The centre is lively and dense, bustling with street vendors selling all manner of things. It has a mix of museums, parks, cultural centers, restaurants, and major shopping districts. It is also the site of the Zocalo, the major plaza in front of the government building. There is a historical charm to this neighbourhood that drew me in; I loved the street vendors and all the street markets in the alleys. It is a bustling neighbourhood that requires your full attention.
Food Hot Spots:
Cafe de Tacuba is a dining institution that has been around since 1912. You can find it nestled in a brick building on Calle Tacuba. The restaurant contains traditional Mexican art, ceramics, and decor peppered with religious art throughout. The stunning two-floor restaurant boasts a beautiful wooden staircase that gives you a bird’s eye view of the restaurant. The food is traditional Mexican, so dig in for significant portions and multiple courses.
El Pescadito is inconspicuous taco shop in the Centro. They specialize in seafood tacos, along with a delicious stuffed poblano pepper taco. Everything is deep-fried, so I recommend ordering one taco to start and don’t forget a cold beer. Place your order first and then pay when you are finished. The coleslaw is a delightful garnish, so don’t skimp on this. I recommend stopping here after the Museo de Arte Popular.
Pasteleria Ideal I stumbled upon this spot while strolling through Centro on new year’s eve day. The assortment of cakes, cookies, pastries, and bread lured me in. When you go inside, pick up a silver tray and tongs, select your items (don’t hold back), then take them to the packaging ladies they will wrap up your goodies and give you a ticket to pay for your order, get into another line to pay for your order (bring cash), and then you can claim your order. Watch the women packing the items; it’s a bit of a show.
Things to do:
Barrio de China (Chinatown) is a delightful blip in the downtown core. When you pass the large gates you will see the side streets filled with restaurants and shops, look up, and you’ll see umbrellas strung between the buildings. The alleys are cozy, meshing Chinese and Mexican culture in the food, shops, and the blended occupants who own these places.
I would recommend wandering the neighbourhood with no intention. It is a great place to stumble upon things that you may not find otherwise: street vendors, cantinas, and mini markets you’ll be busy all day. There is also a more pronounced shopping district with major international brands, along with Mexican brands and department stores. Centro is a neighbourhood that I highly recommend following your senses.
For museums in the neighbourhood see this blog post.