A Native's Guide to Food, Hotels & Sightseeing in Mexico City

Advisor - Manny Godinez
Curated By

Manny Godinez

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  • Mexico

  • Mexico City

  • International Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Arts & Culture

  • City Travel

  • Couples Travel

  • Family Travel

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Local Food

  • Museums

  • Sightseeing

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Curator’s statement

For me, Mexico City is home. I was born there and have many great memories from growing up. While I don't live there anymore, on a recent trip, I got to see why the city is an incredible world destination. A world city, home to about 21 million people, Mexico City is currently the 5th most populous city in the world. "La cuidad que tiene todo" or "The city that has it all" - I've seen this slogan numerous times on bus ads and in the metro stations. And for good reason - it really does have it all: food, art, culture, history, modern conveniences, tech and much more. Come and experience it for yourself; immerse yourself in the Mexican culture and have a wonderful experience!

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Insider knowledge

Expert advice from people who’ve actually been there

Where to stay in Mexico City

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Casa Polanco

Mexico City's newest boutique hotel in the swanky neighborhood of Polanco with impeccable, monochromatic style and located just a walk away from the main shopping street Masaryk.

Fora Perks
  • $25 hotel / resort credit.

  • Welcome treat on arrival.

  • Upgrade & guaranteed 3pm check-out.

Hotel CondesaDF

As hip and colorful as its namesake neighborhood, this 40-room sleep attracts a cool crowd to its wood-clad rooms and alfresco cocktail bar overlooking Parque España.

Fora Perks
  • $25 hotel credit per room, per day.

  • Complimentary welcome drink per guest.

  • Upgrade to next room category, based upon availability at check-in.

Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City

Close to Chapuletepec Park, this polished hotel is a standout for the unflappable service and gorgeous public spaces, from the courtyard restaurant to the rooftop pool.

Fora Perks
  • When you book Four Seasons through Fora, you will enjoy exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits. Your advisor will be pleased to give you more details.

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Advisor - Manny Godinez

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Things to do in Mexico City

person looking at artwork in a dark room


Food is everywhere! Mexico City is not only one of the best places in the world for unique dining experiences, but the street food is also incredible. Just be careful of your surroundings when you decide to go get street food, check for cleanliness and whether the chefs use gloves and sanitize their stations. "Montezuma's Revenge" is a thing so be careful. Keep reading to discover my restaurant recommendations.

Cultural Sites

  • Paseo de la Reforma: Considered to be Mexico City's "Champs-Élysées", it was originally built as a route from the Emperor's residence at Chapultepec to the National Palace and is now a bustling avenue in the heart of the city's business and financial district with several monuments as points of interest along its path. The most notable monuments you'll see along the way are "El Ángel de la Independencia (The angel of independence), Cuauhtémoc—the last Aztec emperor, Christopher Columbus, Diana the Huntress and more!

  • Zócalo: Also known as "Plaza de la Constitución", this is one of the largest open plazas in the world was once a ceremonial hub during the time of the Aztecs in the 1300s when the city was once called "Tenochtitlan". No large monuments in the area but it does have one of the largest Mexican flags in the center, an onsite carnival with mechanical rides, fountains at every corner, shops, numerous street vendors and a bustling atmosphere each day. Fronted by the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral and in walking distance of another UNESCO World Heritage Site, "Templo Mayor" (Grand Temple), it is definitely a must-see for anyone interested in architecture, culture and world history.


  • Oasis Coyoacan: This IS the BEST and possibly most beautiful shopping mall in all of Mexico City. It is an open-air concept with a small artificial lake on the inside that has fountain shows throughout the day. There are tons of restaurants, many top luxury brand stores, a movie theatre, kid-friendly play areas and the atmosphere is very relaxed. Several upscale restaurants offer lakeside views enriching the experience. Easily accessible by metro line 3 and by bus.

