We got back from Mexico City last week, but it still has our hearts. See how mushy it makes me? It’s full of fantastic food, friendly urbane people, lush parks, fascinating art and history, and 8 million ways to have a good time. I’m going to share with you what I did – and I can’t think of why I’ve never done this for my previous travels. I’m an obsessive researcher and have boundless enthusiasm, so might as well document it.
Our vacation priorities are always to walk as much as we can, eat the best things, take it easy when we need to, and try to get a sense of why the people who live there love it. So a pretty bougie approach, but highly enjoyable. Below are some of my recommendations, as well as a list of what we’ll be trying next time. Because, oh yes, there WILL be a next time. Soon.
We stayed at Condesa DF, because years of business travel have taught me that I like non-chain design hotels that are in neighborhoods where folks actually live, rather than in city centers. Condesa was in – shocker – La Condesa, a beautiful leafy neighborhood with just enough bustle. I read comparisons to the West Village, and that seemed apt. We got a deal on the hotel – it’s not cheap – but really enjoyed how comfortable and sleek it was. We like to rest up in the later afternoons before dinner, and to come back to our room and have a drink or two before bed. Condesa’s rooms have big picture windows you can open for air, and we spent hours drinking tequila from the minibar and looking out people walking past.
A note on transit: we took Ubers everywhere, because they’re safe and convenient, and give you bottles of water. I think this is the first time I’ve traveled somewhere with unsafe tap water that I wasn’t desperately dehydrated the entire time. Thank you, Uber drivers of DF.
Also, this trip is the first one that I researched on Instagram. I poked around on hashtags and looked up some of the restaurants I wanted to visit to get a sense of who might have an account I’d want to follow. Totally recommended.
Limosneros – We came here for lunch and had our favorite meal of the trip, by far. Salsa made on a copper tray tableside, wonderful service, beautiful restaurant, inventive food.
Pujol – It was fun to splash out on a fancy meal, and the elegant atmosphere was a nice treat. The food was tasty and exciting, but the fact that we had loved our lunch at Limosneros earlier in the day may have been the reason we didn’t fall in love.
Azul Condesa – We ate lunch here after touring Teotihuacan, and its lovely garden was delightful after getting hot, sweaty and hungry. The food was all tasty, and it was fun to watch the powerlunchers around us.
Cate de mi Corazon – I found out about this wee place on a vegetarian travel blog, and it was awesome for Mike to be able to eat everything on the menu – it’s all veggie or vegan. We sat outside for dinner, facing a busy intersection and people watching, sipping tequila and eating tacos. They had my favorite tequila service – tiny enamel cups with lime juice, tequila, and fresh sangrita.
Condesa DF – We didn’t order from the menu at all, just stuffed ourselves on the brunch buffet, a gorgeous spread of beautiful fruit (creamy mango, low-acid sweet pineapple) and protein (Greek yogurt, hardboiled eggs). I was in heaven.
San Angel Inn – We stopped here for a late lunch, and it was quite the classy place. A huge beautiful building with a blooming courtyard and room after room of dark wood and velvet. While we waited for a table we sat near three older couples celebrating various impressive anniversaries (48 years was the winner, I think). We chatted with them over fantastic margaritas. We wound up at tables near each other, and Mike thought to send over tequila for all of them. They not only cheersed us, they came over to hold our hands and give us good wishes. We even got sweet little kisses on the cheek from the oldest lady. It was absolutely delightful.
We passed a few hours at the rooftop bar at our hotel, which was quite a scene, as was the ground-floor bar and restaurant after dark, though not as busy as the roof.
We spent a very boozy night sitting at a table outside of La Botica, talking with the waiter (I speak Spanish pretty well, and Mike can understand it) and drinking the mezcals he recommended. I sipped straight tequila or mezcal most of the trip, served two ways: with orange slices dashed with chile powder, or served in a row between tiny glasses of lime juice and sangrita, a spicy orange tomato juice.
We also walked Tamaulipas and popped in at places that caught our fancy. I’m sure there are many neighborhoods where we could have done this, but La Condesa and Roma win in my book.
We strolled Avenida Amsterdam and other streets near the Parque Mexico – the treelined central walkway was a nice way to pass the time and people watch. There are also lovely outdoor cafes along the way.
We hired a fantastic guide to take us through Teotihuacan outside the city. Hector was a font of information about the various civilizations that have lived in the area, and helped us imagine what the city must have been like at its peak.
Tenochtitlan, in the center of the city, is a very ruined ruin – next time we may hire Hector to take us through. But we thought it was valuable nonetheless.
The Museo Nacional de Anropologia was absolutely stunning, and a great followup to our time at Tenochtitlan and Teotihuacan.
The Blue House, the family home of Frida Kahlo that she shared with Diego Rivera, is fascinating and gorgeous. The line was long but moved quickly, and I’m so glad we went. To see my own face in the mirror that Frida used for her self portraits took my breath away.
For next time:
I’d like to stay at the Red Tree House, which came highly recommended but was closed for renovations when we were in town.
I’d like to get a meal or drink at Romita, which looked absolutely gorgeous from the street.
Common People in Polanco is supposed to be a big treasure chest of a shop.
We plan to spend more time in Bosque de Chapultepec, walking or running, exploring the leafy expanses and the castle.
I also hope we’ll dig into more cultural offerings, like ballet folklorico and some of the many art museums and galleries.
A final note on that very messy but expansive Google Doc with info I gathered from blogs and personal recommendations; drop me a line if you’d like access to it.