4-Days in Mexico City
Arts & Culture
Mexico City is a truly dynamic place. In no other city will you be able to experience such a variety of local culture and high-end travel. It is a city of contrasts with something unexpected around every corner — whether it be a run-down (but beautiful) Mediterranean mansion or a World's Top 50 restaurant. It is also an amazing place to make connections with the diverse locals of Mexico City, many of whom have grown up in the region but others who come from across the world and now call this city home. No matter whether food, design, architecture or art is what you are looking for, a trip to Mexico City will only leave you wanting more.
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Where to stay
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.
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Design forward hotel right in the city’s food scene.
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.
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Day 1: Get a Lay of the Land
With a population of over 8 million (that's more than that of NYC,) Mexico City is a big place. So, on your first day you'll do a lot of exploring to get the lay of the land.
Start your morning by walking through Bosque de Chapultepec, one of Mexico City's largest parks. Take in the quietness of the surroundings and the lush greenery. You can walk around Lago de Chapultepec, a small pond, and even take paddle boats out. I would also recommend walking up to Chapultepec Castle where you'll not only find breathtaking views of the city but the Castillo de Chapultepec. At one time the Presidential Residence, it is now a museum where you can walk around and admire the beautiful architecture. You will need to purchase tickets, but you can do this at the entry of the museum. Exit the park on the side closest to Roma Norte to put you closer to lunch.
Now that you've worked up an appetite, walk to Contramar in the Roma Norte neighborhood. This is one of Mexico City's buzziest restaurants and hottest reservations, so make sure you book it well in advance of your visit. There is a great crowd of fashionable locals and business people breaking for lunch. This makes for great people watching accompanied by an amazing seafood-forward menu. Make sure you don't miss the tuna tostadas, fish al pastor tacos and, if you are really hungry, go for the red and green grilled snapper. (Hot tip: if you can't get into Contramar, you can often score a last minute reservation at their sister restaurant Entremar, which has almost the same exact menu).
Walk off your lunch in the Roma Norte and Condesa neighborhoods, largely considered the fashion and design hubs of Mexico City. Here you'll pop in and out of local boutiques, galleries and furniture stores. You might want to consider leaving some space in your suitcase so you can bring back local finds. Some of my favorite placed to shop include Mooni, an extremely well-curated and well-priced gallery with a diverse mix of artists, Ikal, a concept store with a unique collection from a variety of Mexican designers and Tana Karei, a store with gorgeous mid-century inspired furniture and accessories from an up-and-coming pair of designers (and sisters!)
For dinner, try to score a reservation at the world-famous Pujol. A combination of the ambiance, food, and service will blow you away. You can either go for the taco omakase at the bar or the full 7-course tasting menu. Either way, be sure to try their mole which was feature on an episode of Chef's Table. End your first night in Mexico with a carajillo (famous Mexican coffee cocktail) on Pujol's terrace.
Day 2: Venture to San Angel and Coyoacán
Get ready for the day ahead by stopping at a local cafe or coffee shop for breakfast. A few of my favorites include Marne (Polanco,) Cafe Nin (Juarez,) Lardo (Condesa,) and Cicatriz (Roma Norte.)
No trip to Mexico City is complete without a visit to a local weekend market, so grab a cab or Uber and make your way to El Bazar Sabado, which happens every Saturday (Pro tip: I've found Ubers in Mexico City to be extremely reasonable, reliable and safe). This market brings together local craft vendors that sell a mix of high-end arts and crafts. After you've gotten your shopping fix, walk around and explore the beautiful cobblestone streets of this historic neighborhood.
For lunch, you have two options. For a more luxurious meal, head to San Angel Inn which is located in the courtyard of a former monastery. Have a long, relaxing lunch while you sip your margarita and take in the beautiful surroundings. If you are looking for a more local experience, take a trip to Mercado Coyoacan, a two-story market where the locals shop for their vegetables, meat and fish. There are several amazing food stalls to choose from inside the market so grab a stool at one of them. I would recommend Tostadas Coyoacan for tostadas (obviously.)
