A First-Timer's Guide to Mexico City: From Zona Rosa to Roma
We don't hear too much about Mexico City these days, even though it's a totally doable flight and an easy trip from most major US Cities. So this week we're changing that, and clueing you in to the must-dos for a first timer's trip to La Ciudad de los Palacios (The City of Palaces), AKA Mexico City.
Zona Rosa isn’t the neighborhood most representative of Mexico City, but it’s safe and a great place to be a tourist. This upscale area is convenient from the airport (you can get there for about 200 pesos, or less than $20, by taxi) and has all the basics a visitor needs: pharmacies, ATMs, and stuff that’s open late.
Though Zona Rosa deservedly gets the rep of being all foreign restaurants and overpriced internet cafes, there’s also some excellent scenery nearby. El Angel de la Independencia (Angel of Independence) is a large, beautiful sculpture located in a traffic circle on the busy Paseo de la Reforma. On weekends, it’s not unusual for ice cream vendors to set up shop near El Angel or for marathon runners to pass by on their morning route. If you ever get lost, El Angel is such a recognizable landmark that almost anyone in Mexico City will be able to point you in the right direction. Also nearby is the statue of Diana the Huntress, who is said to be pointing her arrow “toward infinity.”
If you’re desperate for wifi, Zona Rosa’s myriad Starbucks locations will do the job. While the neighborhood is packed with chain restaurants, there are a couple of hidden gems here. For tasty Japanese food, hit Tokyo on Calle Amberes. If you want more authentic Mexican fare, Beatricita’s (Londres 190) offers up incredible chilaquiles and mole poblano tacos.
For a truer sense of Mexico City daily life, walk south away from Zona Rosa and you’ll soon find yourself in the artsy Roma neighborhood. (A good way to tell when you’ve crossed over: streets in Zona Rosa are named after European cities like Hamburgo and Liverpool, while the ones in Roma are named after other places in Mexico like Oaxaca and Merida).
The Parque Espana and Parque Mexico face each other and are great places to sit and relax on a nice day (they also both have fairly reliable wireless). But the real pull of Roma is not attractionsit’s cool cafes, bars, and nightlife a la Mexicana. Highlights include La Boguedita de Medio (Cozumel 37), a Cuban restaurant famous for its ceviche and strawberry mojitos. The interior is graffiti-style, and pictures of famous visitors (hi, Leonardo DiCaprio!) adorn the walls. It also has English-language menus, which you’ll need after a couple strong drinks.
Tomorrow: On the canals of Xochimilco
[Photo: Sam Kelly]