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Mexico City

Mexico! The site of our first vacation together and our all-time favorite country (so far). I love the food, the colors, the people, the language, the weather, the culture, the music ... everything about the country is pretty much perfect, if you ask me. There's great ruins, amazing cities, beaches ... a huge diversity of things to do, it's close to the U.S., and on this trip we were shocked to see that the peso had dropped to about half its value of the last time we visited, meaning it was extra-cheap.

We've been to the Yucatan Peninsula, Cabo, Puebla, and Mexico City twice. On this trip we opted to spend the majority of our time in Oaxaca, and the weekend in Mexico City. I'll start with the Mexico City post since we've been twice, are more familiar with the city, and recognize that there is an endless amount to do there.

A New Year's Day celebration we happened upon near the Basilica of our Lady of Guadalupe

Where We Ate 

El Tizoncito. So far, this is my favorite taco-stand chain in the city. Open at all hours to serve drunk customers, they're conveniently located all over the city. The amazing tacos al pastor are what they're known for; aside from tacos, they also serve queso fundido (one of D's favorites), guacamole, and other taco-stand staples. Don't miss.

El Califa. Another late-night taco stand, located in Hipodromo (between Roma and La Condesa, two of the most popular places to stay in the city). Though not quite as good as El Tizoncito, the buttery taco de rib eye is worth stopping in for. Open daily til 4am.

El Cardenal. This is an upscale breakfast place in the Centro Historico and it's certainly quite the experience. You'll be served free coffee upon entering the multi-story restaurant, and breakfast starts with a pastry selection. I had the chilaquiles verdes, which were delicious, but the menu is extensive. It's quite crowded, but the service and food is worth it.

Orange juice stand. Ok, so I realize this isn't a specific place per se. But please do not miss the tiny, nondescript stands dotted around the city, where you can get a fresh-squeezed orange juice for around 60 cents. I swear, there is something different and amazing about Mexican oranges - more tart, more tangy, and more satisfying than any American orange juice I have ever tasted.

While you're at it, also make sure you eat at the morning tamale stands (and add a cup of atole, a flavored corn-based hot drink that city dwellers drink in the morning on the way to work). Also, before I forget, try the quesadilla stands (ask the woman manning them to add whatever fillings you like), the flauta vendors, and any other street food that catches your eye. It's basically all delicious and dirt cheap: Mexico City is truly a street food paradise.

Mexico City street art

What We Did

Mercado de la Merced. Mexico City has no shortage of markets, and this is the largest. It's set on the slightly less-developed, eastern side of the city (take an Uber there, which, aside from the metro, is a great, cheap way to get around the city). La Merced sells pretty much everything under the sun, from tropical fruit to prepared food to homegoods. Budget a couple hours to wander through the stalls. Also a great place to get an orange juice!

Mercado Roma. The opposite of La Merced as far as markets go, this one is small, upscale, & trendy. Conveniently located in Roma (near where most tourists stay), it sells mostly prepared food and calls to mind Chelsea Market in Manhattan (albeit much smaller).

Museo de Arte Popular. I'm partial to small, focused museums, and this fits the bill. This beautiful museum focuses on Mexican pop art, and has an impressive selection of alebrijes, wooden creatures inspired by a fever-induced nightmare their original creator suffered. The gift shop is also worth a stop.

Chapultepec Castle. Architecturally beautiful, construction on this hilltop castle began in the 1700s. It's located in Chapultepec park, second largest park in Latin America and home to attractions like the zoo and the famous Anthropology Museum. Don't miss the castle's manicured rooftop gardens and beautiful black-and-white tiled outdoor walkways.

Lucha Libre. The nights to attend Mexican wrestling are Friday and Sunday nights (Friday night is the largest, best show). We were in town on Sunday, so that's the night we went, and it was still totally worth it. Buy tickets ahead of time at any Ticketmaster vendor in the city, and get as close to the front as possible. Tickets are around $20 a piece, and the show lasts a couple hours, getting more campy and dramatic as it gets closer to the finale. Vendors will wander the aisle to sell you beer and snacks -- just make sure you get your change back!

Mexico City is one of my favorite cities in the world, and a place I could truly see myself living. I often describe it as a cleaner New York :) This is just a smattering of the huge variety of places to eat and things to do in the city, and I hope to update it with future visits.

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