Mexico City guide
Looking for a Mexico City guide that doesn't put you to sleep? Get the low down on all the hotspots from the perspective of a dietitian who actually eats.
Guide or die chick
Welcome to my first city guide, the capital of my parents' homeland: Mexico City! After food, my next passion is travel. One of my favorite things to do is research where to eat in foreign cities. I spend hours scouring travel blogs and reviews because my sole motivation is to avoid a crap meal. Nothing makes me more mad than wasting a meal on vacation, and I would like to spare you the agony of a mediocre culinary experience. I am not a fussy traveler (except for food), and don't feel the need to see a bunch of sites or museums. I like to lounge and eat, and the city guide recommendations will reflect this.
The last time I was in Mexico City, I hated it. I was 14 and my parents convinced me I would get kidnapped if I strayed more than 5 feet from them. Didn’t help that the Metropolitan Cathedral was literally sinking, which only cemented my view of the city as a death trap.
Thankfully, I don’t fall prey to fearmongering anymore. The Mexico City that was in the 1990s is no longer. It’s hip, vibrant and much safer. Also, they stabilized the cathedral and it’s no longer going under. Bonus!
Mexico City is affordable. So cheap. Everything is literally half the price of what it would be in NYC. I took Uber everywhere and the most expensive ride was $10 for a 30 minute ride from the airport to our hotel. People are so nice, too. The food is great and there is culture galore. Can’t ask for much more. The flight is a quick trip from LA and NYC without crazy time changes, so it’s doable as a long weekend.
Let’s dive into the details.
Four Seasons - Elegant, pin-drop quiet hotel in the heart of the business district, which is centrally located. We had a room facing the interior courtyard, so we had zero city noise. Beds were like clouds. L'occitane toiletries and the best hotel gym I've seen. Great restaurants and bar with warm service from the staff. Lots of Americans stay here during the Christmas holiday, so it doesn't feel like you've really left home until you leave the hotel. Not sure what it's like during off-peak times. The only downside? The steady stream of people complaining about not getting an ideal massage time or a reservation at Pujol is just a tad irksome. Sera sera.
Condesa DF - Chic boutique hotel in the Condesa area. Didn't stay here because they had an annoying 7-night minimum stay due to the Christmas/New Year holiday, but I don't think that applies during other times of the year. I popped into the lobby and courtyard for a quick peek and it looked really cute.
The W - Reliable lodgings in upmarket Polanco. Very affordable.
Fonda Fina - Visited here twice, that's how good it is. Lunch or dinner. Reservations are a must for dinner, walk-ins are fine before 2pm. Must orders: tamal de frijole y hoja santa, chalupas de pork, sope de pork belly, tacos ahogados, kales organicos (a bomb kale salad!), tamarindo margarita.
Única - Reservation required, good for lunch or dinner. I can't remember what we ordered here because we just told the waiter to bring out what was best, but everything was good.
Taqueria Parque Luna - Quick, cheap lunch spot in the business district. Click on the link and LOOK AT THAT LINE. I never got to try the carnitas tacos here because the day we went, the shop was closed. But I mean, c'mon. I am dying to go back.
Pehua - Reasonably priced tasting menu. Really inventive cuisine with a seasonal menu.
Il Becco - For when you need a break from Mexican food. Inside the Four Seasons hotel. This place serves up some legit Italian food in a slightly stuffy setting. Portions were on the smaller side. Service was impeccable. Must orders: the arugula salad with strawberries and parmesan, pappardelle with lamb ragoût and mint perfumed ricotta.
Zanaya - Also in the Four Seasons hotel. Focuses on Mexican cuisine from the Pacific side of the country. The breakfast buffet is a slam dunk and you must get one or two of the small quesadillas which are made fresh.
Loose Blues - Japanese food, also for when you need a break from Mexican food. Must order: the burger, salmon bowl.
Antojitos Mexicanos Market Juanita - Small market with various stands that sell different eats, many of them fried. The fried bean and cheese quesadilla from the stand we chose was delish, but heavy. Don't make the rookie mistake I made and eat this at 3pm when you have a 7pm dinner reservation. And split it with someone. (If you're facing the market from the street, we visited the the second stand from the right in the first row of stands.)
Il Vicolo Panaderia - Tiny store with freshly made breads and baked goods in Coyoacan. Operated out of the owner's home. Pop in to buy some treats before heading to Cafe Avellaneda.
Mucho Chocolate - Chocolate museum that sells mucho chocolate. Worthy of being paired with a Chiquitito espresso or latte.
Fifty Mils - There's nothing like that first cocktail on day 1 of vacation. Located inside the Four Seasons, this cocktail bar is known for their creative libations. Must orders: Ma 75, P.P. Colada, Frijolito.
La Clandestina - Mezcal bar serving up some tasty cocktails and 50+ different types of mezcal. The staff speaks English as many of their customers are of the gringo variety. I'd ask for a mezcal flight.
Chiquitito Cafe - They had a killer avocado toast here. Good espresso.
Cafe Negro - Good soy lattes, hubby wasn't crazy about the espresso though. Awesome pastries and sandwiches. Try the pan con chocolate (like a pan au chocolat) or the sandwich espanola.
Cafe Avellaneda - Best espresso in the city. Hit it up while you're walking around the Coyoacan neighborhood.
Metropolitan Cathedral - Have to visit one church in a Catholic country, amirite? This one is enormous and quite beautiful. No longer sinking into the ground, which is a plus.
Templo Mayor Aztec Ruins - Next to the National Cathedral. We didn't feel like taking the trip to Teotihuacan, so this was a good compromise.
Frida Kahlo House - Purchase tickets online and try to get an earlier slot. Buy the 30 peso photography pass so the hypervigilant museum guards leave you alone.
Coyoacan neighborhood - Where the Frida Kahlo house is located. It's a pretty, walkable neighborhood. Don't miss walking down Francisco Sosa street.
Castle Chapultepec - Get there early because the line gets long. Nice views of the city, but it's a bit of workout to walk up the hill.
Secretaria de Educacion Publica - Must see if you're into Diego Rivera. He painted dozens of murals inside the courtyard which depict Mexico's history, and there are ZERO tourists. Entrance is free, just tell the security guards you're there for the murals.
It's carry-on only for me, so I rarely shop on trips. I didn't spot anything to die for on this trip.
-I visited between Christmas and New Year's. A lot of locals are on vacation during this time, so don't expect to pal around with many of them.
-Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. I think it has to do with the altitude and also not wanting to use the bathroom every five minutes while being touristy, but my skin was so dry the first two days. I had to ramp up my usual fluid intake.
-The city is much safer than it used to be. I walked around during the day with no issues. But I would still recommend taking Uber around at night, unless you're going a short distance.
If you've ever had difficulty enjoying your vacation because of food fears or body image concerns, Eathority is here to help! Click here to learn more about one-on-one counseling that helps you make peace with food and your body so you can joyfully eat your food and travel the world. Bon appétit!
Thanks for this guide. I feel like I was right there with you. I really like Frida Khalo. I don’t know when I’m going to Mexico but that museum is the first on my list.
It’s definitely a must-see!!! You won’t be disappointed.