Mexico City Chronicles: the city through other eyes

We gathered the testimonies of 12 expert journalists from Mexico City, who took us on a tour of their favorite version of their home town.

13 May 2024

Reforma closes its road circulation every Sunday (except at the end of the month). Credits: Foto: Andrew Reiner.

Here, in one of the largest cities in the world, we live on the run. The traffic shows no mercy and businesses never sleep. Life in Mexico City is a constant rush, from one place to the next, working and running errands.

But the city also offers magical moments, on weekends, holidays, vacations, in the early morning… when the pace seems to slow and you have time to observe, do what you really love and appreciate the greatest city in the world.

This is why we invited journalists we admire to tell us what they do on their days off: the places they go to really enjoy the city, the people who accompany them, where they eat, where they shop and what they see. The result is a list of 12 different ways to roam the city, to fall in love with it and see it through someone else’s eyes.

Cravings of La Roma

By Cristina Alonso

Touring the city alone

I have never been the first to discover new fashions or phenomena that go viral, but if I can be proud of anything it’s having found out very early about the existence of the colorful monkey hats that, from one day to the next, all visitors to Chapultepec started wearing on their heads. This is a direct consequence of where I live in the Cuauhtémoc neighborhood, which allows me to be part of the very chilango tradition of strolling through the park on weekends. Wearing some kind of athleisure, and preferably without having a shower yet (sorry), the perfect tour starts at Nice Day Coffee, a Japanese-inspired coffee shop that opened in the neighborhood a little over a year ago. Depending on the weather, a hot or cold matcha latte is the ideal companion for the stroll.

After having breakfast at Marmota, you can go for a walk in the square of Rio de Janeiro. (Credits: Marmota).
After having breakfast at Marmota, you can go for a walk in the square of Rio de Janeiro. (Credits: Marmota).

Walking through Chapultepec can be many things: at times relaxing and contemplative, at others an obstacle race. However, it always offers an excellent opportunity for an anthropological exploration of the city’s inhabitants and visitors, and, above all, a Sunday ritual that allows me to clear my mind and be grateful for the chance to live near a green space. Once the walk was over, and I was showered and presentable, it was time to cross Reforma, take off my headphones and have a more direct interaction with the city.

There are hundreds of dining options in the Roma, and while I try to keep up with restaurant openings in the city as much as possible, I also enjoy returning to my favorites on a regular basis. Among them are Campobaja and Marmota, two perfect places to sit on the terrace, order a glass of wine and several delicious dishes to share. In Campobaja you should never pass on the tostadas, aguachile or clams.

To avoid the arrival of Sunday afternoon anxiety, I like to turn my errands into enjoyable activities. If I have to go to the supermarket, I go to stores like Estado Natural to buy tea, cookies or soap and if I need to order new contact lenses, I love to go to Escópica to see their hundreds of models. Besides being really nice places, this allows me to extend the afternoon, keep walking and sometimes even forget that the next day I have to go back to my routine. The best thing about this type of Sunday is that the relaxing effect lasts for a couple of days.

I can think of few ways to get into a good mood as effectively as walking through a giant park surrounded by colorful monkeys.

Silence, maestro

By Mariana Camacho

Touring the city as a couple

If I were a football player, I would wear a T-shirt saying “Made in CU”, my chest bursting with pride under my Pumas uniform, just like Jimmy Lozano 20 years ago. But I’m not -and, between you and me, I’m not really a football fan-. I wasn’t made in CU either. I’m not a UNAM graduate and, to cut a long story short, I don’t even live in this neighborhood.

Like the rest of the city folk who were born, lived and went to school elsewhere, I have had to approach Ciudad Universitaria and its enormous masses of lava with a visitor’s badge. When I was a student, I snuck into the classrooms a couple of times, the Central Library too, and even attended a traditional gown burning in the chemistry faculty. For a semester I went to the theater halls of the University Cultural Center practically once a week to review plays for a theater class. I saw a little bit of everything, from the most experimental, such as In the Solitude of Cotton Fields directed by my teacher Ricardo Díaz with actors walking on the walls supported by harnesses, to Gurrola’s Hamlet, with Daniel Giménez Cacho and his gravelly voice as the protagonist.

Now, almost in my forties, my relationship with Ciudad Universitaria has fewer pretensions, so I go whenever I can, just because I feel fortunate that such a space exists in Mexico City. Here culture and green areas are accessible -the entrance ticket to the MUAC museum costs less than a beer, for example- and feel part of everyday life.

