Mexico’s capital city has long been known to travelers looking to eat; this irresistible culinary city is known as one of the top foodie destinations on the planet. Mexico City is having a moment right now, and it’s not just because of world-renowned multi-coursed meals, mom-and-pop restaurants, and iconic street food. It’s delicious, yes, and it's also historic, cultural, and imaginative. We think this moment isn’t one that will depreciate any time soon, if ever.
The Aztec city that started on an island within Lake Texcoco and later expanded after the Spanish conquest and the lake being drained, Mexico City resides on the lake basin and is located within the Valley of Mexico surrounded by mountains. Its subtropical highland climate is mild throughout the year and the city rises to an elevation 7,400 feet above sea level. The city consists of 16 boroughs, similar to boroughs of New York, and is divided into colonias or neighborhoods with the traditional center comprising of four of those boroughs.
A city that’s one of the largest and liveliest in the world–22 million people and the sixth largest metropolitan area in the world–its large population breeds cultural depth and diversity through the architecture, art, and its people. With numerous museums, nearby archeological sites and ancient ruins, a thriving art scene, ancient, colonial, and contemporary architecture, and vivacious nightlife, Mexico City has it all. And we know you’ve heard that before, but as a city frequently overlooked by its coastal counterparts and within a country that is oftentimes misunderstood, Mexico City gives “has it all” a new meaning. Blending old and new and city grit with lush parks and plant and tree-lined streets, Mexico City is your ideal long weekend away destination. Suitable for friends and couples, it's easy to get to from many parts of the United States, and it can easily be combined with other cities in Mexico for a longer stay. Think San Miguel de Allende, Oaxaca City, or Guadalajara, or against the grain coastal towns like Puerto Morelos, Isla Espíritu Santo, or Puerto Escondido.
Recently our team spent a few days in Mexico City. A first time for all of us, it's safe to say it won't be a last; we were all plotting a return trip even before leaving the city! The following hotels, restaurants, and things to do/see only scratch the surface. By no means is this an all-encompassing list of where to stay, what to eat, and what to do in Mexico City in its entirety, because, hey, Mexico City is HUGE! But I do think we found some gems. Take this as a starting point—let it inspire you to finally say yes to Mexico City.
Casa Polanco is a boutique hotel in the heart of the sophisticated Polanco neighborhood, right in front of the beautiful Parque Lincoln. This newly renovated property blends the service of a high-end hotel with the sense of staying at an impeccable private residence. Central to Mexico City's vibrant energy, but intimate and exclusive, it combines luxe design-forward elements with the original bones of a 1930s Spanish colonial mansion. The hotel is both contemporary and historic with restored original architecture, rare pieces and furniture collected from antique shops, and a contemporary eye for interior design. The hotel's 19 elegant suites have unique decorative details and a stylish color palette of muted browns, black, and white.
From the first glance, undeniably, Casa Polanco is special for its gorgeous design, but it's the staff and attention to detail that makes being a guest there truly memorable—so much so that our departure was met with a warm hug from the manager. From a welcome cocktail and snack (tequila in a champagne flute and spicy taro chips we couldn't get enough of), cappuccinos delivered to our rooms in the morning, daily tea (wine) time, the extensive breakfast buffet, and to the staff who were so welcoming and generous with their time and energy, we couldn't recommend Casa Polanco enough.
Brick Hotel is a sexy and modern boutique hotel located on Orizaba Street in Colonia Roma. La Roma quickly emerged as the city's hottest neighborhood with a myriad of cafes, bars, restaurants, art galleries, and vintage stores. Full of contrasts: dark and sleek interior spaces with moody lighting, as well as sun-drenched, plant-filled balconies and patios, the hotel was once a private estate for the head of the Bank of London & Mexico. The original building's structure is in tact with brick shipped from London, giving the hotel its name, but more contemporary and industrial additions were made like floor-to-ceiling windows and unique light fixtures.
This 17-room boutique hotel also has spa with a sauna and steam room, and a lively bar, a basement speakeasy, and restaurant, Cerrajería. The rooms and suites are lavish in their comforts, especially the two-level Rooftop Suites with their private patios. Brick Hotel is in an ideal location to further explore Mexico City and do so in style and comfort.
Sofitel is located in the heart of Mexico City’s historic Reforma Avenue just steps away from iconic monuments like The Angel of Independence and the Castle of Chapultepec. With sweeping views of Mexico's capital from up high, Sofitel has 275 guest rooms and modern decor influenced by chic French style. Guests will find themselves right in the middle of all the action; this hotel truly makes you feel in the middle of a massive city.
Sofitel Reforma boasts 5 bars and restaurants, all with unique flavors and creative culinary expressions. Whether looking for spirited cocktails in the 38th floor bar Cityzen or elevated gastronomic exploration at Bajel, there is truly something for every style of dining. Those looking for a tranquil escape from the bustling streets of Mexico City can relax in the serene and calming atmosphere of Sofitel’s lavishly appointed spa. A highlight for us, though? The gorgeous pool on the 38th floor with striking views of the city.