After lunch, make sure to visit the Frida Kahlo Museum where you'll learn about the life story of one of the most famous female artists in history and her (almost) equally famous husband, Diego Riviera. Make sure to purchase tickets in advance because they tend to sell out.
Afterwards, head back to Roma Norte for dinner and a cocktail. Weirdly enough, I've found some of the best Italian food outside of Italy in Mexico City at Restaurant Rosetta. Housed in a beautiful, old mansion you'll find an intimate scene of fireplaces, flowers, and candles. It almost felt like being in your most fashionable grandma's home. Don't skip out on the corn tamales, snapper, tagliatelle and the chocolate cake for dessert. Afterwards, explore Mexico City's creative cocktail scene by visiting Handshake. On the list of the World's Top 50 Bars, Handshake was born during the pandemic with the concept of bringing people and revitalizing the hospitality industry. Hidden behind a black door on a seemingly unsuspecting street, you will feel welcomed by the gracious and knowledgable bartenders as soon as you walk through the door. Start with one of their mini cocktails while you explore the 20-page menu.
Day 3: Luis Barragan and Mezcal
Mexico City is full of amazing architecture and design on every street corner. However, no other person besides Luis Barragan better epitomizes why Mexico City has come to be known as one of the architecture capital's of the world. A Mexican architect and engineer, Luis' contemporary architecture can be found throughout Mexico City. You can visit Casa Gilardi or his studio to get a glimpse. However, I recommend taking a cab or Uber 20 minutes outside of the city to Casa Pedregal. The current owner has restored the house to its original state and allows for guided tours of his home a few times a day. He is often there himself and happy to answer questions about the home and the restoration process. Make sure to book tickets in advance.
After your visit to Casa Pedregal, pop over to Tetelan which is right next door. Imagined and designed by Casa Pedregal's current owner, Tetelan houses a coffee shop, boutique, library, yoga studio and restaurant. Tetelan is an excellent option for lunch if you've already worked up an appetite. Otherwise, another great option for lunch, Expendido de Maiz sin Nombre, is located back in the Roma Norte neighborhood. It does not have a menu. When you arrive, they simply ask you for your dietary restrictions and bring you fresh, locally-sourced Mexican dishes until you ask them to stop. In my opinion, they have some of the most excellent tortilla's in the city that are made by hand, in-house every day.
No trip to Mexico City would be complete without learning about a local liquor: mezcal. After lunch, either take a car or 5-minute walk to your next experience, a mezcal and mole tasting hosted by Master of Agave Spirits & Certified Wine Sommelier, Daniel Rodriguez, of Mezcal y Mole. Daniel carefully pairs seven mezcals from his own brand with seven moles made by a local Mexican family. He is an extremely knowledgable and gracious host. You will leave the tasting feeling like you've learned something new and also made a new friend. I could not recommend this experience enough.
At this point, you may feel like you've had one too many tacos. So, make a reservation at Maximo Bistrot for a casual, farm-to-table dinner with a daily rotating menu of French-inspired dishes made with local Mexican ingredients. This restaurant perfectly encapsulates the dynamism of Mexico City. If you've still got energy after dinner, take a stroll to Baltra Bar in the Condesa neighborhood where you'll find a mix of locals and expats drinking delicious cocktails in a cozy, inviting space.
Day 4: Sightsee in Mexico City's Historic Center
Before you leave Mexico City, take an hour or so to walk around Mexico City's historic center.
Start at El Cardenal for a traditional Mexican breakfast. This is an upscale spot with white tablecloths and impeccable service. Fill up on the Chilaquiles or Enchiladas.
Most of the sights of the city's historic downtown are within a few blocks of each other. With a mix of quiet cobblestone streets and busy car-filled avenues and classical architecture contrasted against 1970's high rises, this area is another symbol of Mexico City's diversity. Sights that you shouldn't miss while you are here include the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the Palacio Nacional, Palacio de Correos, House of Tiles and Alameda Central Park.
If you have time, go to the top floor of the Sears building across from the Palacio de Bellas Artes to soak in the few from Cafeteria Terraza.
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