Mexico City, Mexico

Ciudad de México

This is part two of our ten days in Mexico. After five days in the jungle we were ready for some city adventures. It’s a two and a half hour flight from Tulum to Mexico City, and I’m so glad we went. After two days we were already talking about who we wanted to come back with because it’s just that great. Also referred to as CDMX this city is vast and colorful and you will be hard pressed not to be lured by the scent of Tacos Al Pastor on every corner! From the stunning historical architecture to the neon painted houses to the scores of cultural sites and museums second only to Paris and the sheer number of restaurants and food stalls this city is teeming with life! If there is one thing you will take away is just how much Mexicans love to eat. The quality of the food from the street to fine dining is some of the best in the world. And lastly the people are some of the most gracious, hospitable, humble, hard working, and warm people you will meet. We got by great with a little help from google translate and our feeble attempts to speak Spanish and we were always met with graciousness and a smile.  This is by no means an exhaustive hit list but these are the places we stayed, ate, drank, shopped etc.

Quick Tips

  • Uber is a fantastic way to get around the city and it’s still super affordable
  • Even with being a large city cash is still preferred
  • Street food is practically on every corner! Look for stalls with a line of people they are usually the best.
  • Neighborhoods we enjoyed: La Condesa, Roma, Polanco, Historic Center, Juárez, Coyoacán

  • Other great guides: Monocle Mexico City, Goop, Bon Appetit Mexico City and Eater Mexico City / @thecuriousmexican

STAY

Downtown Mexico Hotel  @grupohabita

This 17th century colonial meets modern in what is Mexico’s first Palace. 17 unique rooms, complimentary breakfast spread on the patio, roof top bar and pool, a warm and accommodating staff. We loved our stay!

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EAT & DRINK

Buna Coffee  @bunamx

If you are looking for a good cup of locally sourced Mexican coffee visit one of their two locations and bring a bag of beans home.

El Moro  @churreriaelmoro

If there was one spot I was dying to try it was El Moro. This place has been making churro’s since 1935 and they are simply the best! They have five locations (we loved The one in Roma) with the original spot open 24/7. Make sure to try one of the 8 hot chocolates.

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Rosetta Bakery  @panaderiarosetta

We didn’t make it here but it comes highly recommended for beautiful pastries, breakfast and sandwiches. There are three locations.

Contramar  @contramarmx

Make a reservation for lunch because they don’t do dinner service. The tuna tostadas are legendary along with the Pescado a la talla whole grilled fish with Contramar green and red sauce. Best Paloma on the trip this spot is not to be missed!

Cicatriz Cafe  @cicatrizcafe

If you are looking for small bites and natural wines this place is the cutest and not to be missed. Get a seat at the bar with a glass of local rose and order the meatballs.

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Jenni’s street quesadillas

No sign, no website, just a line of people on the corner of Merida/Colima in Roma. Famous for her blue corn quesadillas, sopes, gorditas and pamabazos. Lot of vegan and vegetarian options are available. The Flor de calabaza con queso (squash blossoms with oaxacan cheese is not to be missed! Cash only

Puntarena  @puntarena_mx

With many locations across the city the Punto Historio location in the Downtown Mexico Hotel had the best scallop tostada of the trip.

Azul Historico  @azulrestaurants

Located in the lobby of Downtown Mexico Hotel this open air courtyard serves traditional Mexican dishes and if you are feeling adventurous they will top your guacamole with crickets!

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Pujol  @pujolrestaurant

Named #20 on the list of the Worlds 50 best restaurants. Make a reservation in advance and enjoy the seasonal tasting menu which always includes their famous Mole Madre, Mole Nuevo with fresh tortillas.

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Rokai Sushi  @rokaimexico

We were in the mood for sushi and this intimate spot did not disappoint. Get the Omakase menu with fresh fish from Japan and Mexico flown in daily.

La Clandestina

This is my kind of bar, cozy, dark with a friendly staff serving mezcal flights and delicious mezcal cocktails.

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MARKETS 

Mercado de Coyoacán

There are many markets across the city selling food and souvenirs but this was by far our favorite. Located in the Coyoacán neighborhood and within walking distance from The Frida Kahlo House & Museum. Come ready to eat because this spot is filled with delicious food throughout. Make sure and eat at Tostadas Coyoacán! From kitchen wares, incense, to handmade leather shoes you’ll find all kinds of things to bring home.

