The view over Monterrey, Mexico | Shutterstock.com

From fish and chips with a Mexican twist, to rib-eye and fideo seco tacos at a quintessential northern steakhouse, here’s where to eat in the grill-happy capital of Nuevo León

Despite its stunning location in the beautiful Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range, Monterrey hasn’t yet attracted too many tourists. As a well-known commercial hub and university town, though, it does get its fair share of out-of-towners, and a vibrant restaurant scene has sprung up to cater to the influx. The scene is diverse: Among tables of raucous students and suits toasting business deals, you’ll find plenty of local families sharing heaping orders of rib-eye tacos and grilled vegetables.

With nearly year-round hot weather, Monterrey long ago developed a deep barbecue tradition. Chefs venerate open-fire cooking, diners regularly get together around steak, and grilled beef and cabrito (baby goat) have become synonymous with eating in the city.

While that tradition runs strong, vegetarians shouldn’t be discouraged. The restaurant scene has grown immensely in the past few years, both in the restaurant hub in San Pedro García Garza and elsewhere, as chefs branch out with exciting concepts across town. Steakhouses make room for ramen spots, taco joints join artisanal bakeries, and fine dining stalwarts meet French bistros.

Update, November 2021:

In cities across the globe, the pandemic has left restaurants reeling — and Monterrey is no exception. Blake, 13 Puercos de Soto, and El Gran Laszlo Loszla, three essential fixtures of the dining scene, were among those forced to close permanently. Yet even as locals said goodbye to some beloved eateries, the community embraced new ventures born during difficult times: an ice cream parlor featuring artisanal ingredients, a former ghost kitchen and now full restaurant serving British fish and chips, a daring high-end establishment honoring Northern Mexican cuisine, and more.

So settle in beside the auto execs and Tecnológico de Monterrey students, order up a steak or escargots or eggplant chicharrón, and get to know Monterrey through the city’s essential restaurants.

Note: The inclusion of restaurants offering dine-in service should not be taken as an endorsement for dining inside. Studies indicate a lower exposure risk to COVID-19 outdoors, but the level of risk is contingent on social distancing and other safety guidelines. Check with each restaurant for up-to-date information on dining offerings. For updated information on coronavirus cases and travel restrictions, please visit the US Embassy in Mexico.

Prices per person, excluding alcohol:
$ = Less than 176 pesos (Less than $9 USD)
$$ = 196 – 490 pesos ($11 – $25 USD)
$$$ = 510 – 981 pesos ($26 – $50 USD)
$$$$ = More than 1,000 pesos ($51 USD and up)

Liliana López Sorzano is a food and travel writer based between Mexico City and Bogotá, Colombia, where she contributes to local and international media. She is a former editor-in-chief at Food & Wine in Spanish.

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