STREET ART + FOOD: Mexico City Edition

IMG_9011.jpg

Mexico City allowed me to view a new side of Mexico not often portrayed in the media and in our American studies. Living everyday in the U.S- you would think that we would know more accurate history about our neighbor. Outside of the drug war and cartels, the history we've learned about Mexico has been distorted. Sensational stories have become the norm and we've been missing the gems of a country so diverse and rich in history.

I had the honor to visit Mexico City and see for myself what Mexico was about. 

 The exhibition on the Mayan empire were truly astounding. This massive remnant was captured from the 1100 d.c era.

The exhibition on the Mayan empire were truly astounding. This massive remnant was captured from the 1100 d.c era.

MUSEO DE ANTROPOLOGIA // MUSEUM OF ANTHROPOLOGY

El Museo de Antropologia covered the many worlds, kingdoms, practices, and traditions that expand the extensive history of the land we call Mexico today. 

IMG_9001.jpg

We began with the Stone of the Sun pictured above, which is often mistaken as an Aztec calendar. In reality the stone signifies a sacrificial altar used during fighting rituals to evoke the attention of the gods. 

IMG_3465.JPG

While visiting, make sure to set aside 2-3 hours as the museum really is captivating and requires time to absorb. I am so thankful for this experience because it was a reminder that humans have been here, we've failed, and we've stood up once again. Let's learn our history, and honor it as to not make the same mistakes of the past. 

 Museo de Antropologia, Mexico City, Mexico.

Museo de Antropologia, Mexico City, Mexico.

IMG_3360.JPG

ALELI

We visited Aleli for brunch, and it was so good! I had the flautas, pictured below, in a frijol sauce and scrambled eggs. 

The service and staff were top notch and the prices very reasonable for the portion sizes. 

IMG_8994.JPG

flautas = a Mexican standard, flautas come rolled in wheat tortillas and filled with either savory pork, chicken or beef. In our case at Aleli, my flautas were filled with scrambled eggs and cheese. Yum!

Aleli is perfect for breakfast and brunch as it has an airy setting and decor. Along with my breakfast flautas, I had a coconut milk latte. Very creamy and smooth and everything I needed to set off my day of adventure in the city! 

IMG_3381.JPG

CASTILLO CHAPULTEPEC // CASTLE CHAPULTEPEC

For this edition, we will continue to focus on historic structures as I truly believe ART is in the ordinary. With this theme, I present Castillo Chapultepec which serves as Mexico City's historical center and museum. 

Before arriving to the castle, you must spend some time en el Bosque de Chapultepec- the Central Park of Mexico City. 

IMG_8960.JPG

What I admired the most about my visit to the Castillo was the wide display of history which followed all the many eras of Mexican politics, culture, and revolutions. As always, I believe its important to dive deep when visiting a new place and Mexico City allows you to do that in a way I haven't seen before. All their centers were full of history, and the options were accessible at no cost, or very cheap to enter. We can all learn from their approach, as it allowed the maximum number of people to partake in the experience, both local and those like me who were visiting for the first time. 

 Castillo Chapultepec, Mexico City //Photography Credit: Y.Frias

Castillo Chapultepec, Mexico City //Photography Credit: Y.Frias

IMG_8920.JPG

MUSEO DE FRIDA KAHLO // MUSEUM OF FRIDA KAHLO

A major bucket list item! I could hardly contain my excitement when visiting Mexico City knowing that I would have the opportunity to come in contact with the closest living remnants of the iconic Latinx artist Frida Kahlo. 

IMG_8683.JPG

Visiting the Museo de Frida Kahlo brought into full image the artist's life and struggles as she lived with her disability and suffered major heartbreak through her complicated relationship with the artist Diego Rivera. 

IMG_9252.JPG

The museum is the former home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera who had an on-off marriage spanning over 25 years. The museum holds on display personal photographs of both artists, with a main focus on Frida Kahlo who has surpassed her husband's fame. The artist was the embodiment of strength, femininity but also vulnerability all in one. It is a must visit!

 Frida and Diego's courtyard was so beautiful featuring a garden of herbs and flowers // Museo Frida Kahlo. 

Frida and Diego's courtyard was so beautiful featuring a garden of herbs and flowers // Museo Frida Kahlo. 

 Intimate photos of the artist // Museo de Frida Kahlo

Intimate photos of the artist // Museo de Frida Kahlo

IMG_8753.JPG
IMG_8777 (1).JPG
 Frida's struggle with infertility is on full display in this powerful image // Museo de Frida Kahlo

Frida's struggle with infertility is on full display in this powerful image // Museo de Frida Kahlo

 Frida's most famous styles on display at the temporary exhibit // Museo Frida Kahlo

Frida's most famous styles on display at the temporary exhibit // Museo Frida Kahlo

IMG_8615.JPG
IMG_8582.JPG
IMG_8531.JPG

Brunch at Lalo's is a MUST!!! The spot is synonymous with Mex City's growing hipster crowd- and it delivers to perfection. Lalo's food is fresh, organic, the coffee is pure and strong- and the service impeccable! Be prepared to wait- lines over the weekend start early. The seating is family style with long, communal tables perfect for large groups like ours. 

