Mexico City is an amazing place to visit. There are so many things to do and places to see that one can spend years here and not see them all. I was born and raised here, but I moved to the US in 2000. In 2004, I came back for a little while with my partner. One of the very first places we visited was one of my favorite parts of the city, a southern neighborhood called Coyoacan. Coyoacan (which means “place where they have coyotes” in Nahuatl) is a colonial neighborhood in the south of modern Mexico City. Coyoacan was originally a vassal state of the Aztec empire that sat on the shores of Lake Texcoco. When Hernan Cortez conquered Tenochtitlan, the capital city of the empire, he felt in love with the beautiful town and the forest that surrounded it and he settled there with his lover La Malinche.
Since pre-Hispanic times, Coyoacan has been an important center for trade and culture. Coyoacan has been the residence to characters like Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky. Its churches, bookstores, cafes, markets, plazas, gardens, schools, festivals, street performers, architecture, museums and history make Coyoacan one of the most beautiful, vibrant and bohemian neighborhood of Mexico City. No wonder it is considered the cultural heart of the gigantic city.
I love Coyoacan for all those reasons and because of its food, of course. Like most parts of Mexico, food is everywhere in Coyoacan. Around Jardin Centenario, the park next to the main plaza, there are several restaurants and cafes that serve all kinds of food. My favorite restaurant there is Corazon de Maguey. Its mezcales and bold food make it the perfect destination for a big group of friends to enjoy a vibrant evening.
Throughout the year local, regional, national and international festivals are held in Hidalgo square, the main plaza, where you can sample foods from around the country and the world.
My favorite places to eat in Mexico, however, are the markets. Borges wrote that the best way to know Mexico is through its markets. And that’s also true when it comes to its food. The first time my partner and I visited Coyoacan, we ate fried quesadillas at the food market behind the main plaza. We loved them so much that we became regulars.
But that’s not all you can get in Coyoacan. A couple of blocks north of the main plaza there’s the Coyoacan market. Tostadas Coyoacan is the most famous stall there. It has been serving delicious tostadas since 1956 and famous food personalities from around the world have eaten here.
Coyoacan has also some of the best ice creams of the city. They rival the famous ice cream regions of Xochimilco and Milpa Alta farther south of the city. My partner’s first ice cream in Coyoacan was a marshmallow ice cream that he fell in love with at Las Nieves de Coyoacan. Unfortunately we weren’t able to find that flavor again on his last visit last weekend.
Other great foods you can find in Coyoacan are tortas, pancita, churros, gorditas, boiled or grilled corn ears, mezquites and much, much more. Coyoacan has some of the best coffee houses in the city, too. El Jarocho with three or four branches in the area is the most famous one, although not necessarily the best.
Coyoacan is one of those experiences you can’t miss in Mexico City. Its museums, like Frida Kahlo’s house and the Museum of Popular cultures just to mention two, architecture, history, cultural importance and the food, of course, make it the perfect weekend destination. And don’t worry, they don’t have coyotes anymore so you will be very safe walking the cobblestone streets of Coyoacan.
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