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In this issue:

10 Things to Do: Mexico City

Jun Olman

Here are ten ways to enjoy the Americas' oldest capital.

Mexico City continues to reinvent itself. Along with world-class museums, architectural gems from its Spanish colonial and Aztec past, and a vibrant urban culture, it is also a favorite destination for foodies and modern art collectors. 

1. Bike La Reforma
On Sundays, Paseo de la Reforma, the artery that traverses the city center, is closed to traffic — and becomes a haven for bicyclists and people-watchers. Watch for the quinceañera parties that crowd the Angel of Independence statue.

2. See the heart of Mexico
The Plaza de la Constitución, dubbed the Zócalo, takes up an entire block in the city center, where the  National Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral sit alongside the ruins of the pre-Hispanic city Tenochtitlan. Enjoy a panoramic view from the Zócalo Central Hotel rooftop.

3. Experience time travel
Immerse yourself in Aztec and Mayan history at the National Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepec Park. Don’t miss the original Aztec Sun Stone — the Pre-Columbian calendar system. ($3 entry)

4. Call on Frida
See why the Coyoacán neighborhood, in the southern part of the city, was deemed a “magic barrio” by city authorities. Evocative of a classic Mexican village, it is also the location of the Frida Kahlo museum, the artist’s former home. ($6 entry for foreigners)

5. Hang with hipsters
Once home to the Mexican bourgeoisie, the Roma and Condesa districts are now popular hangouts for young artists, musicians, filmmakers and chefs. Cocktail bars, trendy restaurants and art galleries line the streets. Try Licorería Limantour for specialty drinks, and El Parnita for gourmet tacos. ($10 drink; $20 entrée)

6. Climb to the Sun
One hour northeast of Mexico City, you can see the monuments of one of the most powerful civilizations of the Classic Period: Teotihuacán. Be prepared to climb hundreds of steps, but  the view from the top of the Pyramid of the Sun is remarkable. ($3 entry, $5 for round-trip bus ticket)

7. Go mod
For fans of modern art, the Jumex Museum in Polanco is a must-visit. The museum features pieces by Jeff Koons, Louise Bourgeois and Yayoi Kusama, among others. ($3 entry for foreigners)

8. Revel in Rivera and Rufino
The Palace of Fine Arts is an architectural landmark that showcases some of Mexico’s greatest painters. The white marble palace houses works by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, Rufino Tamayo and many others. ($3 entry)

9. Refresh your taste buds
Any gastronomical tour should include a wide variety of reworked traditional dishes. Stop by Dulce Patria in Polanco for empanadas, ceviche and stuffed chiles reinterpreted by chef Martha Ortíz. (Entrees start at $30)

10. Make it a mezcal
Skip the tequila and order the smokier mezcal, best served with an orange slice doused with sal de gusano (worm salt). On Fridays, try the Talismán de Motolinia in the Historic Center for mezcal, traditional dishes and live music. ($4 shot)

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Olman is based in Mexico City


Mexico City's Mercado Roma

Maria del Carmen Landa

Getting ready for a night out in Mexico City? Stop in at Mercado Roma for some fuel for the road.

A trendy hangout for foodies and families in Mexico City is Mercado Roma, an upscale market offering everything from churros to tacos to huaraches
(a dish of masa, varied toppings and queso fresco).

Launched in May 2014 and located in the hip La Roma neighborhood, the concept was born of a traditional Mexican market, but offers contemporary twists on Mexican food with special attention to artisanal, organic and local cuisine.

But the chance to sample gourmet foods isn’t the only reason to visit. Mercado Roma promotes itself as a space for people to connect in a frenetic city of 9 million. Conceived by Vigilante de la Construcción and the Sacal family, their goal is to create links between people and their neighborhood. “We want people to mix, sit with strangers, and spark new conversations,” Elly Van Os, the market’s spokesperson, told AQ. They accomplish this through the market’s layout, designed by award-winning architect Michel Rojkind and Gerardo Salinas and their creative teams. There are three open, spacious floors with plenty of close seats to encourage new encounters and friendships.

The blend of culinary trends with community building has been a success. More than 50 vendors now offer their wares in a shopper-friendly setting that includes a rooftop terrace, a chef’s table, and even a cigar bar.

And in February they’ll be opening their next venture, Mercado Roma Coyoacán, another market for gourmands in the capital’s historic southern district. The market is the perfect place for an afternoon bite before a big night out in the city. 

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Landa is an associate at 100 Resilient Cities. She was previously a programs associate for Mexico at AS/COA.


"Everything Else"

Sarah Bons

Filmmaker Natalia Almada’s "Everything Else" chronicles a bureaucrat’s awakening.

Sitting rigidly at her office desk, Doña Flor, a voter registration clerk in Mexico City, rejects the papers of the man sitting across from her, rebuffing his protests with stoic disapproval. “Don’t be angry, sir,” she says. “There are rules that have to be followed.” For Doña Flor, a middle-aged woman who lives alone with her cat, Manuelito, it’s just another monotonous day in an empty life. But soon after we meet the main character of Everything Else, her life changes dramatically when she awakes to the death of Manuelito, her only companion.

That day she goes to work without any outward sign of mourning. Yet her quiet trance slowly starts to break down, as her visits to the community pool (where she has never ventured a swim) become more frequent. And one day, she steps into the water. For Mexican-born writer and director Natalia Almada, that’s the moment her character — and her film — come alive. “The water is the possibility; it’s the hope in the film, it’s her will to have a connection to others, to keep living in a kind of full way,” Almada told AQ. As she begins to reawaken, she is helped along by an encounter with a woman at the pool.

Everything Else, Almada’s first fiction film, is a poignant portrait of loneliness, and a view of bureaucracy that the people on the other side of the desk rarely see. Adriana Barraza received the Best Actress Award at the 14th Morelia Film Festival for her portrayal of Doña Flor. The 98-minute film premiered at the Rome Film Festival in October 2016.

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Bons is an editor for AQ