Mexico City Girls Trip
Mexico, mi amor. I’ve visited you three times in the past twelve months, and wouldn’t want it any other way.
It was pretty obvious that David and I only skimmed the surface while in Mexico City our first go-round, so I didn’t have to think twice about where to plan this year's rendezvous with the girls. And lucky for me, everyone was equally as excited. It was the first year in awhile not filled with bachelorette parties, showers, and weddings. Nobody was pregnant. The perfect time to celebrate. I also jotted down “plan a girls trip,” as one of my personal goals for the year, which I, of course, had to hold myself accountable to.
7 girls, born and raised in Texas, in Mexico City. Our parents were thrilled...
It doesn’t have the most memorable of names, but AR218 was the perfect place for us to call home for the long weekend. A week before we headed out, I came across a few horrendous reviews on TripAdvisor about Hotel Carlota, which is where we originally planned to stay. Travelers were complaining of sewage and theft, and I knew my friends would never forgive me if we showed up to a room that smelled like poo-poo-oo. Thankfully, the AR 218 manager, Mario, was able to accommodate us last-minute, and the price was more or less the same.
Our rooms were extremely spacious and quiet, we had unlimited bottles of water at our disposal (this is important in Mexico), and although I’m not a big fan of going to Starbucks in another country, having one connected to the building was convenient. We were centrally located to popular parks and restaurants and could walk to and from a ton of great places without hassle.
Ojo de Agua
Ojo de Agua is a quaint, neighborhood gem, in the heart of La Condesa that specializes in fruit juices, made from local favorites like guava and nopal.
We started off the day here two mornings in a row and listened to the sounds of an early morning guitar serenade over coffee, acai bowls, and other Mexican classics. It’s open seating, gets pretty crowded by 10 am, and each wall is lined with tons of colorful fruit that you can purchase right off the shelf.
Their acai bowls are what breakfast dreams are made of. A perfectly semi-frozen base, topped with fresh bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, melons and granola. In addition to the fruit-forward options, their menu also included favorites like chilaquiles and molletes, which were equally as delicious.
“what breakfast dreams are made of”
Without question, this will be a staple of mine that I stop into during all future visits.
Another breakfast must, also located in La Condesa, is Maque. Reservations aren’t a thing here, so make sure you stop by early or grab a coffee beforehand and wait your turn outside.
Let’s start with the ambiance. It’s airy, bright, there is seating both inside and out, and all of the bakers and waitresses wear the most adorable, blue lace pinafore aprons.
The minute you walk in, you’ll notice a beautiful wall of pastries to your right. As soon as you sit down, you’ll be displayed with a basket full of sugary dough delights to choose from. The Concha, their most popular pastry, is a Mexican sweet bread roll, given the name due to it’s seashell-like appearance. I highly recommend ordering one for the table. I also had my favorite order of Huevos Rancheros here.
Located in Roma Norte, Huset is perfect for a romantic night spent dining outside. It’s centered around a charming terrace, surrounded by twinkling overhead lights. It really is beautiful, and the food was pretty good too. Nothing was overly memorable, but there were a few appetizers (a gnocchi dish) and desserts that we thoroughly enjoyed. I’d highly recommend it for the atmosphere, and give the food a 7 out of 10. Fun fact, the chef also owns Hanky Panky, which is a private members’ club/speakeasy that we loved. More on that later.
Known for their Baja style fish and shrimp tacos, El Pescadito is a no brainer for fried-seafood lovers. The tacos were unreal. I opted for the fish and shrimp combo, both lightly battered and somehow, not greasy. These tacos, topped with their selection of sauces and slaws, and paired with a Modelo, made for the most perfect indulgent lunch.
It’s a tiny place, often with a line wrapped around the block, but it moves quickly. When you reach the front of the line, be ready. The deep fryer is there in front of you, you’ll give your order directly to the chef and pay right away.
