Meals out at Mexican diners are affordable and offer an opportunity to enjoy a square meal amidst a choice of traditional Mexican dishes as well as international menu staples like burgers, sandwiches, and pastas.
People visiting Mexico on vacation might stop-by at one of the diners to take a quick meal out, and foreign residents living in Mexico can often be seen taking a meal there, or using the diners as venue for a working breakfast or lunch.
The principal restaurant diners in Mexico are Sanborns, Toks, Vips, Wings and Bisquets de Obregón. They have outlets in most major towns and cities, and Wings is also present at several of Mexico’s airports.
Diners are a good place to grab a square meal in Mexico. You won’t find haute cuisine at these diners, but you can get a good tasty meal for a reasonable price accompanied by fully-serviced tables in an agreeable atmosphere. Menus include traditional breakfast favorites like cereals, granola, eggs, hotcakes, as well as popular Mexican dishes like molletes, tacos, quesadillas, tostadas, flautas, sopes, chiles rellenos and pozole among others. You can also select from a range of “international” foods including burgers, steaks, chicken and fish, sandwiches, french-fries, salads and soups. A small selection of vegetarian and vegan options are available on the menus and most of the diners also offer a ‘light’ menu featuring specials for customers on a low-calorie diet.
As eating out at diners is so popular here, the chains compete against each other for custom by offering ample menus with a wide assortment of dishes, promotional discounts, and monthly a-la-carte specials.
Mexican diners are open extended hours, seven days a week, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner in addition to a range of all-day meals and light snacks. In years past, these diners were often frequented by patrons seeking coffee and sweet roll, and although specialty coffee houses are now the preferred venue for quick refreshment, you can still call-in to a diner for a coffee if you’re passing-by.
During festive periods the diners usually offer Mexican specialties related to the season and festivity. Theme-based promotions have been popular of late, for example, spot-lighting a specific Mexican state or region and offering a range of traditional dishes served there. On occasions when foreign countries are spot-lighted in this way, the dishes usually have a Mexican twist applied to them, adding to the variety and novelty of flavors on offer.
All of the dining establishments offer an ample range of beverages including freshly-pressed juices from locally-produced seasonal fruits and vegetables; sodas, coffees, teas, beers, and some also offer a range of cocktails in the evening. Some have an adjoining bar where, on selected evenings or weekends, a live cabaret act may perform.
Summary of Mexico’s principal Diner Chains
Sanborns is the most traditional of the diners. The department store (and its restaurant) have been in business since 1903. The restaurants are annexed to all Sanborns department stores and almost all have an adjoining bar which is open during the evenings. Sanborns most famous restaurant is known as ‘Sanborns Azulejos’, a reference to the beautiful mosaic tiles which adorn the old colonial building where the restaurant is situated. You’ll find it in the heart of Mexico City’s historic district, on the corner of Calle Madero and Eje Central.
Toks offers a pleasant and agreeable ambiance to dine in, with an attractive and well thought-out menu of food choices to enjoy, albeit at generally higher prices than its peers. Toks offers a wine ‘corkage’ service so you can take your own bottle of wine and, for a set fee, the waiter will open it and provide wine glasses to your party. Many (but not all) Toks diners are found adjacent to Soriana supermarkets.
Wings diners are most often found in retail shopping centers as well as airports across Mexico. Some of the Wings diners also have an adjoining bar named El Baron Rojo. Like all the other restaurant diners, Wings offers an ample range of Mexican and international food dishes to suit most tastes, including vegetarian options. It’s owned and operated by the same group that runs the Vips diners.
Vips offers a range of traditional Mexican dishes as well as an assortment of international staples including pasta, pizza and hot sandwiches. The diners offer vegetarian and low-calorie options as part of their a-la-carte menu. Vips restaurants are generally (but not exclusively) found in the same location as Wal-Mart supermarkets.
Los Bisquets de Obregón
Los Bisquets as this diner is often referred to, began as a coffee and breads shop, specializing in bisquets —scones— and later expanded its geographical reach and extended its menu to offer a full range of diner meals. Los Bisquets serves traditional Mexican favorites and also specializes in café con leche, where milk is poured on top of a small amount of coffee concentrate. Each diner continues to feature an in-house bakery where a constant stream of freshly-baked sweet and savory breads are available for eating in and take-away.
All diners are particularly busy in the early mornings —between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.— as people in Mexico are big on eating “breakfast out” and many business meetings held at restaurants commonly take place over breakfast.
Lunch (in Spanish la comida) is the main meal of the day and is traditionally taken between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.; supper in Mexico, la cena, starts from 8 p.m.
Mexico in your inbox
Our free newsletter about Mexico brings you a monthly round-up of recently published stories and opportunities, as well as gems from our archives.