Give Yourself The Local Taste Of Mexico City By Visiting These Often Overlooked Neighborhoods
If you’re an avid traveler like myself, it’s most likely that you have already seen notable sites including Times Square, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Grand Canyon, the Hollywood sign. Been there, done that. And, that’s just naming prominent locations in the U.S. So when I travel to other beautiful countries, I like the feeling of becoming a local, and not a tourist. On my most recent visit to Mexico City, I opted out of the usual spots including Chichen Itza, El Zocalo, Plaza Garibaldi, or Frida’s Casa Azul, because why go there again? This time around, I wanted to experience more of local culture, and what I found was mesmerizing.
Mexico City is a lot like Los Angeles and New York City. There are pockets of flourishing neighborhoods, historic streets, and bustling boulevards that have so much to offer. To get to the heart of each hood, you have to stay there for at least a couple of days to feel it out. When you’re on vacation, that last thing you want to do is be stuck in traffic or a crowded subway. The remedy for that is to book a hotel or Airbnb and stay put. Here’s a round-up of some incredible neighborhoods in Mexico City.
In 2017, a 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico City (epicenter was in Puebla) and killed almost 400 people. It left several neighborhoods devastated in rubble and collapsed buildings. One such area was the neighborhood La Condesa, known for its tree-lined streets, hipster residents, and excellent restaurants. Walking around La Condesa, you can still see several destroyed buildings, but the area is back to its lively self.
I loved eating at the adorable Maque restaurant, known for its home-made Mexican bread, and Lardo, mostly for the people-watching and posh atmosphere. Other must-see stops include Avenida Amsterdam, where you’ll see stunning mansions, plazas, and lots of dog walkers, Galería Vórtice, full of contemporary Mexican artists, and Foro Shakespeare, to see the cool independent theater. There’s also great shopping, including my favorite, Carla Fernandez. One-stop that is definitely a must is seeing the house were Roma was filmed. It’s located in Roma Sur, not far from La Condesa at 22 Tepeji street.
To get a state of one of the most modern and affluent neighborhoods in Mexico City, you must visit Santa Fe. Driving into Santa Fe, you’d think you were in Manhattan or Hong Kong because all you see are skyscrapers everywhere. You’ll also find a La Mexicana, a breathtaking new urban park that will take up your entire day. The grounds are very vast, so you’ll need a good chunk of time to see it all, especially if you’re taking kids with you. There’s also plenty to eat and drink there, as well as playgrounds, lakes, and sculpture art.
At the epicenter of Santa Fe has to be the DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton. The building itself stands out with its circle-shaped exterior, and the views from the top floor are magical. There’s also so much shopping around that very spot, from the Samara Shops to the Centro Santa Fe. About a 10-minute drive is also Cuajimalpa, which is home to the Museo Pedro Infante, a charming tribute museum that honors the tremendous Mexican film star.
If you’re in the mood to walk around a quaint and historic area, nothing beats San Angel. Each cobblestone street has gorgeous homes. You may even bump into actor Diego Luna who lives there! I highly recommend visiting the Mercado San Angel (on Saturdays) where you will see unique Mexican merchandise at pretty reasonable prices. The highlight, in my honest opinion, has to be the Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo — their separated/connected homes. For fans of Rivera and Kahlo, who’ve already experienced her Casa Azul, this studio visit will leave you in awe. You will see Rivera’s studio filled with his artwork and collection of Mexican antiques, as well as Kahlo’s smaller studio where she created some of her most famous artworks.
Walking distance from San Angel is Mixcoac that is true as local as it gets. I stayed there for a couple of nights and was able to take in great restaurant establishments such as Modesto Paniagua, with yummy Mexican bites. Other stops I made included visiting the home where Mexican poet Octavio Paz once lived (now called Casa Alvarado), and the Arte Carrillo Gil Museo. You can also find shopping and nightlife, including the Cave Rodrigo de la Cadena where there’s always live music.