Mexico City had never been somewhere I was interested in visiting. In fact I was so not into it that I agreed to go only as part of a return flight from Lima. I arrived after a very long and trying flight and was grumpy and being difficult I complained the entire way through customs, and to our hotel. I didn’t cheer up until like magic I was fed the most delicious dinner at Maximo Bistro. Then suddenly I began to notice just how awesome Mexico City is.
Mexico City really does have everything from absolutely amazing food to more museums and culture then you could ever get through. So why should you visit? Visiting just for the food is reason enough, but Mexico City is also beautiful. A mix of colonial Spanish architecture, Art Deco touches (oh yeah they have an entire Tiffany ceiling), new modern sky scrappers and architecture popping up everywhere, its hard not to fall in love. It’s a walkable city and best of all it’s cheep. I keep reading Mexico City is having “its moment” and I couldn’t agree more. Uber makes it incredibly easy to get around and despite paranoia about crimes and kidnapping, I never felt unsafe in the city. Police are on every corner, so just exercise some basic common sense (no big jewelry, ect).
Where to Eat in Mexico City
Quintonil, Mexican traditional cuisine, elegant and elevated with Modernist techniques.
Maximo Bistro -The absolutely incredible back story of the owner alone is enough to warrant a visit, but the food is really spectacular. The quick version is Eduardo Garcia’s culinary career began as a migrant worker in the US picking fruit. At some point he began washing dishes and ended up a Brasserie Le Coze (one of Eric Ripert’s restaurants) making salads and terrines. He was deported from the US twice. Eventually he began working at Enrique Olveras’s Pujol (see below) as the Chef de Cuisine. I highly recommend reading the full story here. In light of the the current political climate in the US, his personal experience is particularly interesting. Regardless it was arguably one of the best meals I have had in recent years.
Pujol– has risen to number 20 on San Pelagrino’s list of the top 50 restaurants in the world. Beating out one of my personal favorites- the Clove Club in London. The cuisine is elevated traditional Mexican. Watching Enrique Olvera (owner and head chef) on Netflix’s Chef Table should send you running to this place.
Lalo! – also run byEduardo Garcia, we went for brunch and it was divine.
Street Food– Don’t worry so much about food borne illness’s the purple quesadillas made on the street are so flipping good, and even though my husband and I suffer from food poisoning just about everywhere we visit- we both escaped unscathed from Mexico.
Mercado La Merced– Just wondering around the big food markets is an activity. But make sure to grab some food there. The tacos we had were perfection.
What to Do in Mexico City
Take some time to wander around Roma, a cool neighborhood, with a very European feel. It is in the process of a major gentrification and the food scene and shopping in the area are fabulous!
Museo Frida Kahlo– I have always been a huge fan of Frida Kahlo’s Surrealist feminist work. The museum was her home with Diego Rivera and is a deeply personal view of the woman. Her clothing was on display when we went and I can not stress how interesting her views on patterns and colors were. Her personal style took traditional Mexican clothing techniques and elevated it to place where it remains influential to many modern clothing designers.
Chapultepec Castle sits on a hill above Mexico City. It is most famous for being the only palace in North America to ever house any sovereigns. Built in 1725 for the Spanish Viceroy as a mansion to reside in, it became the official residence of Mexican Emperor In 1864. Maximillian I, a prince of the Austrian Hapsburg Dynasty and his wife Empress Carlota was named Emperor of Mexico by Mexican monarchists. During his brief reign he redesigned the castle in the then hot neoclassical Style. Sadly (or not so sadly depending on your views) four years into Maximilian’s reign as head of the Mexican Empire he was shot by a firing squad as the Mexican Republic took power from the monarchy. Its a lovely place to spend an afternoon, enjoy a leisurely walk up to the castle though a beautiful park and relax with views and vistas of Mexico City. As a child of the 90s it also excited me as it was the set for the Capulet mansion in Baz Luhrman’s remake of Rome & Juliet (the Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio version).
Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico – The hotel lobby’s 1908 stained Tiffany glass ceiling was designed by Jacques Grubert, assembled in France, and is a marvel to the Art Nouveau and Art Deco era. Pop in, look up, and enjoy.
Palacio de Bellas Artes– another Art Nouveau gem, with famous morals by Diego Rivera and Siqueiros. The view from Sear’s (across the street) Coffee Shop is top notch.
Diego Rivera Murals– A trip to Mexico City would be remiss with out viewing as much of the art of by one of the cities greatest artists Diego Rivera as possible. The city is filled with incredible monumental sized murals by Rivera. Rivera’s socialist messages and unique style were heavily influenced by post-modernism, cubism, and the fresco’s of the Renaissance. Pop into the Palacio Nacional and the Palacio de Bellas Artes for some fabulous viewings.
Museo Dolores Olmedo Patino– the home and museum of Mexican business woman of Dolores Olemdo. She was close friends with Kahlo and Rivera and her collection of their are is extensive. (You may be sensing a theme here- I am a huge fan of Kahlo and Rivera) The museum also houses a collection of other notable Mexican artists. The museum grounds are also worth a wander with hairless dogs- Xoloitzcuintle, and beautiful peacocks wandering around.
There are hundreds of Museums (to be more exact over 150) in Mexico City, so whatever your fancy you probably can find a museum to explore it!