Welcome to CDMX

Mexico City, also known by its true name Ciudad de México (See you dad - dee - Meh hee co) or CDMX is the largest city in the Western hemisphere with over 22 million people. It is also the oldest city in North America with a vibrant history of rich Aztec life built around an enormous lake, full of conquests, revolutions, industry and production. Now, a city stands on top of that lake bed, at nearly 8000 feet above sea level, weathering earthquakes and slowly sinking. Full to the brim of complicated flavors and sounds and colors, art, culture that will surprise you.

I headed to the oldest city in North America for four days to see if I could successfully explore two of the sixteen neighborhoods of CDMX like a local capitalita, Roma and Zócalo.

 
El Illusionista breakfast in Mexico City.jpg

EAT

Cafe de Tacuba
This is THE place for authentic Mexican cuisine. Get anything on the menu, but do not skip the Sopa de Tortilla.

Calle de Tacuba 28, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, 06010 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

El Moro
The original location in the historic district is the place to go. Get the spicy chocolate for dunking. Churro heaven!

Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas 42, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Rosetta
Reservation required and ask for the blue room on the top floor of this historic home, left untouched save for minor changes. Get the pink pine nut sorbet for dessert. Expertly prepared superior cuisine.

Colima 166, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Fonda Mayora
A “fonda” is a home-cooking style restaurant and this one is as stylish as it is delicious. Get here. Sit outside. The cactus ear with grilled cheese is the perfect light breakfast.

Campeche 322, Hipódromo, 06100 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Cicatriz
Cicatriz means scar. Chef Scarlett and brother Jake are making some of the most approachable and inspired dishes. Visit for the food, stay for the vibe.

Calle Dinamarca 44, Cuauhtémoc, 06600 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

El Illusionista
Gorgeous corner location in the hip University area. FANTASTIC coffee. Chocolate croissant required.

Avenida Progreso 33, esquina con, Carlos B. Zetina, Escandón I Secc, 11800 Ciudad de México, Mexico

Mog Bistro
Mexican inspired Japanese cuisine? Yes, please! Packed with community tables. Sit and enjoy the open air of the place.

Frontera 168, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico 

Shaktea
This is THE place for tea from all over the world. Thai, Japanese, Himalayan, Tibetan, Taiwanese. Delicate green tea confections. Super chill tea room. A must see if you love tea time.

Culiacan 52, Hipódromo, 06100 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Tile House Mexico City Townie Tourist.jpg

DO

Zócalo
The center of the city and where everything happens.

Plaza de la Constitución S/N, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, 06010 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Bosque de Chapultepec
This is where you go to get fresh air. Also hit up the Museum of Anthropology and the Museum of Modern Art while here. This place is three times the size of Central Park so walking it all is tough.

Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

Casa Bosques
This bookshop is the place to get local and national books, magazines, and zines.

Córdoba 25, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Museo Soumaya
Over 66K pieces of art at this incredible museum and non-profit cultural institution created by private collector and one of the world’s richest men, Carlos Slim Helú.

Blvd. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra 303, Granada, 11529 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

La Ciudadela
If it’s a market you crave, this is one of the best. Mexican handcrafts, folk art, silver jewelry, and more can be found here.

Balderas S/N, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, 06040 Cuauhtémoc, CDMX, Mexico

Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico
Head across the lobby, into the elevators, and up to the top floor. No room number necessary for coffee on the terrace. It opens at 1PM and is the best view of the Zócalo. The stained glass roof is guaranteed to take your breath away. Feeling fancy? Stay the night.

16 de Septiembre 82, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Palacio des Bellas Artes
Beautiful cultural center that houses music, dance, arts, opera, and theatre. Great bookstore. Go across the square to the Sears building and go up for a coffee and the best view of the plaza.

Av. Juárez, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, 06050 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Utilitario Mexico CDMX Mexico City Shopping.jpg

SHOP

Utilitario Mexicano
When you want the best of the markets without having to go to all the markets. This place is a design-lovers one-stop-shop. Don’t miss the kitchen tools, notebooks, handkerchiefs, enamelware, and their own line of home goods.

