I was wondering how to write about Hotel Principal, which is the hotel I stay at whenever I am in Mexico City. It is located downtown, five blocks west of the Zocalo (main square) on Bolivar 29 between Madero and 16 de Septembiere. But how to share the joy I feel whenever I think of the hotel? How about Google Streetview! To see the hotel in the context of an overview of the downtown core, copy and paste this:
Bolívar 29, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, Ciudad de México, México
into Google Streetview. You’ll see a map of the downtown core on your right, and a photo of Bolivar 29 on your left. Click on the photo. You are now facing south. The hotel has a small door just south of the Parrilla Leonesa, that leads down a small hallway to the front desk. Don’t eat at the Parrilla Leonesa – trust me.
Rooms at the Hotel Principal are, to me, very cheap, considering the excellent location. I usually get room 202, which looks out onto the street below. It costs 180 pesos per night, or $18 Canadian. Rooms are large, but always ask to get a room with windows out to the street – some of the other rooms can feel confining, due to the lack of windows.
Now – let’s get you oriented. Turn yourself around, so you are facing North. You’ll see icons on your left listing places that you can click on to read reviews. Up ahead is Salon Corona, but before that, unlisted, to the right of the Oxxo (a 24-hour convenience store like 7-11) is a small cafe, serving espresso, cappucino and my favorite, cafe con leche (espresso coffee with sweetened condensed milk). They also serve sandwiches and sweets. Every morning, this is where I go for my cup of Joe and a muffin.
Further ahead is my favorite place in Mexico City for pints and tacos con pastor – Salon Corona. Always busy, always packed, the place is loud, with sports playing on multiple big screens throughout the restaurant slash cantina. I usually sit at the front bar and watch the women prepare dishes while I eat and drink. I like the lager on tap (simply called clara) over the dark (negra).
Tacos con pastor is my favorite food to eat in Mexico City. Sliced pork is roasted on a spit and marinated with a sweet blend of spices, chipotle, pineapple and onion, then sliced, chopped and served on warm corn tortillas, I can’t get enough of them. It is classic Mexican street food – and cheap, too! 14 pesos ($1.40) each! Six of them is more than enough to fill me up. Here’s a recipe for them.
Back to Google Streetview. Start walking straight ahead (north). Cross Madero and go to the next block, 5 De Mayo. Take a right, and head down to the corner of 5 De Mayo and Isabel La Catolica. Gili Pollos! Every trip I take, I always make sure I eat at this place too! They roast chickens, and serve them either straight up or flattened (ranchero style). I usually get the ranchero chicken. Half a chicken with potatos or chips and tortillas for 28 pesos! Less than three bucks!
All around the area, from the hotel to the Zocalo, all of the side streets – there are countless places to eat. Lots of cantinas to stop in and have a drink at. I love exploring these places during the day – not so much at night, as most places are closed by then. If I don’t have friends to meet in the evening, or a gig to go to, I usually stop at the Oxxo across from Hotel Principal and get a few cans of cerveza, and watch some television in my room before hitting the hay. Then I do it all over again the next day!
In my next post, I’ll write about Tepito, the craziest outdoor market I’ve ever seen. No trip to Mexico City is complete without a visit to it! Until then, Viva Mexico!