This past October, I spent one week in the rich historical capital of Mexico City with my travel BFF. Our main goal of visiting Mexico City was to eat our way through the city while seeing as much as we could — thanks to the help of Mexico Underground we were able to make this happen.
Mexico Underground is a tour company that aims to give travellers an authentic experience in Mexico City through food and history. Ubish Yaren and Ninelth Sandoval are the dynamic duo that form Mexico Underground. Each of them bring their own experience and flare to the tours, with Ubish’s culinary background and Ninelth’s love for prehispanic history, we were sure to learn lots!
Thanks to them we ventured into Coyoacan, Condesa, Jamaica Market, and Xochimilco.
We started our tours with the “Coyoacan Brunch Tour” lead by Ninelth. Her passion for history came out as we walked through the cobblestone streets of the colonial neighbourhood of Coyoacán. She explained to me how Hernan Cortes captured this village from the Aztecs and even showed me around his two former residences. I am always surprised by places that hold such historical significance mixed in with modern day life. One of his residences is now the town hall and the other one is a café and garden!
Coyoacan has a bohemian vibe to it; the streets are lined with leafy green trees, and the facades of the houses are painted with strong colours like red, blue, yellow. To think that these streets were once frequented by Frida Khalo, Diego Rivera, Leon Trotsky, The Aztecs and Tepanec people blows my mind.
Ninelth brought me through the Coyoacan Market and since it was just a couple of days before the Day of the Dead, we saw many decorations for the ofrendas. There was everything and anything from papel picado (decorative paper used as banners), sugar skulls, Cempasuchils (Marigolds), halloween costumes and more.
In our first food stop, we got Tostadas de Coyoacan -- a flat hard shell tortilla topped with anything you like, which is the signature dish of this market. I got a Tostada with Mole (I am slightly obsessed--I want mole EVERYTHING) and a Agua Fresca de Tamarindo (Tamarind water). The mole was saucy with a little kick of spice. Thankfully, the tamarind water was there to help lessen the kick.
We also stopped by many artisans’ shops along the way, like the ceramics shop where high-end restaurants get their ceramics and many boutiques that sold work from local artists. Art in this district is very prevalent and is on display everywhere as you wander the streets.
For our second food stop, we had Tacos Al Pastor. Ninelth explained to me that this taco sensation was inspired by the Arab community that settled in Puebla. In fact, the tacos were originally made with pita bread. The Arabic influence explains why the meat on the spork resembles those found in Shawarma shops. Pineapple was later added on top of the spork to ‘tropicalize’ the Shawarma style meat and create Tacos Al Pastor.
With full stomachs, we wandered around the bustling streets of Coyoacan. We got surprised by a mini ‘Day of the Dead’ parade and we saw a plaza full of people around the fountain of wolves, preparing ofrendas! It was amazing to watch all of the items Ninelth pointed out to me in the market, come to life as they were arranged with care around the ofrendas.
We ended off our tour — how I wish every tour ended — with a Dulce de Leche filled churro before I headed to the Frida Khalo Museum.
PRO-TIP: Buy your tickets in advanced to avoid hour long waits — as displayed below.
As I am writing this, I am two week post-trip and I can tell you that Coyoacán contrasted the most with the rest of Mexico City! Follow along with my Mexico Underground blog series to see the difference for yourself! If you are planning to visit Mexico City, click here to see the different tours and experiences that Mexico Underground has to offer.