IMG_8536.JPG
IMG_8540.JPG
IMG_8553.JPG

The chilaquiles pictured above had fresh eggs, tortillas, and a mildly spicy green tomato sauce. 

IMG_8565.JPG
IMG_8562.JPG

The food is served fresh and made to order. The patrons were kind enough to allow us to see them in action as they prepared for the upcoming dinner menu and we caught shots of their pasta-making. The hospitality of their staff, their impeccable service and food provided a total package for this new, up and coming restaurant. I highly recommend! 

Bosque de Chapultepec, Jardin Botanico // Botanical Garden

 Photography Credit: Y.Frias

Photography Credit: Y.Frias

Back in el Bosque de Chapultepec, we found a gorgeous botanical garden. The display was full of exotic flowers, and different specimens of cactus. 

 Photography Credit: Y.Frias

Photography Credit: Y.Frias

IMG_3484.JPG
IMG_3487.JPG

If you are a fan of Netflix's docu-series Chef's Table, you will recognize this gem: Pujol. Owned by renowned Mexican chef Enrique Olvera, and coined as the 17th Best Restaurant in the world- Pujol was a dining experience like I had never had before. We set reservations almost 6 months in advance to get into the coveted restaurant, and were blessed to find an opening for lunch. We arrived to Pujol with our group and were greeted with a tasting menu which immediately challenged all of our expectations + delighted our palate. The menu introduced us to indigenous traditions along with Mexican cult favorites like la gordita and a 4-years old mole. The experience is one I will never forget & one that redefined my views on high-end dining. Mexican Chef Enrique Olvera has found a way to not only honor his culture, but also  introduce the world to high-end Mexican cuisine without tainting flavor or compromising his identity. Bravo! All accolades for Pujol are truly deserved. 

Overall, my trip was a testament to the wide array of offerings that Mexico City has. I was truly blown away by the amount of history, culture + endless flavors found in every corner of the city. I recommend the city to anyone looking to challenge their thinking about Mexico. I promise that you will walk away with a brand new understanding of life. Most importantly, I am grateful for the beautiful memories created with people I truly love + care for. Cheers to life!

Photography Credits: Annelies Martinez, Cashmere Boulevard

Have you checked out my past editions of the Street Art + Food series? See the links below! 

STREET ART + FOOD: Chicago Edition

STREET ART + FOOD: Lawtown Edition

STREET ART + FOOD: Bangkok Edition

DSC_0066.JPG

About Writer: 

Beya J. is an urban enthusiast. Through her travels, she ensures to engage in local culture, customs + food while exploring concepts that build community and highlight themes around urban living. She is Dominican-born, raised in Lawrence, MA. IG/TWITTER: plump_lips

STREET ART + FOOD: Chicago Edition

0A29A29F-DE44-4640-AB8B-B2081EE27026.JPG

CHI-CHI CHI CITY! 

 I had the amazing privilege to visit the great city of Chicago for the Policy Link Equity Summit. The summit was dedicated to planners, activists and social justice advocates to provide us with the foundation needed to lead the resistance. I came back so refreshed and ready to tackle on the heavy challenges of securing affordable housing for all + working for a more equitable world. 

But of course- I had to see the city!! I stumbled upon this piece by Sam Kirk in downtown. I loved it instantly as it was tucked away in an alleyway, slightly hidden from view. 

IMG_8684.jpg
IMG_1988.JPG
  Ashley Lazarre . IG: _aelle_ 

Ashley Lazarre. IG: _aelle_ 

We visited the Museum of Contemporary Art, and grabbed drinks at its famous + hip restaurant Marisol's. The cocktail bar was extensive and we got some bubbly to celebrate life + friendship. Marisol's has an inviting atmosphere, perfect for a quick drink but great enough for a full sit-down dinner. The best part about it is the restaurant is open to the public and not just museum goers! 