Sometimes I just go for a walk, with no other purpose than to stroll with my partner and Milton Fajer, my dog. Sometimes we have coffee under the shade of a tree and we have never been able to resist taking pictures in front of Sebastian’s Tlaloc in the sculptural space. On the best days, when we get up “early,” we buy tickets for a performance of the OFUNAM orchestra at the Sala Nezahualcóyotl, which is a rapturous place in itself.

UNAM's Philarmonic Orchestra playing at Sala Nezahualcóyotl. (Credits: OFUNAM).
UNAM’s Philarmonic Orchestra playing at Sala Nezahualcóyotl. (Credits: OFUNAM).

Picture this: in November of last year, when the OFUNAM featured Vienna, the guest conductor, Silvain Gascon, had left a precise instruction for the audience: we were to be silent and hold our applause when the orchestra finished playing Mahler’s Ninth Symphony. “Silence is part of the piece,” a friendly voice explained to us, as we finished settling into our seats just after the third call. And it is. I didn’t know that until I started writing this. An Italian conductor -Claudio Abbado- added a coda of silence to Mahler’s work and several symphony orchestras have complied with it in their interpretations because, as the program explained, this symphony is supposed to be a preparation for death.

So, when the silence came, it was absolute. Everyone, conductor, orchestra and audience, fell silent in a hall designed to amplify “the energy of sound.” It wasn’t a particularly long silence, maybe a minute, but it was definitive. Just imagine that: a minute of sepulchral silence in Mexico City, the capital of noise.

I didn’t study at CU, but for moments like that I think it’s worth living here, applauding the genius of its spaces – cultural, recreational, maybe even sports – wearing an imaginary T-shirt in my seat.

The Quiet South

By Cristina Salmerón

Touring the city alone

When I walk around Mexico City on a holiday it is at a more leisurely pace than usual. These are days for ignoring the phone and forgetting about the alarm clock. After all, by force of habit I open my eyes a few minutes before it goes off anyway.

After my morning yoga class at a studio in the Roma, I return to my own neighborhood to commence my regular plan that includes those places I like to visit alone or with friends.

I live in the Colonia Del Valle and I have friends in the Portales, along with others who love to visit that particular neighborhood, where Tierra Adentro is the ideal spot for a tasty breakfast, as light or abundant as you want. The chocolate water is delicious and I almost always order the enfrijoladas con chorizo or the barbacoa en cazuela, although a friend of mine got me into bocoles, which are addictive. You have to get there early because it attracts a crowd, but if you must, the Nevado and Canarias roundabout is a great place to wait while your appetite grows.

I don’t usually linger at the table as there are almost always people waiting. There should be a law that states we must show solidarity with hunger: respect for the hunger of others means peace. I prefer to go to the El Convite coffee shop (which offers live jazz and a small branch specializing in desserts and coffee) on Pirineos and Filipinas.

I order a chocolate cake with cacao and whipped cream and a latte on the rocks. At one of the small tables I get ready to re-read Autofagia by Alaíde Ventura. The pie arrives, spongy and sweet: it’s like eating a cloud about to burst, raining down chocolate milk. It’s past noon and time to walk.

I head for one of my happy places. I think this sentence out loud and laugh, remembering Bob Ross. I debate whether to walk half an hour or take the Ecobici and get there in half the time. I take the bike.

Going to the Viveros de Coyoacán is an act of faith. The plants I buy here with such optimism may or may not be the same ones that die months later. There are warrior plants that have withstood three moves and the wickedness of Tito the cat while there are others that I didn’t even have time to get attached to. This time no one has to die, I’ll just buy vitamins for my orchids. To the right are the different sellers while a little to the left there is a mini-tunnel of monsteras and hanging ferns. This is my private jungle, almost nobody goes in there…except for me.

A stroll through the Viveros can take an hour or so and my reward is to smell and admire all the plants and flowers that I won’t be taking home.

The last place on the tour is about seven blocks away, 15 to 20 minutes at a leisurely pace. One can never get sufficiently lost in the streets of the Colonia Del Carmen.

Viveros de Coyoacán, one of the best places for running in the city. (Credits: Getty).
Viveros de Coyoacán, one of the best places for running in the city. (Credits: Getty).

