A Pleasure-Packed Long Weekend in Mexico City

You can’t take in all of North America’s largest city in just a few days, but you can get a supersize fix of its culture, art and food


YOU DON’T GO TO Mexico City for rest and relaxation. With a sprawling metropolitan area of 21 million people, a history dating to the 14th century, and some of the most rewarding cuisine in the world, it’s better to think of a trip to Mexico City as a great fairground ride: You’ll start with trepidation, finish breathless and spent, and before your head stops spinning, you’ll find yourself wondering how long before you can do it again.

A destination this big requires a little strategy. First, remember to pace yourself. Neighborhoods like Roma and Polanco are wonderfully walkable, but the city is at roughly the same altitude as Aspen, so take it slow. Second, stick to using your Uber app or having your hotel or restaurant call you a sitio taxi (they charge about $15 an hour and will wait while you tour or shop). For safety and security reasons, never hail a cab on the street. Finally, it’s impossible to see all of the city’s highlights in a weekend, so don’t even try. Mexico City has been there for nearly 700 years, and it will be there when you come back.



9:30 a.m. Walk five minutes down Tonalá and along the Avenida Álvaro Obregón to Delirio for a traditional Mexican pastry called a concha (Ave. Monterrey 116-b, Roma, For a little hair of the dog, try a café correcto—espresso fortified with rompope, an egg-enriched Mexican liqueur. After breakfast, buy some jars of the house-made salsa de chili morita to take home to friends. Toward the end of the block, at 122 Monterrey, is the low-rise apartment building where, in 1951, beat icon William Burroughs shot and killed his wife in what was allegedly a drunken game of “William Tell” gone wrong.

10:30 a.m. Call a taxi for the 30-minute ride to Mercado de la Merced, the immense public market whose main building is nearly four football fields long and surrounded by outdoor booths selling toys, flowers, meat, chilies and pretty much everything under the sun. At lunchtime, look for stands inside the western edge of the building packed with people eating tacos and bowls of brick red birria, a spicy stew (and some say, hangover cure) usually made with beef or goat. To go truly deep into local foodways and market culture, sign up for a tour with Eat Mexico (, from $85).

1 p.m. Walk three blocks north from the market to Corregidora and turn left. After about 15 minutes you’ll emerge on the southwest corner of the Zócalo, Mexico City’s vast central square, with a monumentally scaled flag flying at its center. Walk past the massive edifice of the Palacio Nacional, the seat of the federal government, toward the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral. Follow the pedestrian path to the Templo Mayor Museum, site of the main temple of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan and a Unesco World Heritage site (Seminario 8,

2:30 p.m. Recharge with a rich hot chocolate and a freshly baked pastry at Restaurante El Cardenal, two blocks off the northeast corner of the Zócalo (Palma 23, To get your Aztec on, try the escamoles, or ant eggs, sauteed with butter and served with tortillas.

3:30 p.m. Time to do a little shopping at the Downtown Mexico hotel, just a block over and half a block down, where the collection of boutiques in the spectacularly renovated 17th-century palace lean toward Mexican-made high fashion and design (Isabel La Católica 30, Centro; Don’t miss Carla Fernandez’s edgy clothing or the arts and crafts at Parakata Galería Michoacana.

5:30 p.m. At this point, you’ve earned a siesta. Take a car for the 20-minute trip back to your hotel for a nap or a massage. If you’re the restless sort, wander the shops and galleries in the blocks surrounding La Valise.

7:30 p.m. Take a walk through Roma to the up-and-coming neighborhood of Juárez, which has seen an influx of cool shops and restaurants. Turn left on Calle Orizaba and walk four blocks north, through Plaza Río de Janeiro with its full-size replica of Michelangelo’s David. Make a right on Calle Liverpool, and then another on Havre. About halfway down the block on the right is Caballería (Calle Havre, 64. Col. Juárez,, a four-story townhouse dedicated largely to men’s goods and services (there’s a barbershop and tattoo parlor on-site). On the first level is Common People, which features streetwear and homegoods such as sets of sleek, cylindrical mezcal cups made by a master potter.

8 p.m. For dinner, go to Paprika, just around the corner from Caballeria, where chef Josefina Santacruz works with spices common to Mexico and the Maghreb—cinnamon, cumin and chilies, expanding the range of Middle Eastern food in the city (Marsella 61, Col. Juarez, +52 55 5533-0303). Start with a Beirut cocktail, which goes down like a turbocharged negroni, and then move on to berenjena charmoula—a cocotte of roasted, mashed eggplant with Greek yogurt, cracked wheat and herbs. Sfija—wedges of flatbread topped ground beef and lamb, cilantro and pickled red onions—are delicious.

10 p.m. Take a car to Pulqueria los Insurgentes for a taste of pulque—a bland, viscous drink made from the fermented sap of the agave plant that people from this region have drunk for 1,000 years (Ave. de los Insurgentes Sur 226, Roma Norte, After showing your ID (and maybe getting patted down), make your way to the roof deck for fresh air and a mug of curado, which is pulque flavored with fruit or nuts. It’s just a five-minute walk back to the hotel.

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