Travels

CDMX, Te Amo

Mexico City Landmark
Palacio de Bellas Artes

“I’m going to Mexico in December, I need to use up my holidays and I need to get some sun!”  That was pretty much the main premise of my trip to Mexico.  I left it super open-ended, booking a one-way ticket to CDMX.  The only things I had booked in advance were my Airbnb for the first 10 days in Mexico City and a one week Español course to refresh my basic Spanish.

In total, I spent almost four weeks there over December and January and explored quite a few things.  The vibes and people in Mexico City are so warm and energetic.  So much going on there, one of my favourite cities now.  Here are my recommendations if you are planning a visit.

Photos at the bottom of this post.

Tacos

  • El Pescadito – I only discovered this place my last two days, wish it was earlier!  Great seafood tacos that you can really load up.
  • El Periban – I think this may be a chain, this is the location I went to a couple times when we were staying in Roma Sur.  The chamorro taco was delicious and so was their Sopa Azteca
  • Los Cuyos – If you’re feeling hungry after Sunday Sunday, this is a good spot.  Most of their meats are organs or kinda exotic for North American tastebuds, but their suadero taco is delicious and not strange at all.
  • Paramo – Cool venue, lots of different tacos and cocktails.  From the two times I went, it looks like a popular place for foreigners.  By Mexican standards I think the tacos are a bit pricier, but they say good things about it too.
  • One of the best tacos I had was from a little stand by the boat moor at Xochimilco.  I wouldn’t even be able to give the directions, but it was busy and I got a chamorro taco before getting on a Trajinera boat.  It was so good that after our boat tour ended, I came back and asked if we could just buy some of the meat and take it to go (para llevar).  They were super nice and picked out a nice sized entire leg of pork and shredded the meat off for us and even threw in a few tacos.  All for 90 pesos!  We pigged out on that for dinner that night.  Best idea ever.  Moral of the story is – if you see a busy taco stand where locals are eating, it’s a good idea to stop for one!

Other food:

  • Madre Cafe is a cool venue.  I heard their brunch is great, but only had dinner there.  Had one of the most interesting cocktails there: The Madre, with horchata, crema de coco, blue spirulina, and vodka.  
  • I liked to people watch at Caffe Toscano.  Right across from El Moro cafe, next to Parque Mexican.  Just be prepared to have small change ready for all the buskers who like to perform there.
  • El Moro, the ultimate churreria for churros and hot chocolate.  I walked by the one beside Parque Mexican constantly and it was always buzzing.  Also a great people watching spot.
  • If you want to dine at any of the top-rated restaurants in the city, you should get organized and book in advance.  Unfortunately I wasn’t, and therefore didn’t visit any of them.

Bars & Clubs:

  • La Clandestina – a mezcaleria that is always busy.  Good place to try a variety of mezcals.
  • Limantour – another good cocktail place in Roma Norte.
  • Departamento – electronic music and good vibes.  Has a nice rooftop bar too.  Mostly a foreign crowd on the day I went.
  • SundaySunday – on every Sunday from late afternoon to late.  They have different DJs every week.  Electronic music, rooftop with good view of historic centre so get there for sunset if you like.  Mix of locals, foreigners, and expats.  Get tickets online via their instagram page.  You need to buy a card and load it with credit to buy drinks at the bar. 

Neighbourhoods:

  • Walk around the neighbourhoods of Condesa, Roma Sur, Roma Norte, Hippodrome.  So many cool buildings, restaurants, cafes.
  • On Tuesdays, Pachuca street (from Juan de la Barrera to ~Avenida Veracruz) in Condesa has a really cool market that sells veggies, fruit, meats, and some street food.  The quesadillas here (from a lady in the middle of the food section) are so good!
  • The loop around Parque Mexican (Avenida Amsterdam) is super cool.
  • Historic Centre – good for an afternoon wander to see the old buildings and giant square.  Palacio Bella Artes is also here.  Go to the cafe on the 8th/9th floor inside the Sears building across the street to get a good view of this building. 

Other things of interest:

  • Chapultepec Park – lots of museums, monuments here.  Good place for a morning jog as well.
  • Museo Nacional de Antropologia – very cool museum and building.  It’s quite big, so leave yourself enough time to take it all in.
  • Art museums – I went to the Soumaya, built by an uber rich tycoon.  There are thousands of pieces of art in here.  I’ve heard it’s quite controversial and many Mexicans don’t like it.  I didn’t have time, but would have also liked to visit Museo Jumex (contemporary art)
  • Frida Kahlo museum and Coyoacan – doable in one afternoon/evening since the museum is in the Coyoacan neighbourhood and it’s an Uber ride away from Roma Norte/Condesa, etc.  Book tickets in advance for the museum; they admit people at scheduled times and do sell out.
  • Xochimilco – if you can gather a larger group, it’ll be more fun.  You can negotiate the length by the our.  Apparently $500 pesos is the max rate per hour.  We got ours down to $400.  You can also do a dawn tour.  Unfortunately the dates didn’t line up for when we were there, but I’ve heard good things.
  • Unfortunately I didn’t get to go to a Lucha Libre match because they were canceled due to covid, but wish I could have experienced it.

Day trips outside of CDMX:

  • Teotihuacan pyramids – can do this as a day tour with a company or on your own with a combo of Uber and bus (what I did).  It’s possible to leave early and be back by afternoon.
  • Tolantango – 3-4 hours drive (one-way) outside of Mexico City.  Stunning place.  There’s a cave, tunnel, river, and series of hot spring pools to explore.  We did it via an Airbnb Experience, but there are Viatours and other day-trip offers as well.  It’s a long day, but so worth it.

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