Strolling along Viena then turning into Centenario, I arrive at the Cineteca Nacional. It’s fun to look at the list of movies screening and choose the most promising one, although that enthusiasm has meant having to spend hours watching movies I’ll forget as soon as I leave the cinema. So, I arrive with a decision made and the ticket on my phone, of course, also making sure I have the ideal seat since the Cineteca has become very popular.

Popcorn or mint ice cream? The movie is about to start, so the shortest line will determine my snack for the movie.

Big house passion

By Iker Jáuregui

Touring the city with friends

Over 60,000 square meters of volcanic rock was dynamited in 1962 to make way for the Azteca Stadium. The explosions flattened the ground of the former Santa Ursula ejido, like rehearsals for what fans would experience at the stadium every weekend for the next six decades. Much has been said about what this building means, not only for the history of football in Mexico and the world, but also for the life and culture of Mexico City. However, I’m not sure anyone has managed to really capture in words what it feels like to be there on match day and that’s why so many people continue to visit to see it with their own eyes.

Outside the stadium crowds attract an itinerant industry that is nowhere to be seen throughout the week. The ingenuity of Santa Ursula neighborhood residents offers football fans paraphernalia, parking spaces, and a wide variety of street snacks. I like to arrive early to avoid the traffic, which normally paralyzes the Periférico, and enjoy this singular gastronomic display offering everything from basic tacos de canasta to thick cuts of meat grilled on the spot.

You will see advertising for these street stalls and vendors before you even arrive at the stadium, on Avenida del Imán, Calzada de Tlalpan and even the central lanes of the Periférico. Culinary institutions have been forged here by inertia, with my favorite being El Remolkito, frequented by sports legends and those of us lucky enough, or patient enough, to visit on match day to enjoy what has become known as the best sirloin taco in town. But the main focus is the stadium forecourt, where Alexander Calder’s legendary “Sol Rojo” sculpture watches over the hungry fans impatient to get in.

Pedro Ramírez Vázquez and Rafael Mijares Alcérreca, the architects who planned the Azteca in the 1960s, designed the gigantic concrete ramps that surround the stadium and lead us all to our seats. It is a messy process and no one ever seems to know exactly how many of us there are. The original official capacity was allegedly 110,000 people, but the stadium once boasted it attracted 130,000 souls to see boxer Julio César Chávez fight. Now, however, due to the strange protocols of modern soccer, and after several remodeling works, the capacity has been reduced to between 80,000 and 85,000 seats.

It will soon undergo another transformation that will surely leave it unrecognizable. Neater and cleaner, perhaps finally able to specify its capacity, and probably with fewer seats. Even then, the picture of the Azteca Stadium will remain imposing and its atmosphere will be just as overwhelming as the dynamite that announced its construction so many decades ago.

“Sol Rojo” sculpture, by Alexander Calder. (Credits: Getty).
“Sol Rojo” sculpture, by Alexander Calder. (Credits: Getty).

Sunrise in Xochimilco

By Paulina Westall

Touring the city with family

The booking was at 5:50 a.m., but since the city can be chaotic it’s best to arrive early. So, we were waiting in the Xochimilco pier parking lot at 5:30 in the morning. Almost nothing is visible at that time, except for the first rays of dawn. You know how the saying goes: “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” And since the sun doesn’t wait, we boarded the trajinera at 6:00 a.m. sharp.

It’s always colder here than in the rest of the city and as we move along the canal I am infinitely grateful for the windbreaker I am wearing. There are about 12 of us in the trajinera and the moment we saw the earthenware mugs on the table we knew what was coming: a good hot mug of café de olla.

The tour lasts about two hours, but after only 20 minutes you can feel the calm and silence. The only sounds we hear are the pole each time it splashes the water, the morning song of the birds and the brief murmurs of the people seeing a side of Xochimilco very few have seen.

As we move forward, they tell us that 70% of the chinampas have been abandoned and the entire ecosystem is considered a World Heritage Site.

It seems that we are in a completely different place from that body of water where you find trajineras with loudspeakers, tequila and mariachis on board. In this part of Xochimilco, what steals the eye is the contrast between the fog and the freshness of the morning. As the minutes pass, the sky begins to brighten and shades of pink and pastel orange dominate.

After 40 minutes we arrive at an open space with volcanoes in the background. This was the missing piece we needed to recreate ancient Tenochtitlán. We started to feel hungry, but it is best to trick ourselves for a while with another cup of coffee and wait for a couple of quesadillas prepared on the griddle.

