Piles of churros and carnitas costra de queso: What a travel writer eats in Mexico City

Come for the churro master class, stay for the cheese and draft beverage tasting

Published November 5, 2022 5:30PM (EDT)

Churros  (Jodyann Morgan )
Churros (Jodyann Morgan )

"A Fatty's Guide to Traveling and Eating the World" is a monthly travel and food column here at Salon that’s dedicated to helping travelers of all sizes find adventure

I first visited Mexico City just after I got engaged to my wife. We had such an amazing time that it has permanently stayed on our list of future cities to visit. When a trip to Peru fell through the day before we were leaving, we bought tickets to Mexico City without hesitation. We had no plan, hotel, or reservations, but we were excited and thrilled to be back. Here are some of the best things we did with no planning or preparation.  

Where I stayed

Live Aqua Urban Resort México

Heading to Mexico was a seriously last minute decision, so of course, I hadn't planned on where we would be staying. It wasn't until an hour before the flight in the airport that I started looking, and stumbled across Live Aqua Urban Resort. It had fantastic reviews, was budget-friendly and promised a luxury experience. After a bad experience at a hotel the last time we visited, I wasn't taking any chances. 

And boy, did the hotel deliver. Walking in, there was a scent of peace and calm. The hotel has its own signature scents, bubbling waterfalls and beautiful decor. Once at the front desk, we were quickly assisted and the concierge made us last-minute dinner reservations at La Popular (more on that later). The hotel room was spacious and comfortable, with a bed so comfy it was hard to get out of. The massive bathroom had a soaking tub, a shower that comfortably fit two — or even three — and a vanity that comfortably allowed two guests to get ready side by side. 

The author and her wife in Mexico City (Carlos Ratti)Expert tip: Mexico City is full of incredible food, so skip the in-house breakfast and restaurant.

While the hotel is fantastic, what stood out above all else was the spa. I've been lucky enough to have massages in many places, and our massage at Live Aqua was in my top five, ever. An hour before our appointment, we enjoy the water therapy pools with a glass of champagne. The massage itself was perfect. We added a scrub on to the end of the massage, which was rubbed all over our bodies before we were led to the showers. We left with glowing skin and were so, so relaxed. Make sure that you make a reservation in advance if you have a tight itinerary. The spa fills up. 

Squish factor: The spa did not have robes that fit me, but they did have massive towels that wrapped all the way around me with a little extra to spare. 

Marriot Reforma

Wanting to get closer to the center of the city, we left Live Aqua for the Marriott in Reforma, a solidly four-star hotel right in the middle of everything. Outside, there's an urban park and just a block away, Zona Rosa, the historical queer neighborhood. The hotel's spacious lobby has a large, comfortable bar, and there's a rooftop bar and pool as well. If you're hungry and don't want to leave the hotel, there's a steakhouse and a Mexican restaurant in-house, although I didn't try either of them. And while restaurants, bars, and quality service are certainly essential, at the end of the day, it's the bed that makes the hotel, and the bed in our room was perfection. I slept like a baby! 

Outside hotel (Carlos Ratti )

Where I ate

La Popular Taqueria

We arrived in Mexico City without a plan. We just barely managed to secure a hotel before getting on a plane. We were starving when we finally got to the hotel after nearly an hour and a half in the dense Mexico City traffic. The concierge recommended La Popular, a taqueria just two blocks away from the hotel and we jumped on it. Located in a small shopping center, you'll have to take the elevator downstairs, before walking into the dimly lit restaurant with music so loud you might think you've walked into a club. The service was excellent, the drinks strong and delicious, and the food — well, it was really good. 

La Popular starts you off with at least seven different types of salsa, which you can enjoy with the tortilla chips and with all of your food. We got quite a few items (we were hungry) and everything was fantastic, but our favorite bite was the Carnitas Costra de Queso, a popular taco style in Mexico City. The flour tortilla is grilled with cheese, forming the perfect crispy crunchy crust, before being stuffed with absolutely perfect carnitas. 