If you’ve read my 72 Hours in Mexico City blog, you know my feelings toward Contramar. As expected, the tuna tostadas got a standing ovation. We also ordered the sopes (meh), and al pastor de pescado, which was served traditional style, accompanied by a red and green sauce and fresh tortillas (highly recommended).
“The tuna tostadas got a standing ovation!”
I enjoyed day drinking at CondesaDF much more than my first time around when David and I went to the rooftop for a nightcap. We had good service and a healthy flow of spicy margs on deck. I still wasn’t blown away by the views, but do recommend stopping by for a cocktail during the day if you’re in the area.
After a lot of hesitation to spend time at a hotel like the Four Seasons while in another country, I was pretty impressed with the urban oasis that their patio offers. The courtyard is surrounded by lush greenery and string lights and provides a peaceful getaway from the busy streets of Mexico City. We sat under a huge umbrella while it rained off and on for hours, snacking on taquitos and french fries, and switching between spicy margaritas and bottles of rosé. Next time, Bar Fifty Mils, inside the hotel, is at the top of my list.
Gin Gin, now with locations in both Roma and Polanco, is a beloved favorite for a reason. The bartenders are generous, easy-going and really seem to love their jobs. We had a variety of botanical-based cocktails and a few complimentary shots that the bartender took with us to welcome us all to Mexico. Although we didn’t eat here, the food looked great too. As you walk in, you’ll immediately notice shelves of bottles from floor to ceiling, faint lighting, greenery throughout and a live DJ, setting vibes for the night.
Mezcal Tasting & Speakeasy Tour
Since we had such a big group going on our trip, we wanted to book at least one planned activity and thought that a guided tour of bars around Mexico City would be safer than us exploring that on our own. I’ve always had luck with Airbnb Experiences during my travels, so we got tickets to Abdeel’s Mezcal Tasting & Speakeasy Tour months before our trip.
The tour was perfection. Abdeel and his girlfriend were the most generous and educational hosts, and I’d recommend this experience to anyone who enjoys craft cocktails. Abdeel was born and raised in Mexico City, and is a full-time travel blogger, with a personal passion for libations. He really knows his craft, and spent hours with us explaining the intricacies of mezcal, mixology, and his favorite travel spots around the world. We bonded over bears in Alberta. Don’t miss that post.
The below bars are where Abdeel took us on the tour. Without his connections, there’s absolutely no way we would have a) known about these places and b) been able to get in on our own. The tour price included a few tastings of mezcal at the mezcaleria where we first met, as well as Uber’s to/from each bar and late-night grub. All other cocktails were on us.
We started at The Backroom, which is hidden behind a pizzeria (it smelled absolutely delicious btw), in the Juárez area. It’s certainly a neighborhood secret. The speakeasy pays tribute to the Prohibition, with a pretty classic cocktail menu, and was the perfect start to our night.
Next up was Hanky Panky, which felt the most exclusive. It’s one of Mexico City’s best-known secrets, hidden behind a small, unassuming restaurant, with an entry door that’s opened from a beverage machine.
We walked right in thanks to Abdeel, but I’ve read that you should message them on Facebook to request a reservation, and they’ll only provide directions over the phone. They aren’t posted anywhere publically.
The bar offers three menus - one that features new versions of classic cocktails, one that highlights bartender creations and finally, a selection of drinks from award-winning bartenders. The atmosphere is great, with dim lighting, limited seating, and the feeling as if someone famous may walk in at any second.
Xaman is where things start to turn up. Set in a pre-Hispanic, vibe-y basement, adorned with plants and open flames, swanky furniture, and house music, this bar was by far our favorite. You’ll want to go in with an open mind and try one of their specialty cocktails, made with ingredients like herbs, tea, and egg whites.
Xaman, you’ll be seeing me again.
