If Mexico City wasn’t already hot enough, the film “Roma” is going to put it on everyone’s list in 2019. With rock star chefs like Edgar Nunez Magnana , Elena Reygadasa and Enrique Olvera and the continuing hipsterfacation of neighbourhoods like Roma Norte and La Condesa, it’s got all of the special sauce needed for a 3-5 day getaway from Toronto. This place is a bustling hub of great food, art and architecture with great weather and a ton of bang for your travel bucks. Sure, we all want to stay at the W or get a suite at Las Alcobas and dine at Pujol and Quintonil while you wait for your driver and bodyguard to pull the car around, but, let’s be real…. most people don’t roll like that.
A 4.5 hr flight and only a 1 hour time difference makes it perfect for a 3-5 day getaway from Toronto. The winter weather is lovely – it was between 18C and 22C everyday we were there in mid January. If you are on a budget, you can get great deals on air/hotel packages from Expedia for as little as $550 per person. We chose to stay in the wonderful boutique hotel, The Historico Central for a fraction of the price of choosing a larger hotel in a trendier neighbourhood and, instead, spent a bit more to upgrade to direct flights there and back. The hotel was spotless, clean, impeccable service, comfortable beds and helpful, friendly staff. If you opt to buy a flight only, the hotels are reasonable but I would go my usual Airbnb route with an apartment in Roma.
The historical district (where our hotel was situated) is great for history, beautiful, Spanish Colonial gems that house giant murals by Diego Rivera and his contemporaries, churches and even Aztec ruins that are situated right off the main square.
Stick to the sister neighbourhoods of the upscale La Condesa and the slightly edgier Roma Norte for eating, drinking, shopping and beautiful parks where you can take a load off and watch the world go by. It’s like Yorkville, Leslieville and Parkdale had a baby but with churros.
The Strand Barbers in Roma Norte if you missed your last hair appointment at the Crow’s Nest. The owner is a friendly Brithish expat who will ply you with drinks in this cosy little basement shop
Pujol is considered one of the top restaurants in the world, and certainly in Mexico City but it’s very expensive, very fine dining and can be impossible to get into at the last minute. Instead hit up Molina el Pujol, their tiny, new tortilla shop for an elevated snack containing corn in some fashion – there aren’t many seats so plan on taking it out but it’s probably as close to Enrique Olvera’s food as you are going to get without making reservations a month or so in advance.
Contramar for one of the tastiest seafood lunches you will ever have. Not always easy to get into for dinner, you can always find a spot at lunch and if you don’t order the raw tuna tostadas I will never speak to you again. The food here is so good, you won’t care that you can’t get into Pujol.
Licoreria Limantour for fabulous cocktails and an impressive mezcal list – considered best bar in Latin America
Caravanserai for a pitcher of iced, herbal tea on a great people watching corner
Terraza Orizaba Mercado is a great little indoor food court of sorts right around the corner from Limantour. The menus for each place are sitting out on the table and someone from each vendor will come to you in turn to take orders – highlight were tasty picadas from the adorable dudes at Los 2 Jarochos and they do a breakfast for 2 for $150 pesos (about $10 Canadian)
the Museo Casa Studio Diego River y Frida Kahlo instead of the more popular but swamped Frida Kahlo Museum in Coyoacan
Sartoria for amazing service and great, modern Italian food if you get sick of tacos – the Tortelli verdes burro e salvia will change your life
Churros El Moro for churros and hot chocolate. The original outlet has been there since 1935 but now there are outlets all over the city. The original is opened 24 hours in order to serve all of your round the clock deep fried sugar needs.
Mexico City is absolutely bursting with museums and art galleries
Kurimanzutto is a tiny, modern art gallery on a residential street
Museum of Modern Art – Museo de Arte Moderno for contemporary art by both international and Mexican artists
Museo Jumex houses one of the largest private collections of contemporary art in Latin America
If you want to see some of the most beautiful mural art imaginable, you can spend a day in the historic district visiting the Palacio de Bellas Artes, the National Palace, Antiguo Colegio De San Ildefonso, The Secretaria de Education Public and the Museo Mural Diego Rivera which was built to house one of Riviera’s most famous murals, “Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Central Park” painted in 1947. Admission is either free or really cheap at all of these although you do often have to pay a few extra pesos to take photo
If you are there on a Sunday, visit Xochimilco to join Mexican families for a ride on the colourful boats called trajineras as they sail the channels, complete with mariachis, food vendors, picnicking families and groups of rambunctious teens. Super kitschy but awesome
Plaza de La Cuidadela for a Saturday afternoon of dancing alongside local dandies.