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Mercadoroma  @mercadoroma

A public market and gourmet food hall located in Roma. We didn’t make it to this spot but it was recommended.

SHOPS

Querencia

A cute plant and gift shop next door to Cicatriz Restaurant

Casa Bosques  @casabosques

Small locally owned bookstores are all over the city. Casa Bosques is a beautifully curated shop for indie mags, journals and books.

Onora  @onoracasa

This is such a wonderful shop filled with locally handcrafted modern textiles, pottery, jewelry and housewares. A must stop!

Utilitario Mexicano  @utilitariomexicano

Like an old school general store UM carries simple, beautiful housewares sourced from all around Mexico at great prices.

SITES & MUSEUMS

Museum of Chocolate 

We stumbled upon this by accident. We didn’t take the tour but we did snag a bunch of locally made chocolate bars and hot chocolate to bring home.

Xochimilco 

This boat ride down the canals comes highly recommended as a way to spend a couple of hours to half a day.

Museum of Modern Art & Park

This museum is in the middle of beautiful Chapultepec park and worth the trip for both.

The Palace of Fine Art (Bellas Artes)  @mbellasartes

This stunning museum is located in the Historic Federal District

Frida’s House 

Don’t forget to reserve tickets well in advance or you won’t get in like us!

Museum of Anthropology  @mnantropologia

Teotihuacan Pyramids 

This was totally worth the trip. You can take a bus or we chose to take an Uber about a 45 minute drive from Mexico City and cost us less then $20 US.

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La Gruta  @lagrutamx

Located a short walk from the pyramids La Gruta is set in a cave serving delicious traditional Mexican cuisine. If visiting on the weekend make sure to make reservation. Order the tortilla soup.

 

Los Angeles, California

LA, Los Angeles, the City of Angles also known as my winter escape the past few years. When you live in the midwest and experience the never ending season of winter you have to make plans to find some sun, maybe a beach and drive around with the windows rolled all the way down in February.  This year Nathan and I decided to center our trip around the every changing neighborhood of DTLA or Downtown LA.  For years the downtown was mostly abandoned and for lack of a better term a ghost town with no reason to visit. But in recent years the downtown has been experiencing a revival of its beautiful Art Deco architecture, a slew of amazing restaurants, food halls, bars, shopping and galleries with a diverse vibe of its own. There are a couple of other neighborhoods we love to visits and I’ve also included some of those with our favorite places to eat, drink and shop.

Quick Tips:

  • I would recommend nailing down dinner reservations a couple weeks in advance to ensure you get a table at your desired time slot.
  • A car is a must in LA. The city is very spread out so unless you want to pay a lot of money to Uber I would suggest renting a car.
  • Speaking of travel you can believe what they say about traffic! It sucks. The good news is if you are traveling with at least one other person in your vehicle you can use the very handy carpool lane which does help save on time.
  • If you are traveling in the winter months the weather will be cooler in the mornings and evenings and ranging from 60-70’s in the heat of the day. Bring layers.

STAY

The Freehand Hotel   @freehandhotels

The Freehand Los Angeles is so vibey! Located Downtown the iconic interior designers Roman & Williams have transformed the space with Arts & Crafts and 1960’s inspired decor throughout with lots of plants to give it a cozy California cool vibe. The prices and rooms range from shared to suites. The hotel has two bars one in lobby and the other on the rooftop and both are a great place to get a fantastic cocktail or glass of natural wine. Also check out the coffee window at Cafe Integral for your morning cup of joe.

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Eat + Drink:

Blue Bottle @bluebottle

With a couple of locations in LA  the cafe and roastery located in The Arts District DTLA is there first location in the area.