Before you know it, the day has begun, and things start to move at a furious pace. Everything seems to go faster, even the man punting us back to the pier. The way back is more restless; I think it’s because we are hungry and the sun is burning our backs. Note for next time: wear a hat or a cap.

Upon arrival at the pier, the destination is clear: quesadillas. One potato, another poblano strips with cheese, and a sope with pressed pork or chorizo; I feel a little indecisive. Chorizo it is, and a cold beer. Lager, preferably. After two rounds of snacks (and beers), the tour continues.

The next stop is the Xochimilco nursery. A must stop for all plant lovers looking for good prices. We browse the aisles between exotic trees, bougainvilleas, palm trees, aralias and the occasional potted plant stand. “What are you looking for, miss?” here, and “We’ll give you a good price,” there. It’s amazing to realize the enormous amount of vegetation that surrounds us when all we are used to is concrete. Obviously, I left with a pot, some seeds and half a kilo of soil. My intentions? To test, once again, whether I really am a plant woman.

Moving markets

By Pedro Reyes

Touring the city with family

Even though I work from home on Fridays I still like to get out of the house and go to the office to enjoy the silence, the lack of distractions, and the anticipated michelada. But perhaps most importantly, Friday is street market day in the Condesa neighborhood and the market is just a few blocks from the office. I usually walk through the market, coffee in hand, wearing flip-flops and shorts (remember it’s home office), my bike chained to a post. I will most likely take my time, starting with two or three mixiote tacos, with nopales, lime, red onion, pineapple cubes and a very thick, rich red sauce. Then I’ll see if any new models of sunglasses have arrived, cheap imitations of course… History dictates that I will lose them anyway: 100% guaranteed. I’ll probably be seduced by some tlacoyitos, pressed pork or ranchero cheese to take home. When in season, I buy a kilo of mandarins or a couple of plums or star fruit to eat on the spot. It all depends on how much cash I’m carrying.

There’s something about these itinerant and ephemeral street markets that captivates me. Walking through them is to witness the moment, the here and now. Here today, gone tomorrow. There are no refrigerators, no packaging and no credit cards, just fresh produce. At another stage of my life I would wait for the Tuesday street market on Plutarco Elias Calles to eat grilled cecina tacos with French fries and cucumbers with habanero. At the market on Obrero Mundial I would buy tostadas with cream on Sundays as well as xoconostle and moringa to add to my green juice (whatever happened to the me who used to drink green juice?). At the market on Juan de la Barrera I’d sit at a table with strangers to eat barbacoa consommé which adds a great vibe to Tuesdays. On Luis Cabrera we would never forgive ourselves for leaving the market on a Saturday without a bag of botanero salad: green broad beans with onion and lots of cilantro. This is how we form habits and routines that make up our history in the city. Life changes direction and it’s up to us to go out and create new rituals, filling those spaces that are sometimes one thing and sometimes another, leaving traces that prove that, for a moment at least, we were part of it all.

If there’s still time, hunger or both, I’ll succumb to fried fish with Huichol sauce before climbing back on the bike. There’s not a Friday that I don’t crave them like mad. What makes street markets so irresistible is that they build expectations. If there’s anything left to look for or the money has run out, you have to wait, inevitably, until the following Friday.

The Order of Chaos: Shopping downtown

By Antonio Rosas

Touring the city with friends from out of town

Every time I go downtown I come home exhausted. It lives at a dizzying pace, to which I am by no means accustomed and sweeps me along like a whirlwind. Crowds move like schools of fish, a rigorous flow that doesn’t give Sunday strollers a chance to hesitate.

In these streets there are clear patterns that have formed the mercantile center of Mexico City over centuries. Without them movement would be impossible. Everything exists here, but even better, everything can be found here. Each street is ordered and defined by the different traders arriving at their stands. I don’t think this was planned though, just people who ply the same trade huddling together to make life easier for us.

Victoria street is only Victoria street for those who need directions, while in reality it is the street of lamps. Or Mesones street, which has been the place for stationary stores since the beginning of time.

When I was a teenager, my favorite street was Bolivar, the best place in Mexico City to find musical instruments. In fact, that was the beginning of my very brief career as a rock star, which was quickly cut short due to lack of talent. After several trips, I bought what was probably the cheapest guitar on the street. I watched people leaving other stores with very strange instruments, like theremins or modular synthesizers, which I knew nothing about then but are now my obsession.

