Leaving Mexico City after two days is like leaving a really good party at 10 pm. Granted, I had been before with my sister and done a lot of the major sites: the centro, the Diego Rivera murals, Frida’s house and several markets and classic restaurants. So this post is more for the traveler that just wants to walk the streets and eat the streets, and catch some art while getting to know a few neighborhoods. Here’s what I did:
The early morning light in the Condesa and Roma neighborhoods on its own is a sight worth waking up for. At about 7 a.m. on a Sunday it was practically my only companion on the street as it filtered through the trees and glimmered in the puddles of water pouring out from the flower stands setting up for the Mother’s Day rush. Panaderia Rosetta in Roma is equally as charming: a hole in the wall bakery with soft lanterns and subway tiles, glass cases of guava rolls and croissants sitting on the bar, and loaves of bread stacked behind. Get here early to sit at the narrow bar with about 12 seats. Nobody here played on their phones, everyone said good morning, and bakers in red chef coats come through towards the back bakery in steady rushes carrying trays of pastries above their heads. The concha was almost brioche-like, yeasty and covered in vanilla bean and sugary chocolate crystals.
Colima 179, colonia Roma~ Mon-Sat: 7:30 am – 8 pm, Sunday 7:30 am- 5 pm.
Mexico City has several classic breakfast spots where you can experience the indulgence of a Mexican breakfast and the best restaurant service possibly in the world. El Cardenal is one of them. Tortilla baskets are filled the minute they run out. Piping hot coffee or hot chocolate is poured in your cup before you even meet your waiter. This institution has several locations, and I expect you’ll find politicians making deals at any one of them. Grab a green juice. Egg options are a plenty, I went for the huevos chinicuiles, scrambled eggs in a cazuela with an earthy salsa made of maguey worms and chile guajillo. I’m not sure if there’s a more perfect end to a breakfast than splitting a buttery warm concha just out of the oven.
We went to the Alameda location, Av. Juárez No. 70, Hilton México.
M-Sun 8 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.
Taqueria El Jarocho
One thing I love about Mexico is breakfast tacos, which are often served in espresso-like bars or street stalls, where people from all walks of life walk up to the counter and scarf down a quick taco. At Taqueria El Jarocho there are casuelas full guisados, which translates to stew, but it can really be any kind of slow simmered dish. I would recommend going up to the bar and pointing at whatever strikes your fancy, you don’t have much to loose at $2 each. But, they are known for their Taco Campechano preparado, chopped up bistec with pressed and fried chicharron. Add some of their salsa verde with avocado hunks and the acid cuts right through all that friedness for some truly dreamy bites of texture. I also liked the nutty mole verde, and the spinach with papas. Sit outside and enjoy the sounds of the taquero’s knife chopping the bisteac one order after another.
Tapachula 94, on the corner of Manzanillo and Tapachula, Roma.
Mon-Sat 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This is a tricky place to get to, but it’s entirely worth it. On the street Moctezuma between Lázaro Cardenas and Reforma, across from a parking lot there’s an apartment building. Press the doorbell marked pozole and you’ll be let in to Pozole Moctezuma, a family owned restaurant since 1947. They’ll come to your table and ask you if you want avocado, tostadas, crema, and chicharrones. Just say yes. I got the pozole blanco with a raw egg and there’s the option to add a sardine. Just as I was hitting pozole nirvana with a spoonful of tender pork and broth, a waitress came by with a glass cup and a spoon to ask if we wanted a spoonful of mezcal in our soup. Just say yes. Extras: The refrescada is like a paloma with mezcal and the juevo estrellada is a dessert of arroz con leche with a peach in the middle. Pleasing to both the adult and little kid in you. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday they have pozole verde.
Moctezuma 12, Colonia Guerrero. Monday-Sat 2 p.m. – 7 p.m. Thanks to Cristina Potters for taking me here for lunch, you can read more about Pozole Moctezuma on her blog here.
You can get a good cup of Veracruz coffee at Chiquita Cafe in Condesa. Cantina Riviera is like traditional cantina with several TVs playing boxing and soccer games, card tables and plenty of drinking, but with good Yucatecan snacks, an elegant bar, and a fun mezcal menu in the style of la loteria that I am definitely putting on my wall when I get home.
Special thanks to mi amigo Jerónimo for showing me around town.
In Between Meals
Museo de Artle Popular has a mind-blowing collection of Mexican folk art. Do not go here on mushrooms or you might get eaten by the life-size dragons.
Museo de Estanquillo is small museum with rotating exhibits, right on Madero. This period I caught one featuring Leopoldo Perez, one of Mexico’s most important graphic artists, known for his engraving illustrations in support of the Mexican revolution and other political and social movements. Looks like they have some dope photo exhibits coming up too. Head to the fourth floor for a rooftop terrace with a museum store and a place rest your feet.
Downtown is a fancy hotel with a whole gallery of small upscale boutiques surrounding the patio restaurant Azul Condesa. I wandered back and found Que Bo Chocolate, where a tamarind and chapulines (grasshopper) truffle made me pucker and smile. Right down Isabel La Catolica from the museum.
Mercado Roma is a hipster version of a Mexican market, designed impeccably with artisanal what-nots in every booth. Honestly, it’s worth a look and is a great place to buy gifts, use the bathroom, grab an aguamiel (drink made of maguey sap, sounds weirder than it tastes) or an interesting blend of agua frescas. I also noticed that there is a Churreria El Moro here, which is the best churreria in DF and the original is in the centro, so I seriously appreciate the nod to the traditional and providing more access to churros.
For a real Mexican market I like Mercado de Medellin, where rows of butchers illuminated by neon lights are quite friendly and papel picado adorns the stalls. I grabbed a papaya juice from Las delicias.
Dafrehica is a cute boutique featuring a few different Mexican designers.
And don’t forget to take a walk through Parque Mexico, which used to be surrounded by a hacienda horse track, hence the neighborhood name Hipódromo Condesa. Now there are art deco buildings around every curve, cute cafes, and plenty of people just hanging out.
I liked Stella B & B in the Condesa. A little more affordable than some of the others and a perfect location.
My itinerary as an example:
Museo de Arte Popular
Walk through Roma/Condesa
Taqueria el Jarocho
Mercado de Medellin