On the main square in the beautiful district of Coyoacan. It's a tiny little place with very eccentric staff who shout at you quite a lot, but being shouted at is part and parcel of life in Mexico City. It was the only place I found that did draught beer after two years living there and they serve beer in pitchers. The upstairs balcony is particularly comfortable. Bar snacks are available.
Plaza Coyoacan. Best to used Peseros (little buses) to get there as Coyocan metro is a bit of a hike.
A very cool rooftop bar with open-air pool at this design hotel, great views of the city skyline. Good DJs (look out for resident DJ Sacha) and great drinks. They even project stylish films onto a neighbouring tower block. Go after dark, and enjoy.
Habita, Avenida Presidente Masaryk 201 Colonia Polanco 11560 México, DF; tel: +52 (55) 5282-3100
Viveros is where they grow trees for the rest of Mexico City's parks: a square mile of dense if artificial forest in the concrete jungle. Go there to stroll or jog on the many well-maintained paths. Close to picturesque Coyoacan district with the Frieda Kahlo house & museum & many colonial buildings, cafes etc, weekend crafts market.
Metro to Viveros, from there walk or take microbus or taxi to Coyoacan centre.
Cafe Popular and Cafe Tacuba are both intsitutions and deliver the authentic DF experience. Cafe Popular is great for good value breakfasts with tons of food and coffee. Can get very busy as it's (as the name suggests) very popular with the locals. Cafe de Tacuba is a bit more expensive but a real experience with waiting staff in pinnies and 50's style head-dresses. Very colourful decor and delicious food. I recommend the hot chocolate and sweet breads. Great to people watch, especially on a Sunday when clans of "chilangos" head out for food.
Cafe Popular - 5 de Mayo Street; Cafe de Tacuba - Tacuba Street nr Allende Metro.
This restaurant is in the heart of the historic centre of the city. It's no bargain but the food is interesting and good. Most memorable is the rooftop terrace overlooking the Zocalo. Try going there at night.
Casa de Las Sirenas, Guatemala 32, Zocalo.
Tel + 52 5 704 3225
Capitilanos I made friends with urged me to try a novel drink at this square - Mexican women set up small stalls serving a dark lager, with plenty of lime juice, in plastic glasses; the rim of which was coated in salt AND hot chilli powder. Much better than it sounds, though it doesn't travel so well - friends at home were not so keen (I put this down to the wrong sort of chilli powder - they have hundreds, you know)
On the Square, small stalls
Forget tequila - the authentic Mexican drink is pulque, a watery alcoholic juice made from fermented maguey. Slightly foamy, with a tinge of aloe vera, it tastes like rinsed shampoo, smells terrible and you would need to consume a lot to get drunk. It is cheap, though ...
Seek out a local pulqueria, a spit-and-sawdust drinking saloon frequented largely by men.
Nightlife/entertainment.Don't miss the extraordinary spectacle of Plaza Garibaldi, where there can often be upwards of fifty Mariachi bands touting for business at any one time. The atmosphere is friendly, safe and more than a little mad. You can listen in the open air, or take a table in one of the salones, of which Tenampa is amongst the best. Bands comprising a dozen or more musicians move between diners and drinkers, offering songs for a few pounds each. There's an irony-free cigarette girl, and even a man with an electric-shock machine to test your machismo.
If the spangled trousers don’t get you, the trumpets and the aye aye aye aying surely will. There is nothing quite like a plaza-full of 10-piece mariachi bands competing to make the most noise - at a bar called the Tenampa, there is a more relaxed place to drink in this pure popular culture experience. Just watch out for pick pockets and drug addicts, and make sure you have a safe ride home if you stay late.
Nearest metro: Garibaldi
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