Design Lover's Guide to Mexico City
I don’t know how fairly I can call this a guide, given that my data collection amounts to…my first and only visit to Mexico City. But hey, we had a really great time. And I saw a lot of inspiring design. So today I’m sharing my favorite moments (which double as my recommendations) from my first trip to Mexico City.
WHERE WE STAYED
We had a lot of people — both on the internet and in real life — tell us that we had to stay in Roma or La Condesa, which neighbor one another. Both were at one time an extremely fashionable part of Mexico City, especially during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema in the 40s and 50s when film stars lived there. Not only are they the safest areas of the city, they are also absolutely beautiful. An unreal abundance of trees, cute dogs being walked, colorful walls, Art Deco architectural details, and thoughtfully designed restaurants and bars would satisfy anyone. We chose a little Airbnb that was perfect for us, but there are plenty of options depending on your budget.
ROMA & CONDESA HIGHLIGHTS
CHURROS AT THE PARK
Located adjacent to Parque México, El Moro is the churreria of your dreams. Parque México was one of our favorite places to stroll — so many bustling tree lined promenades. The sunshine, the birds chirping. Take a stroll through the park and make a pit stop at El Moro for fresh churros and a cold glass of milk.
DOG SCHOOL AT PARQUE MÉXICO
Listen, I don’t even know how to emphasize how important this highlight is. I had actually heard about Dog School before and found it to be very charming, but I didn’t think David would consider it important enough to be a major itinerary point. LUCKILY, we serendipitously stumbled upon this marvel while strolling Parque México in Condesa.
These dogs sat quietly nearby while their fellow St. Bernard buddy learned how to sit-and-stay on command. And I watched for way too long. So stinkin’ cute! Also, something tickles me about Spanish-speaking dogs. Hola perros! I read that there are over 18 million dogs in Mexico. Does that make Mexico my heaven…?
BREAKFAST AT MAQUE
I think part of why I enjoyed Maque so much was simply the walk through Condesa to get there. Oh, the trees! The sunlight filtering down through the leaves! We sat outside and so enjoyed people watching and listening to a nearby acoustic guitar player serenading everyone as they sipped their cappuccinos. Apparently the cornbread is a MUST-TRY. We didn’t order it (mistakes were made…), but let us know how it is if you do!
DINNER AT HUSET
Dinner and drinks at Huset in Roma were definitely a highlight for me. Apparently the inside is just as pretty, but I knew we had to be in the magical string-light garden. How romantic! We ordered the gnocchi and the secret off-menu avocado pizza. Both were good, but I would say the draw here is definitely the ambiance over the food.
I loved this out of the blue fancy-pants brick facade that outshone its neighbors, but really most of the facades in these neighborhoods are colorfully painted and boasting spectacular Art Deco details. Forget ‘people watching’ — it’s so fun to architecture-watch here.
COLORFUL WALLS APLENTY
When my dramatic sleeves weren’t taking flight in the CDMX breeze (see below), we had a blast capturing our trip in front of all the colorful walls!
OUR FAVORITE BAR: BALTRA
Featured in Conde Nast and Bon Appetit, this cozy cocktail bar in Condesa was another highlight from the trip. World’s Best Bars says, “Drawing inspiration from Charles Darwin and his exotic and educational journeys around the fascinating Galapagos Islands, Baltra is as original with its theme as it is with its cocktails. Named after an island in the Galapagos Island chain, Baltra blends cocktail mastery with a low key and laid back atmosphere.” Every cocktail we ordered was phenomenal — you could just see the bartenders’ passion for mixology. The perfect spot for a romantic nightcap!
We ate a lot of tacos, not surprisingly. To be totally honest, I don’t know that we ate THE taco…which only makes me excited to venture back to continue our exploration! Of the places we went, I enjoyed Taqueria Orinoco the most. I honestly couldn’t tell you what I ordered, but I gobbled it up. If you have any taco recommendations, send them our way!
FRIDA KAHLO MUSEUM
Fun little story. In 5th grade I was home with the flu when my classmates got to pick which famous person to study and dress up as. When I returned to school, I was hoping Princess Diana was still available. She wasn’t. But Frida was. And oh did I embrace her — unibrow and all. That was such a formative time for me that today I remember most of what I learned about the Mexican artist, and visiting her home has been on my bucket list for quite some time. You * HAVE * to purchase tickets online in advance or don’t bother going. The pre-purchased tickets line wrapped around the building. And the no-ticket line? I think it stretched all the way to the ocean.
BOSQUE DE CHAPULTEPEC
This park was such a sweet treat for me, mainly because I had no idea what to expect. This was David’s suggestion and I was totally in the dark about where we were going — so when we arrived at the giant iron gates of the park and I witnessed all the flowers and trees and happy people bebopping around, I was in heaven. It’s one of the largest parks in the Western Hemisphere, connected with dozens of pathways lined with trees that are hundreds of years old.
We visited the “First Section,” which contains most of the park's best attractions, such as a recreational lake, the National History Museum (Capultepec Castle), the National Auditorium, the National Museum of Anthropology, the Rufino Tamayo Museum, and the Modern Art Museum. It also contains the Chapultepec Zoo. Pro tip: this park gets crowded. Be sure to visit first thing in the morning.
THE HIGHLIGHT OF ALL HIGHLIGHTS
CASTILLO DE CHAPULTEPEC
Up on the hill above the Bosque lies the impressive Castillo de Chapultepec, built in 1775 — the only royal castle in North America. Named for the Nahuatl word chapoltepec, which means ‘at the grasshopper’s hill’, it sits on what the Aztecs considered a sacred hilltop, and the views of the city and mountains beyond are the best you’ll find. The history is long and fascinating, but I won’t delve in too much here. Today it houses the National History Museum, and suffice it to say that the Neoclassical architectural details, the gardens, and the views of the city make this easily the highlight of our trip. It’s worth the hike up the hill if you can get in early and avoid the majority of the crowds.
Down below the castle lies the distant cacophony of vendors selling churros and balloons, but up here it’s peaceful and refreshing. If you’re headed to CDMX, don’t miss this park and its beautiful hilltop castle!
Pujol (featured on Netflix' Chef’s Table) was unfortunately booked up but is at the top of our food list. We heard wonderful things about the Museum of Anthropology, also located in Bosque de Chapultepec. It’s on our list to bike Paseo de la Reforma, which is shut down on Sundays for bicyclists, scooters, skaters, runners and dog walkers. (Bike and scooter rentals abound.) We also did not have a chance to explore Polanco, an upscale district full of shopping and restaurants. See you next time, CDMX! Please email me if you have any favorite recommendations: firstname.lastname@example.org.