November 2019 saw David and I venturing to a place that has long been on my list, Mexico City (CDMX,) and boy am I glad we made this journey. CDMX has a place in my heart, and my taco loving belly, for good and I cannot wait to return.
We started our CDMX journey with four days in Santa Maria La Ribera, an area of the city that is less touristy and more local than the ones you may be familiar with. This was a neat way to introduce ourselves to the area, I think, instead of jumping right into the more tourist and hip spots of La Condesa, Roma Norte, and Polanco. (Part two is based in La Condesa, don’t worry, we are hip too.)
In Santa Maria, we rented an Air BnB that I wish I could have picked up and moved to Vancouver. It is a darling two level loft, with a large balcony overlooking the street, a perfect spot to have our morning espresso We landed late, nearly midnight – and the area was shut down. I mean, it is like, an actual neighborhood where people live and work. There were no hotels, at least near us, and the local shops and restaurants were closed by the time we arrived. Thank goodness we grabbed some water at the 7/11 at the airport because yes it is true, you cannot (or should not) drink the tap water.
The next morning we woke up ravenous, and walked along the cracked sidewalks past street vendors selling tacos and other Mexican street foods. We wanted to try them, but like I said, this area is authentically Mexico City…and English is limited, and sadly so is my Spanish! Turns out, I can still speak it well enough, it is the “understanding it” that got in my way. We had breakfast at La Oveja Negra Barbcoa, as was everyone else in the neighborhood! The lively joint reminded me of how when I was growing up, we would go out to eat on Sundays after church. The place was filled with families eating barbacoa and consommé, oh and obvi there was a mariachi band. It was just what we wanted, and David became a consommé addict. He continues to search for it everywhere – even now in Vancouver, so hit me up if you have some intel.
The remainder of the day was spent wandering with no set plan, we really just wanted to get a feel for the area. We wandered to the Moorish Kiosk, walked around the park, and of course, ended up at a shopping mall (I am my mother’s daughter after all!) I needed sunnies, so thank you Sears CDMX! We then went to the Biblioteca Vasconcelos, which is a sight that must be seen. It is one of the coolest libraries, and I could actually use the word “biblioteca” for once outside of a 10th grade Spanish class. A win win.
As Santa Maria is on the quiet side, we did want to venture out to other parts of the sprawling city. Our first full day took us to the Zocalo, where we explored an old cathedral and took photos of Dia los Muerto’s altars that speckled the square. I was in awe. I lit a candle in the cathedral for my mother, and said a quick prayer to her. Then we became PEAK TOURISTS and did something I said I would never do…
Double Decker bus. Yea, that is right. Next I will be doing a Segway tour of Chitzen Itza! BUT LET ME JUSTIFY. Before I left Mexico City, I requested some tips from a colleague who is from CDMX. He said the best way to see the sights and get around…is Turibus. You buy a pass and can hop on and off for the day. So why not, I mean…when in Rome…
We spent a while on the bus, taking in the sights and the chaos of CDMX traffic. We popped into the Sheraton Mexico City where we (FINALLY) had our first cocktail of the trip. What was it? Come on, do you even need to ask? (#margarita.) After that we journeyed to Coyocan via the bus, and let me tell you – next trip, we will be staying in or near Coyocan.
We had so much fun, mainly because of the AMAZING happy hour deals, and excellent food. I am by no means a “foodie” in the traditional sense. I am a “foodie” in the sense that I like food, like a lot. Initially when I booked this trip, I made reservations to Pujol (as seen on Chef’s Table) and Contramar (a suggestion from many food savvy friends.) But as the day of each reservation drew near, we found ourselves enjoying just exploding and “ending up” places. One of those places was Los Danzantes, and it was for sure the highest end of the places we ate (don’t think that means the other places were not as amazing, they were just not fancy mmmk?) We had an amazing meal at Los Danzantes with delicious drinks, maybe we had one too many cause next thing you know I am buying a ring at a shop, and to this day I still am not 100% of the cost, and then hailing a cab to get “home,” only to determine we are not ready to leave this area. So we hop out of the cab and back into the scene, a lovely place called La Calaca. This place had live mariachi and amazing margaritas. We spent what seemed like hours there, though I am sure it was only 2 max. We then went home to sleep, for the next day held another adventure.
The pyramids of Teotihuacan. We considered doing Turibus for this, but read on the trusty internet that taking the local bus was just fine and cheap. So we did that. Would I do that again? Hell. No. Yes it was cheap, but the bus stops often so it takes a while. Also, the busses are older and kind of grimy. I know I sound like a pretentious diva here, and these buses are a way of life for a lot of people, so I will just say that for longish (over an hour) journeys, I would take a tour bus or hire an uber. The website where we found this “tip” on said to not get off at door one of the park, but wait until door three or four…so when half of the bus (see: other tourists) got off at door one, we (and three others who were stupid enough to follow our advice) scoffed at them. HA! They are going to have to walk so far!
The bus started up again…but it did not stop for a while. We tried to communicate with the driver, and all we got out was that it was clear that we had missed our only chance to get off that the Pyramids. The driver let us off, and told another bus that we needed a ride! How kind. He then ran back to his bus, and when we tried to get on the new bus…we were shooed away.
Thankfully, this part of Mexico is not as ass backwards as Vancouver is when it comes to Uber! After nearly 3 hours from our door in Santa Maria, to the gate of the park…we had made it. The pyramids are incredible, not so incredible…the vendors. They are all selling the same thing, including a device that makes the roaring sound of a panther. Which I am sorry, when you are climbing super steep steps up a really high pyramid, the last think you need to hear is that! I could have DIED.
We toured the Sun Pyramid and then the Moon, and walked all around the ruins of this once thriving city. How I wished I had an eye that could see what life was like back then. We got some paletas (which I then dropped, covering the floors of an ancient room in lime sugar water) and then left the park to pursue something almost as important as history. Food.
A quick walk from door five￼ of the park is a restaurant of my dreams, called La Gruta, this place is IN A FREAKING CAVE. You descend a long stair well, and are amongst a cavernous…uh…cave, with tables set up for dining. Sadly this place kind of rests on the fact that it is IN A FREAKING CAVE. The food was subpar, at best, and the service was chaotic. Everyone seemed stressed. Still, I got to eat in a CAVE.
As our day wound down, the rain started to pour. How poetic. We called an uber and made the long journey “home,” so we could find more food, obviously.
This was our last evening in Santa Maria, and once we were cleaned up from the dusty ruins and sticky lime water, we explored the area one last time to find some eats. We ended up at Comixal, and how lucky we are that we did! This place is a tiny (like one table for two at the bottom level where the small kitchen is, and a few tables upstairs tiny.) What it lacks in physical space, it makes up for in TASTE. (#thatryhmes) The red sauce on the enchiladas, omg, I dream of it still! I love Mexican FOOD, and this was the cherry on the top of four incredible days spent in Mexico City. The next day saw us off on a week long beach adventure in Tulum and Playa Mujers, after which we returned to Mexico City for three more days…and it was for sure not enough.
Part two coming soon, and hopefully part three. Cause I need to get back there, I think I left a piece of my heart in Mexico City.