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Mexico City Part 1: Cuauhtémoc and Condesa

In which I eat so many tacos. See Part 2 here. and Part 3

This Valentine’s weekend, my roomies from college and best friend from high school (who are also roomies, it’s very confusing), spent an awesome week in Mexico City. @ the bottom are links for what we ate (and presumably other helpful links but we mostly did eating so)

Safety and other logistics

All the fun stuff is great, but as a sometimes solo female traveler, I get asked about my personal safety a lot (and obviously think about it too). I consulted some coworkers and friends who had lived/been there, and the TLDR was:

  • Don’t get in taxis (they may charge you arbitrary rates), use uber (which is super cheap). I think the exception of this for me was calling an airport taxi from one of the stands at the airport

  • Don’t carry a ton of cash, just small amounts for purchases or wear flashy jewelry/watches/clothing

  • Be aware of your surroundings (don’t leave your bag/purse on the back of the chair). Pickpocketing and other opportunistic crimes are the highest danger

  • Get to know the neighborhoods and where it’s less safe at night (see this link)

  • I’ve heard mexico city has been through a lot of changes in the last two decades, which is maybe why I got many shocked reactions when I told people about my destination. I got really into the history behind the city’s historic center revitalization and what it was like to live in mexico city throughout the years.

  • Tap water in CDMX isn’t potable, even locals drink filtered and bottled water. If you want to be extra cautious, you can even use bottled to brush your teeth (though we didn’t)

  • Tips are appreciated, I heard generally 10%-15% is a good tip at a restaurant (or 10-20 pesos for something small)

  • Get cash for the above reason and also because most of the awesome food places still require cash

Our neighborhood

We stayed in a quiet residential neighborhood in Cuauhtémoc off Paseo de la Reforma and Juárez. It was a walking distance from the Anthropology museum, and a number of good taco places. Like a lot of the nice buildings, ours was staffed 24/7 by a doorman and security was tight. It was a great location that was close enough to all the spots. I took two extra days to work in the office and explore some of the city on my own. Our neighborhood was a great walking distance from an awesome taco spot, Tacos don güero that is almost 24/7 and a busier street with a Churrería El Moro that’s open until 11pm.

Pujol Taco Omakase in Condesa

The day after I arrived, I had made 4pm reservations for the taco omakase at Pujol. I walked over from my office buildings, seeing some interesting sights along the way (parks featuring US figures like abraham lincoln and MLK). The neighborhoods I walked through were very green. The one thing that is crazy about Mexico city is the traffic, which seemed to start at 9am and not die down until 8pm.

Condesa has been described to me as the Miami of Mexico City. It’s definitely a more pretentious and flashy neighborhood, with a ton of bars, clubs, and fancy restaurants. If you’ve ever seen the netflix show “Made in Mexico City” it’s definitely a socialite vibe. This is the neighborhood that Pujol is in. I had tried to make reservations for all four of us, but because we started planning only a month before our trip (and because it was close to valentine’s), I was only able to find a taco omakase reservation for one. Total cost in 2019 is 3332 MXN (includes tax and food and an alcohol pairing). I heard from a fellow diner that it used to be around 2000 MXN not too long ago.

So excited to eat

So excited to eat

I made the waiter take a photo of me while I waited for my seat

I made the waiter take a photo of me while I waited for my seat

There were about 8 total seats at the bar where the taco omakase is held. It looked (and felt) a lot less formal than the rest of the restaurant. The service is super attentive (it’s the kind of place that pulls and pushes your chair out for you, and refolds your napkin). I actually loved sitting at the bar because it was a more social experience than sitting at a table alone and I got to watch the bartenders at work. They were also the ones that explained the dishes to us, which they helpfully did in both spanish as well as english. Shoutout to my fellow diners that I got to know over the meal and answered a bunch of my tourist questions about mexico city (one of them runs Tyler’s Taco Tours, which you should check out if you want a great guide to street food in CDMX!).

The food

Okay, the food is amazing. It comes slowly so that you can enjoy each piece. Everything is beautiful and creative in terms of both flavors and colors, but the portions were actually hefty enough that I felt like I was eating enough. It started out with lighter seafood dishes (my favorite was the scallop tostada and soft shell crab taco) and then moved to heavier meat dishes. After the meal “ends” they usher you from the bar area to the outdoor seating area, where you get churros/desserts and a sweet coffee drink (included) and can order more drinks (not included). They basically let you sit as long as you want with your fellow diners. I noticed the service tends to be very relaxed about bringing you your check, unless you explicitly ask for it. Definitely a departure from how service is in the US, but I really enjoyed the slow ending to the meal. From the first bite, I knew it would be worth the $$. The vibe, food, and service were enjoyable and attentive but not stuffy or pretentious.

TLDR links

Reservation for Pujol Taco Omakase. 3332 MXN which is about $150 USD. Make this at LEAST a month or so in advance. Card (unless you’re a baller that carries that much cash)

Tacos don güero 24/7 neighborhood spot that is cheap/clean. Cash only

Churrería El Moro Popular churro chain that’s open until 11pm most days. Card or Cash.

Part 2 here and part 3 (Day trips to xochimilco/frida kahlo musem and Teotihuacan Pyramids) coming soon

Crystal Shei