Last minute Mexico City trip recommendations
June 30, 2022 11:57 AM   Subscribe

We are doing an impulsive, last minute, no research trip to Mexico City, TONIGHT until Tuesday. We like art and music, we like everything from street food up to fine dining, we like architecture and history. We are staying in downtown. Only one of us speaks Spanish. Please blast me with any must-dos!
posted by BuddhaInABucket to Travel & Transportation around Mexico City, Mexico (14 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Teotihuacan and the Templo Mayor are must-see for history. All of the big museums are great. For slightly offbeat but often really surprising contemporary art, Ex Teresa and Jumex museums are really good and might not be in the guidebook top ten. Have fancy dinner in La Condessa or Roma neighborhoods. (I doubt my favorites still exist after several years and COVID. But, there is not shortage.) The astonishing view from the bar at the top of the Torre Latinoamericana is worth the overpriced drinks and cheaper than the viewing platform. Have fun. I'm envious!
posted by eotvos at 12:10 PM on June 30, 2022 [4 favorites]

Best answer: After you go to the Palacio de Bellas Artes (a must-do), go across the street to the Sears (really) and go to the cafe on the 8th floor and get a table outside. Absolutely gorgeous views of the Pallacio roof and the city. Alameda Central nearby is a great park for people-watching in the early evening.

Coyoacan is a lovely neighborhood. The big attraction is Frida Kahlo's house, which is really wonderful if you like art, but it's really nice to just walk around the chill, artsy neighborhood.
posted by lunasol at 12:16 PM on June 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

(Seconding Coyoacán. If you're going all the way there from downtown, it's worth a side trip to check out the UNAM campus murals, public art, architecture, and surprising geology.)
posted by eotvos at 12:28 PM on June 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding Lunasol - that will give you a taste for wonderful murals.
Then go downtown to the Ministry of Public Education, at República de Argentina #28, Centro Histórico. The building is a double courtyard, with every inward-facing wall of every level covered with murals painted or directed by Diego Rivera.
It's free. It's humblingly wonderful: he painted the entire nation, from the underground (both miners and revolutionaries) to the tippy tops of society, and everything in between. Don't miss the third floor of the front(ish) courtyard, it has representations of the professions - surgeon, doctor, pharmacist, accountant.
There are statues around the courtyard of the great civilizations inspiring Mexico. I won't spoiler them for you, but there is a definite surprise.

There are murals in most gov't offices around the central square. I'd go with a local guide (I've gone with; I will go with; I will never get enough of going with).

The Museo del Templo Mayor is marvelous for past and current art.

The Museum of Anthropology is marvelous, but don't start-at-the-beginning-and-go-through-to-the-end. Skip the first section, go straight through the courtyard to the last bit, and work your way back toward the entry. The exhibits are drawn from precolumbian history, and they're stunning.

Go to all the huge churches (are they all cathedrals? I don't know). They have the wildest doors, enormous and imposing, often with smaller doors for actual everyday use. Just walking around and noticing doors is enough to keep a person busy for that length of a visit. There's some neat sculpture outside the big cathedral in the zocalo. Sort of a statue of the pope (no further spoilers.)

Gosh, I miss CDMX. Enjoy it extra, for me!
posted by Shunra at 12:32 PM on June 30, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: (You all are delivering absolutely amazing recommendations for me to review, I'm very thankful. Keep'em coming if you have more!)
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 12:36 PM on June 30, 2022

Best answer: I honestly loved going out to Xochimilko, hiring a boat, and floating around eating, listening to music, etc. I also love Plaza Garibaldi at night, though was always told to take a taxi to and from. The toy museum was surprisingly interesting to me - forget where it was. I also enjoyed two Lucha Libre matches. Great recommendations above, which I second. There was a tour of the top of the cathedral that was cool too. I love Mexico City - you're in for a treat.
posted by slide at 12:56 PM on June 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

I don't mean to thread-sit, but seconding Xochimilco. Bring cash. More than you expect. In small bills. It'll take half a day at least. [edit: and explore the neighborhood. There are some neat markets and theaters.]

Also, in general, do not hesitate to enjoy the street food. And the tacos. Especially the al pastor from hole-in-the-wall places, if you eat meat. (El Faro, Calz. de la Viga 124c, Colonia Obrera, is my personal favorite. But, any shop in the city is likely to be good.) Flagging down any vehicle that makes noise on the street (and isn't a political campaign) is likely to be tasty.
posted by eotvos at 1:17 PM on June 30, 2022

Damnit. Wrong restaurant. But a few block away from the one that has closed with with the same name. Ignore my recommendation. Do eat many tacos. Sorry.
posted by eotvos at 1:29 PM on June 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: One of the best art museums I have ever ever ever been to and I STILL think about how cool it was is the Museo de Arte Popular , which focuses on the folk art and handicrafts of Mexico. It also has a stellar gift shop with such cool stuff if you're into Mexican art and design.

If you like to bike even at all, there will be the the Sunday Ciclovía where they close a bunch of the main streets to cars and open them up to people. I have done it on two separate visits to CDMX and just used their bike share system. It is such a fantastic way to cover a lot of the city faster at a faster-than-walking speed. Biking around Mexico City is also pretty good otherwise, too! (note that that Lonely Planet piece says that it's hard to use the bike share system because the stations often don't take credit card but you can easily sign up online or on their app).

This is always said but bears repeating: Careful on the street food because we ate it on both of our visits to Mexico City and got food poisoning on both of our visits to Mexico City (even so, it was totally worth it! And I will do it again! But bring pills for travellers diarrhea and antibiotics if you can swing it). The usual advice of avoiding uncooked fruit and vegetables is good advice. I had the best quesadillas I have ever had at a street food stall on the SW corner of Tonalá and Chihuahua (that was likely not the source of the food poisoning, for the record) but also every single meal I had in Mexico City ranked up there with the best food I have ever eaten. Beatricita in Juárez on Londres has amazing tacos.

Unfortunately for fine dining, lots of the very well-known places book up far in advance, but you can check for cancellations. Pujol is very inexpensive for fine dining but amazing.
posted by urbanlenny at 1:39 PM on June 30, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, right, you asked about food...
Azul is delightful for its festivals (not sure anything is on right now, check the website or just drop by) and Limonseros served beautiful food that was also delicious, and vice vera. There was a two-toned soup that won my heart.

For an afternoon coffee and people-watching, Los Girasoles (trip advisor link was a joy. They also have a certain theatricality to their food service, and it's right by a whole passel of museums.
posted by Shunra at 2:12 PM on June 30, 2022

Response by poster: Threadsitting: I made a reservation for Pujol, which I forgot about but which has been on my list. Thank you for the reminder!
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 2:44 PM on June 30, 2022

Best answer: I'm a museum nerd, and lucky enough to have been to many of the world's finest/most famous. CDMX's Museum of Anthropology is easily top three.
posted by cyndigo at 6:12 PM on June 30, 2022

Best answer: If you like architecture you have to go to at least one Luis Barragan house. His studio/house is probably the easiest to book. Casa Pedregal is another and there's a cool restaurant attached. Casa Gilardi is also great but you have to email for a tour, I believe.

Another fantastic architectural stop is Biblioteca Vasconcelos, assuming it's open. It was closed due to COVID back in January when I was there.

Food wise, I was VERY impressed by the tasting menu at Lorea.
posted by mullacc at 6:43 PM on June 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Got back from this trip last night and I want to thank everyone who commented in this thread. It was one of the best vacations I've ever taken.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 12:31 PM on July 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

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