Calle Marsella 3a, Juárez, 06600 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Shop at Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo
After brunch on the patio, dip into this unique shop for Mexican designed jewelry, textiles, candles, ceramics, and clothing.

Av. Paseo de la Reforma 51, Bosque de Chapultepec, Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc, 11580 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Dulceria de Celaya
Open since the 1800s, grab some traditional piglet gingerbread cookies for snacking and try the fruit flavored confections.

Av. 5 de Mayo 39, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Loose Blues 
Handmade and custom bags made in Mexico. Gorgeous silver earrings and accessories. Japanese line of clothing. Right next door to Cicatriz.

Calle Dinamarca 44, Juárez, 06600 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

180° Shop
Fancy a stroll before dinner at Rosetta? Hit up this design-centric shop for the latest and greatest souvenirs. That 1968 Olympics logo is everywhere.

Colima 180, Col. Roma Norte, Del. Cuauhtémoc. C.P. 06700, CDMX

Mercado Roma
A design-y food hall that came before other food halls. Go hungry. Wander. Enjoy.

Calle Querétaro 225, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Querencia
Just next door to Cicatriz and has unique potted plants, lovely Proyecto Botánico soaps, oils, and lotions and macrame bags handmade by the owner’s grandmother.

Calle Dinamarca 46, Juárez, 06600 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Casa Barragan Roof Deck Mexico City.jpg

SEE

Templo Mayor
Original Aztec structure from the 1300s. Check out the snake fences and entrances. Skip the museum and look from above if you like.  

Seminario 8, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Cuauhtémoc, 06060 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Castillo de Chapultepec
Hike up the gentle slope of ‘grasshopper hill’ to this castle with so many terraces and views that it takes hours to stroll through. Rich historic artifacts, murals, paintings, carriages, clothing, jewels, and so much more. Every inch of this place holds a delightful discovery. Don’t miss:

Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc, 11100 Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

Palacio Nacional
You’ll give up your ID to get in. Stroll this active federal building’s halls to see the Diego Rivera murals depicting Aztec life and Mexican history. Sit and be amazed at the color and life in each panel.

Plaza de la Constitución S/N, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06066 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Casa Luis Barragán
Make reservations for a tour of the architect’s home and studio. Pay the extra 200MX to take photos. (No video allowed.) Pop next door into the Archives for a peek at the young architects at work and the rainbow of items they’ve got on display. Cafe in the courtyard makes the best lemon lavender coffee.

Gral. Francisco Ramírez 12-14, Ampliación Daniel Garza, Amp Daniel Garza, 11840 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Cineteca Nacional de Mexico
It’s a haul to get here but one of the most beautifully designed cinema buildings. Pride and joy of the city and where every major movie release happens. Feeling worn out from sightseeing, go here to enjoy A/C and catch a flick like a local. 

Av. México Coyoacán 389, Xoco, 03330 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Casa de los Azulejos (House of Tiles)
Beautiful Pueblo tiles cover this family home now the place to have a midday coffee. (Skip the food here.)

Av Francisco I. Madero 4, Centro, 06500 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico


Transportation Tips:

Subway - This is a massive 100K square mile city, the biggest in the Western Hemisphere. A great way to get around is by subway and metro. Head to the cashier window and load up a card. 5MXN = 1 ride and 20MXN = $1, so you’re riding for roughly .25cents. Solo female travellers look for the women and children only cars and ride in one of those if you want to feel more secure. Otherwise, it’s much like the NYC subway experience. Just bigger and in a different language.

Uber - Absolutely! Getting around town is super fast and easy with Uber and UberPool. Choose to travel in off hours to minimize your wait in traffic.

Security - Be mindful of your bag. Be aware of your surroundings. Leave your passport at the hotel or AirBNB in a secure location. Use cash or a credit card, not a debit card.

Shoes - I have walked miles and miles on cobblestones and crooked sidewalks and Mexico City has some of the worst in the world. You need to wear great supportive shoes.

Altitude / Smog - You’re in the mountains at 8K feet above sea level. Denverites will be fine. Those from lower elevations may get headaches or feel woozy at times. Drink plenty of bottled water and stay hydrated. Aspirin helps. Smog doesn’t. The air outside of the park is heavy and dirty and hazy.