Cast aside your preconceptions when approaching Mexico's restaurant scene: It's far more exciting than your average taqueria. Chefs in Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, and Acapulco blend international, regional, and pre-Hispanic ingredients and techniques, creating an ever-evolving nouvelle Mexican cuisine. Check out Izote and Aguila y Sol in Mexico City and chef Thierry Blouet's Café des Artistes in Puerto Vallarta for innovative fare, and look for cafés around any city's main plaza or historic center for authentic Mexican regional dishes.
Indeed, there is no such thing as "Mexican food," given the variety of regional differences: In the Yucatán, seafood is baked in banana leaves; in Zihuatanejo, it's wrapped in corn tortillas to make fish tacos. In Acapulco, chefs use a sweetish cocktail sauce in their ceviches instead of the simple lime and cilantro marinade used elsewhere. Look for posole (a hominy stew) on the Pacific Coast and cochinita pibil (marinated pork) on the Caribbean. Be sure to sample at least one dish prepared with traditional mole, a concoction containing Mexican chocolate, cinnamon bark, nuts, seeds, several types of chiles, and often raisins. Most restaurants in tourist areas use purified water for food preparation. If you're wary, stick with fully cooked dishes.