  • Metropoli Patriotismo: I loved the shopping experience here. This seven floor (3 up top, 3 floors below street level) plaza features boutique Mexican brands with shoes, clothing and many restaurants like Starbucks and California Pizza Kitchen. There is a movie theatre on the third floor and a relaxed atmosphere and everything is kept very clean. On the last floor, you'll find a one-of-a-kind art exhibit called "Fantasy Lab", the only one of its kind in the city. Best accessed by taxi from the nearest metro station.

  • FrikiPlaza CDMX: Asian culture is very strong in Mexico city and you will see that in this multi-floored shopping center! Anime, Manga, video games, cosplay KPOP - it's all here! It features a food court with a variety of Japanese/Chinese/Korean food on the 3rd floor and a grand arcade on the 5th floor where they also do live music shows for guests on weekends. The indoor layout has a similar vibe to a Don Quijote junk shop from Japan that offers all kinds of Japanese anime/ Korean KPOP merchandise and all the videogames.

Art & Museums

  • National Museum of Anthropology: If you love museums this is THE museum you want to see. It is a world-class museum - easily top ten on earth and it rivals the Cairo Museum in Egypt with the number of large artifacts it has. This museum has an extensive collection of the history of Mexico and its peoples (Teotihuacan, Maya, Mexica).The layout of the museum is just incredible. Once you've paid for your ticket, you will be let in and greeted with a massive mushroom-shaped pillar that rains water down like a waterfall and supports the courtyard ceiling. You can then enter the exhibits from the outside individually, walk out and go into the next one. The entire museum experience will take about 4-5 hours to get through because there is so much to see! They also have live performances out in front of the museum from actors portraying Mayan/Aztec dance rituals for free!

  • Fantasy Lab: Located in the 3rd level basement of the upscale Metropoli Patriotismo plaza, this one-of-a-kind experience intertwines 3D technology, lighting and ambient music and projects it in a way that tests your senses and addresses the concept of the fascinating "world of dreams". It's a 1-hour tour that combines the best of visual art and fantasy. Shares some of the same approaches you can find in the teamLab Borderless/Planets experiences in Tokyo, Japan and MeowWolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Pro Tip: When you buy tickets, they get sent to your email. Cell signal is poor in the basement area so you will have to go elsewhere to download the tickets.


  • Xochimilco Gondola Cruise: In the southside of Mexico City they have an area with many river canals. Throughout the canals, you will find many colorfully festive gondola boats cruising around at a slow and relaxing pace. To book a boat, you usually pay the standard rate of 600 pesos per hour. However, if you have a native Spanish speaker in your party, you can try and haggle that down lower as much as half off (usually works during shoulder season). As you approach the boats, some salespeople will approach you to book the boat for you. Book a boat for two hours (best recommended time) and skip going to see doll island. it takes a 6-hour excursion to get there and back, instead, you can see the smaller version of the island of the dolls on the way back. You can rent out an entire mariachi band and get food on board for more $$$. Definitely get the mariachi for a more festive experience but bring your own food instead - bring a lot and bring your own alcohol as well if need be. The boat driver will help call over any vendor that your want (they sell tacos, helote, agua, cerveza, margarita, etc...) and they pull up to you on their own tiny boats. They're all local so anything you buy really helps them out. Once the boat gets back, you disembark with the help of the boat driver and there is a souvenir market for those take-home goodies.

    Pro Tip: You will have to book a taxi to get here - this is highly recommended. Have your driver take you to the Nuevo Nativitas pier (supposedly closest to doll island) be sure to put that in the destination because if you go to “Xochimilco Embarcadero”, you end up far away at another pier. The various piers are pretty far apart. Don't trust the "biker guides" that try to have you follow them, just stick with your taxi driver's plan for getting you there. Bring sunscreen!

