On the large hibachi-style grill, the cook flipped meat and the fresh tortilla shells that would hold the meat as he mouthed lyrics to the song playing in the market. It was a popular rap song and I bobbed my head to the familiar rhythm while I watched him work. In about five minutes, a large burrito and four tacos al pastor* were steaming in our faces. I forgot I wasn’t hungry.
Coyoacán was on the itinerary for our second full day in Mexico City. I wanted to visit the well-known market (something I’ve come to enjoy doing on my travels, visiting markets that is) see Frida & Diego’s former house, now a museum, + whatever else the neighborhood had to offer. After another hot + sweaty Uber ride through the city, we arrived Coyoacán in front of the predominantly blue building that is Frida Kahlo Museum. On the side of the building adjacent to the entrance, there was a line. It was the kind of line that instantly discouraged me because I only needed one look to estimate that we would be standing on it for 1hr or more. Unfortunately, a museum guide confirmed my fears and we were considering the worthiness of waiting until I overheard a couple talking about online tickets. Tip: Visit when the museum opens (10am) to skip the lines.
With the tickets, we were promised guaranteed entrance at our allotted time, and more importantly, didn’t have to wait in the ghastly line. Instead, we walked the short 7 minutes to Mercado Coyoacán / Coyoacán Market. On the way, I stopped to buy a coconut from a street vendor. Necessary in Mexico City’s daytime heat. The market was brimming with people in tightly packed stalls, haggling for artisanal items or ordering food. This place was a mishmash of establishments from restaurants, to flower shops, produce & local food stands & Parisian-style cafes. Most of the food stands offered similar Mexican dishes – tacos, burritos, tamales – with at least 8 different meats & flavors. I had come to the market to find souvenirs, but the smell of food was distracting enough that I hesitated only a little when my travel partner suggested we sample some spots + 18 pesos (~$1) tacos?! I wasn’t going to pass up affordable food.
We chose two random stands and ordered tacos and burritos from each. Both places delivered delicious freshly made tacos that were so full of flavor, I wished we had visited the market sooner because the tacos we had eaten up till that point were subpar. Plates cleaned, we crowned our culinary experience at the market the best one so far.
On the other hand, I didn’t have nearly as pleasant an experience shopping because there wasn’t much variety and the vendors were tough. All the haggling skills I gathered over the years were for naught, no one was budging. The only set of items I bought, I paid full price. After a stop for mangos from the market, and chocolate + caramel filled churros from a nearby churreria, we walked back to Kahlo’s Museum to find another line. Obviously, other travelers had heard about the online tickets too.
Fun fact: Frida Kahlo like Oswaldo Guayasamin, requested for her home to be turned into a museum after her death.
In what felt like 20 mins, we were at the entrance and in the museum. This place is two things; photogenic and serene. Without the hordes of people, it’s somewhere I would visit for inspiration or to relax. Each room, preserved with its original decor, was filled with vivid colors on walls, sculptures, and paintings – a home of artists who were no strangers to color. I loved it. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to shoot personal, free photos inside the house. Walking through the small house that could barely fit all its visitors got exhausting fast. There was a line to enter each room which made it difficult to walk at a leisurely pace and enjoy the place. So we ducked out into the garden – which was less crowded- to breathe something other than the scent of the person in front of us, take photos and relax. This was my favorite part of the museum. The green space reminded me of our family home in Nigeria where my dad has planted flowers to cover almost every inch of the outdoor space. It’s how I want my future home to look. A few minutes to closing time, we walked outside to call an Uber to our Airbnb.
Coyoacan is quaint, colorful, and home to delicious food; the tacos were a highlight for us. If time wasn’t a factor, we would have re-visited the taco spot for seconds.
Have you visited Coyoacán? What did you get up to? And if you haven’t, would you include it on your future itinerary for Mexico City? Leave me a comment to let me know.
thank you for reading.
All photos shot & edited on iPhone 8+
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*tacos al pastor – tacos made with grilled meat, sometimes served with pineapples.
I’ve split my stories from Mexico into the neighborhoods we visited. Next week features the floating gardens of Xochimilco.
Same Footprints, Different Sands