My thoughts on Mexico City were terribly outdated. I thought of it only as a gritty, polluted and dangerous city. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Though it was virtually impossible to ignore the buzz these past few years, especially living and working in New York, I had remained a skeptic.
What changed? I spent a lot of time in Mexico last year working on various projects and it seemed all roads led to Mexico City. Everywhere I went, people were talking about the food, the culture, the art galleries, the hotels and the architecture. This city of 19 million actually has more in common with New York and Paris and Istanbul than any place it may have been formerly compared to and there is no doubt that it is having a moment.
Last month I headed down there with my friend chef Camille Becerra to see what it was all about.
We left New York on the red eye out of JFK at 1am on one of the hottest nights of this New York summer on Aeromexico. We arrived in the D.F just four short hours later ready to take the city by storm. We were pretty much up for anything and wanted to taste and see everything. Armed with a massive list culled from friends we set to task. Our first stop was the super cute Stella Bed and Breakfast where we were met by Sylvia who graciously fed us a beautiful breakfast of fried eggs and tortillas while the light slowly came up in the Roma neighborhood where we were staying. Needless to say, in the days that followed, we ate our way all around town, meeting up with some local food writers, stylists and bloggers.
The way I normally travel is to first do a bit of preliminary research myself, then I speak with friends and friends of friends and begin to cull a list.
I use Foursquare when I travel to keep track of the places I have been, to make and edit lists and to share them with others easily. I find it is a great starting point to my general list. I follow a few of my well traveled friends and we are always sharing and updating through Foursquare. If you are not onto it yet for travel, I highly recommend it.
Below is list of a few of our favorite spots. This makes for one long beautiful eating day! Do not miss these!
Breakfast at La Fonda Marguerita
For Breakfast, La Fonda Marguerita. It is important to remember that breakfast and lunch are traditionally the main meals of the day in Mexico. So f you are thinking of saving some amazing little taco spot you read about for late afternoon or an evening meal, check first that it is open! We missed a few places before we got hip to this idea.
La Fonda Margarita was recommended by a friend who lives in Mexico City. It is a tiny local spot where they cook most of the night. They open the doors really early, maybe even as early as 5am. though I would call to check on that because time is a bit slow in Mexico. They cook solely over charcoal, giant giant pots of bubbling goodness, many hands taking turns to stir. We went at 8am and just missed the line and the rush that followed. What did we eat? We ate Copious bowls full of stewed pork, simmered for hours over the fire. We were drawn right away to the pork in salsa verde and to another dish of chicharron stewed with tomatoes and chilies, after which came the most perfectly fried eggs, atop delicious homemade tortillas. Coffee is served hot and sweet and black.
If I could have, I would have eaten every breakfast here. It is great place to go before heading out to the morning markets.
Adolfo Prieto 1364, Benito Juárez, Tlacoquemecatl del Valle, 03100 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico
+52 55 5559 6358
Mid morning coffee at Rosetta Panaderia
Delicious coffee and absolute best Guava pastry. I am kind of a Guava freak. I had them at many places including Ideal but Rosetta Panaderia was the best.
Same owners as the Rosetta restaurant nearby.
Calle Havre #73, Cuauhtemoc, Juárez, 06600 Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico
+52 55 5207 7065
Lunch at Contramar
A long luxurious lunch at Contramar that turns into late afternoon day drinking, is often recommended by highly trustworthy people. .You will find this place on 99 percent of the must do's of Mexico City. We had a short lunch only because we weren't feeling it. We didn't love it, it felt really "New York" and that isn't what I look for when I travel. It is like going to Paris and only searching for "Tres Brooklyn" Many people are looking for familiarity and comfort when they travel, so if that is you, then why not? It is a fabulous spot for people watching and the tuna tostadas are highly recommended and they are said the copied around Mexico City. Personally, I felt they lacked any depth. Judge for yourself and report back.
Delegación Cuauhtémoc C.P. 06700. México D.F.. RESERVACIONES 55 5514 9217 · 55 5514 3169
Sunset drink on the rooftop of Hotel Condesa D.F
Take a late afternoon stroll around the Condesa Neighborhood, one of the D F.'s hippest area's. Stop into the Hotel Condesa and head straight to the rooftop for a sunset cocktail. I highly recommend the Hibiscus Margarita with Hibiscus salt. Found around on the plush cushions and watch the lights come on over this low flat city.
Dinner at Quntonil
Quintonil is all about beautifully presented, thoughtful, modern Mexican food. The flavor combinations are new and exciting. They are well known for their cactus ceviche. It was perfect and swimming in the most delicious herby green broth. The portions are not big. We mostly ordered seafood and it was super fresh. Order a few things to share. The service was excellent. Oh, and the house cocktail... Mescal and worm salt. YES! THANK YOU.
reservations are a must.
Newton 55, Polanco, 11560 Federal District, Mexico
+52 55 5280 1660
Late night post mescal bar tacos at Los Parados.
This is an absolute.
First a few words about the Mescal bars. You must experienceat least one. Mescal is an essential part of the experience.
Bosforo, located in the historic city center is a tiny hole in the wall place. Try many different wild sourced mescals.
Tiny bites available. The night we were at Bosforo there was a small gathering of Mescal makers there to talk about their work. I learned a lot even though the lecture was in Spanish! Thank god I am visual person, have studied Italian, between this and photos, I got the gist. I honestly had no idea that some Mescals are aged with rotten fruit and even raw chicken and sometimes turkey, rabbit or deer meat.This type of Mescal is called Pechuga. Some Wild hunted agaves take as much as 25 years to grow. Who knew? I have much to learn here and I need to investigate this subject further. I tried Pechuga and it did have a distinctly different taste from the other Mescals, more funky for sure.
Luis Moya, Cuauhtémoc, Centro, Ciudad de México, D.F., Mexico
La Clandestina in Roma Nord.
Small, great location over fifty different Mescals. All locally sourced from Oaxaca.
Av. Alvaro Obregón 298 (Sonora), 06100 Mexico City, Federal District, Mexico
Once you have sufficiently imbibed head to the late night taco stand called Los Parados.
Los Parados actually translates to "standing", there are no seats here at this swift shop where they move hundreds of tacos an hour. We were three people and we probably had at least 15! Tacos from Mexico City are not like their overstuffed American cousin. They are small and discreet but pack major flavor.
There are many kinds to choose from. There is a taco master at each station and they move swiftly. My suggestion is to go for one of each.
Monterrey 333 Col. Roma
06760 México, D.F.
+52 55 5264 7138
leave there sated and happy and grab a taxi or an uber, both easy to find and roll into bed.
Tomorrow will be another day and there is Casa Azul to see and the Frida and Diego Studios, there is a cocktail to be had at the Sant'Angel Inn and the Markets... so many Markets! Museums, Galleries and The Barrigan House. You will barely scratch the surface of this amazing city in a week.