Mexico City: Viva La D.F.

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19th Sep 2008




Mexico City (D.F.)


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Yeah, the traffic sux.
The world’s most populous city, México D.F. offers one of the best things in life: music everywhere. In restaurants, on streets, in your head, even in the bathtub. And it’s not a disco version of Rihanna, although it can be just as infectious. Before long it makes you forget you are 20 minutes late, caught in hellish traffic surrounded by bad outdoor advertising.

arrivals

Be prepared. The voyage from gate to immigration is stuffed with all manner of sombrero and tequila combo shops, desperate to sell a shot glass to the unsuspecting. It’s so familiar you’ll probably sail right past, but it’s worth stopping to check out reading material. That’s because you will need it at immigration, where long lines and all manner of paperwork and bureaucratic form-filling awaits the jetlagged you.

el suburban

The traffic in Mexico City is so bad it makes Los Angeles look like a pedestrian zone - its a veritable vehicular arms-race. Do a carbon offset and request the biggest, baddest, blacked-out SUV you can find. People will think you are part of a Russian pop band, and traffic will give way. It’s the only way to get around. To get one, buy a car-ticket at the two windows to the right outside of arrivals by the taxi rank, asking specifically for a Chevy Suburban. They are all the same price, and you will enjoy the ride much more.

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Sleek haven & killer views at the W Mexico City
accommodation

Where? The W of course. We wouldn’t normally recommend a W, but there’s not great choice here. If you want plush, the Four Seasons on Paseo de la Reforma  does the job and features a delightful zucchini flower omelette for tomorrow morning.

But for the more happening scene, park at the W. Its near the Polanco area, a burgeoning center of international business and culture. While there, lurk around Solea, the in-house hotspot, nibbling on taquitos while you practice saying “Teotihuacan,” (tay-oh-tee-wah-cahn) or,  failing that, “nice pyramids you have here."

If you’re looking for a more charming alternative, try the still-cool Hotel Condesa DF. It hit the radar when it opened a few years ago with its cool blend of 40s art deco revival. Their motto is meet the sunshine, meet the siesta, meet the fiesta! They serve smooth creamed crab here, which everyone likes - very much.  Make sure you prebook your rooftop patio table to enjoy al fresco!

viva la frenchies

Amazing Mexican food, the birthright of Mexico City, is fresh and delicious. However, for some reason there is a French sub-current worth checking out. Ivoire, Tel. +52 55 5280 0477, offers what the locals call ”des colonies”: a French flair with African influences in a setting that attracts the beautiful people regularly. The duck rostizado is stunning, and the crème brulée is the best in the city. You must eat on their terrace of beautiful decks that resemble tree houses.

Au Pied de Cochon in Colonía Palanco is fun too. It where everybody goes after clubbing and similar to the one that once existed once in Washington D.C.  Rock up to Au Pied around 2 a.m. for your table, and order the apple-marinated morongaor pig legs. You’ll need wine to wash that down. Fortunately, they have one of the largest wine lists in the city. Tel: +52 55 5327 7756

But for amazing Mexican, head south to the San Angel district and the popular San Angel Inn. This place serves the most stupendous Mexican dishes ever, including Veracruz sea bass, stuffed peppers with cheese and beef, and huit-lacoche crêpes. San Angel has a special place in the heart of the Mexican jet set and may just be the first place in the world to perfect the 'filthy martini'.

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things to do

It’s quite fun to walk around historic San Angel, poking your head into areas that remain none of your business. The central districtos also offer great walking, especially Zona Rosa and its famous antique market open every Saturday. The club scene seems almost reversed in that all the good stuff is in the suburbs and really big clubs open and close with amazing speed. It can be a bit dangerous since night crime is at record levels, and it’s easy to get lost, so maybe stick to La Condesa, Polanco, and Zona Rosa or be driven by someone else, preferably your Mexican friend’s driver. There are real adventures in lesser-known suburbs. To see the real scene, spend an evening in Plaza Garibaldi. It’s total low-brow chaos, and your perspective of how good it is will probably depends on how much tequila you drink.

For the Plaza bring only cash, dodge the pickup touts, transvestites, thieves, and criminals, and you’ll be in for a crazy experience. Most of the bars are not worth going into, but in some you may find old Aztec liqueurs made from Mexican herbs with mildly hallucinatory effects—it’s not illegal. Do leave the bling at home.

Once you’re in the throng, the best thing about Mexico will sidle up and grab you: the music. Many of Mexico’s best mariachi bands perform in Plaza Garibaldi and like other areas of the city, their sounds will drench you in no time at all.  Soon you’ll have a skip in your step and a sheepish grin on your face, as fireworks and piñatas fill your field of vision. Just remember the old international adage: one tequila, two tequila, three tequila...floor!

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