Due to popular demand, I want to add a new feature to my travel chronicles. As most of you know, whenever I visit a new country/city, I like to document the history of a local dish, as well as some of the best places to eat said dish. I have been humbled by the great response to these pieces. In fact, it seems that many of you want to know more about the amazing places I visit: What other restaurants do I visit? Where do I get my culture fix? Where do I go to bust out my hopelessly awkward dance moves? To answer these questions, I have decided to make a quick guide to each of my favorite destinations. Here are all the spots I enjoyed during my trip to Mexico City.
The Markets of Mexico City
One of my favorite things to do when I go to a new city is to check out the local markets. A bustling market is one of the best places to fully explore the ingredients and dishes that define a city. Luckily, Mexico City has some of the largest and liveliest markets I’ve ever seen. Here are a few of my favorites:
Established in 1921, this two-story hub of the Coyocan neighborhood is one of Mexico City’s oldest and most popular markets. You can find it all here, from fresh produce to fresh pastries to tacos and tortas. Coyocan Market is also well-known for its textile and art vendors, which is fitting because Frida Kahlo’s iconic home and museum is just a few blocks away.
Mercado de Jamaica
While Mercado de Jamaica might sound like a great place to chow down on some jerk chicken, it’s actually the city’s main flower market (in Spanish, “jamaica” is the name for the hibiscus flower, as well as the island nation). With over 1,000 stalls selling over 5,000 types of flowers, Mercado de Jamaica is one of the most fragrant, colorful places I’ve ever encountered. And foodies, don’t worry: there is plenty to eat here as well. As one might expect in such a floral market, produce, nuts, and spices abound.
Located in the trendy Roma neighborhood, this relative newcomer is similar to the food halls that have been popping up in cities throughout the U.S. As such, Mercado Roma is a great place to try creative takes on Mexican food, as well as cuisines from around the world.
You already know I hit up some great restaurants while I was in Mexico City. Excluding the five taquerias I mentioned in my previous write-up, here are some of the amazing places I ate at while touring Mexico’s capital:
Expendio de Maiz
Located in the Roma neighborhood (not far from Mercado Roma), Expendio de Maiz (literally “sale of corn”) is certainly one of the most unique restaurants in Mexico City. There is no menu and the dishes change daily, depending on what’s available. The 10-seat restaurant also doesn’t take reservations, so be sure to get there soon after they open if you want to snag a spot. All this might sound like a lot of hassle, but trust me, it’s worth it. The restaurant opened as a “corn school” where people could come to learn more about the crop that is so important to Mexican food and culture. The restaurant’s corn-based dishes, cooked over an open flame, will give you a new appreciation for this ubiquitous crop.
What Expendio de Maiz is to corn, Tencui is to mushrooms. At this small restaurant in the Santa Maria la Ribera neighborhood, Chef Mario Espinosa uses seven varieties of mushrooms (sourced nearby in central Mexico) for his superb – and mostly vegetarian – dishes. Mushrooms even find their way into the restaurant’s creative cocktails. You might not think you need a Negroni infused with mushroom extract, but trust me, you do. Tencui is a great spot for lunch, dinner, or Sunday brunch.
This vegan bakery, located in the Roma Sur (South Roma) neighborhood, quickly became my go-to breakfast spot in Mexico City. The cozy bakery serves vegan versions of classic European pastries – the croissants are to die for – as well as Mexican baked goods like pan de muerto. And you can wash it all down with a perfectly made vegan latte.
