Let’s all move to Mexico City!

Posted on October 26, 2018

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I’ve been hearing about Mexico City as a destination for a while but didn’t take it seriously. Until now. After a quick break of 3 nights I have totally fallen for it in a ‘wow I could move here’ kind of way. 

Before I start gushing, here are things you need to do ahead of your trip:

  1. Book ahead for the Frieda Kahlo museum so that you only have to bear moderate queues, not two hour lines. Also watch Frida again, it’s an excellent precursor to a Mexico City trip.
  2. Book a table at Quintonil, and/or the taco tasting menu at Pujol. I did not do this and now I’m going to have to go back to do so (what a shame).
  3. Think carefully about where you base yourself. Luckily I have the answer: Condesa. This is a central suburb that’s kind of grown up hipster. We stayed at Hippodrome Hotel Condesa and loved it. The rooms are small but perfectly put together, the staff and fantastic and the location is incredible. 

And since we’re on the subject of Condesa, I’ll now start gushing. It’s leafy green with a large tropical park at it’s Centre. Surrounding this is pedestrian friendly Amsterdam St. on either side cute shops, cafes and restaurants are abundant – places that wouldn’t be amiss on Los Angeles’ trendy Abbott Kinney. 

And in the centre of the street two lanes of low volume traffic are separated by a tree lined pedestrian path. The buildings are beautiful, many remodeled respectfully, with much more Art Deco than I was expecting (although to be fair, I hadn’t expected Art Deco at all). Somehow it felt more like Spain than Central America. 

 Our first venture outside this gorgeous enclave was not far, to trendy neighbor ‘Roma Norte’. A market has been redeveloped to become a glorious Mexican foodhall, not dissimilar from Grand Central in LA or Mercado San Miguel in Madrid. Our first meal in Mexico was a plate of tostadas ‘pastor’ with Mexican Victoria beer – which feels authentic as it’s not exported outside the country. It was delicious. And the whole bill was less than $10. 

Our first full day kicked off with a bike and taco tour that we found on AirBnB experiences. They must make a killing charging in USD and paying in pesos. And it was well worth the USD price for a 3hr guided tour on bikes stopping occasionally for incredible tacos. It’s a great way of getting your bearings. I still can’t chose my favorite taco from this tour, it’s either the green ‘taco de aguacarte’ at Molino du Pujol – the sister café of infamous Pujol – where the taco pressed onto a leaf before being filled with avocado and a white sauce, or at Taqueria el Turix where tacos were dripping in spicy chicken goodness. 

The whole of that afternoon was spent walking off the tacos – we only had four but they were filling. For sightseeing by foot we headed straight to Centro Historico – Zocalo – to see the Cathedral on Plaza de la Constitución, peer onto the recently discovered ruins of Templo Mayor, see an original mural of Diego Rivera,  and gaze at the marbled lobby of Palacio de Bella Artes. And we didn’t even touch on the museums (which were mostly closed as it was Monday). If you need to get away from the crowds when you explore this area I highly recommend hanging out in the courtyard of the Museo Franz Mayer or popping into the modern air conditioned boutique shopping mall Decomixado.

When we had worn ourselves out trekking around we headed back to Condesa. We were finally pelican again so, skipping a starter and main course, we headed straight for another Mexican treat: churros and chocolate. I barely ever eat deep fried food but really enjoyed this treat at Churreria El Moro, of which there are a few around town. The Spanish chocolate is my favorite: thick, dark and perfect for sipping the churros. Divine! 

 

The second day we discovered that the supposedly best chilquiles in Mexico City also happened to be near our hotel. It would have been rude not to try it so we headed to Chilpa. I suspect there are more authentic local chilaquiles hole in the walls  but I have to admit, it was REALLY good. 

With stomachs refilled we headed to Coyoacán, where we had 11.30am tickets booked (well we would have done if I hadn’t have screwed up the date but that’s a different story and they let us exchange them so all good). We started at Parque Frida Kahlo, walking through the park at La Conchita, along Higuera St – stopping at Cafe Avellameda for an excellent coffee – before wandering through the park with the Catholic Church through the bustling market to arrive at the blue house, aka the Frida Kahlo museum promptly on time. The area is beyond quaint, taking you back in time to brightly colored houses and shop names shown only in distinctive painting on the brick walls.

The museum is situated in Frida Kahlos bright blue house. It’s been restored perfectly and some rooms were only opened up in 2007 to find artifacts thought lost such as a missing earring given to Frida by Picasso. The walls are adorned with paintings by Frida and husband Diego Rivera, with living quarters left on tact. On a separate part of the house some of Friday’s distinctive clothing is on display too. 

As we were in the area we popped into Trotsky’s house too. This was his home for the last two years of his life before Stalin’s men got to him. It’s humbling to see how someone so historically important to the world lived when in exile. 

It would have been easy to spend a day in this area but with limited time in Mexico City we had things to do. At this time it was a reservation at Azul Historico for Mexico City’s reportedly best mole. And yes, this chocolate and pepper based sauce is absolutely delicious.

Our evening entertainment was a real highlight: lucha libre, guided by an ex wrestler through Mexico a Pie. The guided tour not only helped us make sense of this crazy sport, but also took us to a mezcal tasting beforehand which certainly helped get us in the mood. Perhaps it was the combination of these two things that gave us such an incredibly fun night. If you have the opportunity, do it. 

After the mezcal and several beers at the stadium we were all hungry again. Our guide took us to his favorite taco stand where we sat on plastic stools with locals and ate tacos that cost 30pesos ($1.50) for 5 tacos. It was perfect. 

Our slight hangovers were cured by Enfrijoladas at upmarket Maque, rates no 1 breakfast spot on FourSquare (which I am newly converted to – it’s effectively an upmarket Yelp). I hadn’t had this dish before and suspect it will now become a staple at home as a tasty simple dish. 

Our last morning was spent around the main park. Firstly at the Museum of Anthropology which had been recommended by a number of friends, I can see why. And then a walk up the hill to the Castillo de Chapultepec which has stunning views over the city. 

Before you leave Mexico make sure you try a taco Arabe. We opted for El Greco in Condesa as our parting taco and boy was it worth it. I’m not sure if it’s the difference in meat or taco, or whether I was tacos out and craving something slightly different. Either way it was damn good. 

I’m now a little Taco’d out – words that I never thought I could utter. But as such a cheap, easy getaway from LA and with so much left to explore, I’m pretty sure I’ll find my way back here again soon.

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Posted in: Mexico, The Americas