Hello! Here is a very late recap of a quick trip that Dan and I took to Mexico City last year. 2017 seems to be the Year that Everyone Went to Mexico City, and it’s no wonder: vibrant culture, phenomenal food and breath-taking accommodations can be had for budget prices. Late last summer, Dan surprised me with tickets for my birthday! Tickets can be unbelievably cheap from Houston (round-trip for well under $100), and I’m tempted to go back for a longer stay soon.
Although we barely scratched the surface during our stay from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon, we gathered a ton of recommendations from friends that I wanted to share because they helped make our trip amazing. If you go, I hope these help you with planning as well!
What we did (hint: it involves a lot of food):
- Cafe El Popular: a 24/7 casual cafe with large portions of comfort food. We put our name in (it was crowded with locals at 9am!) and went down the street to check out the panaderia on the corner before returning to split the chilaquiles and guacamole.
- Dulceria Celaya: huge array of traditional sweets and candy!
- El Moro Churros: the Centro Historico is the site of the original El Moro, though it has expanded to other areas of the city. Their churros are just stunning: massive ropes of crispy fried dough that the churro chefs expertly snip into curved batons. Don’t miss the super-thick Spanish style hot chocolate with your churros. Pro tip: if you get an order to go (at least at the Centro Historico location), they’ll usually hand you an extra churro or two while you wait.
- Mercado San Juan Gourment: a huge market with everything–vendors who will give you samples of fruits, and imported goods from Spain.
- Museo Mural Diego Riviera: really cool murals from local artists, and a relatively small time commitment as museums go (it’s pretty small, but worth the admission fee).
- Pujol: Named to the top 50 restaurants in the world, Pujol is perhaps the crown jewel in the Mexico City fine dining scene. You can choose between a variety of options for each of the six courses to make your meal vegetarian, pescatarian, or possibly vegan/gluten-free friendly. It’s still not cheap (our total was around $300 including several cocktails, tax and tip), but it’s a relative bargain when you consider some fine dining experiences of this caliber in other places). Complete with a surprise dessert course that ended in the candlelit garden, this was definitely a hugely memorable birthday dinner!
- Lalo: recommended by multiple people, this place felt a little touristy (i.e. more English-speaking peeps and slightly more expensive) but was also so hipster and cute with the most amazing bread!
- Parque Espana: huge, gorgeous park that we walked to after Lalo. There’s a cute dog park that is either adjacent or part of Parque Espana that is great for people/dog-watching!
- Mercado Roma: we walked to this food hall after Parque Espana. We were too full to eat anything, but we bought some exotic truffles for later and printed out some instagram photos from a photo machine upstairs. I would have loved to return for lunch or a snack–there are tons of delicious vendors on offer, including an outpost of Churreria El Moro.
- Contramar: although we still weren’t starving, we stopped by for our 1:30pm reservation (definitely make a reservation before you go if trying to eat around normal meal times), and I’m so glad we did–the Contramar fish, slathered in a duo of red and green salsas, was one of my favorite things we ate in Mexico City.
- Palacio de Bellas Artes
- Castle de Chapultepec: Enormous castle surrounded by a forest. Be prepared to walk (it took us about 20 minutes to ascend the hill that leads to the castle) and be rewarded with a great view of the city.
- Fonda Fina: The food here was average for the most part, except for the squash blossom salad, which was PHENOMENAL.
- Before we left for the airport, we took an amazing cooking class that Dan found through TripAdvisor! We made an absolute feast (most of the latter pictures are from the class): vegetarian mole with squash, homemade tortillas that we made into quesadillas with this addictive stretchy Oaxacan cheese and huitlacoche, sopes topped with refried beans and cheese, nopales, rajas con crema, a plum-like fruit compote, and sweet corn tamales (ground from fresh corn!). This was maybe my favorite thing we did in Mexio City–if you search pretty much any cooking class in Mexico City, I’m sure you’ll have a great time!
Other suggestions by friends, organized by neighborhood:
- Museo Soumaya (houses a Salvador Dali collection among many other works of art)
- Lots of high-end shopping.
Bosque de Chapultepec area (adjacent to La Condesa)
- Casa Gilardi (make a reservation)
- Luis Barragan House (make a reservation)
- Cucurucho (coffee)
- Lalo (breakfast or pre dinner drinks)
- Fonda Fina
- Panaderia Rosetta: get there early for the best selection
- Cafe Virginia
- Mercado Roma
- Maximo Bistro
- Por Siempre Vegana
- Cafe Toscano
- Licorera Limantour
- Gin Gin
- Quentin and Memories de un Barista coffee shops
- La Avellaneda: coffee
- Kahlo/Rivera museum
- Dolores Olmedo museum: It is her hacienda and houses her collection of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera paintings
- Museo de Artes Populares on Independencia: fabulous folk art
- And drinks at La Cerveceria by the Cibeles fountain in Roma. And the Mercado Roma for dining. And pozole at the original Casa de Toño on Liverpool. And coffee at Memorias de un Barista and at BUNA and at Quentín. Etc. Etc. Etc.
- Arena Mexico for lucha libre on Friday nights
- Four walking streets (reduced traffic or closed to traffic): 5 de Mayo, 16 de Septiembre, Tacuba, Madero. The billionaire, Carlos Slim, worked with the city to revitalize the downtown area
- Cafe el Popular: casual spot for breakfast and lunch. Popular with locals
- Casa de Azulejos Sanborns: pastries or desserts, great for before or after the Bellas Artes museum
- Azul Historico
- Cafe Tacuba
- Restaurante El Cardenal
- Dulceria Celaya
- El Moro Churros
- Mercado San Juan Gourment
- Museo del Estanquillo
- Museo de Bellas Artes
- Museo Templo Mayor: Aztec museum
- Museo de Artes Populares on Independencia
- Museo Franz Mayer on north side of the Alameda
And for a very detailed itinerary, here is a recommended list of things to do from my friend Jay!