Mexico by Locals – Part II – The Juicy Tips

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This article is the second part of the beautiful conversations we had with our Mexican friends. If you are planning a visit to the country this is what you were looking for. What to eat, where to go and what the perfect day would be like. If this article came your way first, why not click here to get to know our interviewees and their country a little bit better. If not, scroll down and enjoy the journey.

First things first, no one feels like exploring on an empty stomach.

Q: What is the national drink and the food speciality?

I have to say that, as a journalist, this question backfired slightly. Traditional Mexican gastronomy is considered World Heritage and as such it is incredibly diverse, it changes in every region. To better understand the following paragraph, have google images at hand, although I take no responsibility for your next food cravings and your mouth watering at every scroll.

“It is impossible to answer this question. We don’t have a national drink or a food speciality. From north to south, east to west, food is different. We have an extensive list of drinks and food specialties. If you were my guest, I will take you to try enchiladas, pozole, tacos (variety), churros, chocolate caliente, sopes, nieves, flautas, flan, carnitas, cecina, cabrito, escamoles, chapulines, mole, pozol, tlacoyos, quesadilla, tequila, mezcal, cerveza, etc.” kindly answers Marielena.

Although for drinks there seems to be a consensus on the subject. “It would be Tequila and Mezcal.” says Liz, and Carolina adds that nowadays Mezcal is trendier. Liz continues, “Non alcoholic would be aguas frescas which are flavoured water and is very refreshing. We are very rich in gastronomic culture but our cuisine mostly relies in corn tortillas, beans, meat, pork, fish, spices, cheese and cactus.”

And the list goes on, everyone manages to mention new dishes “Mole, Tacos, Tostadas, Esquites, Elotes, Quesadillas, Enchiladas, Chilaquiles, Pozole and many more. My favorites are Elotes and Enchiladas.” says Natalia

Q: What is the #1 thing no one can miss when going to Mexico city?

“The food!” agree Kevin, Liz and Carolina. Street food especially, but be careful, advises Liz, and be sure to look for safe and cleaner spaces or you might end up with a stomach ache.

Marielena managed to completely fail this task in the most wonderful way, giving us a list of the top 15 things to see.  To print & keep. You are welcome.

  1. Museo de Antropología e Historia
  2. Paseo de la Reforma
  3. Chapultepec
  4. A venida Presidente Masaryk
  5. Casa Frida Kahlo
  6. Palacio de Bellas Artes
  7. Centro Histórico
  8. Ángel de la Independencia
  9. Condesa y Roma
  10. Centro de Coyoacán
  11. Mercado Roma
  12. Mercado de Coyoacán
  13. Xochimilco (Trajineras)
  14. Teotihuacán *archaeological site, not in CDMX but pretty close
  15. Turibus
Mercado Roma | Picture credit: @elplatomexicano
Mercado Roma |Picture credit: @elplatomexicano

Q: Useful phrase(s)?

If you want to pass for a local, the best way is to speak like a local. Carolina advises to ask for where the toilets are “¿Dónde está el baño?” and also to be financially savvy and ask what is the minimum price is “¿Cuánto lo menos?”, avoiding the tourist task is always a plus.

¿Cuánto cuesta?” says Natalia, to know the price of items and “Pica?”, which means “Is it spicy?”, from my personal point view – very important.

“If you are ordering tacos they will ask “¿con todo?” Which means: with everything, and that includes: onion, coriander, and other herbs… Maybe ask what does everything include: “¿qué es con todo?”, says Liz, but honestly just say “Sí”, you will want everything.

Kevin reminds us to be responsible and ask for the bill “La cuenta por favor”, while still being a bad influence on our travelers and asking for “Más tequila” – no translation needed.

Q: What is a perfect day for you in Mexico City? Breakfast, place to go, lunch, typical afternoon, drinks, dinner, after-hours?

Natalia is very straight-forward and simply answers smiling, dream-eyed “Everything in the historic centre

While Marielena is more specific, showering us with the best day possible:

“Breakfast- Quesadillas, chilaquiles or molletes.

Place to go- Centro Histórico (Plaza de la Constitución).

Lunch- Restaurant “Azul Histórico”.

Typical afternoon – Polanco Av. Presidente Masaryk

Drinks/Dinner – Polanco/Condesa

After-Hours – Condesa /Roma

Carolina describes her vision “having breakfast at Casa del Lago, which is right by a beautiful lake; then I would go around Chapute and maybe go rowing in the lake. The best place to eat is Polanquito, most places are good. Luta livre is something I would say is a must for tourist, you have to experience it at least once. Oh, and Mariachis in Plaza Garibaldi – get drunk, ask for a song and just start singing” she laughs.

