Off to Mexico City! What's cool?
May 18, 2017 4:32 PM   Subscribe

Hola!, The wife and I are off to Mexico city during the week of July 4th. We've got reservations at Pujol and... not much else! We're fairly adventurous travelers and while my Spanish ends at 'Si', hers is close to fluent. We like to eat, are big frequenters of Atlas Obscura and don't mind a little discomfort if it leads to adventure. What's the coolest stuff in Mexico City? (And, perhaps, what should we look out for?)
posted by GilloD to Travel & Transportation around Mexico City, Mexico (17 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
You should also eat at Nicos and Contramar. You should also consider trying some street food. The anthropological museum is epic. Condesa and Roma are a bit "global hipster" so didn't sing to me.
posted by JPD at 5:09 PM on May 18, 2017

Well i love el tizoncito for tacos al pastor try to beat my record of 23. The mercado de artisans is pretty cool (also called ciudadela mercado).
posted by chasles at 5:10 PM on May 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

For the very most adventurous pallet.
posted by sammyo at 5:41 PM on May 18, 2017

Go to La Clandestina in Condesa and spend the night drinking microbrew mezcals and eating delicious crunchy crickets (chapulines) seasoned with salt, lime, and chilli.

Go to Arena Mexico and check out the Lucha Libre wrestling. We went on a weeknight and spent around $40 apiece I think for front row tickets.

We stayed in Roma Norte (yes it's global hispterish but we had a blast there and the street food and local flavour is still plentiful). If you're in the neighbourhood check out El Beso Huasteco, really good Huastecan food.

Honestly there's so much street food that it's hard to go wrong (so much competition). Try a few stands until you find your favourites. My favourites were tacos campechanos (mixed meat tacos) and dorilocos (doritos mixed with a bewildering variety of other stuff and doused in lime and hot sauce).
posted by sid at 5:54 PM on May 18, 2017

Put your reservation in at Contramar now. Also consider buying advance tickets to Casa Azul (Kahlo's house), and if you are interested in architecture, make sure to book a tour at Casa Barrigan.

I also highly recommend Museo de Juguete Antiguo De Mexico, aka MUJAM in Doctores. It's a museum stuffed with millions of toys, each carefully cataloged and indexed, displayed in layered dioramas and installations.

I second the Anthropology Museum recommendation - do not miss this.

Enjoy breakfast at Maque.

If you have time to make short day trips, there is easy public transport to Teotihuacan. Be ready to climb up and down the steep stepped pyramids.

I also recommend the excursion to Xochimilco Trajineras, the flat boats on the old canals. It's a slow moving party - you negotiate a time and a price with the boatman, he'll load you up with beers or micheladas, and once out in the canals you can have your boatman stop at vendors floating in the water - elotes, flower crowns, other snacks, even mariachis will offer to link up to your boat and play for a fee. Atlas Obscura has a post about "The Island of the Dolls", a creepy island covered in old doll heads, but this is deep into the canals and would take some time to get to.

I visited for a week last year and really enjoyed wandering around Centro, browsing and taking in all of the small shops, each selling very specific wares. Enjoy your trip!
posted by stachemaster at 6:15 PM on May 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

Frida Khalo house/museum
posted by bearette at 6:24 PM on May 18, 2017

Definitely the Anthropology Museum, and Teotihuacan if you want a day trip. We really liked the Templo Mayor and associated museum.
posted by gudrun at 6:36 PM on May 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Roma Condesa. One of the world's great 'hoods, even on its edges.
posted by sandmanwv at 7:15 PM on May 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

-frieda kahlo house
-day trip to cuernavaca: palacio de cortez, more food, see the central mountains from a safe reliable bus, Cuernavaca Cathedral (good cafes right across the street).
-i am a supra budget traveler. mexico city hostel in el centro has private rooms. La Casita de Coyoacán is a very small hotel that is safe with a super nice staff.
posted by j_curiouser at 7:16 PM on May 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

The Diego Rivera murals are fabulous.
posted by ktkt at 7:18 PM on May 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

When you go to Frida Kahlo's house (and you should), spend an afternoon wandering around Coyoacan, poking into random shops, people-watching in parks or cafes, etc. it's a lovely, funky little neighborhood.

Nthing the street food recommendation. You must have at least one torta.
posted by lunasol at 8:42 PM on May 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

You'll end up in the center and where you are there, visit Dulceria de Celaya. I still pine for their candied orange peels.
posted by Duffington at 10:10 PM on May 18, 2017

The recs so far are spot on. If you drink, drink Mezcal! It's delicious, there are so many available in DF, and it's so much cheaper in Mexico than abroad.
posted by benbenson at 12:36 PM on May 19, 2017

Oh gosh. How did i forget the pyramids??? Do that fir sure. And take a tequila obsidian tour nearby. Anyone will do.
posted by chasles at 4:29 PM on May 19, 2017

Nthing Teotihuacan. I usually dislike touristy places, but this was a pretty chill spot: basically just 'here are some very old pyramids you can look at and climb on'. And the bus ride to get there was nice, if you like bus rides.
posted by actionstations at 12:55 AM on May 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

All these things are great. Seconding Tizoncito and Maque. See if you can get to some Pulquerias; pulque has made a resurgence in the District and it's something you'll have a hard time getting outside of Mexico. Very low alcohol if that's a concern. La Nuclear on Calle Queretero is awesomely divey.