Cha Cha Matcha @ChaChaMatcha

This is the spot for the best matcha drink, treats and soft serve! They have locations in two great areas: Venice and West Hollywood

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In Sheep’s Clothing

This was a little gem of a speak easy with great tunes, cocktails and natural wines in The Arts District DTLA. $$-$$$

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Broken Shaker & Rudolph’s Bar

Both these bars are located in The Freehand and they are both great. $$-$$$

Apothoke

Tucked away in Chinatown this cocktail lounge boasts great design and drinks with a beautiful patio.  $$$

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Guerrilla Tacos @GuerrillaTacos

I’ve been following the taco truck for years and they recently opened a great brick and mortal space in DTLA. The food here is solid! The tuna tostada and sweet potato tacos are a must order. $-$$

The Manufactory Tartine @themanufactoryla

Located in The Row in DTLA, the darling from San Francisco has opened in LA and its a fantastic place to get breakfast, lunch, coffee, pastries, bread, foodie gifts and wine. They also have a coffee window serving buffalo milk soft serve that will blow your mind. $$-$$$

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Otium @otiumla

After watching the Netflix series Final Table where Chef Timothy Hollingsworth won the competition I’ve been wanting to eat at Otium. The food was excellent and ranged from New American with Italian and Japanese influences. Located next door to The Broad in DTLA. $$$

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Bavel @baveldtla

If you get one reservation make it at Bavel in The Arts District of DTLA. It was the highlight of the trip for us so much that I dreamt we went back for lunch the next day. Middle Eastern flavors where every dish was equally mouth watering. The hummus with duck sausage is not to be missed! $$$

Honey Hi  @HoneyHi

Located in Echo Park Honey Hi is a place I have returned to when visiting LA. It’s the cutest spot to get a great breakfast, lunch or brunch. The entire menu is gluten free and dairy free and their Buckwheat Sourdough Bread is to die for. The lamb shakshuka and breakfast sandwich are a couple of favs. $$

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The Exchange @theexchangerestaurant

Located in The Freehand Hotel The Exchange is open for lunch and dinner. We went for lunch and its a much smaller menu so I would suggest this spot for dinner. The food is LA meets Israel and the flavors were fresh. $$-$$$

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Pikunico @pikunicola

We stumbled upon this awesome spot when shopping at The Row in DTLA and I’m so glad we did. Since Nathan has celiac he never gets the opportunity to have fried chicken. So when we saw the sign reading Gluten Free Japanese Fried Chicken we were so pumped. This chicken was so good you’d never know its GF! $-$$

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Night + Market @ntmrkt

A natural wine bar disguised as a Thai restaurant is there tag line! With three locations in LA we went to Sahm in Venice and it was a blast. If you are into natural wines you’ll want to drink the entire menu and if you love authentic Thai food your tastebuds will be exploding with heat and fish sauce! I love love love this spot. $$-$$$

Salt + Straw @saltandstraw

Maybe it’s because we can’t get it in the midwest yet but Salt + Straw Ice Cream is so good! This Portland Oregon original has a couple locations in LA including The Arts District and Venice. If you can’t eat dairy they make killer diary free vegan ice creams that rival the real deal. $-$$

Botanica @Botanicafood

Located in the uber hip neighborhood of Silverlake, Botanica is a wonderful veg forward, natural wine loving, good time having place to eat for Breakfast, lunch or dinner. Be sure to check out the market selections and bring home some of the caraway date granola. $$-$$$

Gjusta @gjustabakery

This place. To say you’ll want to eat all the things is an understatement. This Venice bakery does everything so well from its extensive pastries, house cured fish, frittatas and pizza get there early for breakfast so you can grab a seat on the back patio and eat your heart out! Stop in the store next door to take home some beautiful pottery and linens. $$-$$$

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Gjelina @Gjelinarestaurant

Before Gjusta Bakery opened there was Gjelina. From the design to the uber local and seasonal California menu this restaurant is not to be missed. From the whole roasted chicken and fish to the extensive veggie menu you can’t go wrong. $$$

Cafe Stella @cafestella

A laid back French bistro and bar Cafe Stella has all the vibes and great place for a romantic dinner or just drinks on the super cozy patio. $$$

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Grand Central Market @grandcentralmarketla

A downtown institution since 1917 Grand Central is the place to get a taste of LA. From Asian, Mexican, Middle Eastern and German this place has something for everyone. I usually hop around and get a taco at one place and some dumplings at another and finish with an ice cream sandwich at Mitchell’s. $-$$

Shops / Galleries

LA is blessed with great shopping and galleries of all sizes. This is just a couple of spots that we loved.

The Row  @rowdtla

This newly reimagined destination in DTLA is not to be missed. With over 65 unique and thoughtful retail shops and restaurants  you can literally spend all day here. This is not your average shopping mall. All the retail has been curated from the LA area or very small lesser none brands. From a wonderful perfumery Scent Bar to Dandelion Chocolate, and stationary heaven Poketo there is something for everyone.

