Okay first things first—Mexico City is Aztec chic.
I noticed it the second I left the airport. Large statues of Aztec emblems. Bright colors emblazoned on the sides of buildings. Subtle (and sometimes, not so subtle) gold flecks on anything and everything. It’s clear that it’s a city with history and it wants to tell you about it. So strap on your huaraches, grab a street taco (or two), and let’s go.
Mexico City is not the Mexico American tourists are used to. Overcrowded beaches and resorts are traded in for large highways, cool art, hipster bars and restaurants, and mercados on mercados. It reminds me a lot of Delhi—organized yet chaotic, filled with people proud of their culture.
DF (or Distrito Federal, as the cool kids call it) is also HUGE. It’s the second largest city in the WORLD (followed by Tokyo), so a long weekend was clearly not even close to enough time. There is an insane amount you can do, and a true visit could easily last a week.
We made the most out of our four days, the highlight for me obviously being eating at Pujol. Made famous by Chef’s Table, I legit booked our reservation before we even had flights! What became as a forcing function to visit DF became an amazing dining experience, mainly because:
- It was the first thing we did after we landed. ubered to our Airbnb, changed into cute clothes, and ubered straight to dinner.
- Each of the six courses offers four choices. Between the five of us, we got to try every course and then some, meaning we ate the ENTIRE MENU. Our method of sharing—let me take copious photos, let everyone take 2-3 bites, and pass the plate to the left. Pretty sure we raised some eyebrows, but if means eating literally everything at Pujol, zero regrets.
Some other highlights/tips:
Mercados: We spent an entire day just market hopping and it was awesome. Sonora is the witchcraft market; Merced has all the food items (I brought back Mexican canela and dried pasilla chiles); Coyoacán has street food stalls and some more artisan items (I bought a molinillo and mole paste)
Bike Tour: Most of the main streets are closed on Sundays, so it’s a good time to take a 3-hour tour of the city and learn the history and eat some tacos. So worth!
Frida Kahlo Museum: It doesn’t take more than 30 minutes to walk through but it’s pretty amazing because it’s her actual house. See her old bedroom and kitchen and take photos in the strikingly blue walls.
Floating Gardens of Xochimilco: We didn’t get a chance to do this but I wish we did! It’s an hour south of the city so go early on the weekend if you do go.
Bosques: DF is lush AF. There are forests and parks everywhere, which is great for relaxing and people watching.
Condesa: Cuter area with more hipster spots.
Roma Norte: Lots of bars here, including Zona Rosa, the gay district.
Polanco: A swanky neighborhood on the east side. I only came here to eat at Pujol, as the rest of it didn’t seem that authentic.
Pujol: Duh. Watch the episode of Chef’s Table if you need more convincing.
Lardo: A swanky and affordable lunch spot. Sit at the bar and grab a glass of rose while you eat.
Panaderia Rosetta: From the same people as Lardo, their pan de guava is kiler.
Puntarena: It’s inside a hotel and has a giant vertical garden! It’s open for brunch (which by the way, only starts at noon or after in DF) and dinner, except on Sundays. Even if you just come for drinks, it’s worth.
Tacos Hola: Famous for their chicken tinga tacos!
Taqueria Alvaro Obregon: Lenga tacos, enough said. Seriously so good.
Mercado Roma: An indoor food and drink hall. The food offered is fine, but go upstairs to the indoor beer and cocktail garden. It’s a great place to start or spend the evening.
Things to NOT Do:
Contramar: Definitely overhyped. It’s crowded, loud, and wait is often 2+ hours.
Chapultepec Castle: Cool in theory, but easily missable if you’re on a time crunch.