The densely populated, high-altitude capital of Mexico has always been on our long list of places to visit. To celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary, we finally got the chance to make a super quick trip to Mexico City. As one of the largest metropolitan metro areas in the world, the city is packed with storefronts, street vendors, and bright colors. We obviously didn’t have time to see and experience everything at this bustling destination. Thanks to some very kind local friends, we spent lots of quality time in Condesa, Hipódromo, and Roma Norte, strolled through Coyoacán and La Juárez, peaked at the amazing architecture in downtown, and even saw the busy streets of Doctores. We walked everywhere, filled our bellies with delicious food, spiced up our promenade with a copious amount of mezcal, and pondered over how amazing it is to see old friends in new places. Below are our favorite spots for food and drinks. Needless to say, we can’t wait to be back!
ROMA NORTE: A lovely neighborhood that reminded us a lot of district one in Saigon where Phuong grew up. The streets are lined with beautiful green plants and peppered with folks walking their well-behaved dogs. We walked up and down Colima, Tabasco, Avenida Álvaro Obregón, Calle de Chihuahua, and Calle Zacatecas.
Panadería Rosetta We have not had pastries tasting as good as the delicacies found at this little bakery since living in Europe. The croissants are perfectly flaky on the outside and soft with the right amount if airiness between each yeasty layer in the middle. The traditional Mexican sweet bread conchas are fragrant with rosemary. The cinnamon rolls are aromatic and delightful. And the cream-filled donuts are the most perfect soft and light pillows of sugary dough. We stayed at an Airbnb on Colima Street and couldn’t help but made a pit stop here every morning during our stay. The owner also has a beautiful restaurant with the same name across the street; we didn’t eat there but was totally charmed.
Abarrotes Delirio Another gem recommended by our Airbnb host. This general store and café is a lovely place to hang out, grab breakfast, or a sandwich for lunch.
Casa Franca We caught the last jazz set of the day at this charming spot above Franca, which apparently serves very good pizza. The bar is in an old house with several rooms, each room a slightly different vibe. We walked into a room filled with music, wandered through different spaces, and settled for a bar corner for a nightcap with friends.
Taquitos Frontera If you do catch a jazz set and get a drink at Casa Franca, stop by next door for a late night snack. This spot stays open until 2am on weekdays and 6am on weekends. Get a couple tacos, or better yet an order of alambres, which is your meat of choice grilled with onions and peppers and served with warm tortillas.
El Moro This churrería has been around since 1935 and passed on from one generation from another of the same family. Today, it does not only serve up amazing churros but is also extremely stylish. The cheapest order gets you four hefty pieces of freshly deep fried crispy dough sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. We indulged ourselves with a side order of chocolate dip. Treat yourself!
La Nacional A mezcal haven with a very extensive list of options from different regions of Mexico. The tacos here are quite good as well!
La Clandestina Another option for mezcal tasting with several choices of small-batch bottles in a cozy bar.
Street taco on the Northeast corner of Puebla and Avenida Insurgentes Sur You may be scared of trying Street tacos but don’t be! At 5 pesos (around 30 cents) per taco, the al pastor at this place is to die for.
CONDESA AND HIPÓDROMO: With its beautiful tree-lined streets and Art Deco architecture, these two neighborhoods were candy to our eyes. From Roma Norte, we recommend walking on the charming Avenida Ámsterdam, which wraps around Parque España; then, strolling a couple blocks on Avenue Veracruz and making a left on Avenida Mazatlan. There, enjoy the most lovely walk all the way down to Hipódromo!
Lardo This attractive and trendy spot features a creative menu that highlights local ingredients, such as nopales (cactus) and huachinango (red snapper) in dishes ranging from pizzas, blinis, to tacos. Elena Reygadas, a young chef who came back to Mexico City after training in Europe, is the owner Lardo, Rosetta, and Panadería Rosetta.
Felina A cozy bar with wizardly mixologists and great cocktails.
HISTORIC CENTER: As the center of both the ancient Aztec Empire and the Spanish colony in Central and North America, the Centro Histórico de la Ciudad de México is where you will find beautiful architecture, ruins, and World Heritage sites.
Pozole Doña Yola On our second to last day, our friends introduced us to David Santa Cruz, a local writer who had tasted food from hundreds of street stands in Mexico City. He chose to take us to this delightful restaurant tucked on the second floor of the old building at San Ildefonso 42. This family business only serves pozole, a traditional soup made from hominy and chicken, seasoned with oregano, and garnished with shredded cabbage, onions, radishes, chile peppers, and lime. This bowl of rich broth was filled to the brim with all the trimmings and tasted like the comfort of home.
Mole Artisanal Doña Juanita If you happen to see a market in Zócalo, the main square in downtown, please look for the spice stand that sells the mole spice mix made by Doña Juanita and sold by her son. The spice blend contains over 20 ingredients and has been a wonderful addition to my pantry.
VILLA COYOACÁN: Located around five miles south of Roma Norte, Coyoacán is the oldest neighborhood of Mexico City. Wandering amongst the cobbled streets and colorful buildings in this area felt like traveling back in time. The area is home to many of the city’s important landmarks, including the main campus of the UNAM (largest university in Mexico), the Casa Azul (Frida Kahlo’s childhood home), and the Leon Trotsky Museum.
La Coyoacana After a long walk in the neighborhood, this lively cantina really hit the spot. Ask for a seat on the terrace and order anything that comes in a molcajete (stone mortar)!
We grew up with very different kinds of food — Phuong with a gazillion Vietnamese noodle soups (for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!), and Myke with southern American cuisine (and probably fast food). Today, our little family indulges ourselves in good food from different cultures. It has been a great privilege to live in very diverse cities where there is no shortage of different types of restaurants to try. However, what we love most is trying to make new dishes at home. Despite all the cravings for familiar and easy go-to meals, we constantly try to experiment — sometimes with recreating a restaurant menu item but most of the time with just trying a new recipe. Our food philosophy is simple: we eat everything; our meals are balanced with vegetables, grains, and proteins; and we don’t overeat. In 2017, we are attempting to document what we eat for several reasons. We are curious to see how much food we consume over time. We want to be conscious and mindful of the quality and budget of our meals. And we want to inspire others to cook by demonstrating how affordable it is to eat well. Here are some of the different dishes we made in January and a few fun facts:
- Chicken, olive, and lemon tagine
- Chicken karagee and arugula salad
- Arugula and parsley pesto with spaghetti
- Gojuchang pork with soba, tomatoes, scallion
- Burmese-inspired chicken braised in coconut milk and turmeric
- Bolognese and handmade tagliatelle
- Yakisoba stir fried soba noodles with pork, cabbage, and scallions
- Biscuits and egg sandwich
- Lion’s head pork meatballs with vermicelli and cabbage
- Shakshuka poached eggs in spicy tomato sauce and baguette
- Vietnamese caramelized pork spareribs
- Brazillian skirt steak and farro salad
- Adana kebabs
- Keftedes lamb meatballs with roasted cabbage
- Chicken tikka masala
- Simple pasta with baby tomatoes, anchovies, parsley, and arugula
- Vietnamese spring rolls with pork, crab, and shrimps
- Bún thang – a Vietnamese noodle soup with a chicken and shrimp broth, rice noodles, and lots of toppings