Happiness is…chilling out at the San Angel Inn
I visited Mexico City on my way back from a wonderful trip to the stunning resort of Grand Velas Los Cabos. You can read all about my time on the beach there by clicking here. I was excited to be seeing my friend Lupita who I met on a cruise of the Baltic a couple of years ago and who had promised to show me around her home town.
Mexico City is a sprawling, bustling metropolis with a population of over 21 million which makes it the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world. As you fly in it seems to go on forever and when you’re on the ground so do the traffic jams – there are a lot of cars in Mexico City and I mean a real lot of cars. Consequently, be prepared to spend time in the traffic – it’s certainly part of the city’s personality.
The city certainly has a unique energy – somewhat frenzied but with a laid-back, Spanish undertone. The people are incredibly friendly and welcoming and there’s so much to see and do. Oh and the food is incredible!
It also seems like a grand city with wide avenues, a stylish mix of old and new architecture – some of which is simply dazzling. And it’s great to walk around with monuments and statues around every corner.
We took a slow meander through the magnificent Chapultepec Park. Mexico City has plenty of trees and green spaces making it easy to get away from hectic city life and chill out. This strikingly enormous structure is the Monumento a los Ninos Heroes – honouring six young men who were killed while defending Chapultepec Castle – the last major resistance to US troops who invaded Mexico in 1845.
This stunning monument perfectly lines up with Chapultepec Castle down the Paseo de la Reforma to the Angel of Independence. The Angel is a tribute to the heroes of the Mexican war of independence from Spain.
There’s so much to discover in this glorious city. I also explored the stylish Polanco neighbourhood which is where I stayed. It’s often called the Beverley Hills of Mexico City and is a joy to walk around with the seemingly endless upmarket shops, hotels and restaurants.
The San Angel neighbourhood
On my second day in town we headed somewhere completely different. San Angel is a short drive away in the south-west of the city but it feels like you’ve been transported to another world. The quaint, narrow, cobblestone streets are lined with elegant homes and an abundance of trees and flowers. There’s very little traffic, making it a joy to meander around.
There are plenty of lovely shops to browse through and the incredibly peaceful ex-convent of El Carmen to visit.
You’ll also find Frida and Diego’s house, where famed Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived and worked. It’s been left as it was when they lived there and is fascinating to explore. Plus you get the chance to see some of their work.
The San Angel Inn
One of the reasons for visiting San Angel was to have lunch at one of Lupita’s favourite restaurants, the San Angel Inn.
It’s loved by locals and tourists alike and you can see why as soon as you walk in – It’s the sort of place that instantly lifts your heart. The hacienda dates back to the 17th century and was originally a Carmelite monastery. A beautiful courtyard is surrounded by an expansive verandah and you’re basically in a tropical garden. I can think of no place I’d rather have lunch.
When in Mexico, drink margaritas. And this could be the best margarita in the world. Served in a little jug nestling in a mini bucket of ice you pour a little at a time ensuring your drink is always super cool. Heavenly.
As we sat on the verandah sipping on our margaritas we snacked on a delicious bowl of crunchy vegetables which we dipped into the beautifully creamy, cheesy dip.
What’s on the menu
As we pored over the menus soft warm rolls were served on one of their beautiful blue plates. I loved all the crockery here so much – how I would have loved to slip some into my handbag! No, of course I didn’t.
I started with the Aztec tortilla soup. A rich tomato-based soup with crunchy crumbled tortilla and fresh chopped avocado sprinkled over. A wonderful combination of flavours and textures – and even more of those delicious Mexican avos.
The caesar salad is for two and is made table-side. Quite a ceremony with the dressing also lovingly mixed in front of you. Seeing it being made with such love and focus makes it taste even better as a result.
Flaky white fish came with a hearty tomato and olive sauce.
I tucked into the flavoursome grilled Mexican steak served with savoury rice, a sticky sauce and guacamole. Yes I am getting as much avocado in as possible while I’m in the land of the avo!
After mains the dessert trolley appears. What joy to see all those delectable dishes laid out – making it almost impossible to choose.
I went straight from the San Angel Inn to the airport to catch my flight home. Which was all a bit surreal. It certainly was a whirlwind trip. Thank you Lupita for showing me around your wonderful city, I fell in love with beautiful Mexico and know there’s so much more I’d like to explore. Take me back soon!
The San Angel Inn is at Diego Rivera No 50 y Altavista, San Angel, Mexico City.