After over a decade of working in the best Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe, Chef Oswaldo Oliva returned to Mexico City to open Lorea, which is located in Roma Norte in a townhouse that doesn't give away the incredible restaurant inside. From a kitchen that's visible across the dining room, Lorea serves a menu that celebrates local produce and ingredients in their prime. Choose from an eight-course tasting menu, which you can enjoy at the chef's counter or the dining room, and the a la carte menu, only available in the dining room. Forever in love with a good-tasting menu, we indulged and sat at the chef's counter. Our food was absolutely fantastic, with the stand-out course being a taco with huitlacoche, a corn fungus that is like the most incredible flavor bomb. 


If you've always wanted to dine at Nobu, you may want to consider the Nobu in Mexico City. Not only is it much easier to get a reservation, but the bill was also half of the going rate at the Los Vegas Nobu. There are two locations, one in the same building as the Live Aqua Urban Resort and the other in Polanco, both fantastic. Serving an extensive Japanese menu, you'll find sushi and sashimi, along with favorites like mirin-marinated Miso Black Cod, and some dishes nodding to Mexican cuisine, like mini tacos stuffed with raw tuna. If you like a good tasting menu, Nobu's omakase lets you try a little bit of everything. And be sure to save room for dessert. It's mighty good!

What to Do

Cheese and Draft Beverage Tasting at Lactography

I love cheese so much that I wrote a love letter to cheese, so when I saw a Mexican cheesemonger offering a tasting class, I was all in. Jessica owns Lactography, a tiny cheese shop in Roma Norte. She's made it her mission to curate Mexican cheeses, champion Mexican cheese makers and make the cheese available to the residents and visitors of Mexico City. Our tasting included a farmhouse goat feta which was so different from what I've come to expect from fetas. Then there was the Kato, a cow Camembert with an in-house washed rind with Mexican-produced sake. My favorite cheese was the truffle double-cream cheese, which was rich, creamy, and simply divine. We also tried a washed curd alpine style cheese made from jersey milk and a natural Chèvre with spices. The cheese was paired with locally made beverages, including two craft beers, sake, and mezcal, as well as crusty bread and accouterments. 

Squish factor: The tasting is inside the tiny shop, where you will sit on tall bar-like chairs.


Last time we visited Mexico City, we found Carlos, a photographer based in the city. Carlos is an absolute pro and a joy to shoot with as a fat couple. As soon as we decided to come back to Mexico, we immediately booked another session. It was just as much fun as the last one and the photos turned out amazing. Having a shoot while traveling is a great way to memorialize your trip and get amazing photos out of it.

Churros Masterclass

If you like desserts, meeting other travelers, and learning about Mexican desserts, you'll love this churros class. From the same team that hosts a life-changing coffee tasting in CDMX, this class is so much fun! You'll make a jalapeno and chocolate ganache to dip the churros. Take notes because it was incredible! I have to make it again. Then, we made cafe de olla with cinnamon sticks, dark brown cane sugar, and orange peels. While this simmers, you'll dive head first into making churros. It turns out that it's much simpler to make than expected. Christian, our host, carefully assisted with the whole process, before teaching us how to fry the churros, which was the trickiest part. We learned how to make circles, spirals, hearts, and designs as we rapidly cooked up (and ate) an enormous pile of churros! 

Cooking Class in the Forest

I love taking cooking classes when I'm traveling, and they are all memorable, but this one was extraordinary. It's a full day experience, starting with a visit to a local market before heading into the mountains of the Los Dinamos National Park, home to the famous Magdalena River. After the hustle and bustle of the city, it's a relief to spend some time in nature without your phone. There, in a family owned restaurant without running water or electricity, you'll learn how to cook a slew of Mexican food. You'll make two different salsas and tortillas, and you'll even fish for your own trout on their on-site fish farm. The final result is an indulgent meal with your host, memories, and skills to last a lifetime.

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Squish factor: The bathrooms are a bit of a hike from the restaurant. There are steps to enter the restaurant and the market. The chairs are a bit rickety, but you don't spend a lot of time sitting, and a few were a bit better.

By Chaya Milchtein

Chaya Milchtein is an automotive educator and journalist who writes about cars, plus size fashion, queer life and love, and sometimes, food and travel. Her work has in Real Simple, Parents Magazine, Xtra Magazine, Al Jazeera, Shondaland and others.

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