23 years ago, during a family trip to Cancun, I met a brain surgeon from Mexico City. He was thoughtful and articulate. He spoke English better than most of the English-speakers I knew, even though his native language was Spanish. Although I was basing my decision on a sample size of one, from that day forward I associated Mexico City with education, culture, and intelligence.
After my first day in the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world (home to more than 21 million people), I should add beauty and food to its list of accolades.
The Zona Rosa district (also known as the Reforma district) is beautiful. It consists of buildings both modern and old, sleek and formidable. It’s like being split between Shanghai’s Bund and Pudong. Or like strolling down Paris’ Champs Elysees, except you’re in Mexico City (Ciudad de Mexico, or CDMX).
My first steps in Mexico City began in Zona Rosa, just outside the front door of the Le Méridien hotel.
Walk down Paseo de la Reforma. Turn onto Avenida Juarez (at the fountain). Eat at Café de Tacuba. These were the instructions from the concierge, and they were spot-on! What you see along the way is stunning.
Founded in 1912, Café de Tacuba delivers. Its linen table cloths, stained-glass windows, paintings, and curved ceilings (almost like dining in a Moscow train station) make you wonder if the food can keep up with the ambiance.
I went for the tamale mole con pollo and the special tacos. Both were divine.
CDMX is flush with cobble-stone streets. And they make me want to walk.
Chinese New Year was all the rage during my visit. The entrance to Mexico City’s Chinatown is marked by an upside-down graffiti’d warrior and a traditional Chinese gate.
Bodies were pressed shoulder to shoulder, chest to back, for a glimpse of the dragons, the drummers, and an opportunity to score a hat that reads “Año Nuevo Chino.”
I wasn’t in CDMX to eat chow mein, so it seemed prudent to get back out onto the main drag. Art installations are numerous along Avenida Juárez.
Soon it was time to eat again. Enjoying street tacos at one of the many taco stands was a smart decision.
The evening ended with my first (and then a second) mezcal. Spring for the good stuff. It’s smooth. You can sip it.
Not pictured is my first glass of Don Julio 70, a tequila that was just too good to be photographed.
Stay tuned for Day 2.
United Airlines 737-800 LAX-MEX First Class
Le Méridien Mexico City
Café de Tacuba
And of course, should you have any questions, feel free to contact me.