Mexico City is hot right now. You probably have a friend whose Instagram Story flashes through Plaza del Zocolo, tours you through Frieda Khalo’s House, and showcases countless tacos and margaritas. Mine certainly did! Mexico City is everywhere – I’ve read countless listicles full of top things to do in the hippest neighborhoods and dozens of takes on the best tacos al pastor in the city. Remember when we were all talking about Iceland? That’s Mexico City now, and for good reason.
These days, with all of the coverage traveling the world gets, it’s hard to be surprised by a city. But Mexico City surprised me. I didn’t expect sprawling green parks full of dogs and lovers, I didn’t expect to be able to walk as much as I did, and I didn’t expect pozole verde to be the best soup I’ve ever tasted. I should have expected it all, I suppose; Mexico has long been one of my favorite countries with it’s vibrant culture and heavenly cuisine. But having been back twice now, it’s nice to know there’s something new waiting around every corner of this fascinating metropolis.
Here are a few of our favorite things to do in Mexico City, and why we’ll keep going back.
Stay: Roma Norte / La Condesa
We anchored ourselves to the Roma Norte/La Condesa neighborhoods on both of our trips and I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed the area as a home base. Plenty of parks to walk around and catch a pick-up game of soccer or a square full of elderly dancers, coffee and cocktails from any one of the countless cafes and bars, and enough street food and restaurants to keep you plenty full. Start your trip here – one of the many hotels or Airbnbs available will do.
Eat: On the Street
Street food stalls are not a revelation, they’re all over East LA, but they’re so ubiquitous in Mexico City that actually eating inside a restaurant feels wrong. It’s a street food paradise. Get your hands on anything from tacos al pastor and tortas to blue corn tlacoyos and tamales. It doesn’t matter where in the city you are, just pull up a tiny plastic chair and order away.
We, of course, did sit inside some restaurants in Mexico City. Some really good ones, too! I don’t have a ton of restaurant recs on account of all the street food we ate, but here are a few faves:
- Contramar: Seafood tostadas, green grilled snapper & champagne – this place is a treat. Make a res ’cause it gets busy, even during lunch.
- Pozoleriá Teoixtla: I dream about their chicken pozole verde, complete with all the fixins: avocado, chicharrones, white onions, limes…this was easily one of the best meals we ate in Mexico City.
- Cancino Cibeles: Great little outdoor pizza place in Cibeles Circle, just a block away from our Airbnb. The whole circle itself has a lot of fun restaurants, but Cancion Cibeles was a great place to people watch and carbo load.
Nightlife: Bars & Dancing
Nightlife is the right life and, baby, Mexico City is here to party. Strap on your dancing shoes and eat a big dinner because the weekends get rowdy.
- Mama Rumba: This is my favorite place to dance in the entire WORLD, no exaggeration! People dance on every free inch of floor throughout the entire bar, margaritas flow like rain from the heavens, and the live band will have your hips moving even if you’ve never moved them before. Go.
- Limantour: Great drinks located on a long, lively street in Roma Norte. Start here and work your way around the neighborhood before ending up at Mama Rumba.
- La Clandestina: Tiny little mezcal bar worth checking out in La Condesa. Fun fact: we showed up right when they opened and were informed that they “only serve shots before 6pm.” Cocktails be damned! We had a lot of shots…
- Baltra Bar: The vibe is “achingly hip” as described by Conde Nast Traveler, but the whisky cocktails are fantastic if you’re in need of a mezcal break and the preserved butterflies and animal skull decor will give you something to talk about.
To Do: Around the City
- Biblioteca Vasconcelos – Transparent walls, intricate catwalks connecting stacks of books, and gardens surrounding the entire building make this is one of the most structurally unique libraries in the world. If I could live anywhere in Mexico City, it would be here.
- Plaza del Zocolo – The famous square you may have seen James Bond run around in the opening of Spectre. Zocolo is in the middle of town and houses a lot of history. It’s neat to walk around, especially at sunset when the lights of neighboring buildings and hotels are just starting to twinkle.
- The Blue House (Frieda Khalo Museum) – Reserve a ticket in advance and take a tour through the house and studio where Khalo lived, worked, and died. An incredible collection of her art, outfits, and studio space is preserved, and you can see her actual ashes in the room where she died. Once you leave the museum, spend some tome walking around Coyocan, the artistic capital of Mexico City, and head to the nearby park for lunch.
- Lucha Libre – Mexican Wrestling is for real. We went with a wrestling journalist who hosts an Airbnb experience and planned the whole night for us. We met up beforehand for a beer where he explained all of the rules, and then he gave us masks and alter egos. The whole experience was great, including the Cup of Noodles I ate from a stadium vendor. Take note, American Sports Teams!
- Palacio Nacional – Located in Zocolo Square, The National Palace is home to a ton of Diego Rivera’s murals, including the vast and intricate “History of Mexico.” It’s free and worth standing in line to see.
- Estadio Azteca – If you’re a soccer fan, this stadium is a helluva place to catch a game. It’s HUGE, and though it takes a loooonngg while to fight through traffic to get to, there’s nothing like watching fútbol with a bunch of fans in Mexico. Club America is Mexico City’s home team, check out their schedule and take in a game if you have the time.