More recently I have preferred to start my strolls in Donceles, which is neatly divided between camera stores and bookstores. Whenever my friends come to visit I like to show them the dusty shelves and bookcases that hide pieces of history, ranging from analog cameras to rare and unique editions that can’t be found anywhere else in the country. The street is lined with iconic buildings, such as the Palacio del Marqués del Apartado and, for me, the two most beautiful theaters in the city: the Esperanza Iris and the Fru Fru.

We walked along the street to the end, until we reached the Metropolitan Cathedral and República de Guatemala street. This corner of the Centro is characterized by its trade in religious items, useful for the devout and fascinating for the casual observer. Another type of faith is placed in the famous “beauty alley” in Alhóndiga street, which offers cosmetics, hair dyes, brushes and even courses on how to cut hair.

Bellas Artes Palace, an iconic building right in Mexico City Downtown. (Credits: Andrew Reiner).
Bellas Artes Palace, an iconic building right in Mexico City Downtown. (Credits: Andrew Reiner).

The tour can end at one of the observation points of the Centro: the Cathedral or the Torre Latino are always great options. From there it’s easy to decipher the order of chaos: the organized movement of the crowds which may not be perceived on the earthly plane at the level of the cantinas and the chaotic crossroads, but in reality has an infallible logic.

Adding up Kilometers in Chapultepec

By Paulina Espinosa

Touring the city alone

My alarm goes off at 5:00 a.m. sharp. After hitting the snooze button a couple of times and wondering whether it is worth starting my day so early or not, I see myself at Joselo Café, facing Lincoln Park in Polanco. With the morning chill and the sun’s first rays, I convince myself that it will be worth the effort.

My first steps help me warm up and carry me towards the Torre Virreyes, also known as “El Dorito.” I cross the bike path that takes you to the second section of Chapultepec and, as I stride around the lake, I take in the scenery: the pink, orange, purple and blue tones that dominate the sky and contrast with the water.

I keep running, now heading to the Papalote kid’s museum. Some climbing is guaranteed on this route, regardless of the start or end point. After making the effort, and at an accelerated pace, I cross the Calzada Flotante Los Pinos. Although it was only inaugurated last year it is already one of my favorite areas for running, for me and many others too. I like to cross between the trees that peek through the gaps in the bridge and surrender myself to the wonderful sensation of seeing the city awaken while I rack up kilometers.

And while I’m thinking about where all those cars on the Periférico will go, I find the cobblestones of the first section of Chapultepec Park under my sneakers. The surrounding tall trees steal the early rays of light and the temperature drops slightly. On my way to the Zoo I see the giant blocks of ice to be distributed among the merchants who will later open their businesses.

This corridor leads to the exit next to the Museum of Anthropology. I cross Reforma again, run between the museums and return to my starting point: Joselo Café in Polanco.

When I finish my morning run the reward is an almond roll and knowing I beat the rest of the city that morning. I congratulate myself again for not hitting the snooze button on the alarm clock. It is always worth it.

Three Outs on Line 9

By Tomás Estrada

Touring the city with friends

Someone once told me that during the inaugural series of the Alfredo Harp Helú Stadium, when the Diablos Rojos del México hosted the San Diego Padres in 2019, some people spent all nine innings lining up to buy an order of the classic baseball cochinita tacos. In other words, some fans did not see a single out, not a single pitch of the highly anticipated game in order to enjoy a tradition that dates back to when the Diablos began playing at the Parque Deportivo del Seguro Social in the 1950s.

I wasn’t there to see it because the tickets flew, but I’ve been there enough times to understand the frenzy behind what might seem like an act of collective madness. You no longer have to line up for the whole game, although during a popular game you may have to wait a couple of innings. Are they worth it? This divides opinion, but what I can assure you is that attending a baseball game is one of the best things to do in this city.

The easiest way to get there is by Metro, not only to avoid traffic and search for a parking space, which can be chaotic, but also because line 9 offers many more must-see sites with their own culinary wonders. You can start from the Condesa neighborhood, which I usually do early in the morning, to make the most of the day and not miss any of my usual stops.

To start off, there is no better breakfast than a scrambled egg taco at La Hortaliza because it will keep you going for the rest of the day. Then you have to take one of the most beautiful strolls this city can offer: across the entire Condesa neighborhood, through the Mexico and España parks, up to Metro Chilpancingo. On the way I never pass on the opportunity to stop for a coffee and a pastry at Cucurucho or Amatlán 61.

