner.org. Amsterdam Markt, 14 Avenida Ozuluama, Colonia Hipódromo; 011-52-55-1524-3694. Utopia, corner of Juan Escutia and Cuernavaca, Colonia Condesa; 011-52-55-5996-2209, www.facebook.com/veganautopia. Pizzas from $8. Capricho Helado, 64 Fernando Montes de Oca, Colonia Condesa; 011-52-55-4602-4490, www.facebook.com/caprichohelado. All-vegan ice cream parlor.
The HappyCow City Guide lists all vegan and vegan-friendly cafes, restaurants and stores in Mexico City, www.happycow.net/north_america/mexico/mexico_city