IMG_1992.jpg
 Howardena Pindell.  Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago 

Howardena Pindell.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago 

 Seen at: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Seen at: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

  Iris. IG: flacawaka19

Iris. IG: flacawaka19

IMG_2002.JPG

Howardena Pindell's What Remains to be Seen was a must see exhibition. The Black feminist visionary and activist is truly a beacon of our time as she has produced various works highlighting racism in pop culture + continues to inspire young emerging artists through her work. The exhibition spans the New York–based artist’s five-decades-long career, featuring early figurative paintings, pure abstraction and conceptual works, and personal and political art that emerged in the aftermath of a life-threatening car accident in 1979. The exhibition traces themes and visual experiments that run throughout Pindell’s work up to the present.

unnamed (3).jpg
f20fda36-55ba-45c9-9b0d-b5f51847c431.JPG

AL'S BEEF

We hit up Al's beef after a recommendation from a local admittedly while kind of drunk so our expectations were minimal at the most! Next thing you know we were counting our lucky stars because Al's Beef is nothing to play with!  The great Chicago sandwich was actually formed out of necessity during the Great Depression when meat was scarce. In order to make the most of what they had, founders Chris and Al would slice the meat very thin and place it on thick loaves of fresh made Italian bread. The original recipe, which is still used in all Al’s Beef locations today, was developed in Al’s home kitchen. The family sold the delicious sandwiches at a neighborhood food stand and delivered them to local businesses until they opened their current location on West Taylor Street in Chicago.  

Today, Al's Beef is a Chicago staple, with locations all of the city and state with extensions in Nevada and California. 

76da6e4f-53cb-4697-a133-25c0e22d07df.JPG
unnamed (5).jpg

One glaring factor in Chicago is its extreme residential segregation. Not to say that Boston and other major American cities aren't seeing similar patterns- due to a history of redlining and government policies- but Chicago lingers as its urban violence and constant headlines remind us of the ills of a separated and divided city. As soon as we left the downtown center, the aesthetics of the urban city changed dramatically. Skyscrapers were quickly replaced by blighted buildings and liquor stores. The neighborhood was primarily Mexican-American, and I was really blown away by the displays of street art in particular this piece depicting Native American Indians. It's a good reminder of the land we were standing on which was once occupied by the Patawatomi, Miami and Illinois tribes. 

IMG_8681.JPG
IMG_8682.JPG
IMG_2066.JPG
IMG_2068.JPG

GINO'S EAST

Now you know I'm not going to come to Chicago and not have a deep dish pizza!!! 

Gino’s East Chicago-style deep dish is made the same way it was 50 years ago. We had their DEEP A*F pizza and lord- we were not ready!!! I tapped out after one slice! Keep in mind one slice feels like three! The concept of the restaurant is also very cool with a gritty, underground vibe. Walls are filled with tags and signatures from past visitors and a wall dedicated to the famous faces that have came by to try their food. Definitely a must-visit when in Chicago! 

IMG_8766.JPG
 IG: plump_lips 

IG: plump_lips 

IMG_8661.jpg
IMG_8663.JPG
IMG_0899.JPEG

FRIDA'S ROOM

While exploring, we stopped at Frida's Room. The brunch eatery is perfect for a sunny weekend morning, and the staff were so accommodating and kind! I highly recommend this neighborhood gem tucked away in Pilsen. The Mexican-American menu is reasonably priced and healthy. 

IMG_0852.JPEG
IMG_8859.JPG
IMG_8644.jpg
IMG_8639.jpg
IMG_8645.jpg

TECHO, TIERRA, TRABAJO

House, Land Work. For all. 

Coming across this piece in the Pilsen neighborhood reminded me once again why I chose urban planning as my career focus. All around us are reminders of the large inequality in our country. It's necessary to understand our history + what led us here so we can rectify the wrongs, and push forward. This street art provides a powerful impression of labor, the American dream + and its reality, and the constant fight for justice. 

IMG_8675.jpg

A highlight of my stay was visiting the Chicago Theatre to catch Frederick Douglass Now- the one-man monologue play viewing contemporary America through the eyes of the famous Black revolutionary. The Chicago Theatre is an iconic structure of Chicago. To honor our conference, the night of our event the slogan of our convent displayed: Our Power. Our Future. Our Nation. 

 Sushi-San Handroll station. Photo Courtesy:   Sushi-San

Sushi-San Handroll station. Photo Courtesy: Sushi-San

SUSHI-SAN

As if I wasn't already mighty impressed with the food selection in Chicago, our friends suggested Sushi-San for a group dinner. The atmosphere was super dope with 90's hip hop ringing from all corners of the restaurant. We dined family-style and one of the standout favorites was the Beef'n'Bop. Filled with scallions and a soft-egg on top, this bowl was full of delicious beef and flavor! A must-try. 

 Beef'N'Bop at Sushi-San, Chicago. 

Beef'N'Bop at Sushi-San, Chicago. 

IMG_8579.jpg
IMG_8588.JPG

Overall, Chicago is a true urban gem. Don't let headlines stop you from coming to this Midwestern capital full of good food, people and plenty to do! And as always- #FUCKTRUMP 

Have you checked out my past editions of the Street Art + Food series? See the links below! 

Street Art + Food: Lawtown Edition

Street Art + Food: Los Cabos Edition

Street Art + Food: Bangkok Edition

 

 

 

About writer: 

Beya J. is an urban enthusiast focused on urban planning, arts + culture. Follow her on I.G/Twitter: plump_lips