I'm in Mexico City right now on a whim of a trip I booked two weeks ago. The reason for the trip was simple (if a little sad) - some repeat airbnb guests who love my dog (and vice versa) were having an extended stay at my studio in Joshua Tree, and were willing to watch him in exchange for reduced rent. I would travel a lot more if I wasn't so attached to that damn dog. So I opened up Google flights and started searching destinations and Mexico City popped out. I've been all over the Yucatán and Baja, but never in central Mexico. I had heard horror stories about traveling in Mexico City years ago (even from Mexicans!), but lately I've been hearing what a fabulous place it is.
It's hectic and loud, but also beautiful with an energy that's hard to describe. Luckily my first airbnb host, Tom, was a super nice ex-pat from NY, and he immediately set me up with a map and suggestions of where to go. He really made me feel at home, and the next night we hung out with some wine and commiserated on the ups and downs of being a host.
The second day I decided to try one of Airbnb's relatively new "experiences", and did a taco bike ride tour around the city. It's a great thing for someone traveling alone, but also for anyone wanting to find "insider gems" in a new city. The host, Diego, was a charmer and his tour was very well organized. We covered a lot of ground in three hours, making five stops to experience a variety of tacos.
First we went to a small Mayan taco joint, where we had conchinita pibil tacos, with about 10 different great salsas. Plus vibrant green agua Frescas made from a leafy green plant that I've forgotten the name of. I also didn't catch the name of the place, unfortunately... someone else on the tour told me it was called Habinitos, but I wasn't able to find it online. It was a tiny little place, and I went to use the bathroom and had to go through a little half-sized door that reminded me of Being John Malkovich.
2nd stop was seafood at Tres Galeones, at Calle Jalapa 117, Roma Norte. It was so good that I went back the next day and got the same thing - a soft shell crab taco and shrimp sopes - both amazing.
3rd stop we rolled our bikes into a busy market all the way to the back for pork confit tacos. They showed us the big vat of oil the pigs are cooked in, and the guy demonstrated how he could cut right through the bone, "like it was guacamole". at least I think that's what he said. My Spanish really sucks.
Diego answered some of my silly questions - like what they were chanting out of megaphones from circling trucks? I thought it was some sort of political thing, but turns out they're just announcing that they buy used microwaves, mattresses, refrigerators, etc. He also told us to look for men going around at night with two metal sticks, explaining that people pay them for an electric shock. He showed us a photo of him doing it with friends a few nights prior. They hold hands in a circle, the current passes through everyone, and the first person who lets go has to pay the shock man. Another woman on the tour asked if the shock wasn't dangerous for his pregnant wife, and he just laughed and said "Nah!"
The last stop was for Asian fusion duck tacos with a sauce reminiscent of Peking duck. El Autintico Pato Manila, Calle Culliacan 91, Condesa. I thought about going back there as well, but needed to make time for the amazing Contramar that every person that had Mexico City tips had recommended. With good reason - it was excellant
I also discovered a great Oaxacan place called Pasillo de Humo, Avenida Nuevo Leon 107, Hipodromo, Mexico City 06100. I think it's only open for lunch. There was a crowded scene on the first level, with several different counters, but I ate at the more quiet upstairs. Mainly because a hostess asked me a question and gestured upstairs, so I said "Si" and that's where I ended up.
We wrapped up the tour with a shot of mezcal, with an orange and worm salt on the side. This was the first of lots of mezcal during my trip. Apparently we were lucky to have Diego lead the tour, because his employee was on a paid vacation. He's only been giving these experience tours since August, and has an employee on vacation!!
I was going to try and go to Oaxaca and then meet up with a friend in Puerto Vallarta, but ended up deciding Oaxaca could wait. Too much to see and do in Mexico City. I know, I know, I'm missing out, but hopefully it won't go anywhere and I'll see it next time.