I'm in Polanco (Mexico City) and I hate it. Where to go?
May 14, 2016 8:38 PM   Subscribe

I came in early for a work thing (my colleagues arrive late Monday). I'm broke, and (other than the anthro museum which I'll see Monday), Polanco seems like a maze of Gucci grossness.

I'm blond and female, the sort that gets bothered a lot, and don't want to borrow trouble. Walked around the area surrounding my hotel but it's so glossy and expensive and I just want a damned taco from a real place.

Going to bed hungry tonight in my ritzy hotel, because I don't want to waste money on gloss. (Also, mmm, the calories I can eat tomorrow!) Where should I go tomorrow and Monday to eat and explore on my own, on a budget and without expensive taxis? (I'm fine with metro and bus and walking). The work thing will provide the glitzy side (not on my dime), tomorrow just looking for something remotely authentic.

Gracias. (Oh and I understand very little Spanish but have an app)
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet to Travel & Transportation around Polanco, Mexico (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Palacio de las Bellas Artes in the old part of town. Stunning museum with huge Diego Rivera murals and other beautiful artworks. While in the neighborhood, visit the cathedral. And if you can, take the stairs up its turret - a bit of a claustrophobic experience but so worth it !!

Also, Chapultepec Park. Beautiful. Visit the castle within.

Contemporary Arts museum near you is also worth a visit.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:07 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

From Polanco you can cycle the Paseo de la Reforma boulevard, which they shut down to traffic on Sunday. The Museo Nacional de Antropología is closed on Monday.
posted by yqxnflld at 9:26 PM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Mexico City Downtown dweller here!
> I just want a damned taco from a real place.
Sorry to break it to you, that pretty much doesn't exist on Polanco. The surrounding neighborhoods (Granada, Anzures et al) are not much better, but usually quite less pricey. If you're looking for inexpensive, you'll have to get out of there (hint: the whole Polanco area was literally built and planned for the proverbial 1% of the population)

Bear in mind, Mexico City happened to be host to a very important international event here just last year and we produced several pages on tips for visitors; travel tips, transportation, a primer on local cuisine and several others, you might want to check out those! (DISCLAIMER: I was part of the organizing team)

If you're looking for inexpensive and "authentic" you could move to Downtown pretty easily, via metro (key stations: Hidalgo, Bellas Artes, Zócalo, Pino Suárez and everything nearby). Pretty much every food cart/stall around there is bound to be as authentic as it gets. If you don't trust street vendors, there will be loads of Mexican cuisine places open on Sunday as we love to eat out on weekends. (Hint: if you see several policemen in a single place, that's the spot you'll want to eat at)

Most places near Downtown are used to receiving tourists and will have English speaking staff, so don't hesitate to ask in English if your app fails for some reason.

Also n-thing Anthro museum. If you're into that, you can walk the main avenue outside the Anthropology Museum (Paseo de la Reforma) to get to the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Chapultepec Castle/Museum, and the Tamayo Museum. There are literally enough museums to keep you busy for a lifetime, so pick whichever you like best. Just Google "museos CDMX" and you'll get more museums than you can visit in a year.

The techie crowd is quite active on Foursquare and it tends to be *really* accurate, so I urge you to use their recommendations to cater to your needs, specific as they may be. I've been living here for years and there's always something to check out at pretty much any budget level.

Also , bear in mind (for Monday) that most schools start between 7-8 AM and most office jobs start between 8-10 AM, so that's your rush hour in public transport. It may vary a lot depending on where exactly you will move, but it's a fact that the main streets and transport lines will be packed around those times. Plan accordingly.

(And if you don't want to get too far away from the Polanco area, Look for Lincoln Park and/or Horacio street as places to walk around and get lost in. There's really no excuse to having a great time in this city on a budget--I've done it for the past few years while holding a 9-5 job. Don't hesitate to bug me for further questioning on this matter, I'd be glad to help you out)
posted by andycyca at 10:33 PM on May 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

If you want something very different from the gloss of Polanco but still safe and nice, then I recommend taking the metro to Coyoacan, which is a really lovely bohemian-ish neighborhood on the southern end of the city. It's where Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived, so if you have the money for the admission, you can see her house, which was a highlight of Mexico City for me. But even if you don't, it's a really nice neighborhood to just walk around. It's not overly touristy but there are enough foreign residents and tourists that you probably won't get a ton of undue attention. For food, there is a great market there, or you can go to Tacos Chupacabras, so good.

Seconding the Palacio de las Bellas Artes. So beautiful, and I spent a good hour studying the Rivera mural. There's also a really nice public park next to it that has lit-up fountains in the evening - I enjoyed people-watching there. Pro-tip for the Palacio: if you go to the Sears across the street (which is actually a fairly fancy department store!) there is a cafe on the top (I think?) floor with a balcony from which you can see the top of the Palacio.

In general, you can spend the better part of a day just wandering around the Centro Historico without spending too much money - lots of stuff is inexpensive or free, and there are interesting things around every corner.

As for food, if you've never had a torta before, try one!
posted by lunasol at 11:29 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

You said you want to avoid expensive taxis.. are you morally opposed to Uber? If not you should know that it works in Mexico City (with your regular Uber account registered in another country), it's fast and not very espensive. It may give you a lot more flexibility for exploring the city.
posted by simonw at 4:28 AM on May 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks so much! I walked down to the Anthropology Museum this morning and basically lost the whole day. (Which was fine! That museum is a wonder of the world!)

Was heading to the Metro to go to the Cathedral when the skies opened. As my phone was dying, and my wet shoes were rubbing, I came back to the hotel (right by Metro Auditorio) to recharge. I will go out again soon, maybe to Condesa? I had a blue corn flatbread with nopale this morning, craving tacos al pastor.

Anyone who wants to meet up, let me know!
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 1:58 PM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just asked my cousin, who lives in Polanco, where to get good tacos al pastor. She recommends either Taquería Selene in Anzures, just east of Polanco. Or Rey del Suadero right there in Polanco. Trust her, she knows good tacos.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 4:37 PM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

She says also Los Califa, but they are a little more pricey.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 4:40 PM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

> Anyone who wants to meet up, let me know!
Whoops, saw this too late. If you ever come back, I'll take you on your offer.
posted by andycyca at 7:57 PM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

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