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Barrelhouse's Top Picks for Mexico City

December 1, 2017

 A quick, easy and inexpensive getaway from Houston, Mexico City has become a favorite for people interested in food, art, culture, design, shopping, and history. One of the largest cities in the world, Mexico City (or CDMX) is a huge, sprawling metropolis filled with interesting neighborhoods, beautiful parks, and tacos. LOTS of tacos.

 

We've put together a little guide to some of our favorite spots, should you find yourself heading south sometime soon. Hopefully your trip to Mexico City can be as incredible and inspiring as it is for us.

 

 

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

 

Lalo! Roma Norte 

 

Breakfast

Lalo! - Roma Norte - Zacatecas 173 - Incredibly cute with a wonderful menu, delicious pastries, excellent avocado toast, and nice breakfast cocktails. A must go!

Delirio - Roma Norte - Monterrey 116 @ Álvaro Obregón - Really delicious Sunday brunch buffet, great coffee
Maque - Condesa - Ozuluama 4 - Wonderful, cute cafe with lots of delicious eggy breakfast dishes and pastries. Often there's a wait.
Fonda Margarita - Colonia del Valle - Adolfo Prieto 1364 - Insanely good, cheap Mexican breakfast - it's always busy and sells out by 11am, but it opens at 5:30am so you can get there early. Good stop before heading to Frida Kahlo house as it's on the way. Famous for being on an Anthony Bourdain episode.
Churreria El Moro - El Centro - Lázaro Cárdenas 42 - Churros and hot chocolate! The original one is in El Centro, but there is also a location in Mercado Roma, and one on Avenida Obregon in Roma Norte, and one in Polanco. It's definitely a Mexico City tradition.
El Cardenal - Centro Historico - Palma 23  OR  San Ángel - Av. De La Paz 23 - Mexico City institution - if you're looking for an authentic Mexican breakfast with excellent service in a beautiful bustling restaurant this is it. Located in San Angel

 

 

Lunch
La Barraca Valenciana - Coyoacan - Centenario 91 - If you're down in Coyoacan to visit the Frida Kahlo house, this is a great lunch option. Tortas, and patatas bravas are their specialty
Mercado Jamaica - Merced - Guillermo Prieto 45 - This is the flower market, which by itself is just completely stunning, but also inside of it are some really fabulous food stalls. These are all generally much cleaner than the other major markets. Go out on a limb and try something you've never heard of before!
El Mayor - El Centro - República de Argentina 15 - If you're heading to Templo Mayor in El Centro Historico, make sure to either coordinate it so you have lunch here, or at least a drink at the bar. The restaurant/bar overlooks the entire Templo Mayor and all the surrounding buildings including the main cathedral. One of the best views in the city - and amazing mole! It's located on the top floor of the Libería Porrúa - you go into the building and take the elevator to the top.
El Parnita - Roma Norte - Yucatan 84 -  laid back, traditional Mexican lunch spot, very good!
Poleo - Condesa - Amsterdam 225 - From Rodolfo Castellanos, who won Top Chef. Traditional Oaxacan cuisine - wonderful!
Mercado Roma - Roma - Calle Querétaro 225 - A food hall with a ton of different interesting options, places upstairs to buy salsa and dried crickets and things like that. Eat in the beautiful courtyard where there's a huge living wall.
Contramar - Roma - Durango 200 - Upscale, but it's Mexico so it's never too expensive. It's some of the best seafood in the city. And you MUST have the tuna tostadas, they're a staple. It's a place where you'll see the Telenovela stars.

 

El Mayor - El Centro Historico

 

Dinner
Quintonil - Polanco - Newton 55 - Perhaps one of the best tasting menus in the world, Quintonil takes Mexican cuisine and cooking techniques to a whole new level. A recent experience there for lunch presented nearly 15 courses, paired perfectly with beverages ranging from wine to beer to sake to mezcal. Completely worth the price tag (which is around $200 per person with pairings - significantly cheaper than it would be in any other country). An absolute must for the adventurous foodie. Reservations are needed a month in advance.

Pujol - Polanco - Tennyson 133 - Enrique Olvera's absolute gem of a restaurant has recently moved into a new, much larger space that now gives off a slightly more accessible feel, with a wood-burning oven, vinyl records, and a special taco menu. The tasting is still recommended, as it gives you a history lesson of Oaxacan cuisine including an incredible old+new mole experience. It's an absolute delight eating at Pujol, from the service to the cocktails to the atmosphere.

