A local’s guide to Mexico City

Blacklane’s Chauffeur of the Month Daniel has lived in Mexico City all his life and takes pride in driving visitors around his hometown. Here are his top tips for your next trip to the Mexican capital.

Downtown Mexico City. Image credit: Torresigner/iStock
Downtown Mexico City. Image credit: Torresigner/iStock

What to do

At the top of Daniel’s list is the Frida Kahlo Museum, also known as The Blue House. Beyond being a celebration of the legendary artist and her contemporaries, it’s also the house she was born in and where she lived at the end of her life. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or just want to learn more about Mexican art, you’ve got to pay The Blue House a visit.

Another unique experience Daniel recommends is to ride a boat along the canals by Xochimilco. These longboats are a great way to get your nature fix and can come with a live Mariachi band. For those who like things a little creepy, this is also where you’ll find the Island of the Dolls.

If you’re more interested in the cityscape, take a stroll along Reforma Avenue, which is Mexico City’s equivalent to Paris’ Champs Elysee. Running from the city center to the city’s biggest park, Bosque de Chapultepec, this massive boulevard will take you past some city landmarks.

The park at the bottom of Reforma Avenue is where you’ll find Chapultepec Castle. Built in 1725, it is now host to the city’s National History Museum. The setting is picturesque with an amazing array of historical materials including costumes, art, books, and objects from daily life.

Daniel also advises every traveler to visit The Zócalo (more formally known as Plaza de la Constitución), which is the main square in the city center. Be sure to check if there are any major events or holidays during your time there because chances are something fun will be happening.

Daniel said no visit to the city would be complete without a Lucha Libre show. You may have seen depictions of Mexican wrestling before, but nothing beats seeing the athleticism and performance up close with a crowd of excited fans.

If you can spare a day, be sure to go to Teotihuacan, an ancient city from pre-colonization (think 200 CE). In particular, climb to the top of the city’s largest restored pyramid, the Pyramid of the Sun, to get some amazing photos and to feel like you’re walking through history.

Ancient Teotihuacan pyramids and ruins in Mexico City. Image credit: Starcevic/iStock
Ancient Teotihuacan pyramids and ruins in Mexico City. Image credit: Starcevic/iStock

Where to go

Did you know Mexico City is a secret haven for those who love forward-thinking design and unique buildings? It even made our list of the 9 best cities for modern architecture enthusiasts

Two areas worth staying in, or at the very least exploring for the architecture, are Polanco and La Condesca. One of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods, Polanco is where you’ll find impressive structures such as the Museo Soumaya and lots of upscale shopping and restaurants. 

La Condesa, southeast of Polanco, is one of the city’s “Barrios Mágicos” (magical neighborhoods), a must-see area for tourists. La Condesa is a hub for the artistically inclined and the perfect place to stay to soak in the city’s bohemian charm.

Where to eat

Authentic Mexican food can be hard to find outside of Mexico. For example, Fajitas are actually considered “Tex-Mex” because they were created in Texas, U.S., so a trip to Mexico isn’t complete without some truly authentic Mexican food.

For some classic Mexican tacos, head to Tako’s & Takos in Polanco, or Villamelon Tacos in the southwest of the city, and visit Quesadillas Maria Isabel for — you guessed it — quesadillas. You won’t find any impossible-to-eat hard shells here.

Quesadilla with sauces. Image credit: graphixel/iStock
Quesadilla with sauces. Image credit: graphixel/iStock

For more adventurous eaters, try “escamoles”, which is ant larvae and pupae pan-fried in butter and spices. Often compared to cottage cheese in texture, they have a slightly nutty taste and are considered a local delicacy. The perfect place to try them, according to Daniel, is El Cardenal, which has several locations across the city, including one right in the center by The Zócalo.

Foodies will also want to pay a visit to Pujol, a stylish restaurant in Polanco that offers seven-course meals of small dishes packed with fresh combinations of Mexican flavors and textures.

Whether you’re looking to try your hand at making your own Mexican dish or you’re looking for a lively photo op, San Juan Market is the place to go. There are two buildings at the marketplace, one where you can find the raw gourmet ingredients, and one where you can buy prepared meals. Far from a typical street market, it’s a favorite for local chefs and gourmets.

For dessert, go for churros, which are essentially sticks of fried dough covered in cinnamon and sugar and dipped in chocolate. Daniel’s pick is El Moro, a 24-hour churrería that offers eight varieties of hot chocolate.

To round out a day of exploring the city, visit  La Ópera Bar for a drink. Spot the bullet hole from when Mexican revolutionary General Pancho Villa shot at the ceiling in 1910 on the cusp of the Mexican civil war. The opulent setting is the perfect place to appreciate quality tequila the right way — with a little sangrita on the side.