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The Arts District

This area of DTLA is a great area for shops, eats and galleries. We especially enjoyed Alchemy Works and the Phillip Lim store for its inspiring design.

The Broad @thebroadmuseum

Secure your free tickets online before your trip to skip the line and enjoy this 2,000 piece contemporary art collection.

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The Getty @gettymuseum

Drive up the winding hill and take the tram up to the museum grounds with stunning views all around. From the architecture, to the gardens and the museum itself you will want to schedule 2-4 hours here.

Tulum, Mexico

This past August Nathan and I spent our ten day honeymoon in Mexico and it was a total dream. We spent the first half of our trip in Tulum. Situated on the Caribbean Sea this  coastal jungle immediately whisks you away with its beautiful beaches and lush but laid back jungle laced with the scent of copal to remind you of its mayan roots. It’s truly a magical romantic place. Having visited other popular spots along the Mexican coast like Cancun and Rivera Maya where large resorts are the norm Tulum has perfectly camouflaged them into the scenery as not to distract you from the natural beauty of the land and sea. The town of Tulum is a fifteen minute drive to the beach and a great place to grab some cheap but absolutely delicious tacos, shop for souvenirs and get a taste of local life. This is by no means an exhaustive hit list but these are the places we stayed, ate, drank, shopped etc.

Quick Tips:

  • Bring Cash! Most of the places we visited took cash only. Pesos preferred!
  • A rental car might be necessary depending on where you are staying and what you plan to do. Uber was difficult to use since the wifi is very spotty beach side. Taxi’s are available and bicycle rentals are everywhere too.
  • Bring mosquito repellent or plan on buying it there!
  • Get reservations before your trip since a lot of the good restaurants book quickly.

STAY

Tiki Tiki  @hoteltikitiki

Located in town this small boutique hotel is a hidden gem. Mid century vibes, beautiful grounds with a great pool with bar.

Azulik  @azuliktulum

This place! If you’ve ever wanted to stay in a magical jungle tree house on the beach this is your spot. If you don’t book this spot make sure to check out the gallery space and their restaurant Kin Toh for dinner or drinks.

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EAT & DRINK

El Coco Loco

No website but I’ve linked the address for a great roadside spot in town to grab a coconut and a straw to remind you that you’re on vacation! $

Matcha Mama  @matchamamatulum

With two locations, one in town and the other beach side, Matcha Mama is the perfect stop for matcha, bulletproof coffee, smoothies and killer açaí bowls. $-$$

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Tulum Art Club  @tulumartclub

Check out this spot for local coffee, smoothies & local kombucha on tap. $

Kin Toh  @kintohtulum

Kin Toh is located in the Azuik Hotel and its such a stunning restaurant perched up high in the trees. The meals was modern Mexican and fantastic. $$$

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Taqueria Honorio

This taqueria is famous for their cochinita pibil which is a slow roasted pork from the Yucatan Peninsula. They also have vegetarian options as well. A great spot for breakfast or lunch.  $

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Antojitos La Chiapaneca

We came back to this spot a couple of times for lunch because the Al Pastor and fresh tortillas are amazing. Also loved the sopes! $

Hartwood  @hartwoodtulum

Get the reservation as soon as you can! This was the one restaurant I had been wanting to eat at for years and it did not disappoint. The menu changes daily and is all local seasonal ingredients cooked over wood. $$$

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Casa Jaguar  @casajaguar_tulum

We loved this super romantic jungle vibes of this outdoor restaurant. The drinks and the food were both great. Make sure to check out the Chai House cafe in the back for an afternoon pick me up before the restaurant opens. This place also turns into a club late night so if you want to get your boogie on this is the spot. $$$

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Posada Margherita

We didn’t dine here but it came highly recommended for Italian and it’s also a beautiful hotel.

SHOPS

The main road in town is great for souvenirs of all kinds.

SITES

Cenote Calavera

There are lots of cenotes in Tulum and we enjoyed this one since it was smaller, more quiet but still beautiful and close to town.

Tulum Mayan Ruins

We didn’t go because we were planning on seeing the pyramids outside of Mexico City but I would recommend seeing the ruins.

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