Rosetta - Roma - Calle Colima 166 - You wouldn't normally think to eat Italian food in Mexico City (I mean, you came to eat tacos, right?!) - but you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't give Rosetta a try. It's perhaps some of the most beautifully executed Italian food outside of Italy, featuring handmade pastas, a constantly revolving menu that varies based on seasonal produce, and an absolutely beautiful dining room in an old Roma mansion.
De Mar a Mar - Roma - VERY good seafood, maybe even better than Contramar
La Docena - Roma Norte - Casual, delicious menu of tapas style seafood dishes. Great oysters. It's open on Sunday evenings too, which is great since lots of places are closed on Sundays
Azul - There are a couple locations, one in Condesa and one in Centro Historico - they're both really fabulous
Cicatriz - Juarez (the new hipster neighborhood just north of both Roma and Condesa) - clean, healthy dishes in a beautiful spot. It's also next to the Museo de Chocolate!
Pehüa - Condesa - a new hotspot, vegetable-forward, with an a la carte menu, but also a very affordable tasting menu
Dulce Patria - Polanco - Feminie and classic, by one of Mexico's most respected female chefs, Martha Ortiz

 

Rosetta - Roma

 

Tacos
Taqueria Los Parados - Roma Sur - at the corner of Avenia Baja California and Monterrey - A great late night place to get some of the best Trompo you'll ever eat. I love this place!
El Califa - A few locations, but there's one in Condesa, and their tacos are excellent!
Taqueria El Turix - Polanco - You need to look carefully for this tiny tiny little spot in CDMX's fanciest neighborhood - the sign is on the glass window. They only have cochinita pibil, and they are INCREDIBLE. We ate like 9 each last time we were there. There's no tables, but there are a couple of stools. You can eat them quickly and then leave - must go!
El Kaliman - Condesa - pretty much next door to Tizoncito, this place is delicious!
El Tizoncito - Condesa - I think they have the best al pastor tacos in the city. They're amazing.

 

Bars
Limantour - Roma Norte & Polanco - The original is in Roma Norte. My buddies Jose Luis and Benjamin own it, and recently were named the 13th best bar in the world. Their cocktail list is insane, their small bites are delicious, and the atmosphere is hip and awesome. You'll love it so much! Their satellite bar in Polanco is smaller, but very cute too.
Gin Gin - Roma - Very cool indoor/outdoor gardeny place with some good cocktails and great people watching
Hanky Panky - Juarez - it can be hard to find, and you have to make a reservation. You enter through a "Fonda" - or a small little restaurants - go to the back and tell them your name, then you're let in through their kitchen to the bar - which is absolutely stunning. Fantastic cocktails. The fonda out front also makes some of the best mole I've ever had.
Jules Basement - Polanco - Another place there you walk in through the kitchen - this time through the freezer! Make sure to put your name on the list so call ahead. You may have to wait in line, but if you get there early you shouldn't. It's very dark and techno inside - you basically feel like you're inside of a Daft Punk helmet. They progressively open up more doors and rooms in the bar as it gets more crowded. It's very cool!
Parker & Lenox - Juarez - Very cool jazz bar and restaurant - highly recommend!
Hoppy House - Condesa - Cool beer spot
Baltra - Condesa - Also owned by the Limantour guys, this is a VERY beautiful spot for a nice cocktail
Blanco Colima - Roma Norte - It's inside a gorgeous old mansion that's been restored, and also has a restaurant inside of it. The bar is to the back and is SO cool. It's an indoor outdoor space with lounges and this crazy art installation on the ceiling. Great drinks and fun music.
Mono - Juarez - yet another space that the Limantour guys have - it's definitely a nightclub, but one of the coolest clubs I've ever been to. Interesting rooms and spaces to wander around in, with great music. Also, you get to it by walking in through an auto body repair shop and then up some stairs. It's RAD.
Alipus - Condesa - Run by a mezcal distiller, he has some great mezcales to try.
Bosforo - El Centro - A hole in the wall mezcal bar that has great bar snacks
Corazon de Maguey - Coyoacan - Another great mezcal bar - good people watching!
Las Duelistas / Pulqueria Insurgentes - These are two bars I would recommend going to to drink Pulque - which is a traditional Aztec liquor made of the fermented sap of agave plants. It's different and tasty!



