Sunday Brunch in Mexico City

We were only in Mexico City for the weekend (you can catch up on day one and day two!), so we were eager to squeeze in as much as possible. On Sunday morning we were up and out and off to the historic center of Mexico City, also known as the Centro Histórico. 

This is where the Spaniards began to build what is now modern Mexico City in the 16th century on the ruins of the conquered Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec Empire. As the center of the Aztec Empire and the seat of power for the Spanish colony of New Spain, the Centro Histórico contains most of the city’s historic sites from both eras, as well as a large number of museums.

It is also the area that Tristan and I stayed in when we visited in 2015, so on this morning while he stayed back at the Airbnb to do some work, I took the rest of the family on a little tour!

Which obviously had to start at Palacio de Bellas Artes

Opened officially in 1934, the splendid white-marble palace became home to the Museum of Visual Arts which displayed what at the time was the highest example of art in the country: muralism.

Mexican Muralism first emerged in 1921. At the time, a large majority of the Mexican population was illiterate and the government needed a way to promote the ideas of the Mexican Revolution. Therefore, it was decided that a government-backed mural program was needed for this purpose.

Katharsis – 1934-1935, José Clemente Orozco

The muralist movement was distinguished by its social and political messages which attempted to reunify the country under the post-Mexican Revolution government. It was a new kind of art for the people, and was headed by the “big three” painters, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

All of whom have pieces in the Palacio de Bellas Artes.

 Carnaval de la vida mexicana – 1936, Diego Rivera

El hombre en el cruce de caminos  / Man, Controller of the Universe – 1934, Diego Rivera

The most famous mural in Palacio de Bellas Artes, this Diego Rivera piece was originally commissioned for the Rockefeller Center in New York City. However, upon completion, the Rockefellers had the original destroyed because it included an image of Lenin and a Soviet Russian May Day parade. Not one to be defeated, Rivera recreated the mural here and re-named it Man, Controller of the Universe.

The mural is massive and demands attentive viewing because there is so much going on; every inch is brimming with significance. In the center, a worker directs an enormous machine at the crossroads of the political ideologies dominating this period: capitalism (to the figure’s right) and communism (to the figure’s left).

Liberación o La humanidad se libera de la miseria, 1963, Jorge González Camarena

Liberación o La humanidad se libera de la miseria, 1963, Jorge González Camarena

In addition to the incredible murals, the palace stages outstanding temporary art exhibitions (last year we saw a Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit that is to this day the best exhibit I have ever seen), seasonal opera and symphony performances and the Ballet Folklórico de México.

But we will have to save seeing those for another time, we had grumbling stomachs to feed!

If you are traveling to Mexico City (which I highly recommend you do) then it is good to know that the Metro is really expansive and convenient to use during the day. Uber is also exceptionally cheap, so I recommend using that of an evening!

Once in the center of the center, we made our way down this charming cobbled street to Palacio de los Condes de Miraville — a 17th century colonial palace that has been turned into the DOWNTOWN Mexico hotel (apparently amazing), shops and restaurants.

Inside was colourful and lively with a variety of places for us to eat. But, it was Puntarena (previously Padrinos) that caught our eye. We knew we had made the right choice when we walked through the restaurant, past the gin & tonic bar and into the tiled courtyard. Almost all the tables were filled with Mexican couples and families celebrating Sunday brunch, while above them towered the most exceptional green living wall I have ever seen.

 — The wall was featured in this New York Times article about efforts to curb polluted city air. —

We started with orange juice; but, quickly realized that as delicious as it may taste it was seriously missing something fizzy — so out came the Moët.

Puntarena’s menu specializes in traditional Mexican dishes which you can stumble your way through with a Spanish-only menu. Brunch offerings included 20+ egg dishes (yes huevos rancheros is on there) that were listed with no description, making it rather fun to just close your eyes and point at one.

For this reason, I can’t quite remember which one I ended up choosing. However, I remember that it was absolutely delicious and that this massive bowl of guacamole was the best I have ever tasted — perfectly salted.

And with that we wandered back out into the Centro and waited outside the stunning Casino Español for our Uber to arrive.

Oh Mexico City, I look forward to exploring you lots more over the next few years.

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