No one could call Villahermosa  a culinary hot spot, but it does have a few restaurants worth noting. There are also a number of good, cheap, no-name eateries downtown, especially on Calle Francisco Madero between Lerdo de Tejada Zaragoza and throughout the pedestrian-only zone.
Near CICOM and the anthropology museum , Los Tulipanes (Carlos Pellicer Cámara 511, tel. 993/312-9209, 8 a.m.–10 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 8 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun., 1 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon., US$6–16) serves good if not spectacular regional food like baked fish and grilled chicken. The dining area is large and colorful, and there’s live music every day but Monday, usually in the morning and the evening. It’s a little hard to find: Take the wide passageway south of the theater toward the river.
Italianni’s (Paseo Tabasco at Av. Ruíz Cortines, tel. 993/317-7258, 1–11 p.m. Mon.–Wed., 1 p.m.–1 a.m. Thurs.–Sat., 1–10 p.m. Sun., US$6–16) features well-prepared Italian fare in a relaxed, nice atmosphere. Many of the dishes—even salads and desserts—are designed for two people, so sharing is encouraged. The result is that you can have a varied meal for comparatively little money. (And since you’re saving all that money, be sure to try a “watermelontini,” “appletini,” or another of the creative mixed drinks.)
Tucked into the northeast corner of the Plaza de Armas, Atarashi Sushi (Vasquez Norte 203, tel. 993/314-7025, noon–midnight daily, US$3–6) is a pleasant surprise, especially if you are getting tired of regional fare. Choose from about 20 different sushi rolls, all well-prepared and—with 10 hefty pieces—a good value. Two or three rolls, an order of veggie tempura, and some miso soup are more than enough for two. Other options include fried rice, noodles, and curry dishes.
Next door to Italianni’s, Restaurant Mi Viejo Café (Paseo Tabasco at Av. Ruíz Cortines, 7 a.m.–midnight daily, US$4–12) is a classy but affordable place to eat, especially for breakfast or lunch. Morning specials vary from scrambled eggs to quiche Lorraine, and come with fresh-squeezed juice and cups of coffee. For lunch or dinner, try sandwiches, pasta, grilled chicken, or one of several cuts of beef.
Part of the Hotel Madan, Restaurant Madan (Av. Madero 408, tel. 993/312-1650, 7 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, US$3–6) is filled day and night with locals and visiting businesspeople huddled over never-ending cups of coffee. Try for a table by the front windows, where you can watch the action on the street. The comida corrida lunch special is a good deal, with soup, salad, entrée, dessert, and drink for US$3–4.
El Café de la Calle Juárez (Calle Juárez between Avs. Zaragoza and Lerdo de Tejada, tel. 993/312-3454, 7 a.m.–10 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 7:30 a.m.–9 p.m. Sun., US$2.50–5) is one of several cafés along Calle Juárez with smoky, air-cooled indoor seating and street-side outdoor seating. Like the others, this one serves good basic breakfast and lunch specials and is usually filled with old guys arguing politics and drinking coffee. Foreigners are almost as rare as women are, and the atmosphere is brusque but comfortable.
If you just need a break, the Centro Cultural (Av. Francisco Madero at Zaragoza, tel. 993/314-5552, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Tues.–Sun, US$2–6) has an airy lobby café, with good coffee, light snacks, and pastries.
The Mercado José María Pino Suárez (José María Pino Suárez at Av. Ruíz Cortines, 7 a.m.– 6 p.m. daily) offers the freshest produce, dairy, and meats around. Check it out, even if just to experience the local market scene.