  • Desierto De Los Leones Hike: Located at an altitude of about 3000m above sea level, this 16km (10 miles) hike is sure to present a fun challenge to those who love adventure on their travels. Depending on your speed this beautiful hike will take approximately 6 to 7 hours. I would warn those who attempt the hike that there are no maps, the trails are unmarked and overgrown in some places, and definitely not well-visited. If you can find a guide that would be recommended or at least go with a group of people, never by yourself. Take the trail to Ex Convento Desierto de los Leones and visit a 17th-century convent built by the order of the Discalced Carmelites. Beautiful architecture! Very Instagrammable. 20 peso entry per person. The rest of the hike takes you up to the Santa Rosa Xochiac viewpoints. You can continue there on the long hike or head back down after you visit the monastery to cut the hike short. Bring lots of water and sunscreen.

A note from Manny

Mexico City is a very well-connected place. It has 12 metro lines (the subway), seven metrobús lines, light rail, minibus, taxi, rideshares and more. A Metro Tarjeta (Metro Card) which you can buy in any Metro station is highly advised to have since it can easily pay the fare required to get on most of the public transit systems aside from the green/purple mini buses and taxi's.

Places to eat & drink in Mexico City

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Places to eat breakfast in Mexico City

  • La Ventana del Ticuchi: One of the best spots to have breakfast or lunch in Polanco. This restaurant by famed chef Enrique Olvera features Oaxacan corn-centric specialties like tetelas, tamales and tlayudas - all made with careful detail. The menu can change according to the season and demand. My favorite menu item would have to be the aubergine and oregano tamales, quite possibly the BEST tamales you will ever have. Equally compelling is the drink menu featuring traditional Mexican fermented beverages like tepache, and corn or fruit-based agua fresca infusions.

  • Panaderia Rosetta: Famous bakery in the Roma Norte district in CDMX run by chef Elena Reygadas. This European-styled bakery cafe is the perfect place to get some Columbian coffee with a guava and ricotta Danish or sweet concha.

Places to eat lunch in Mexico City

  • Masala y Maiz: Masala y Maiz is an internationally inspired restaurant that explores the "migration of people, culinary techniques, ingredients, cultural foodways and political movements between South Asia, East Africa & Mexico." The concept is based on years of research by Chefs Norma Listman & Saqib Keval in an effort to understand the intersections of their respective cultures. If there was a word to describe the food it would be "mestizaje", in other words, an organic blending of cultures over generations often in response to colonization and displacement. You'll taste these ideals in the tantalizing esquites makai pakka and the savory masala fried chicken. Pair with a natural wine for the best experience!

  • El Mirador de Chapultepec: This place has so much history. Its been around since 1904 and to this day you still get Fancy 1950s style dining that features many tried and true dishes that so many of their regulars love and keep them in business to this day. It's usually a place where businessmen in the area go for their lunches so it's usually not on anyone's radar but locals would agree it's a staple in the restaurant industry of Mexico City. Dishes like "caldo para enfermo" (chicken soup that heals), milanesa manchega and filet mignon are some of the local favorites!

  • Mari Gold: The newest restaurant from Chefs Norma Listman & Saqib Keval, owners of Masala y Maiz, brings a more casual approach to their combination of Mexican and Indian cuisine. The restaurant space is smaller than Masala y Maiz so the ambiance is more of a warm, intimate, minimalist experience, and best of all, it offers a very simple yet innovative menu. Try the "bun de pescado frito con mayonesa achaar" (cried fish in a bun w/achaar mayo) which goes great with a breakfast wine.

Places to eat dinner in Mexico City

  • Pujol: Always a top restaurant in CDMX, and the current number 9 on the world's 50 best restaurant list due to the innovative seasonal tasting and omakase menus, the commitment to sustainability and the sourcing of local ingredients. The Mexican gastronomy is showcased through its fine dining multi-course experiences under the direction of chef de cuisine Jesus Duron, who spent his formative years in some of France's top restaurants honing his craft before coming back to Mexico City to lead Pujol. They say you can taste the essence of Mexico City through his signature dish "Mole Madre, Mole Nuevo" and envision the chef's culinary experiences abroad through innovative dishes like tostadas with kimchi and kampachi tacos served with avocado and seaweed. If you want a seat you will have to book two months in advance.

