down in mexico (city)

Rule #1 of traveling in Mexico City: change your Tinder bio to "can some1 plz teach me Spanish".

Mexico City. Where to even begin?

A beer called Bohemia. Worm salt-dipped orange slices. That Japanese psychedelic rock band you meet at a dive bar in Roma Norte. Two girls lost somewhere in the cobblestone streets of Santa Catarina. Unidentifiable salsas. Shadow play at the Blue House (note: Frida Kahlo is a Cancer, Diego Rivera is a Sagittarius). Your Kodak disposable camera: last seen in the back seat of Maricela's Uber. 58 Google Translate tabs open. Text exchanges with your Brooklyn Crush (topics of discussion: tacos, rain, Seamless, 80s synth music). The name "Axel". One (drunken) ramen night. 20 peso entry fee for a club named "Memphis". A surreal pit stop at 7/11 at 2:32 AM. Painted souvenir skulls and tagged alleyways. Belated birthday wishes. Todos vestidos y sin lugar a donde ir. Tacos (al pastor) for eternity.

This affair all began with a cheap plane ticket ($250, bless you and a desire to celebrate my 23rd birthday somewhere relatively ~foreign~ and well, anywhere but NYC. My previous Mexico experiences were contained to family vacations in Cancun and Cabo, aka THE epitome of college spring break party destinations aka THE antithesis of me as a human being. In contrast, the Mexico City mood board is the opposite — think of a rich contemporary art scene, the architect’s cloud nine, cozy dive bars turned expat watering holes… and also where English is barely spoken. My Spanish knowledge* came exclusively from Google Translate, and it also didn’t help that most locals assumed I was also native. Or, as the employee at the Catedral Metropolitana once historically asked me, “Why do you look Latina?” Answer TBD.

*By “knowledge”, I mean a very extensive vocabulary that includes “uno mas”, “la cuenta por favor”, and “.

  • Swipe on Tinder and brand the experience as “international dating research”. You will discover multiple men with the name “Axel”, which also coincidentally sounds like the name an alt-rock musician would give to his 3-year-old son. (NOTE: say yes when your matches offer to “teach you Spanish”)
  • Indulge in the art of mezcal at a moody, candlelit hipster bar:
    • Step 1: Sip mezcal
    • Step 2: Consume orange slice in dipped in worm salt
    • Step 3: Chase with a light Mexican beer
    • Step 4: Repeat until you send embarrassing late night text messages to your Brooklyn Crush
  • Immediately tip 50 pesos to the attractive guy in the mariachi band at Cafe de Tacuba
  • Have PTSD-flashbacks to the memory of mariachi bands serenading you in public
  • Wander into a panadería by the freeway near Parque España and have an emotional breakdown on what pastries to buy (the answer: concha bread)
  • Uber ~literally~ everywhere because it’s cheap, then proceed to silently despise NYC and its everyday $20 Uber pool rides
  • Take approx. 40,242 photos at the famed House of Tiles
  • Satisfy your modern art craving at Museo Jumex and take approx. 10,893 more photos just in the bathroom alone
  • !! VERY IMPORTANT: book your ticket to the Frida Kahlo Museum online in advance so you can casually pull up in your Uber, skip past the line of 50+ people, and feel like you are a B-List Hollywood celebrity!
  • Explore the vibrant Ciuadela Market — *the* paradise for artisanal, locally handcrafted souvenirs + goods. Your loot: mango coconut body soap and a black-and-white painted Day of the Dead skull
  • Accidentally consume a suspicious green salsa at Casa de los Tacos that set your soul on fire
  • Meet a Japanese psych rock band named Cornelius at a dive bar in Roma Norte. Suffer yet again another PTSD-flashback of their manager from Beverly Hills trying to hit on you but tragically failing at it. (NOTE: months later, a Cornelius song will appear on your Spotify Discover Weekly)
  • Get approx. 3 hours of sleep before your flight back to NYC because you will go on a Tinder date with your best friend that will result in 3 mezcal shots, 2 beers, paying 20 pesos to dance at a club named “Memphis”, a missing denim jacket, a missing hotel room key, and the hotel front desk employee asking why your best friend is asleep in the lobby.

  • Cafe de Tacuba: Pictursque stained glass windows. Live music C/O a mariachi band. Traditional Mexican fare.
  • Churrería El Moro: Churros + chocolate dipping sauce = cures everything.
  • Lalo!: Chilaqueles. Coffee. Enough said.
  • La Casa de los Tacos: The name says it all. Infinite salsa offerings. Beware of *the green one* that made life flash before your eyes.

  • La Clandestina: My ~unofficial~ favorite bar in CDM — to the point where we went twice in a row. Come for your 411 in everything mezcal, shabby-chic speakeasy vibes, Jesus candles, and a surprising clientele of American expats and tourists.
  • Bosforo Mezcalaria: Less touristy, more local mezcal watering hole. For the brave-hearted, order the crickets.
  • FélixWell-crafted cocktails, marble countertops, a rather fashion-type crowd.
  • El Palenquinto: The “sister bar” to La Clandestina. Order a beer or (and) mezcal and enjoy the ambience that is described as a hybrid between a dive bar and an underground cave.
  • Licorera Limantour: Not to be dramatic or anything, but I may have had *THE* best cocktail of my 23 years of life here. This is mixology at its finest — imagine the best of the best tiki cocktails fused with the elixir of magic: mezcal. My tip: order anything with coconut. You will thank me.
Until next time.