Urban history buffs will tell you that Mexico City feels like San Francisco in the ’70s or Manhattan in the ’90s, but they’re only half right. Yes, rent is cheap, underground art is prospering, and gay culture is almost overwhelming, but Mexico City in 2017 offers more than any of those eras could: ancient history, a sprawling urban landscape, and all the comforts of modern technology.
It’s never been easier or more fun to explore the capital’s queer-friendly pockets and revel in the vibrant LGBT visibility. Over a 36-hour weekend, take advantage of efficient public transit and conquer these must-dos:
4pm: Street Food Tour
Do yourself a favor and start your stay with one of Club Tengo Hambre’s signature food tours. CTH promises stops at six vetted, delicious, and authentic street food vendors and two of the city’s best markets. It’s a perfect way to get a lay of the land.
8pm: Cruising Bellas Artes
In the heart of the city lies Alameda Central, one of the most populated and manicured urban parks. Young boys in love sit on benches with their legs comically intertwined; a street hustler in partial military uniform makes eyes at gentlemen passing by; a troop of dancers vogue to American house music. Relax on the steps of the neoclassical gem that is Palacio de Bellas Artes and watch the world twirl.
10pm: Hip Dinner
Call ahead for a table at one of the coolest restaurants in Roma, Paramo. Do not miss the Las Perlas, anything with ceviche, and the house mezcal.
11:30pm: Mixed Drinks
Grab pre-dancing drinks at Departamento, a very well designed—if not a bit kitschy—bar in Roma. The drinks are strong and the crowd is genuinely mixed.
1am: Pop Dancing
Kinky is a club in the heart of Zona Rosa, the city’s official gayborhood. This multi-floored bar, dance club, strip joint, and karaoke lounge has something to offer everyone. Head to the top floor for American pop bangers, outdoor balconies, and twinky shirtless dancers.
12pm: Foodie Brunch
International restaurateur Enrique Olvera (Pujol, Cosme) brings you quintessential Mexican brunch (if there is such a thing) in the form of Eno. Don’t miss the house-baked concha, the excellent chilaquiles, and anything on brioche.
2pm: Alt Musuem
In a city of nearly endless museums, one of the coolest, most undiscovered in town is the Museo Juguete Antiguo (MUJAM). On the surface, the concept is simple: a place to showcase Mexican and Latino culture through toys. But MUJAM is so much more: It’s an art collective producing some of the city’s raddest murals, a music venue for emerging talent, and a home to an amazing array of rotating collections.
4pm: Afternoon Soak
One certainly wouldn’t call the residents of Mexico City prudish, as illustrated at Sodome, one of the continent’s most updated and comfortable bathhouses. Stop in for an afternoon relaxation session. The staff is friendly, the amenities are worth the price of entry (300 MXN), and there exist fewer ways to meet locals in as genuine and intimate of a setting.
7pm: Snack Time
No dish epitomizes the food culture of Mexico City like tacos al pastor. The multi-located El Tizoncito Tamaulipas claims to have invented the concept, and while that may or may not be true, their version certainly stands out. Sit outside and order two or three of these palm-sized treats at a time.
Take a disco nap. You’re gonna need it.
10pm: Sacrilegious Drinks
One of the more surreal bar experiences one can have, possibly in the world, exists at La Purísima in Central Mexico City. The bar’s theme is psychedelic religion. Young Mexicans dance under neon crosses, an illuminated Virgin Mary follows a drag queen MC with disapproving eyes. There will be a line.
12am: Polished Dancing
There is a certain allure to Guilt, one of the city’s poshest and most ostentatious gay clubs. It’s very cinematic: the lights are dizzying, the crowd is handsome and the party keeps going long after the sun comes up.
4am: After-Hours Tacos
The humble but busy taco truck just outside Guilt is famous for their many salsa options, late night hours of operation, and their secret ingredient: french fries. While the culinary origin of these tacos is up for debate, what is certain is how satisfying a handful of french fries tastes mashed into two or three succulent tacos after a long night of drinking.
1pm: Casual Brunch
Most locals agree that Lalo is a little overpriced, but also accept the fact that the all-day cafe has some of the best breakfast foods in town. The french toast (which is a lot more like bread pudding than anything else) matches perfectly with a number of egg dishes, great coffee, and, shockingly, a pastrami sandwich that rivals any in New York City.
2pm: Queer Art
Stop into Artspace, one of the best avant-garde art galleries in Mexico. The space, which is part of a beautiful sprawling mansion on a supremely picturesque block, features an eclectic mix of mediums by queer artists from all over Latin America.
End your stay with a signature Mexico City experience. Xochimilco is one of the more outer boroughs from the city’s center. Here you’ll find an expansive canal system on which gondola-style passenger boats can be chartered by the hour. Grab a group of friends and whatever you’d like to eat and drink and head to the water. Large speakers can be rented for a nominal fee and you’ll find boats selling drinks, souvenirs, and Mariachi services.
11pm: Last Call
If you have any energy left, stop into Tom’s Leather Bar for one last drink (or the three included in your entry fee). While Tuesday’s are the most popular night here, Sunday’s can be relaxing fun. Locals and visitors mingle to remixed rock song, while strippers go full monty on every surface in the room. Walk around, but don’t get lost in the dark room. Or do.