10 Things in Mexico City (in No Particular Order)
1 MURALS- One of the great public painting projects of all time the murals are scattered throughout the city but are especially common in the Distro Historico. Bellas Artes is my favorite set and that building is great (Art Deco) as well. Make sure you see some of each of the big three: Orozco, Siqueiros, and Rivera.
2 PLAZA GARIBALDI- filled every night with acoustic bands from around the country playing for tips and trying to get their next gig. From Mariachi to Son Jarocho to Norteno to Trio Romantico. You can tell what style of music they’re going to play by their instruments and their dress. Wander, listen to bands, tip them to pay songs for you, and grab a margarita or beer at one of the outdoor bar patios. Cacophony at its best.
3 PYRAMIDS- Take a guide or hire one when you get there, you’ll get more out of it. It’s easy to get someone to drive you out there and teach you about them.
4 ZOCALO, including TEMPLO MAYOR- There’s so much right here: murals, 100 year old hotels, the capital with great murals, an amazing cathedral, and Templo Mayor. Templo Mayor isn’t as visually spectacular as the pyramids out of town but it’s where you can see so many layers of history (Aztec, Spanish, Mexican) and that makes it very special. Go up to a rooftop bar and see the scene below.
5 FRIDA KAHLO’S HOUSE- lives up. Beautiful and special house, great garden, Kahlo and Rivera paintings, and the totally different, very nice neighborhood of Coyoacan. The self guided tour (with audio and pics) is good.
6 TACOS DE CANASTA- Dirt cheap, totally delicious. You’ll be eating with a roomful of locals and very few tourists. These are tacos that are made, then pan fried, then stacked in a basket (or big huge pot) to steam. They meld into something between a taco and a tamale. Pour on a lot of them canasta-specific salsa: tomatillos, jalapenos, avocado, onion. It’s not too spicy and it’s delicious and unique.
7 MICHELIN THREE STAR RESTAURANTS- Fine fine world class dining is more affordable here than probably anywhere else you could go without losing any of the excellence. The food scene in DF is amazing.
8 STREET FOOD- If you avoid things that haven’t been cooked or peeled you’ll be fine. So on the street don’t get any cilantro on top of you tlacoya for example. But onions are fine uncooked because they’ve been peeled. The street food is handmade and fantastic. Blows away street food in NYC. Imagine homemade buns for a New York hot dog? Well, every tortilla is fresh and handmade right on the spot.
9 DRINK ORANGE JUICE- Decades ago American produce started being chosen based on appearance rather than flavor. In Mexico the oranges might have green or brown mixed in with the orange color but the flavor is far superior. The first good orange juice I ever had was in Mexico City as a kid. American fresh squeezed juice has gotten better but it’s still not as good as in Mexico. Also good are the licuados (like lighter milkshakes with fresh fruit. They’ll make them with water if you asks and are still delicious) and agua frescas.
10 CAFE TACUBA- Iconic cafe founded more than 100 years ago in a 17th century mansion. Everyone has been there. Food is still good. Their mariachi band is unique with a bunch of baroque instruments.