From Chilpancingo it’s four stops on line 9 to Jamaica, Mexico City’s largest flower market, which merits a leisurely walk among its more than one thousand stalls, full of flowers and plants that arrive from all over the country. Take time to breathe in the aromas, ask for rare varieties from the expert merchants and, since you’re already there, recharge your batteries with a bite of what’s on offer, like seafood from the famous Los Paisas stand. You know it’s good because there’s always a long line, no matter the time of day.

Four stops further along the same metro line you arrive at Puebla station, the closest to the stadium, where for some years now one of the city’s oldest pastimes, baseball, has been enjoying a revival when in other places it would even seem to be going out of fashion.

Of course there is much merit in the exploits of the local team, but many people come exclusively to eat and the star is the cochinita taco, which has nothing to do with its traditional version and could even offend people in Mexico’s southeast. These are fried flautas filled with shredded pork marinated in achiote, orange juice and vinegar, served in orders of three or seven, and dipped to taste in a guacamole and habanero sauce with chopped onion on top.

Walking down Reforma with my dog

By Mary Hubard

Touring the city with your dog

“Oh no, on a Sunday? Impossible,” I say every time someone wants to make plans with me on this sacred day. I don’t do Sundays. I do not exist. Sundays are for me… and for my dog Chuleta.

I wake up without an alarm because my body is already used to getting up early. I put on my sweatpants and grab Chuleta’s leash to enjoy the atypical silence of the city streets. On Sundays at 7:00 a.m. there is very little movement. While the rest of the world is still in pajamas, we stroll along San Miguel Chapultepec, where the unswept leaves that fell from the trees the day before crunch under my feet.

Our destination is Reforma. On Sundays the lanes normally traveled by cars and trucks are filled with cyclists, joggers, and, of course, dogs. Chuleta is not very good with crowds, so we take the sidewalk, stopping every once in a while at a bench to drink coffee from my thermos and watch the people pass by. A father teaches his two sons to skateboard. A jogger, who seems to float above the asphalt, gives the impression that running is easy. A large group of tourists on bicycles follow the instructions of their guide, who tells them the history of the buildings as they pedal along. My grandfather taught me how to people watch, and the older I get, the more I enjoy it. Chuleta does too.

After passing the Estela de Luz (Stele of Light), Diana the Huntress Fountain and Angel of Independence Monument, lying on the ground and cooling off under the shade of a tree is an excellent reward. On Sundays I need no more than that.

As we rest on a bench, I make the most important decision of the day: where to go for breakfast. Maybe La Tonina, in the San Rafael, where they prepare the best flour tortillas in the city. Or maybe some barbacoa tacos at El Pialadero in the Juárez. Perhaps carnitas at Los Panchos in the Anzures or a quesabirria from Don Juan in the Condesa. It’s a difficult decision, so maybe I’ll let Chuleta decide which way we go.

On Sundays, Reforma is closed for cyclists and pedestrians. You can get from Polanco to Bellas Artes on the route. (Credits: Andrew Reiner).
On Sundays, Reforma is closed for cyclists and pedestrians. You can get from Polanco to Bellas Artes on the route. (Credits: Andrew Reiner).

Sunday in the neighborhood in Santa María

By María Pellicer

Touring the city with friends

We live in a city of millions, but if you are fortunate enough to live in the Santa María it’s like living in a village where everyone knows each other and, better yet, everything is close at hand. Sunday mornings are especially quiet; local residents – some still in their pajamas – can be seen walking their pets along the streets usually choked with traffic. If you want to be a resident of the Santa María you need to have a dog.

A complete Sunday experience can start at Fundación Casa Wabi, a little known work by architect Alberto Kalach, where Sabino 336 recently opened. It is owned by the same family running María Ciento38, one of the first restaurants with a pretension to sophistication in the neighborhood and which opened a few years ago. For those of us who enjoy architecture this is a unique opportunity. Ah, and on the subject of architecture, the star of the neighborhood has to be the monumental Vasconcelos Library, also by Kalach. Who wouldn’t be amazed by the Mátrix móvil sculpture? The skeleton of a whale that the artist Gabriel Orozco turned into a sculpture floating in the building’s central nave and which leaves no one indifferent.

