Mexico City: 10 Travel Delights, From Tea to Architecture


Maison Française de Thé Caravanseraï
In the district known as Colonia Roma, the early-20th-century art nouveau Balmori Building welcomes connoisseurs and neophytes into one of the most famous teahouses in the city. A 62-page menu explains the characteristics of every leaf drink and other specialties, including organic dishes. Then, go for a walk in the area for a complete cultural experience; you'll see abundant art deco, art nouveau, and neoclassical architecture, dozens of shops, and the Casa Lamm Cultural Center.

Orizaba 101, Colonia Roma;

Villa Coyoacán: 'The Place of Coyotes'
The colonial town where Hernán Cortés made his home after the Mexican conquest is arguably one of the most historically rich zones in the city. With myriad colonial buildings, churches, museums, markets, restaurants, cantinas, and shops, it is the place to go for a long walk and a great cup of coffee. It's best visited on weekends.

Jardín Centenario, Coyoacán, D.F.;

Bar la Opera
The third-oldest surviving restaurant-cantina in the city (since 1876) has witnessed countless historical events and served presidents, politicians, artists, writers, actors, Zapata's soldiers, peasants, and the revolutionary legend Pancho Villa, who allegedly shot his gun inside and left a bullet hole in the roof (the hole is still there). It specializes in traditional Mexican food and has a vast selection of wines and spirits.

Cinco de Mayo 10, Colonia Alameda Central;

El Zócalo
The plaza of the Constitution is the second-largest square in the world. It was the religious and political seat of the Mexican Empire before the Spanish Conquest. Built by the Spanish over the ruins of the Templo Mayor, the plaza now showcases early colonial architecture, including the cathedral and the national palace. More than 20 museums, hundreds of libraries, restaurants, bars, cafés, and stores, and the ruins of the original temple (inside a museum) surround it.

Plaza de la Constitución, Colonia Centro;

The plaza of the Constitution Randy Faris / Corbis

National Museum of Anthropology
Although the museum dates back to 1841, its current 35,675-square-meter venue was inaugurated in 1964 and houses the largest pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican collection in the world, focusing mainly on the Maya, Aztec, Olmec, Teotihuacan, Toltec, Zapotec, and Mixtec cultures. One of its main pieces is the legendary Aztec calendar.

Paseo de la Reforma and Calzada Gandhi, Colonia Chapultepec Polanco;

The Palace of the Fine Arts
With its neoclassical and art nouveau Carrara marble exteriors and art deco interiors with marble, Marotti glass, and iron, this palace is considered the most important cultural venue in Mexico. Haltingly built between 1904 and 1934, it is famous for its murals by Diego Rivera, Rufi no Tamayo, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros. Music, classical dance, and theater events are held almost daily.

Avenida Hidalgo 1, Colonia Centro;

Los Girasoles
This restaurant offers Mexican gourmet food designed by the best culinary artists of modern Mexico and provides an immersive and generous experience where you can see, taste, smell, and listen to Mexican culture. Its décor includes paintings by Rafael Coronel, José Luis Cuevas, Gabriel Macotela, and José Luis Bustamante.

Tacuba 8–10, Colonia Centro;

This borough is the home of a system of canals where small artificial agricultural plots, called chinampas, are used to grow ornamental and edible plants, the latter used as organic ingredients for high-end restaurants in the area. Hop aboard a trajinera (a man-powered small boat) and enjoy the food, mariachi music, and the sights. The zone is full of cultural, culinary, and shopping options.

Centro de Xochimilco; www.

Xochimilco Charly Kurz / Laif-Redux

El Café de Tacuba
Founded in 1912 in a 17th-century house in the historic center, this restaurant is a must for any visitor. It has been the favorite of presidents and politicians, and some of its most famous patrons were composer Agustín Lara and President Porfi rio Díaz. Excellent Mexican food and music are the specialty of the house.

República de Guatemala 28, Colonia Centro;

The Saturday Market in San Angel
Located at the south of the city in a colonial district, this market offers a wide variety of Mexican art and handicrafts and delicious options for a traditional breakfast (only on Saturdays). Walk around the zone to find a variety of theaters, museums, libraries, and the modern Plaza Grand if you are in the mood for some serious shopping.