Mexico City: One night in Shangri-la

On departure day, rather than being guided to the dismal antiseptic counter at the dead end of terminal two, we were, instead, herded to the revamped international terminal main hall, where two disorientingly inviting, well designed, fully stocked, giant, airy bars sit across from one another, on either side of a crevass, which makes it easy to watch  boarding activity downstairs from the upper reaches.

DF int terminal

It may have always been this way, and I’ve just been unfortunate enough to get routed to forgotten land every time, but regardless, It’s nice, what they’ve done. It feels good there, and dare I say, sort of exciting. It lends itself well to that pre-trip feeling, that giddiness. Granted, the pizza we ordered was the same old, latchkey, after-school, microwave special

DF pizza

bloated and goopy, but some improvement is certainly better than none, and at boarding time, I didn’t have Jack Daniel’s induced heart burn, as the bar we chose was a whiskey filled extravaganza. A belly full of Bulleit with a craft beer-back was an early victory.

DF pre flight drink

Aeromexico was a first for me; the experience was completely pleasant on this leg (more on the next, unbearably hellish leg later). Each seat comes equipped with a TV (an actual rarity, nowadays), a USB port, and, as my mom kindly pointed out before dropping us off, free alcohol and meal service, because, international carriers don’t operate by the American standard of punishing each and every person who chooses to fly coach.

We spent four hours in-flight to Mexico City, a destination upon which we all agree, is shangri-la. DF has it all; Plenty of skeeve, loads of class, lush greenery, art, culture, character, and my god, FOOD.

En route, we dined on ham and cheese croissant sandwiches with apple sauce, peanuts, and a square of perfectly dark chocolate. I am in complete opposition to the “don’t eat the plane food” folks. I absolutely live for that stuff, with its TV dinner compartments and miniature foods. Always have, always will.

DF flight meal

CDMX is infamous for the taxi grift that catches nearly every newcomer to the city. It’s less perilous now, as you buy your ticket first, at a booth that is etiher in the airport of curbside. Prices are posted, though you have to know what “zone” you are going to to know if you are getting a fair shake. However, you have the option of visiting multiple booths and price shopping your trip, so it’s far easier than it used to be to make a wise choice.

Ours was an overnight layover with an early morning departure, so we chose nearby  Aeropuerto Minisuites, which was perfectly appointed for our needs: clean bathrooms, cozy bed, self-serve cafeteria in the lobby and free wifi, all for the bargain price of $46/double. http://minisuiteshotel.com/

Uber, the best mode of transit in a foreign county, (better still when language can present a problem) delivered us to the Mercado Roma, an upscale, two story, food hall housing sixty vendors dealing out sandwiches, tacos, pozoles, mezcal, churros, etc. http://mr.mercadoroma.com/

DF mercado roma exterior

93% of the vendors are located downstairs, an area that appeared to be closing for the night when we arrived at 9:00PM. Upstairs, Biergarten Roma, a lovely roof deck hung with ivy and string lights, filled with Mexico’s hipster set (soundtrack, American pop) http://biergartenroma.com/

DF biergarten

One wall is all bar, littered with syrups, tinctures, herbs, flower garnish, and all of the necessary hardware one might need to concoct a cocktail in keeping with current mixology standards. The handle bar mustache and leather apron have yet to make their debut, though they’re both surely queued for import.

DF roma bar

I chose a specialty cocktail, which was completed with the use of tweezers, and then we went to explore Mercado Roma. Unfortunately, we were headed off at the stairs by security; drinks obtained in the Biergarten must remain in the Biergarten.

Roma bar cocktail

Drinks finished, we entered “Cigar Point,” a stogie shop and whiskey bar also located on the roof,  http://www.cigarpoint.mx/

Cigar Point boasts a well apportioned, glass walled humidor

cigarpoint

complemented by a dark, cozy, leather arm-chaired, smoking room and bar. A quiet, comfortable, respite from the Biergarten outside.

DF cigar bar

We ordered cigars, which were served with the necessary torch and cutter accoutrements. I could probably count on both hands the cigars I’ve smoked in my life, and while I am totally ignorant about what makes a good one, the ritual of a cigar session is something special, nonetheless.

DF cigar and torch

Victoria beer was the house bottle, a light local brew. In need of some heft, we ordered their bottled stout, which was sort of creamy, and rather smooth. I was able to procure a hotdog from the outside bar, “The Classic”, to bring in, a tasty tidbit adorned with personal favorites; mayo, chopped tomato, onion and mustard.

hotdog

Once our cigars were finished, we headed across the street to Son de la Loma https://foursquare.com/v/son-de-la-loma/4c708f4bd274b60cd742da0d

DF el loma exterior

a lively (cash only) restaurant pulsing with music and disco lights, where we settled into a corner to watch locals dance and eventually, joined them.

DF el loma interior

La Loma serves a robust, umami rich, ropa vieja

DF ropa vieja

and a less exciting, but still satisfying flap steak; chewy meat with enough seasoning to give it some flavor, but not much to speak of beyond that. Both dishes came with rice, salad, and fried plantain, all of which were ravenously consumed, despite fears of bacterial evil lurking in the washed vegetables.

Df flap steak

Though we had to be up at 6:00AM, and we were well on the wrong side of midnight, we couldn’t drive past Tacos y Tortas Jarocho, two blocks from the minisuites, without walking back for one, last, glorious hit of Mexico City.

DF taco stand

Jarocho is one of those glory holes that is something between a restaurant and a street stand, with a dug out, cave-like interior, set with a couple of plastic tables and chairs, and of course, street seating. No matter. Those piles of chopped meat, that mound of sausage, the pastor spit; that is everything and anything.

DF Taco stand meat piles

This gorgeous platter of tacos, a spread that probably ran us $3US dollars total, produced tear inducing joy

DF tacos

We rolled the dice with Montezuma, and other gringo-aggressive pathogens that night, and while we came out on top, Lady Luck would not be with us long.

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