  • Botanico: Tucked away in a restored art deco mansion in La Condesa, headed by famed Chef Alejandra Navarro who came over from the acclaimed Mexican fine dining restaurant Quintonil and brought Botanico to new heights! Design-wise, probably the best setting for a restaurant in the city, featuring a lush garden with native cactus plants and even a Koi pond! Delicious food, cocktails, design and music all come together in an incredible way! The menu features fancy comfort food with an international touch, using only world-class ingredients and crafted with masterful detail from hef Navarro and her team. The Ricotto Ravioli, wagyu brisket quesadilla with avocado sauce and the Milanesa are top recommendations. Pair with a Mimosa or craft beer for the best experience. Pro Tip: Reserve two weeks ahead.

Places to have a drink in Mexico City

  • Licorería Limantour: Thought by many to be the best bar in Mexico City, and #4 in the world on the 50 best bars list, it's definitely a can't-miss spot on your next visit to the city that has it all. The drinks here have a lot of character and can sometimes be bitter, sweet or herbal, and often incorporate mezcal, gin and bitters. The bartenders are more like molecular mixologists with a scientific approach to their craft. From their 20 cocktail menu, the favorite among the locals is the Al pastor margarita, which sounds strange but people rave about it. If you're lucky there sometimes are guest bartenders from around the world that bring even more variety to the offerings.

  • Hanky Panky Cocktail Bar: A fun find in Mexico City if you're up to the challenge. A hidden speakeasy that is members-only and exclusive although they do take reservations! The fun part is finding your way in and I will only give you a hint: "beer fridge". Once you decipher that you will know how to get in and out. Currently the #13 on the world's best 50 bars list. The space is cool, yet intimate and well decorated with the wide red chairs with bronze rivets, minimalist lamps, dim lighting and the neon sign "we are hanky panky" which is quite striking and makes for a memorable experience! Order their signature drink, aptly named "The Hanky Panky" and savor the bitterness perfectly balanced by sweetness.

Day Trips from Mexico City in Mexico City

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Las Grutas de Tolantongo, Hidalgo Mexico

This is one of the best-hidden gems in all of Mexico, and the BEST hot springs in all of Mexico, located about 4.5 hours away from Mexico City in Hidalgo state. Tolantongo is a large natural grotto located way up in the mountains at about 4,200-feet (1,280 m) above sea level, in Mezquital Canyon. It comprised of four distinct natural areas: the pools, the river, the tunnel and the cave. The water here is perfectly relaxing ranging from about 75-95°F (24-35°C) an ideal hot spring temp that you experience in both the pools and the river. Easily one of the most Instagram-worthy places in all of Mexico.

Aside from the thermal pools, there are many activities for people of all ages. From zip lining at Tolantongo La Gloria Park, walking across the suspension bridge for the spectacular canyon views, swimming the wonderfully warm cascading free-flowing waters of Tolantongo river, hiking the valley and cliffs around the site, camping by the river and more!

It is recommended to stay the night at the hotels onsite, there are five of them and range between 50-100 USD a night. Also available are several campsites that are even more affordable, ten restaurants, medical facilities and buses that can get you to all the areas

Pro tip: Download an offline map when you are heading there since the signal is spotty and bring lots of cash. The entire experience and all the facilities are cash only. Credit card is still not accepted. WIFI is available but it's not that reliable there so it's highly recommended to pre-download your entertainment. Watershoes and hiking boots are almost a requirement since so many places are left natural so it's almost too rocky and in some cases very slippery for bare feet and running shoes.

A note from Manny

Note: It can be a day trip if you make start out at 4am and you drive yourself but it will be dark and it may not be the safest thing to do once you are out of the city. It's recommended to stay a night or two for the best experience and if you want a more guided experience, a group tour is also highly recommended.

Need to Know

This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Mexico.

Advisor - Manny Godinez

Travel Advisor

Manny Godinez

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Mexico City, part of our larger series on travel to Mexico.