Def try to get outside of Condesa/Roma a little bit; there's a lot more to the city. Be a little careful about street food with lots of raw things. La Merced is another amazing market to add to your list.

Like most global cities, your lack of the language isn't going to stop you much, but it's worth the effort to learn some more basics.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:48 AM on May 23, 2017

Response by poster: Gosh! Looking back at this post there's so much fun stuff I missed. Honestly, I way underestimated the size and scope of Mexico City. We were out of the hotel probably 16 hours a day for 3 days and barely scratched the surface. Here's what we did do:

We stayed in La Roma in a charming little Air BnB. Having lived in New York, LA and Seoul it felt pretty familiar, aside from the traffic. Totally nuts, with bonus mysteriously signed crosswalks whose legality remained a mystery even on the 3rd day.

Day One: We got in around 3 and the decamped to an anonymously hip local hangout in Roma- Local beer, ceviche, crickets, queso etc. We then made our way over to La Clandestina for cocktails and mezcal. The Avocado cocktail was one for the books, but all the drinks were uniquely, world-class great. One of us had Mezcal and suffered weird nightmares. Go figure!

Day Two: Breakfast at Lalo. The vibe is pretty familiar to anyone who's been brunching in LA/NYC etc, but the vibe was chilled out. Free coffee and scones while you wait! The food was also incredible. As a conisseur of the baked good I do not mean it lightly when I say that they had the best brioche I've ever eaten. Tender, buttery, fragile, rich. It was put to good use in the largest Croque Madame I've ever laid eyes on and again in a life-affirming french toast. We then headed to Frida Khalo's house/museum. We had a few Frida superfans with us who REALLY loved it, but as a kind of drive-by admirer, I still enjoyed it- Interesting to see the history while you're standing in the room.

Afterwards, we wandered down the block to one of those claustrophobic markets. Half of it was tourist trinkets, the other half was a food market. We bothered a few shopkeepers who told us the real treat was a tostada place. But they also warned us that it was next to a nearly identical, not as good tostada place. We didn't need the warning- While they were nearly identical, the first place was like one stall and the legendary place had 9 stalls, plus a pinata shop. The tostadas were dirt cheap and ordered from a waiter who dropped off a ticket. Overall, pretty good! Afterwards we wandered a bunch of Mexico City's many, many public parks and then headed home for a disco nap.

ANd then we tried to go to dinner on a Sunday. I'd guesstimate that 100% of everything was closed. We ended up stopping in a pizza place that had a quasi-legal club ob the 2nd and 3rd floors. They charged us 50 pesos to get in and at the ripe old age of 33, I may have been the oldest person there. But the Aperol Spritzes were cheap, the DJ was loud and the energy was high, so who cares? It was nice to get some local color. Fairly drunk, we decamped to the only open restaurant- An italian chain that served terrible wine and worse pizza. But the conversation was great so, again, who cares? While it featured the worst drinks and food of the trip, it remains my favorite night we had out.

Day Three: We had an early lunch reso at Pujol, the Michelin-starred, legendary eatery. But we took the AM to nab some good eats from Panaderia Rosetta- HIGHLY recommended. Mind altering traditional Mexican pastry with truly great crossaints to boot, all at incredibly reasonable prices. We then headed to the big Zocalo which is under major renovations, but we still managed to se ethe cathedrals and stop by Sandford's to see the spectacular tile and walk the neighborhood.

Pujol was as great as promised. There are a bunch of banners in the neighborhood alledging that the restaurant is operating illegally, but no one gave us shit about going there. It came out to close to ~200 a head after drinks and tip. 6 courses, 4 of which are elected. If I had to do it again, I'd elect the following: The Cauliflower (MINDBLOWING. Magical. Truly. Almonds and chicken skin are a weird duo that will make you weep tears of joy), the Waygu (The fennel salt is an extraordinary complement to the fat of the beef) and the Avocado/Coconut dessert (This one relies on your enjoyment of fussy, component desserts). The pork was good, although I've had similar glass-shatteringly crisp pork skin from street vendors before. The Mole is worth the 200$ a head, a truly unique and incredible dish, 1320 days old on our day. Cocktails were very good but not mind blowing but the wine list has some very reasonable and incredible reds. Left plenty full!

After Pujol we wandered some more parks. Mexico City has SO MANY PARKS! You could do 2 weeks of just parks, I'm sure of it. Disco nap. Had a few evening beers at a hip oyster bar called La Docena that was fine. Didn't change my life, but the oysters looked good! Bed time.

The next AM we wandered around Condesa and popped into Lardo which, again, feels like a pretty familiar brunch spot. Totes fine! Their pastry came from Pananderia Rosetta which was a nice encore. Afterwards we found more parks! Including one with like dozens of dogs! Then it was off to the airport and Cabo San Jose + Todos Santos, which is a topic for another time.

Anyway- Mexico City is crazy! Intense, lush, dark. I'm happy that we kind of just dipped our toes into a bunch of the city's weird specialties, but it'd be totally possible to build a whole week around any of them. Can't wait to go back!
posted by GilloD at 10:06 AM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

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