Obviously, food is the biggest part of my global travels, but I like to explore each city’s cultural offerings as well. Like its food scene, Mexico City’s cultural landscape is mind-blowing. Did you know that Mexico City is home to over 150 museums? This makes it one of the best cities in the world for museum-goers, and culture vultures of all stripes will find plenty to enjoy here. These are my top pics:
Museo Frida Kahlo
I mentioned this one before, but it’s worth a deeper dive. The Museo Frida Kahlo – also known as “La Casa Azul” (The Blue House) provides an intimate look into the artist’s life, as well as a retrospective of her work. Kahlo was born in this house and died in it, 47 years later. For 25 years, it was also home to her equally famous husband, the painter Diego Rivera. The ten-room museum houses many of Kahlo’s personal effects, including photographs, letters, dresses, and even some creatively painted back braces (she wore them most of her adult life, following a tragic car accident). Nearly every room is adorned with Kahlo’s original paintings. If you’re a Frida fan – or just an art lover in general – this is a can’t miss spot. Tickets run about $15 per person; just make sure to buy them ahead of time as this is a popular spot.
Palacio de Bellas Artes
Located in the heart of the city, the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts) hosts several cultural performances, including ballet, opera, and theater. Even if you don’t intend to take in a performance, it’s worth a visit just to explore the beautiful building. Completed in 1934, this massive, glass-domed building is one of the world’s best examples of both the Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles. There is so much beauty to behold here, from the 24-ton stained-glass curtain to the thought-provoking Diego Rivera murals that adorn the interior walls.
Bosque de Chapultapec
I love exploring urban parks, which is why I was thrilled to discover Bosque (forest) de Chapultapec while I was in Mexico City. What Central Park is to New York City, Chapultapec (which translates to “grasshopper hill”) is to Mexico City. This massive greenspace in the heart of the bustling city measures 1,700 acres—making it one of the largest urban parks in North America. Like Central Park in New York, Chapultepec is home to several important cultural institutions.
Start with the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Mexico’s largest and most visited museum. The museum holds countless artifacts from Mexico’s ancient civilizations, including the famous “Stone of the Sun”: a 16th-century Aztec calendar stone measuring 12 feet in diameter and weighing in at a little over 54,000 pounds! You should also check out Chapultepec Castle. Construction on the castle (intended to be a summer house for the Viceroy of Spain), began in 1725. It holds the distinction of being the only castle in North America to have housed European royalty. This ornate building contains art and artifacts relating to Spanish royalty, including an impressive gilded carriage. Located on top of Chapultepec Hill, the castle grounds offer some of the most breathtaking views of Mexico City.
Mexico City Nightlife
When it comes time to let loose at the end of a long day, Mexico City has no shortage of options. The majority of the capital’s most popular bars and nightclubs are located in the trendy neighborhoods of Roma, Condesa, and Polanco. In general, Polanco tends to have the glitzier, more luxurious clubs; Condesa offers a more affordable nightlife scene; and Roma tends to have a funky, bohemian vibe. Here are some of my favorite spots to soak up Mexico City’s amazing nightlife.
Zinco Jazz Club
I’m a bit of a jazz nerd, so a bar like this was love at first sight (and sound). Located in the historic center of the city, Zinco Jazz Club is a sleek, sophisticated bar with strong speakeasy vibes—complete with velvet curtains and classic cocktails. It also features live jazz most nights of the week. This is a great place for a chill night out in the big city.
This legendary Roma bar serves up what many consider to be the best cocktails in Mexico City. In fact, it appears on several notable shortlists of the world’s best cocktail bars. And this bar scours the globe for inspiration: world-renowned bartenders from six different cities – including Miami and Dubai – contributed to the bar’s cocktail menu. Limantour even hosts international guest bartenders, as well as cocktail competitions. For my fellow cocktail lovers, this is a must-visit.
While the name sounds like an Irish pub, Patrick Miller is actually one of the largest and most popular dance clubs in Mexico City. Located in Roma Norte, this massive, two-story club plays everything from 90s dance hits, to disco, to EDM. And it attracts people from all walks of life to its sprawling, high-energy dance floor. Some quick pro tips: the club is only open on Fridays and drink tokens are purchased in advance. Bar food is available, though I didn’t get the chance to try it since I was too stuffed from eating my way across this great city.
If you enjoyed this recipe or have suggestions on how we can improve it, please leave us a comment below. Also, make sure to check out other dishes I’ve created or stories I’ve written about food culture – here.