I went to Mexico City last weekend. My most sarcastic and driest Chicago friend Mike wanted to celebrate his girlfriend Monica’s 30th birthday, so he decided to extend an open invitation to a group of friends for a long weekend in Mexico.
I arrived in Mexico City shortly after noon on Friday. A few of my friends had already spent the morning at Six Flags Mexico, so I had an hour or so to wander around the Condesa neighborhood where we would be staying at. I found a quaint coffee shop called Paradigma just a few blocks from the Airbnb, and surprisingly — in lieu of my ignorant perception that most foreign countries only serve hot coffee — the cafe had cold brew and was run by a young Latina girl with umbrae highlights. She played an odd combination of both old Eminem songs and Blondie, alternating between angry white boy rap and 70’s glam punk.
What struck me first about Mexico is the currency: at first, I thought $35.00 for an iced coffee or $14.00 for a single taco (both in Mexican Pesos) was too fucking high, until I realized that a single Peso is worth as much as a US nickel. The conversion rate threw me off throughout the trip, and I worried about my bank account when the restaurant bills came over $2000.00 in Pesos. Still, for only withdrawing $100.00 USD (which amounted to $1600.00 MXP), I was able to have fun, drink a lot, and eat incredibly well for nearly 4 days.
The Airbnb that Mike and Monica reserved was quite beautiful: it had a distinct Spanish style and was only a couple of blocks from the busting heart of Condesa. I had my own full bed, access to a private patio from my room, and an attached bathroom. Nonetheless, for two days, our water would fucking run out. Someone would be showering or taking a dump, and all of a sudden the water would cease running or the toilet wouldn’t flush (and believe me, after eating considerable amounts of Mexican food at every meal, functioning toilets between a group of 7 people is important). We’d wait for hours waiting for the plumbers to refill the tank, and my sympathy went out to one of our friends who was unable to shower for two days — just because of unforeseen and unfortunate timing.
Speaking of food, Mexico’s dining experience encompasses everything I love about eating: cheese and meat and more cheese and spicyness. I couldn’t find fault with anything I ate, aside from the consistent trips to the bathroom (which was only exasperated by the lack of water and ultimately toilet paper). Still, Mexican cuisine has to be some of my favorite type of food, and being in Mexico City was akin to what it must have been like in Ancient Rome — pure decadence and non-stop self-gratification. Sad to say, though, a few of us in our group of 7 suffered indigestion throughout the entire trip, and one of my friends managed to get a severe form of E.Coli. Not me, however; despite having to poop more frequently than I like, I think that all the shit that I put in my body on a regular basis has toughened my immunity and strengthened my stomach into steel.
At night, I attempted to live and drink like a sorority girl with an endless budget from daddy. I’m old now, though, and clearly a dude, so my intention to get drunk was only impeded by lack of mental will power and being too tired all the goddamned time. Still, I’ve grown fond of Mezcal and the tiny, spice-and-salt-rimmed orange slices that accompany each drink. Mexican beer — such as the Hispanic-brand Indio — was okay but way too filling to share space with the awesome food also occupying my stomach. On the second night, Brett and Mike found out about this secret dance party located in the storefront of an otherwise abandoned building. They served buckets of Indio for only 20 pesos till 7am, thus it came as no surprise that the place was packed. I think I even passed by a 12-year-old drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette inside the establishment. It was a shitshow for sure, so Mike, Monica, Brett, and Samantha brought our cheap buckets of beers outside and chatted.
The next day, the five of us — including Clayton and his girlfriend Allison — walked around Bosque de Chapultepec, and hiked up Castillo de Chapultepec, a centuries-old castle on top of a hill. There was a museum inside the castle, containing artifacts spanning throughout Mexico’s lush history. With Castillo de Chapultepec built atop on one of the highest points in the state, we could see all of Mexico City.
After walking down the hill, it started to rain heavily, so the seven us walked to a nearby bar/cafe and drank some cocktails. The storm eventually died down, and Brett, Allison, Clayton, and myself went to Mercado Roma — an upscale food market that is the Mexican equivalent of New York’s own Eataly.
Rejoining Mike, Monica, and Sam back at the house, the seven of us went out in search of one last place to eat dinner. Walking around Condesa at night feels incredibly safe and even more incredibly quiet: the streets were nearly empty of pedestrians, and even during the day vehicular traffic is scarce and courteous (I can count the number of stop sign I’ve seen on a single hand, and incoming cars are polite enough to brake in front of you and let you cross the street). Finding a bright, cheery restaurant that seemed to play Tame Impala on repeat, our group ate dinner and went to what was essentially an American-style whiskey bar that played mashups of Rihanna and Eminem (Mexico City seems to really love that guy).
Afterwards, we walked to an al pastor taqueria called El Tizoncito. Both Clayton and Brett have heard about this place, and the establishment even claimed they invented the al pastor taco. About 5 stations of rotating spits lined the outside of the restaurant, each containing a base of whole, uncut onions, a slab of marinated pork, and an entire pineapple on top. The skilled cooks would then take a large knife and acrobatically cut each ingredient off the spit, toss them in the air, and catch them with a tortilla; it was quite a spectacle, and you can see a portion of it in the video below.
All in all, it was great trip (albeit short) with some really great friends. It marked the first time I’ve been to Mexico, and I assure you that’d I’d definitely go again: the prices — just like Brazil — are affordable, it pays to know even remedial Spanish, and Mexico is so big I’d love to have stayed longer and explore some other places like La Isla De Las Munecas and the Frida Kahlo House. Till then, here are some videos and photos: