What To Do, See, and Eat in Mexico City
I always find myself drawn to cities with an undercurrent of creativity. From art to music and architecture and design, that state of mind always seems to trickle down to the food. So, naturally, I am completely enamored with Mexico City — a destination that seems to be on everyone’s list these days.
I’m not going to pretend to know everything about CDMX, because there’s no way to even begin to scratch the surface in a surface of a city of nearly 22 million people that’s been around since 1325 A.D. in just a few weeks. After two trips, I feel like I’m just barely pulling back the veil. But I am going to share a couple of my favest with me for you to add to your docket.
Having grown up in a megapolis like Los Angeles, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still learning new things about my own city, so I definitely recommend tapping an expert local guide for advice that’s tailored to your interests. I worked with Anais from The Curious Mexican to be our culinary fixer, and Roberto Hernandez to help us on the drone and visuals side. Both were incredibly knowledgeable about the culture, and had phenomenal tips on what we were looking for during our shoot.
In any case, here are my favorite spots to eat, drink, play and stay in CDMX. Yes, there are many more that I have yet to explore. Feel free to use this as a jumping point for your adventure and cobble it together with other lists you love. And of course let me know what your faves are in the comments. I’m sure it won’t be long before I hear the city’s siren call once more…
Where to Eat:
Molino El Pujol
It goes without saying that you’re going to be doing a ton of street food eating on this trip, and there’ll be no shortage of tacos. But the ones that Enrique Olvera is doing at his corn mill slash resto are something special. Plus, Molino is a more affordable and accessible way to experience Olvera’s cooking without having to do the whole tasting menu at Pujol. It’s really cool to see that they’re bringing back heirloom varietals of corn that are so important to this region’s ancient Aztec history, and serving fresh nixtamalized corn tortillas and bebidas to both locals and travelers alike.
Rosetta or Panederia Rosetta
Chef Elena Reygadas’ restaurant housed a grand Colonia Roma townhouse is a real stunner. Reygadas serves seasonal Mediterranean food that feels at once at home in CDMX, and some of the pasta dishes we ordered would stand up to my favorite LA spots. She’s a real fixture in the dining scene here, so if you can’t snag a res at Rosetta, be sure to check out their Panederia for house made breads and pastries. Again, a great way to get the feel for the flavors without spending an arm and a leg. Besides: I like doing mini meals rather than more formal, drawn out dining when I travel; it means you can sample more throughout the day while being gentler on your pocketbook.
Masala y Mais
The cooking Norma Listman and her partner Saqib Keval do at their restaurant celebrates the migration of culinary techniques and cultural foodways from Latin America, Africa, and India, and it's truly transportive. Their cross-cultural cooking is really an incredible addition to the culinary scene, and I’ve never experienced anything quite like it. Be sure to order the patra — a dish that’s sort of like the cross between a huarache and a dosa. Really unique stuff!
Churreria el Morro
Who doesn’t love churros con chocolate? This design-forward churro shop is a must-stop in CDMX. They’ve been around since 1935 and have several locations throughout the city, so be sure to hit them up.
Things to Do:
Daytrip and Meal at Yolcan
Based in Mexico City, Yolcan’s goal is to connect chinampas — or traditional floating farms — with responsible consumers, academics, and the best chefs in Mexico City, hopefully preserving their ancient farming techniques for generations to come.
They do so through hosting educational tours and multi-course meals at the Chinampa Del Sol in Xocimilco; providing sustainably grown produce to well-known CDMX restaurants like Pujol, Contramar, and Masala y Mais; and selling CSA produce baskets to chilangos. A trip down the waters in Xochimilco is a must-do if you can swing a day trip.
I really can’t decide if this library looked more like the prison from Deadpool 2 or Kylo Ren’s lair in Star Wars The Last Jedi. Either way, major set building inspo could come from this surreal library, which our guide and drone extraordinaire Roberto brought us to. It was totally off the beaten path, but well worth the journey. We need more places for learning like this in the U. S. of A. Check out this shot on IG if you need further convincing; it’s totally wild!
When I used to work at the historic LA Times building downtown, I’d make a habit of going every Friday to the flower mart to make my own bouquets. So needless to say, seeing this flower market the week of Dia De Los Muertos, when all the marigold and ofrenda accoutrements are being sold, was a major joy. It’s wonderful year round though, and there are also some great street food stalls surrounding it, so come hungry.
Head up to the Sear's cafe for viewing of the most iconic building in the city. Prepare for a line and a shitload of selfie sticks, but it’s worth the wait. You can check out my time lapse on Insta to prove it.
Where to Drink:
Natural wines are having a real moment right now both in the US and in Mexico, so you know Restaurante AMAYA, whose list is made up of ENTIRELY natural bottlings, was a must try on my latest culinary adventure. I'm 100% obsessed with Bichi Wines, which Amaya's chef makes in Tecate. So fun and funky-- a real testament to the fact that CDMX is one of the most exciting food destinations you can visit.
You all know that I’m really into the hippie dippie “woo woo,” and this bar is totally it for me. They burn palo santo and play super tribal trance, and the drinks are all made with pre-Colombian ingredients and modern techniques. Truly it’s one of my favorite bars in the world, and on a good night, there’s a real Burning Man vibe about the place.
Located at the gorgeous Four Seasons property, this is a world class cocktail bar with professional bartenders that live for the craft. They’re using some wild apparatuses to make drinks, so definitely pull up a seat and get ready for a show.
You’ll find these old school drinking hall dotted around the city. They’re somewhat of a dying breed, sort of like a classic American diner in terms of the comfort food, but with way better music. (This is Mexico after all.)
Where to Stay:
I cannot say enough good things about the hospitality at this property. Not only was it centrally located, this Small Luxury Hotel made some of the most killer spicy mezcal margaritas, and they had an amazing tlacoyo stand right outside. Winning!