On the subject of colossal beings, my ideal day would include a stop at the Geology Museum, a magnificent building that occupies one of the corners of the famous Kiosco Morisco square. From the skeleton of a dinosaur to the smallest insects, everything fits in this jewel that opened its doors in 1906 and still maintains the same museography. Walking through its aisles and staring into its display cabinets is like being transported to another time.

The Santa María has two spaces that I particularly like. The first, and for every day, is the Mercado La Dalia. The second, for the weekend, is the Kiosco Morisco. Although there are things happening every day, it is on weekends when you can see everything from an aerobics class to a singing contest all in the same place. What was originally Mexico’s pavilion at the St. Louis World Fair in 1884 first arrived in the city occupying the space where the Hemiciclo a Juárez is today before being relocated to its current home. Since then, this has been the neighborhood meeting point, where friends and neighbors get together or you can take a Sunday Stroll.

The Moorish Kiosk was designed at the end of the 19th century to serve as the Mexican Pavilion at the Universal Exhibition of 1884-1885. (Credits: Andrew Reiner).
The Moorish Kiosk was designed at the end of the 19th century to serve as the Mexican Pavilion at the Universal Exhibition of 1884-1885. (Credits: Andrew Reiner).

So, what about lunch? Although the Santa María is a neighborhood of cantinas at heart, on weekends there are two unmissable plans. The first is La Oveja Negra, the best barbacoa served in a lively atmosphere. Since they are open from 7:00 a.m. it could even be a breakfast option, especially when you consider that at midday the lines are really long. In the Kiosko you will find the famous machetes: Las Jirafas and La Mula, with so many fillings and combinations that everyone leaves satisfied. On the other side of the square, and for those who want to try something different, Kolobok is one of the few Russian diners in the city and their specialty is delicious empanadas (you can also buy them to take away).

My complete Sunday experience would end in Tlatelolco, one of the most important architectural sites in the city, where you can also make a cultural visit to the Tlatelolco Cultural Center, formerly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The very large squares of the Tlatelolco multi-family complex are ideal for enjoying a quiet sunset surrounded by hundreds of people, but with the particular sense of being a part of a real working class neighborhood.

The Contrast of La Mexicana

By Gaby Gómez

Touring the city with family

Whenever my cousins from other states come to visit they always ask me, what’s so special about Mexico City? I have a long list for them: the food, the people, the architecture, the streets, the jacarandas, the bars, the parks…,but, above all, the contrasts.

In Mexico City diametrically opposed things share a single space. My cousins, always incisive and inquisitive, were quick to question me: “Let’s see, where, for example?” I wanted to find the perfect example that would also serve as an enjoyable stroll for everyone.

And then La Mexicana park came to mind. I’m not a big fan of Santa Fe to be honest, but if there’s something wonderful about the area it’s the park. Here you feel in complete peace surrounded by nature, walking for hours far from the frenetic pace of the city. But strangely, when you look up you find yourself surrounded by skyscrapers that remind you there are hundreds of things going on around. Here, contrast works its magic.

We got there early to avoid the crowds and after walking among the tall buildings we arrived at that improbable landscape: a lake surrounded by green spaces where the air feels a little cooler and the tranquility of the water allows you to forget for a moment the hustle and bustle of city life.

After walking around for a while we went for some well-deserved chilaquiles divorciados, with plenty of cream and cheese, in the restaurant area. By this time, the place began to fill up and families as hungry as we were started arriving at the restaurants, crowding the outdoor tables. When the crispy tortillas dipped in salsa disappeared from our plates, it was time for something sweet, so we took the opportunity to walk around and divided the group between those who wanted ice cream or pastries and coffee.

We met again to finish the shopping day at the Santa Fe Mall. A couple of bags of clothes later we made our way to the movie theater and half caramel, half salted popcorn. As I said earlier, contrast always has its magic.

Parque la Mexicana is open every day of the year, from 5 in the morning and until 9 at night. (Credits: Andrew Reiner).
Parque la Mexicana is open every day of the year, from 5 in the morning and until 9 at night. (Credits: Andrew Reiner).

Este material tiene fines exclusivamente informativos y ha sido modificado temporalmente con motivo del inicio del periodo de campañas del proceso electoral 2023-2024, en cumplimiento a lo ordenado en los artículos 41, párrafo Tercero, fracción III, apartado C, último párrafo y 134, párrafo Octavo y Noveno de la Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos.