Saturday, July 22, 2017

City Guide: Mexico City

Before I had even gone on my first trip to Mexico City, I had a second trip booked. After two years of telling everyone that I want to eventually live in CD.MX., I had a good list of people who wanted to explore the city with me. The first trip in March was an exploratory visit with no real schedule or guidelines. Mostly just aimless wandering in the neighborhoods of Polanco, La Condesa y La Roma.

For this second trip, sweet couple Kaity and David, and I opted out of traditional American 4th of July celebrations and instead took an overnight flight to the city of my heart. With a tentative 5-day plan, we arrived jet lagged, but bright-eyed, excited to put our rusty Spanish language skills to the test and ready for some street food.

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After checking into our cute Airbnb in La Roma, we hit up Lardo for some necessary fuel. Thus begins my daily breakfast diet of huevos rancheros. Sometimes I share with Kaity or David...

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With breakfast out of the way, we hit the ground running. Almost literally. Kaity and I tried to match David's long stride through the park and to Chapultepec Castle.

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Also located in Bosque de Chapultepec, Latin American's largest park, is Museo Nacional de Antropología, the largest and most visited museum in Mexico. Here you can learn about the various indigenous groups that have lived in Mexico over time, from the Olmecs to the Mayans to the Aztecs. Even if you aren't a fan of museums, this is one of the BEST.

After a full day exploring, we returned to the Airbnb to freshen up before our big dinner at Pujol. There are too many things to say about this experience.

First off, you need to watch Chef's Table if you haven't yet had a chance. Prioritize it. It's possibly the best show on Netflix for its cinematography, its storytelling and its depiction of food.

And about the meal... Pujol offers a sent menu of six courses for a great value, and almost each of the courses offers you four different options to choose from. The Benacs and I made the most of our night by ordering three dishes each course and rotating plates throughout the evening.

So what did we eat? Delicious street snacks housed in a smoking gourd. Appetizers included sea bass bathed in cacahuatzintle juice with celery, chayote squash with sea asparagus, topped with maguey worm salt, and octopus in habanero ink with ayocote and veracruzana sauce. For the third course, we split softshell crab tacos topped with meyer lemon, some flavorful wild mushroom soup with beans and Mexican tarragon, and a charred eggplant tamal.

Fourth course included a delicious cut of lamb with mint mole, lime and baby potatoes, along with melt-in-your-mouth pork chop with red chichilo and butternut squash, and for the third dish, a fresh-caught grilled fish with hoja santa chickpea. This was followed up with a fifth course of mole madre and mole nuevo. It is a plate with a new mole nestled within a flavor-packed 1000-day old mole. I don't really have words for this...

We finished the dish with a trio of desserts, some homemade churros, and chupitos of fine mezcal. The dinner took several hours, moving at a pace that allowed for rich conversation with two of my favorites, serious food appreciation because three year old mole, obviously, and an appropriate welcome to Mexico City.

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The next day, we went out to visit the neighborhood of San Angel. We stumbled upon brunch at a beautiful monastery-turned-hotel, and were hard pressed to leave this place. As fate would have it though, we ran into some fellow Texans and made plans to meet up later in our trip. We spent the afternoon wandering from San Angel to Coyoacan, taking photos of brightly colored walls and sampling delicious street food.

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On our third day, David organized a trip to Teotihuacan. Departing around sunrise, we drove out of the city and toward an archaeological landmark. Don't let anyone tell you Teotihuacan is not worth visiting because compared to Tikal and Tulum and other ruins, you get to scramble up and down pyramids, you get to understand the scope of this ancient civilization, and you get to touch everything. We spent the morning climbing the Temple of the Feathered Serpent, the Temple of the Sun, and the Pyramid of the Moon.

On our return to CD.MX. we made plans for churros. With single-minded determination, we found Churrería El Moro, an Instagram-perfect spot with its blue and white tile, multi-sized churro options and several dipping sauces, and your choice of several hot chocolate drinks. Churros make people happy. People need more churros in life.

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Planning for CD.MX.

Where to eat:

BREAKFAST

  • Panaderia Rosetta
  • Lardo
  • Eno

SNACKS

  • El Moro Churrería
  • Hueset
  • Yuban
  • Lalo!

DINNER

  • Pujol
  • Quintonil
  • Blanco Colima
  • Rosetta
  • Contramar

DRINKS

  • Limantour
  • El Palenquito


Where to venture:

  • Museo Nacional de Antropología
  • Chapultepec Park
  • Luis Barragán Museum
  • Frida Kahlo’s House
  • San Angel Inn
  • Teotihuacan Pyramids
  • Walk around Coyoacan
  • Xochimilco
  • Lucho Libre


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