Vendor City Guide: Mexico City

Street secrets revealed by the people who know them best

Our guides this week: Mexican street paper Mi Valedor held a workshop for some of its vendors to create this guide to Mexico City. Participants include Erasmo, 66, who thanks to selling the magazine has been sober for 18 months; Juan, 52, who is long-term unemployed; Isaias, 49, who is grateful for the stability Mi Valedor has given him; and Antonio, 38, who has become more outgoing and confident since he started selling the magazine.

The best place to eat or drink is…

Erasmo: In the city centre there is a place called La Paella. It is very quiet and I know a lot of Italian and Spanish people like going there.

Antonio: My favourite restaurant is Café Tantones – it’s nice and cheap too.

Juan: My favourite restaurant is a Chinese place on Dolores Street.

Isaias: My favourite restaurant would be La Casa de Los Abuelos [The Grandparents’ House].

Every tourist should go to:

Juan:  A good place for free would be the Museum of Popular Arts. A secret place that I know is La Plaza de los Arcángeles. It is a good place to think.

Erasmo:  At Toluca there’s a place called Cuarto Dinamo. There is a beautiful forest and it’s very nice and quiet. There’s a beautiful waterfall too. I used to go there with my girlfriend.

Isaias:  Tourists should visit El Barrio de la Santísima because there is a small archaeological zone and a beautiful temple. A good free place is La Ciudadela, where you can walk around and see handicrafts and folk art. A secret place would be Callejón de Calacoaya, where there is a beautiful fountain.

DID YOU KNOW…

If you pay for the magazine you should always take it. Vendors are working for a hand up, not a handout.

My favourite area is:

Erasmo:  I like Reforma, the city centre. All that zone reminds me of when I was young, when everything was fun and I felt alive. The centre of Mexico City is a good place to walk. You see everything and what you find is that people communicate more. There are good cabarets, cantinas and good Argentine restaurants.

Antonio:  I come from Turin, la Juárez. I like to live there because it looks like German houses in the neighbourhood and I have everything at hand. It is quieter and calmer.

Juan:  I come from Nezahualcóyotl and I like everything there, but I have to say that the people are very scandalous. My favourite area in the city would be Coyoacán because my father took me to my first music school there.

To escape city life, go to:

Erasmo:  You can go to La Marquesa National Park, which is very nice. You can ride horses there. There is a secret spot, a hill called San Miguel, and you can see the beauty of nature. Also, you have to try carnitas – slow-cooked pulled pork.

Image: Megan Reddi