I think Mexico City gets a bad wrap. In my opinion it is a wonderful city on par with Buenas Aires and Barcelona. It is not the crime ridden, smog filled, dangerous city many people outside of Mexico think of. I wanted to do a post that gave people a different perspective. We blew up our daily budget, but have zero regrets. Sometimes you just have to go for it.
Sam and I spent five days in Mexico City, but you can spend a year here and not see everything. Having lived most of our adult lives in Los Angeles and San Francisco, we enjoy the energy of big international cities. We also really like the great diversity and quality of food that big cities bring. I hate the term “foodie”, it sounds really obnoxious and smug, but I guess we fall into the “foodie” category because we really enjoy great food. So here is my somewhat obnoxious foodie post about DF (the local term for Mexico City). If you hate food posts, well, that is why we separated them, just don’t scroll down. But for people into food and where to hang out in Mexico City, we hope you enjoy.
I am going to break it down into neighborhoods, because each neighborhood had its own ambience and food charm.
Also, In DF, the main meal of the day is the comida, and most people take it between 2:30-4. If you want to get into the very trendy restaurants, show up early, around 1:30, it will be dead. Then eat slowly and wait for all the chic, beautiful people to arrive.
I think this was one of my favorite areas of DF. We spent the most time in this area along with Condesa. Lots of outdoor cafes and bars, very good food, and it felt more like Europe than Mexico.
Chef Gabriela Camara is currently one of the hottest female chefs in the city, and her restaurant Contramar is worth a visit. We started with a tuna tostada with chipotle mayo and fried leeks. It was so good I would fly back to Df just to eat it again. It was my favorite thing I ate in the city. We then had her famous grilled fish that had two different sauces. It was delicious. But to be honest, the thing that really surprised us the bread and desserts. They have a very good pastry chef. We ordered an apple tart with Mexican vanilla ice cream and it was so good, I think I moaned out loud as I ate it.
We stayed here at Room Mate Valentina (warning it is very pink and hip) and it was a great neighborhood very centrally located. This area has lots of fun outdoor bars and coffee shops and is very gay friendly, so if that is not your vibe, don’t stay here. It felt like parts of San Francisco to us, a little edgier than some of the other neighborhoods in Df, but it suited us perfectly. This area also has a growing Korean and Japanese population, and we found a very good Korean restaurant (one of our favorite foods) where we ate our beloved dol sot bibimbap and had the best kimchee I have ever had (and in Mexico….so crazy). It is on the corner of Hamburgo and Oxford streets. They also have Korean BBQ!
This area is full of palm tree lined streets and some of the coolest bars in the city. We came here to eat at Azul Condesa. Chef Ricardo Munoz Zurita is obsessed with preserving authentic Mexican recipes. I loved that in his open kitchen most of the chefs were older women. They looked like they really knew what they were doing, and we were lucky enough to be there when he was focusing on moles. I got the famous mole negro and Sam got a rare mole they only make once a year from Puebla that was so good we wanted to lick the bowl. I also had a salad here that reminded me of San Francisco, Roquefort and pears. Beautiful. Also, go to the rooftop bar at Condesa DF, it is a really cool hotel.
Centro historico (historic center)
The historic center of Mexico City was great to go see some sights, but we spent the least amount of time here. It was really busy, crowded and felt slightly less appealing to us than other parts of the city. We did not eat any meals here, instead we spent time enjoying the beautiful sites and then escaped the hustle for mellower parts of the city. We did go to La Neuevo Opera (5 de Mayo 10, Alameda Central) , a beautiful bar that has a very fun history. Apparently Poncho Villa road through the door on his horse and shot a hole in the ceiling. Ask the bartender to show you the bullet hole, it is still there. This old school bar reminded me of some of the ones near the capital in Washington DC. Makes many top ten bars in the world lists.
This area was probably the most charming area we saw in Mexico City, it is just a little too far outside the city to stay. But it was fun to visit for the day. We found the best street food here and a ton of really great restaurants. We ate the famous tostadas in the municipal market which were great. My favorite were the ones with mushrooms.
Overall, we loved our time in Mexico City. In my opinion, if you really want to get a feel for the city and its people, you need to spend time in the neighborhoods outside the historic center. There are charming areas that are safe, clean, and lovely to stroll around in at night. I am sure we will be back one day.