A Guide To Mexico City's Roma
Being in Mexico City for the second time has been a reminder of why I hate short trips. Last April, I spent three days trying to visit every single touristy spot I could find, without getting a chance to explore more of the city. Don't get me wrong, I think sometimes short trips are necessary if there isn't much to do in the city, but Mexico City is way too big for only a few days. When I went back to Los Angeles, I made a promise to come back to Mexico City, only this time for longer. Fast forward to May this year, I came back and have been in the city for almost three weeks. I chose to come and stay in the La Roma neighbourhood, the Williamsburg of Mexico City. Roma Norte aka Colonial Roma or simply Roma is not only filled with restaurants but bars, cafes, shops and much more considering it almost being completely destroyed during the 1985 earthquake. Roma borders other great neighbourhoods such as Condesa, Roma Sur and Zona Rosa.
Getting to Roma is fairly easy no matter where you're coming from. Uber in Mexico City is very affordable and the most convenient way, but the metro is also very accessible for only $5 pesos per ride. There aren't many hostels around Roma but I strongly recommend Hostel Home for an affordable, homey and central stay in the area. Although the area isn't very big, there are heaps of things to do, wondering around being the best way to discover all the hidden gems. Here's a list of all the awesome things I got to do and eat.
Mexico City has the most museums in the world, more than 150 and a few of those are located in Roma Norte. The great things about some of these museums/galleries are free entrance. Depending on your itinerary, spending some time at a gallery before or after a meal or drinks sounds like a good time to me, esepecially if it's all within walking distance.
Galeria OMR is located between two of my favorite streets in Roma, Alvaro Obregon and Tabasco. This multiple levels contemporary art gallery was founded in 1983 and now has, some of the best art in Mexico City, now wonder it was my favorite. Note: OMR is closed on Mondays, just like most museums.
There's no shortage of coffee in Roma, you will find many shops, with some belonging on the great street, Alvaro Obregon. I'm always searching for coffee shops in every city I visit, mainly because they have wifi, but also because I love spending time there, especially on a rainy day. Coffee in Roma usually ranges between $35 to $45 pesos with $10 extra pesos for almond/soy milk.
- Tierra Garat is one of my favorites so far even though wifi can be quite shitty at times depending on where you're sitting.
- Delirio, which not only has great decor and wifi, but also delicious pastries.
- Casa Cardinal is the local favorite and also one of the most popular coffee shop in the city.
- Dosis Cafe super cute coffee shop with occasional movie nights and private events.
Roma has a lot of options when it comes to food. As a foodie, this is the best part of any trip. I'm sure everyone can agree with that, we all love food. Compared to other parts of Mexico City, the prices in Roma are generally higher. Same goes for drinks or shopping, Roma is a bit expensive but worth it.
Belmondo (pictured above) is a sandwich shop/cafe located on the beautiful street of Tabasco. Belmondo has it all, salads, soups, and sandwiches such as duck, Texas bbq and chicken curry which is what I got. I wasn't quite sure what to expect with the curry salad, but I was very happy with it. I'm a big fan of curry and this was done very well. Next time, I will try a sandwich since they all seem delicious as well. If you're not in the mood for a big meal, I would also recommend a piece of carrot cake which was delicious and some coffee. They also have a nice outdoor area, perfect for people watching. And yes, they have wifi.
Nudo Negro will be coming up more than once because it's that amazing, thanks to Chef Daniel and Chef Salvador. The talented chefs have multiple restaurants with Nudo Negro being one of the best restaurants in Roma. This tapas style restaurant is a Mexican/Asian fusion dream with killer cocktails. I highly recommend trying their bone marrow tacos(pictured above), definitely not your average taco which also makes it one of the best I've had.
Street food/taco trucks are everywhere in Mexico as you would imagine, including Roma. One of my favourite avenue in Roma is called Avenida Alvaro Obregon, mainly because it has heaps of restaurants, bars and street food. The best taco stand can be found on Obregon and Insurgentes right next to the metro bus stop. Here, you will find more than four trucks, ranging from tacos to tortas. You will get overwhelmed, from the options but any smart person will at least try the al pastor unless you don't eat meat. In that case, I wouldn't recommend coming here. Tacos here go for about $11 pesos, which is less than $1 USD. Best money spent!
Churros are very popular in Mexico City, El Moro just happens to be one of the best. El Moro has five locations throughout the city dating back to 1935. El Moro has churros, coffee and sandwiches. Four churros will cost you around $80 pesos while two will cost you about 50 pesos including a sauce of your choice.
Mercado Roma should be on every foodie's list. It has everything you need from Mexican food, Sushi, cocktails, burgers, and the famous El Moro. One of my favourite foodie spot in Los Angeles is the Grand Central Market and Mercado Roma reminds me of that but a lot smaller. As any market, I recommend coming here on a weekday because weekends can get too crowded.
Pulqueria Insurgentes A trip to Mexico isn't complete without a taste of Pulque, which is a fermented sap of the agave plant. Pulque is definitely an acquired taste, some like it and some don't. It actually reminds me of Umqombothi (South African) but without the slimy taste. Both drinks have a low alcohol content similar to that of beer. Pulqueria is a dive bar in Roma perfect for trying pulque for the first time(tip: Monday's pulque is BOGO). Pulque isn't the only reason why you should come here, they have cheap drinks, music, including salsa. On weekends, make your way to the third-floor for dancing, and fourth floor for the rooftop.
La Clandestina Mezcal is another must in Mexico, and La Clandestina is a great Mezcal bar in the neighbourhood. Originating in Mexico, mezcal is a smokey tequila that's meant to be sipped, well, tequila in Mexico is meant to be sipped. Apparently, we've(Americans) been doing tequila wrong. To be quite honest with you, I'd rather shot my tequila, especially mezcal. I'm not the biggest fan of the smokey flavour, but I seem to be the only one since everyone else loves it. La Clandestina is a small dive bar where you can try different types of mezcal, cocktails and great vibes.
San Luis Club one word, Salsa. You're in Mexico, don't leave without dancing salsa and there are heaps of salsa bars throughout the city. Some will recommend Mama Rumba, but most locals will recommend San Luis Club. This place is open until 2 am most nights, and perfect for beginners like me. Guys will usually make their way to your table and ask for a dance. This is perfect for practise. Fellas, not sure how true this is, but legend has it if a girl asks you to dance, you'll need to pay her $50 pesos once done. This place also has a live salsa band which makes the experience even better.
- Limantour I couldn't finish off this list without adding Limantour to the list. Yes, this bar is expensive, but if you ain't on a budget like me, suit yourself, it's worth it.
Last by not least, stroll the neighbourhood. Roma Norte is so beautiful, safe and very picturesque. There are so many cool places I've stumbled upon from just walking around. Thrift stores, street art, beautiful doors and much more. Roma Norte is possibly Mexico City's coolest neighborhood, you'd be suprised at what you may come across.