MUSEUMS & GALLERIES

 

TIP: There are a ZILLION museums and galleries in Mexico City, many of which are enormous and take forever to go through. My suggestion would be to choose one or two to visit, and just know that you'll end up coming back to the city soon.

 

Another Tip: The National Museum of Anthropology, the Tamayo (Contemporary Art), the Modern Art Museum, the Chapultapec Castle, and the Zoo are all in Chapultapec Park - which is SO BEAUTIFUL. On Sundays they close of the Paseo de la Reforma from the Independence Angel statue into the park, and you can walk down it peacefully.

 

 

Museums

 

National Museum of Anthropology - It's HUGE. And by huge I mean it's so fucking big. But it's totally worth it even to just see the enormous waterfall inside the courtyard. Some very interesting exhibits.

 

Tamayo Contemporaria - I love this place. They always have some really interesting, different installations and exhibitions that will blow your mind.

 

Museo de Arte Moderno - Briefly walked through it last time I was there (it was free) and really fell in love. Beautiful gardens and interesting exhibitions.

 

Museo Soumaya - Polanco - The building itself is probably the most important part of this museum. It's incredible. It houses Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim's private collection of art and is gorgeous.

 

Museo Jumex - Polanco - Located next door to the Soumaya, it's also a very cool, very beautiful collection of interesting art.

 

Palacio de Bellas Artes - Another place where just seeing the building itself may be enough. It's AMAZING.

 

Templo Mayor - El Centro Historico - An absolutely unreal look at the archeology underneath Mexico City, which was built on top of so many different civilizations over the centuries. They've unearth the original Aztec temples, and you can walk around them on basically catwalks. Then there's an indoor part that has a lot of artifacts, including a ton of human skulls.

 

Museo Nacional de Arte - El Centro Historico - Houses many of the large Diego Rivera murals

 

Anahuacalli - Houses Diego Rivera's collection of pre-hispanic objects in a crazy monolithic rock pyramid partially designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

 

Museo de Dolores Olmedo - This is the castle/palace of one of Diego Rivera's mistresses, and it's stunning. Located very close to Xochimilco, if you end up going there.

 

Museo Franz Mayer - Full of crazy hardcore colonial furniture and art. A lot are really bloody and/or rococo catholic stuff

 

 

Galleries

I'm just going to list the ones that I like instead of boring you with descriptions

 

OMR

Proyector Monclova

Kurimanzutto

Labor

MARSO

Casa Maauad

Yautepec

House of Gaga

Salon ACME

Lulu

 

 

SHOPPING

Basically, if you walk around the streets in Condesa, Roma, or Polanco, you will come across some really beautiful stores that you should pop your head in. Here are a few of my favorites...

 

Hector Esrawe - Polanco -  Very luxe modern furniture designs. He's incredible and it shows in his work. Make sure to look at the price tags because you may be surprised at how affordible this incredibly high end stuff is.

Pirwi - Polanco - It's upstairs in the building, and specializes in eco-friendly wood. I'm OBSESSED with his newest collection which reminds me of being in the tropics. Hola, rattan furniture!

La Metropolitana / Lagos del Mundo - Roma - A group of young designers. Great wood and ceramics.

Casa Bosques - Roma - Magaines, books, chocolates, high-end mens clothing, and a cute gallery in the back.

Havre 64 - Roma Norte - Combo menswear, tattoo parlor and barber shop - very cool - and the block that it's on is blowing up with boutiques

La Lagunilla - Sunday flea market, but you don't need to get there too early, because nothing major happens early in CDMX

La Ciudadela - One of the best markets for handcrafts

 

 

DAY TRIPS

Teotihuacan - This is the most obvious day trip that you should do. It's about an hour or so to get there by bus (Uber won't take you there) and is completely worth the time. Plan to spend 2-3 hours there exploring, climbing up the pyramids, and reflecting. Also bring water cause there's no water there.


Xochimilco - It's about a 30 min uber ride there (maybe more depending on traffic). At one point, much of Mexico City was built on canals, in order to transport things easily. This is one of the last series of canals left, and is a very popular tourist attraction because the boats your ride on are SUPER colorful. You hire a boat driver when you get there, and you can hire them for however long you'd like. I recommend 2 hours. Bring with you beer, water, snacks, and anything else you'd like to eat and drink. You'll be driven along by your driver through the canals, which are very beautiful. I loved it!

  

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