An Afternoon in a magical town, enjoy Coyoacán!
Coyoacán means “place of coyotes,” in Nahuatl and one sees reminders of its namesake animal sprinkled around this colorful neighborhood, in a fountain statue or a restaurant name. It was once a serene pre-Hispanic village nestled on the shores of Lake Texcoco. This place later served as the home base of Hernan Cortez during his conquest of Tenochtitlán, and the colonial-era architecture of the neighborhood has been preserved as a charming remnant from a tumultuous time. More recently, Coyoacan became famous as the stomping grounds of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in the mid-20th century. Today, this community is as relevant as ever – as much for its history and beauty as for its vibrant markets, delectable foods, and cultural experiences. It’s an escape from the bustle of Mexico City, a place to relax and to discover, which is why it’s my favorite place in all of Mexico.
One of my favorite ways to spend time in Coyoacán is eating my way around the neighborhood. There are so many tastes to seek out here, and one can eat a full, varied meal for under a hundred pesos. On a recent visit, I started off the afternoon with a café Americano (un doble, I confess, – I’m an estadounidense and we drink our coffees big) at Café Jarocho. It was Semana Santa so the sidewalks were filled with locals and visitors, leisurely browsing the artesanias for sale. Next, I wandered through el Mercado de Coyoacán, which is always a delight. I love walking past the stands of vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables, the giant wheels of cheese, and locals eating lunches of tostadas and mariscos.
My first bite of the afternoon was a taco de pastor at Pepe Coyote. Most people sit down inside the restaurant to eat these tacos, but my preferred method is standing outside the restaurant, watching the taquero tend his pastor spit. My friends and I then shared an esquites and a few gorditas de maiz, hot off the griddle. Incomparably delicious.
Next I paid a return visit to Museo Frida Kahlo. It’s a small museum, but worth a visit if you’ve never been. Apart from the chance to see some of her well known paintings like Viva la Vida and her art studio, just walking through the bright blue house and among the lush gardens is reason enough to visit. An hour is all it takes. Having worked up an appetite again at the museum, I had a hot churro filled with Nutella. There may be other good churros sold on the street in Mexico, but none taste better to me than the churros in Coyoacán. After watching a few performers in the park, we were ready for another treat – unos conos de helado.
As the sun was setting, we wandered west, away from the crowds, to Parque Francisco Sosa. We poked our heads into la Capilla de Santa Catarina where a Holy Thursday mass was underway. It was a sweet ending to a perfect afternoon in my favorite place. Coyoacán, I’ll be back soon.
By Laura Johnson (From Chicago, USA)