3 DAYS* in MEXICO CITY
DF, or Distrito Federal as the locals refer to Mexico City, packs a proper travel punch. From pumped-up Luchadores to smokey mezcal, ancient pyramids to scorpion tacos and dim speak-easys to witchcraft love potions; it’s the kind of place that will truly transport you to another world in a short amount of time. Say, 3 Days*…
Day 1* in Mexico City
Ease yourself into this vibrant mega-metropolis at the Frida Kahlo Museum (Casa Azul) where the painter's vivid art will blow away the blues (cheesy pun intended). To avoid the queues, book your slot ahead of time.
From here it’s a short stroll into the heart of Coyoacán, one of the city’s most lively bohemian neighborhoods. It is easy to get lost here in the colorful alleyways around Parque Coyoacán and Jardín Centenario and simply observe the hustle and bustle of life on the better side of Trump’s future wall.
Make Los Danzantes Restaurant your lunch stop where you can play it safe with chips and guacamole or embrace the first culinary dare I extend to you - Escarmoles (ant larvae). Nutty and slightly crunchy, they are surprisingly enjoyable.
The Hoja Santa, a Mexican pepper leaf stuffed with cheese from Oaxaca and green tomatillo was my personal favorite. And no one would judge if you ordered your first drink of the day – the establishment is known for its outstanding mezcal selection, after all.
The post-lunch hours are best spent strolling towards San Angel, another boho quarter west of Coyoacán. El Bazaar Sabato, a local art market open on Saturdays, is worth a short visit but is very gringo-heavy. Soon you might be seeking refuge in a peaceful garden, aqui: Parroquia San Jacinto.
Refresh your spirit with a scoop of Mango Ginger ice cream from Hidalgo Gibran (Plaza Villa San Jacinto, San Jacinto Num. 16, Col. San Ángel) before hopping into an Uber. Uber is generally the safest and fastest way to get around unless it is rush hour, in which case you should opt for the subway.
Head to Don Jacinto BnB, a delightful bnb located in the heart of the La Condesa district. Eclectic, stylish and fantastically priced, this small gem is a perfect place to lay your head during your 3 Day* jaunt. Once de-funked and re-ragged, mosey a few blocks to Mexsi Bocu for a Mexican take on French cuisine (some combinations just work, and this is one of them – trust us).
Wind up Day 1* in a true speak-easy. Hanky Panky (+ 55 9155 0958 - call for reservations and address information) is tucked away behind a taco joint somewhere in La Juarez. The beverage fridge serves as a hidden door and effectively a portal between the 21st century and a time long gone.
Skilled mixologists whip up mean cocktails in this dim space that is embellished with gilded mirrors and leather bar stools, giving it a nostalgic 1920s elegance.
Day 2* in Mexico City
Skip Don Jacinto’s breakfast and make your way toward Centro Historico's Mercado San Juan, a local food market known for its gourmet produce and exotic imports.
You can chomp your way through the isles and play it safe, but the more audacious traveler might sample a fried grasshopper and scorpion taco (culinary dare, numero dos).
Go to El Gran Cazador’s booth and ask for Fernando Velasquez, the super-congenial proprietor. He offered me several shots of mezcal before ingesting my first scorpion and will probably do the same for you.
From the market, hop in an Uber for the short drive to the Zócalo, the largest city square in the world. Best explored from above, I recommend the terrace of El Balcon de Zócalo as a suitable caffeine filler-up. For lunch, make your way to nearby Azul Historico.
Its romantic ambience makes it popular with tourists, but creamy mole and attentive service more than make up for the crowds.
Within the complex (2nd Floor), stop by Remigio for beautiful fabrics and clothing from the Oaxaca region. Given the intense labor that goes into each piece you won’t find any steals, but the pieces are worth the splurge. And for a touch of random (doesn’t everyone need a fancy leather belt buckle?!), stop by El Caballo Mexicano, a store for charros, AKA Mexican cowboys.
At Arena Mexico is where masked wrestlers and señoritas in skimpy bikinis strut around vying for your attention. Equally entertaining are the local fans as they hurl insults and jeers at the luchadores.
After you’ve worked up an appetite, head to La Capital Restaurant in Condesa for an opulent Mexican meal that blends traditional influences with contemporary approaches to the cuisine. Allow for gluttony and try Fideo Seco (Mexican Pasta), Tacos La Capital (shrimp, spicy mayo and avo), Atun Fresco (tuna and avocado) and Ceviche de Camarón with jicama and mango!
If you haven't run out off steam yet, stop at Bosforo for a mezcal nightcap.
Day 3* in Mexico City
Rise and shine for your 5am pick up. You’ll realize it’s worth it when your hot air balloon is floating above the ancient pyramid complex, Teotihuacan, while the sun rises over the horizon.
Book with Adventure Hunters for a birds-eye view of the City of Gods. Not cheap, but totally worth the extra bucks. Tip: bring layers, it’s drafty up there.
You’ll be back on solid ground by 8am and able to make your way to the complex and up the Pyramid of the Sun where the view will stop you cold. Ponder the times when severed heads rolled down these stairs, Apolcalypto style. Granted those heads were Mayan, not Aztec but you get the point.
After returning to the city, tuck into a pescetarian lunch at Contramar - after which you might start looking into long-term Airbnb rentals. Tuna Tostadas, fish tacos al pastor and fig tart. Oh, so bueno!
After lunch you can stroll through La Roma neighborhood and along Avenida Colima past Blanco Colima, another noteworthy restaurant. There are a few interesting shops; namely 180 Grados and Sicario that will happily take your pesos.
Refuel at Frëims on Avenida Amsterdam for a cold brew before hitting up Toco Madera (Avenida Amsterdam 62), which sells beautifully embroidered apparel. Continue to mosey through the cozy neighborhood to Cantina El Centenario, the last authentic cantina in gentrified Condesa, which makes it a perfect spot on your last evening.
Bar snacks come with your tequila in this no frills joint. Ditch salt and lime in favor of a sangrita, a local tomato chaser. And, for a few bucks, a local musician will serenade you with “Besame Mucho”.
If more tequila-anchoring food is needed before climbing into bed, stop at Lardo for more grub. Ay Papiiiiii, Ciudad de Mexico, me gusto mucho!
- a Mexican blouse/dress
- artisanal mescal to take home
- a love potion from Mercado Sonora, the witchcraft market
- a hat
- charcoal pills for the daring eater
- Advil if you'll be trying mescal
- Under the Volcano by Malcom Lowry
- The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño
- Mexico City, Parched and Sinking, Faces a Water Crises - NY TIMES