Eat & Drink
Restaurante Rosetta & Panadería Rosetta
Rosetta is located in an old house in the Roma neighborhood and the cuisine is based on a deep respect for Mexican ingredients by chef Elena Reygadas. The menu is a la carte, which changes permanently according to the availability of products. Make reservations in advance, sip on tequila or a glass of wine from their beautifully curated wine list, and order a number of dishes to share.
Across the street is their extremely popular European-style bakery, Panadería Rosetta. Options for both dine-in and takeaway pastries, sandwiches, croissants, and coffee, a morning stop here is a must.
Chef Enrique Olvera founded Pujol back in 2000 with the vision to showcase everything about Mexican gastronomy, from its unique techniques and inimitable spices to the country’s rich history. More than twenty years on, he has achieved his dream: Pujol comes in consistently towards the top of Latin America’s and The World’s 50 Best Restaurants rankings. Using both imagination and delicacy, Olvera recombines Mexico's nearly infinite ingredients and flavors, demonstrating an extraordinary food culture's potential in obsessive detail. The unstuffy atmosphere is both relaxed and chic. Expect a multi-coursed dining experience that's worth the splurge. Reservations can be hard to come by and must be made months in advance.
Tacos, Beer, & Mezcal Tour
What better way to explore different neighborhoods and learn some history than a taco tour? This tacos, beer, and mezcal tour is not to be missed. A definite highlight of our time in Mexico City, the tacos were not only the best we've ever had, but quite possibly up there with the most memorable bites we've EVER eaten. Yes, THAT good.
Visit four traditional taquerías on a night-time tour of some of Mexico City’s most famous neighborhoods: San Rafael, Anzures, Roma, and Condesa. Try different taco styles, from the world-famous al pastor to regional delicacies, and wash them down with a refreshing beer or two. Then, you will savor the smoky, sweet, and herbal flavors of mezcal. Learn about the cultural and gastronomic heritage of this delicious pre-Hispanic spirit.
Our favorite stop was at Tizne Tacomotora.
Mi Compa Chava
Set in a modern, industrial-style restaurant, this casual seafood joint in Roma Norte serves up ceviches, tostadas, and oysters (among a number of other tasty seafood dishes). Prepare to wait in line or arrive 15 minutes before the open, because it gets BUSY for good reason. It's so good we went back for round 2, and there's nothing we ordered that we wouldn't order again. Wash it down with a Pacifico or two, and enjoy some of the best seafood you can find in North America in an unpretentious, lively location.
Located right next to Rosetta, stop in for cocktail at Blanco Colima. Located in Porfirian-style house, this restaurant/bar is avant-garde with modern art, moody lighting, and vibey beats. A lovely place for a nightcap.
Owned by two former New York residents that relocated to Mexico City, Hugo is one of the first wine bars in CDMX and highlights wines that are largely natural and from Mexico’s wine region, Valle de Guadalupe, plus some difficult-to-find orange wines. Hugo has both indoor and outdoor seating and has quickly become one of the most popular bars in the city. Its ambience is simple and soothing.
Neighborhood Exploration: Coyoacán, San Angel, & Xochimilco
By now you've heard of the neighborhoods of Polanco, La Roma, and Reforma. Head to Mexico City's southern neighborhoods that feel like small villages despite being part of the big city. Coyoacán was originally a quaint village/suburb before the expansion and becoming a part of Mexico City in the 1920s. It retained its old-time feel with cobblestone streets lined with colorful homes. This part of the city is worth a half or full-day trip, including a stop at Mercado de Coyoacan and a stroll through Jardin Centenario.
San Angel is peaceful and picturesque, housing numerous artisan shops, churches, and art galleries. Roam through the gardens of Parroquia San Jacinto and window shop (or actual shop) for goodies to bring home.
Xochimilco is a gritty working-class neighborhood gives way to the famous canals, the last remnants of a vast water transport system built by the Aztecs. Colorful wooden boats called Trajinera take visitors on cruises while food vendors, artisans, and mariachi bands float past. The atmosphere is festive, especially on weekends, and it's a fun way to be fully immersed in Mexican culture and folklore.
Historical Landmarks & Museums
Walk the footsteps of some of Mexico’s most revered artists and writers, including a visit to Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul, the cobalt blue house where Mexican painter Frida Kahlo was born and later died, now a museum dedicated to her life. It is located in the Colonia del Carmen neighborhood of Coyoacán, and also has hundreds of pre-Hispanic figurines and sculptures.
Given the amount of time, you have countless options for art, design, architecture, anthropology, and history museums. Wherever your interests lie, Mexico City has something for you. For example, in Centro Histórico, you'll find Palacio de Bellas Artes, Museo Soumaya, Monumento a la Revolución, and Catedral Metropolitana.
Head towards the largest park in Mexico City, Bosque de Chapultepec, for some fresh air before stopping in at the Museo Nacional de Antropologia and Museo de Arte Moderno.
What spots are on your Mexico City list?
Rest well, eat, drink, and explore your way through Mexico City.
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