Mexico City: 5 Things You Must Do Before You Leave

by Isabella Troconis

Besides being the largest city in Latin America and the third city with more museums worldwide, Mexico City has so much to offer in terms of art, culture, food, sightseeing, nightlife and festivals that not even a defeño (a Mexican bornt in Mexico City) or a chilango (a Mexican not originally from Mexico City that lives in the capital) are able to get hold of what is actually going on in this metropolis. Here are 5 things to do in the beloved DFectuoso (locals refer to their beloved capital as DFectuoso because it is perceived as a city with many flaws) that will make you fall in love with Mexico City to a point that you will never want to leave:

Pachuca's Farmers Market
Pachuca's Farmers Market. Photo by Isabella Troconis

Tuesdays: Grocery Shopping in Pachuca’s Farmers Market

Every Tuesday, farmers from all Mexico come to set a street market to sell their crops at the lowest rates. This farmers market goes from Pachuca Street and Veracruz Street all the way to Pachuca Street and Juan Escutia Avenue. It starts at 9 a.m. and finishes at 5 p.m. Customers go either to the meal tianguis (kiosk) and eat their tacos al pastor (the Mexican version for Shawarmas) or pozoles (corn and chicken broth) for lunch or to the market itself to get the freshest and cheapest products in Colonia Condesa and Colonia Roma. The market vendors offer a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, ranging from purple bananas to all sorts of chiles (spicy peppers), a key ingredient to spice your meals à la mexicaine. Also, there are other tianguis selling plants and dairy products, of which the Oaxaca’s cheese is the most popular among regulars. 

Weekdays: Lunch at San Juan 77 Market

Right in front of TELMEX towers and few blocks away from Palacio de Bellas Artes, you will find this low-key indoor market called San Juan 77, in which you will be able to buy various products, ranging from Spanish Manchego cheese to lion meat! 

However, the best place in the market is La Jersey. In this stall, you can find wines, cheeses and delicatessen from Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands. What’s more, La Jersey offers a lunch formula, offering the customer to drink as much wine as she wishes and sweetening the deal with a mascarpone and honey dessert when ordering a panino. Dishes are carefully prepared and ingredients are plentiful for a relatively low price (usually between 6 and 12 U.S. Dollars). No wonder senators and congressmen are among frequent customers.

Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City
Palacio de Bellas Artes

Weekends: After Party at Cigala’s Seafood Restaurant

When it comes to fiesta, Mexicans take seriously all-night partying and a copious meal to end the weekend on a high note. Locals either go for tacos al pastor or stop at the famous seafood restaurant, Cigala, located between the Plaza Mexico Bullring and Cruz Azul’s soccer stadium. The long table at the terrace, aimed at after party people, is definitely the highlight of this place. Many people, there to see either bullfighting or a soccer game, tend to go before or after the match to the point that waiters have to add more tables to the long table. They all usually end up chitchatting with new people or singing a ranchera (a genre of traditional Mexican music played by mariachis). Besides the friendly ambiance, the shrimp tacos with spicy sauce along with the ceviche can either cure one’s hangover or revitalize one’s body to cheer the toreros against the bull or Cruz Azul against its archenemy, el América!

Sundays: Bike riding on Paseo de la Reforma 

Besides partying, locals enjoy practicing sports while spending some quality time with their loved ones: Sunday biking on the Paseo de la Reforma is the ideal plan for all families and friends. Local authorities close the main lanes of Paseo de la Reforma going from Castillo de Chapultepec all the way to la Alameda every Sunday, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is no need to have a bike! Anyone interested in biking, can either borrow a bike at a public borrowing kiosk on Reforma or rent it at an EcoBici stand. However, it is recommendable to be on Reforma as early as possible due to the lack of bicycle supply of the borrowing kiosks. If you wish to rent a bike, you should definitely go to an EcoBici office a day earlier to pay for the rent, given that EcoBici stand on Paseo de Reforma does not accept cash nor foreign credit/debit cards. 

Also, it is important to point out that EcoBici will block an amount of 460 U.S Dollars as deposit. This money will be refunded between 5 and 8 working days after the customer returned the bike. Despite all inconveniences, biking through Paseo de la Reforma without the buzz nor the traffic jam and getting a chance to visit the Independence Angel, the Revolution Square, and other landmarks is definitely priceless and a great way to get a better perspective of one the most emblematic parts of Mexico City.

Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City
Paseo de la Reforma

Sundays: Soccer Match at UNAM’s Olympic Stadium

Going to a soccer match at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México’s (UNAM) Olympic Stadium is a great opportunity to not only watch the game itself but to visit the biggest university in Latin America. At the end of the game, don’t forget to pass by Mexico’s golden eagle mural produced by Diego Rivera! Soccer games usually take place at noon every Sunday and tickets cost between 15 and 100 U.S. Dollars. As of ten years ago, belts were banned from the stadium after some dedicated Puma supporters whipped some opposing fans. When entering the Olympic Stadium, the visitor will immediately notice that about 7/8 of the attendants are wearing a Puma t-shirt, while the visiting team’s fans are scarce and guarded by dozens of policemen. 

As an outsider, the most exciting part of the game is watching the hardcore supporters chanting all kinds of songs to underscore their golden skin, blue heart, and their unconditional loyalty to the Pumas. All of this comes despite losing the most games over the past seasons. In the end, the first-timer will end up singing the Goya song (UNAM’s student anthem) and throwing beer at the front line!

The task of summing up the indefinite number of attractions into a list of 5 must-dos is as difficult as Mexico is a city full of life and replete with events. By welcoming outsiders, the DFectuoso has turned into a real life melting pot – look no further than the Korean town close to the Independence Angel. If you are now thinking: where should I go to stay up all-night and go to Cigala? The answer is: Patrik Miller, a nightclub located in Colonia Roma. As frequent clubbers range from taxi drivers to mi reyes (Mexican expression for extremely snobby men), don’t worry, there’s no dress code. Just put on your dancing shoes and have yourself a blast!