CDMX City Guide

Here is the legend of Mexico City: the Mexica (prounounced: meh-shee-ka) people searched for many years to settle a home in the rugged central American landscape. A prophet foretold that they would find their home on an island, in the middle of a lake, on top of a mountain- where an eagle would be perched on a cactus with a snake in its beak. For many years they searched until true enough, they found the sign they searched for. In the middle of Lake Texcoco surrounded by volcanoes on all sides was home. Here, in 1325, Mexico City’s modern history began. Mexico City Guide.

 
 

The dappled sunlight on the wide park path of the Bosque de Chapultepec. The tiled steps of the Palacio de Belles Artes. The glory of Teotihuacan. Every step you take in the DF brings you face-to-face with a bloody and war-torn history that gave way to a beautiful mishmash of art, architecture and culture. Every block transports you from ancient Aztec ciudadelas to Spanish Colonial castles to brutalist modern condos.

 

As one of the biggest cities in the world, it’s amazing to see how a tight-nit, neighborhood feel prevails in most areas, and every person you meet will speak with you courteously and warmly, as compared to, say, NYC. Every minute your eyes are bombarded by color and pattern, whether you’re eating it, wearing it, or staying in it. This is CDMX.

Where to Eat

Pujol

What can I say about Pujol that hasn’t already been said? If you’re curious about what upscale Mexican food means, watch the episode Chef’s Table did on the restaurant. What I can tell you is that it’s vastly easier (and cheaper) to eat at the Omakase taco bar for lunch. Lunch is a long affair as it will take you about 3-4 hours. The taco bar hit all the high notes of the restaurant in a fun, slightly more accessible way.

Entremar

Entremar is the sister restaurant of famed Contramar, with the exact same menu. Located on a quite but very beautiful and shady park in Polanco, this location is just as good if not better than the original in Roma. The famous house red-and-green roasted fish and the tuna tostadas are a must have, and my margarita was quite excellent as well. 1pm is pretty early for lunch for most Mexicanos, and by 3pm the place will be packed. Find a sweet spot in the middle.

 

Lardo

The perfect neighborhood restaurant with solid breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus a walk up coffee window on the outside. Delicious pastries (get the Pan Guayaba!!) and coffee with all the non-dairy options for a simple, local-style breakfas. Or if you have more of an American appetite, feast on the chilaquiles with salsa verde and burrata.

 

Taqueria tlaquepaque

This is the go-to taqueria in the historical center. Open all night, this place has all the hits you’re looking for: huarraches, tacos, tortas as well as jugos and cervesas. 3 tacos for 30 pesos, or about $1.25.

A typical taqueria in Mexico City.

El Moro Churreria

El Moro is the first and oldest Churreria in Mexico City, but they have since expanded their enterprise to 6 locations in the city. I tried 4 of them and my favorite was the one in Polanco.

 

Sai nt Panaderia

I give big props to any bakery that can pull off sourdough bread and viennoisserie (croissants) at an altitude as high as 7000 ft. This adorable cafe is right next to Pujol Molino, so scoop up some jamon, cheese and pesto sandwiches with your tortilla haul.

Rosetta Panaderia

I’m always surprised when I can go to a bakery and try something truly new. The envuelto de estragon (tarragon bun) at Rosetta Panaderia seems random and can easily be overlooked on the menu but trust me, it’s the best pastry you’ve ever had. The other stuff on the menu’s great too, I really loved the Rol de Guayaba (I also bought some of the guava [guayaba] jam) and the berlinesa de ricotta y frambuesa (ricotta and raspberry filled donut)

Quentin Cofffee Shop

This coffeeshop looks like it belongs in a Restoration Hardware catalogue or something*. The back sunroom is perfect for a quiet cup of coffee and a book or work on your computer. Non-dairy milk options available.

*In a very good way.

A coffeeshop in Mexico City called Quentin
A typical morning vibe at Quentin.

Where to STay

An airbnb in the Roma or La Condesa neighborhoods. When doubles run you $19/night how can you not?

My picks for hotels in the neighborhood that still have a guest house vibe would be El Parque and Ignacia Guest House.

Where to shop

Onora

A sweet little home goods shop in Polanco. At first glance it looks like your average California boutique where everything is $500+ but you will be pleasantly surprised that everything here is affordably priced and hand made by local artisans.

La Ciudadela

The city’s main handicraft market. Contains much of the same things you would find at a market in any other part of Mexico but it seemed less picked over. Tons of Otomi embroidery, expert silver work, beautiful glass boxes, handwoven huarrache sandals, wool pillowcases and wooden painted alebrijes.

What to Do

Mercado san juan

Known as the gourmet market but housing so much more than food, Mercado San Juan is centrally located and easy to navigate. Be careful taking pictures of the bugs for sale, some vendors don’t appreciate that.

A stuffed tiger on the wall at the market.
A stuffed tiger on the wall at the Mercado San Juan, where they sell exotic meat from many types of animals, including, sadly, tiger.

Mercado De Jamaica

Fruit, vegetables, spices, dry goods, flowers, meat, seafood and pretty much anything else edible that is available in Mexico city, is available at Mercado de Jamaica. Don’t miss the carnitas tacos.

 

Two brightly-colored fruit juices held in the air by two hands over a restaurant counter with tacos on it.
A passion fruit juice and a papaya juice at the carnitas counter.

Museo dolores olmedo

Skip the overcrowded and fairly small Casa de Frida Kahlo and go instead to this lesser known museum. It houses the largest collection of her art in the world, including some of her most famous works. Don’t miss the large peacock population. The large grounds and beautiful hacienda architecture make this place perfect for an afternoon stroll.

A girl is seated on a stone bench facing the camera, also holding a camera.

Museo nacional de antropologia

Yes, the peacock headress of Moctezuma is intact and still exists and is inside this museum. Thousands of years of native Mexican handicrafts and stone carvings are also housed within this amazing museum’s walls.

A stone carving on a pedestal.

What I wish I did

-Teotihuacán, plan a whole day for this

-Las Grutas Tolantango, beautiful hot springs

-Lucha Libre show

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