Ask A Local is a new series where we ask clued-up insiders to share their top tips for the place they call home.
Mexico City-based Luisa Salas, better known by her Instagram handle @holalou, is a graphic artist and muralist whose bold minimalism exemplifies the abundant energy of Mexico City's art scene—a place saturated with colorful design, vibrant fashion, renowned galleries, and storied architecture. A native of Durango, Salas had been living in the Yucatan peninsula before she moved to Mexico City two years ago to be closer to the robust art community. In the midst of her recent career wins—including an artist residency with Nike and a collaboration with Spotify— transitioning to an even busier life has been, in her words, “pretty wild.”
To set aside days for herself in this frenzy takes some savvy, but Salas still finds time to explore and experience CDMX. Here’s what she likes to do on her ideal weekend in this buzzing metropolis—from the must-try food vendors to her favorite hotel spa appointment.
Roma Norte street food and art galleries
On a Saturday morning, Salas, a vegetarian, looks to street food for breakfast. Savory, toasted quesadillas are a favorite and found on most street corners across the city.
“That’s something you can’t miss,” she says. “They are a great way to try some veggies that maybe you’ve never heard of.”
A few ideas? A jet-black corn fungus called huitlacoche, or perhaps squash flowers with stringy Oaxacan cheese. Jenny’s Quesadillas, a well-known stand in Roma Norte, is a great spot to find this snack.
After breakfast, Salas recommends heading to MOONI Gallery, also in Roma Norte, to scope out emerging Latin American artists, whose work is priced for a range of budgets. “Instead of being a gallery with really white walls and four spare paintings, they have, like, 2,000 paintings” says Salas. The space is laid-back and packed wall-to-wall with local art.
To soak up some nature, Salas might take a walk through Parque Mexico in the Condesa neighborhood, lush with native plants and surrounded by pristine Art Deco houses. Meandering through the pathways and past the fountains, the park is excellent for people watching. On the weekends, the park hosts various pet adoption organizations that bring animals looking for homes. Peruse the perros and gatitos for an overload of cuteness while snacking from the mobile vendors that line the park.
Where to dance the night away
Music moves the night in Mexico City. For some pre-dancing fuel, grab cocktails and a light dinner at Limantour or Cafe de Nadie, two bars that made Pellegrino’s 50 Best Bars in North America list this year. At Cafe de Nadie, try the Orbitando cocktail, made from local gin with Mexican botanicals and rhubarb. Sip while you listen to the hi-fi system playing vinyl sets by local DJs. The food menu is succinct but tasty: She likes to start with the fried brussels sprouts with a pumpkin seed ranch and parmesan, or with the breaded olives and confit garlic aioli dip.
Next, Salas will rally the troops for a night at Diaspora, a dance party that pops up around the city specializing in afro beats, reggaeton, and dancehall music. Or, for something a little more traditional, the crew will head to Salón Los Angeles, one of the storied salsa and cumbia clubs with live music that has been operating since 1937. “I love to dance cumbia, and the huge clash of people dressed up to dance is great,” says Salas. “The vibrancy of the city can be felt on the dance floor.”
Garden parks and a can’t-miss hotel spa
On Sunday morning, she’ll have a coffee at Quentin. With multiple locations, this high-end coffee purveyor is well-known for its flaky croissants, conchas, and varieties of coffee. Salas adores their Condesa location for the vibe and says that the scenic little garden in the back is one of her favorite places to chill with friends.
After a walk through the neighborhood, stopping into the multitudes of vintage shops, thrift stores, and boutiques from local designers, Salas will work up an appetite for lunch. She recommends Mictlan Antojitos Veganos in her neighborhood, Narvarte, which serves traditional Mexican dishes re-interpreted as vegan. Think tacos dorados filled with braised jamaica flowers, vegan enfrijoladas, and mole. Their comida corrida format offers a starter, a main dish, and a flavored water for a set price. Salas praises its accessibility and uniqueness and says she looks forward to watching the restaurant grow. It's always busy but worth the wait. Her other well-loved vegetarian-friendly spots include Plantasia and Paxil.
For another green moment, Salas likes to spend a few lazy hours at the Jardín Botánico in Chapultepec Park. Walk through their tropical greenhouse or bring some friends to lay around on the grass for an impromptu picnic. For something a bit more bustling, she heads to Centro Historico where La Lagunilla, Mexico City’s long-standing open-air bazaar is located (held only on Sundays) to scope out midcentury modern furniture, vintage clothing, and other antiques. Being fueled by micheladas and speakers blasting reggaeton, winding your way through the narrow aisles, browsing, and bartering is a delicious way to spend a Sunday. More than a shopping experience, it is a cultural event.
An ideal way to end the day is with a spa experience at the Sofitel Mexico City Reforma. On the 39th floor with expansive views of the city below, the Sofitel Spa with L’Occitane is a lavish place for self-care. “It’s the best spa in Mexico City” says Salas. “The massage, the view, the setting, the hot tub, the food. It’s expensive, yes, but it’s worth it.”