Liz is quick to make us keep our feet on the ground and be realistic “A thing to have in mind… public transport is not the best and if you decide to take a car.. traffic is an issue so in a day you can’t do so many things unless you are staying in the same area (as Mexico City is really big).” And the she also makes us a very comprehensive list

Some places I would go to:
El Cardenal (to have breakfast)
Castillo de Chapultepec (touristic point)
Centro de Coyoacán and la Casa Frida Kahlo – here I’ve tried nice mezcales in Coyoacan,
though nowadays mezcal is basically everywhere.
Biblioteca de Vasconcelos
La casa organica de Javier Sensosiain (in the outskirts of Mexico City)
Las casa de Barragan
Gin Gin Bar in la Roma
Mambarumba for a Latin music night
A day to Nevado de Toluca (outside of Mexico City) which is a dead volcano
A day to visit the sanctuaries of the Monarca butterflies close to Valle de Bravo (outside of
Mexico City)
In Condesa and Roma there are options for vegan tacos which I love.

Q: What is your favourite neighbourhood? What is the best one to stay in, the best one to visit and the best one to party and dine?

“La Roma in mexico city and Polanco are some of my favourite places to visit, go out and dine”, says Kevin.

Liz answers “Some areas I like are Reforma, Polanco, City Centre, Condesa & la Roma, and finally Coyoacán. The first 5 are relatively close whereas Coyoacan is in the south.
To stay: Coyoacan, La Condesa & Roma or a bit cheaper and still ok La de Valle.
Party: Polanco for posh clubs and Condesa and Roma for more hipsterish places.
Dine: all of the previous mentioned.”

The answers diverge slightly, just showing Mexico City is amazing all around. Marielena says it depends always on what you like doing, the best neighbourhood for you could be Coyoacán, Polanco, Roma or even Condesa. “The best one to stay in my opinion is definitely Polanco and to party and dine, you can just go around your hotel in Polanco or Roma or Condesa.” Natalia fully agrees with this suggestion, while Carolina adds that La Santa is a great nightclub.

La Roma | Picture credits: link

Q: Mexico is known for its beaches and paradisiacal nature settings, why would you say it is now time to go to Mexico City and forget Cancun and Tulum?

“Food and museums!” says Natalia.

“Depends, if you want beach and tropical vibes, the Caribbean is a good option. Mexico is known for being paradise, in general. For more natural settings (beaches) you can also visit Baja California, Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo, Mazatlán,  Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Escondido, Acapulco. Those could be amazing options, not only Cancun and Tulum.

Mexico City is amazing, it depends on your plans, but I do believe CDMX will change your life, is an amazing city.” encouragingly describes Marielena.

“What I would say is if you already made the effort to come all the way why just choose one side? Go to both! But the perks of staying in Mexico City is that you will have a better Mexican experience rather than Cancun and Tulum.. there are loads of tourists there and the Mexican culture can’t be experienced really cause also is full of ‘gringos’ “, she laughs, google the word at your own cost to possibly see a reflection of yourself.  “Also, while you are in the centre of the country you can also go to other cities close to it that are beautiful, such as San Miguel de Allende, Puebla, Tepoztlan, Queretaro, and many others.“

Kevin stays true to the beach and says “I still believe Tulum is a very nice place to visit, I would also do Oxaca, Puerto Escondido and Puerto Vallarta.”

“People fall in love with Mexico City. There you get to experience more of the Mexican culture, there are more things to do, museums to see and the food is so much better!” says Carolina.

San Miguel | Picture credits: @tal__israeli

Q: If someone would like to buy a traditional souvenir from Mexico what should they buy and where should they go? Where would someone go to get the best traditional Arts and Crafts? And Fashion item (hand-made)? Are there any local brands or designers worth checking out?

“If you plan on getting something artisanal you should definitely go to the local market, in the city centre. Try to avoid very touristic places as prices will go up for sure. There are many designers but it all depends where you are and what you want to get.” advises Kevin.

Liz has always the best deliberate insights “ In Mexico City’s downtown there is a market called el Mercado de la Ciudadela that sell loads of crafts. Traditional crafts and arts are usually found in smaller towns and cities, but can also be found in this market. There are two brands with Mexican traditional design techniques that might have interesting things: Denisse Kuri and Caralarga. In the areas of Condesa and Roma you can find all types of boutiques with international and local designers. In Polanco also you can find other designers that are more expensive and exclusive, same international and some local.”

Marielena introduces herself as our personal tour guide and has this kind-hearted suggestion: “I would take them to Centro de Coyoacán, Xochimilco, Teotihuacán or even in Centro Histórico. They should try to buy their souvenirs with the locals. When you buy local souvenirs you help marginalized communities in our country. Usually you will notice when to buy a souvenir in the middle of the street. Local brands or designers are ok, you can investigate on the web, usually they will be on a mall or a shop. In my opinion it is better to help locals.”

La Alameda is this park that has a market on Sundays, it’s great to buy traditional arts and crafts. If you want to buy some clothes and traditional Mexican embroidery check the stores next to Palacio de Belas Artes” says Carolina.

“The place to go and buy the best and cheapest arts and crafts is called el Mercado de la Ciudadela and is very close to the downtown. And check out the brand Someone Somewhere as well!” Natalia suggests.

There’s no better place than what the locals recommend. We hope this series of interviews has left you as dying to go to Mexico as it has done for us. There’s nothing left to do, you know the inside tips, now pack your bags and go.

Start exploring!

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