Vitali Clinica Spa
My friend and I had a redeye to Mexico City, so we were looking for a little r&r before the rest of our group showed up. Vitalí Clínica Spa was nearby the hotel, had availability last minute and was reasonably priced, so we headed that way. I didn’t know what to expect going in, mostly because they spoke little English and there was some construction going on in the waiting area, but I was so exhausted at that point that I didn’t really care how good or bad my massage was. Much to my surprise, it was wonderful.
The staff was kind and accommodating. They started by allowing me to relax in the sauna for as long as we wanted, followed by giving me tea and water. From there, we were led into our individual rooms and had an A+ massage. My favorite part may have been spending another hour in their zen room while I waited for my friend to finish up (she added on a facial). They allowed me to shower, offered me tea and water again, gave me a heated eye mask (this was the game changer), delicious chocolate and just let me meditate, read and relax.
Overall, it was a great way to kickoff the trip and spend a few hours preparing for a lot of food and exploration.
During both of my trips to Mexico, I spent an unhealthy amount of time walking around Parque Mexico to people watch the dogs. Yes you read that correctly, dogs.
Not only will you see dog-walkers with no less than 10 good boys and girls all together on a master leash of sorts, but you’ll also notice a ton of dogs lying calmly on the park walkways, without having to be tied up. They just chill there, obidently. I can’t help but laugh thinking about how poorly behaved both of my pups would be in this very scenario.
After a bit of digging, I learned that Parque Mexico is known for it’s dog school. Affluent pet-parents bring their dogs here for obedience training from true dog whisperers, and it makes for the best daytime activity and Instagram story post.
Mercado de San Juan
Mercado de San Juan is the perfect market for a quick day trip, but be warned, it’s not for those with a weak stomach to potent aromas. The market is known for its exotic offerings, and everyone from tourists to locals and chefs frequent it for speciality meats and produce. You can find wild pig, iguana, or crocodile, and there’s no shortage of insects for sale. Some of the bugs like scorpions and the largest ants I’ve ever seen are even covered in chocolate and displayed as if they’re candy.
We didn’t spend much time here since some of the girls couldn’t bare to look at the dead animals, but I’d definitely go back with a tour guide who could help me sample some of the offerings without accidently eating armadillo.
Within a few blocks, there was another market called Mercado de Artesanias La Ciudadela offering artisanal gifts such as painted pottery, colorful, woven ornaments and jewelry. We all walked away with a few gifts for our loved ones from there, and shook off the sights and smells from Mercado de San Juan.
Museo Nacional de Antropologia
I’ll admit, museums can be a hit or miss for me. I try to go to a few highly recognized places in each city that I visit, but am often a bit bored and catch myself thinking about the hours I could spend elsewhere in the city, exploring. Maybe this will get easier with age and wisdom.
Anyway, in the hopes of making this activity more lively, we sat at the museum’s beautiful patio cafe and had a few bottles of wine and small bites to start. That might have made things harder for us …
We didn’t spend near enough time here, and I’d love to come back when I have appropriate time to dedicate brainspace to the beautiful pre-Hispanic culture and archeological elements surrounding it’s different exhibits. Also, it’d be worth spending a bit more time in Chapultepec Park, where the museum is located.
A girlfriend of mine highly recommended Mama Rumba, so we set out for some salsa on our last night in Mexico City. It’s cash only (I can’t remember how much), quite crowded, and open until the wee hours.
What’s nice about this club, is that you can have a good time learning basic moves from the chilangos, or just people-watching and enjoying the live band. By the time we left, I was sweaty as hell, but the energy of everyone there was so intoxicating that I didn’t want to leave. I’d highly recommend going here with a group of girls. It’s one of the more memorable experiences from my travels in Mexico.
DO NEXT TIME
Now that I’m two trips in, my top three things to see/do in Mexico City the next go round are to eat at Nico’s, which is a no brainer, spend a day on the canals of Xochimilco and grab cocktails at Bar Fifty Mils. Leave me a comment with must-do’s I’m missing from your favorites in Mexico City!