Mexico City 2023

By Colin McFadden
This post is part of a series called Mexico City 2023

Tacos, race cars and friends. Sounds like a pretty good long weekend right? This was a pretty quick trip to Mexico City, so rather than doing a day-by-day trip report, I’m just going to hit some of the high points. And a few of the low points. Poor Checo.

I can’t remember exactly when we hatched a plan to go to Mexico City to see the Formula One race, but it’s been a least a year. The “we” in this case being Ashlee and me, with Adriel and Kat as our mostly-willing and long-suffering partners. The race schedule dictated the timing, and after an expensive evening with StubHub (tickets being more or less impossible to get directly from the race organizers), plans were set in motion. We booked our favorite Airbnb, contacted Avidan (the Taco Mensch), and bought some flights.

We landed Thursday afternoon and had time for some CDMX greatest-hits. We walked the market, through La Condesa, and on to some of the best al pastor tacos at El Tizoncito, followed by some churros at El Moro. Then we hopped the subway to the Zocalo to see what was happening. It turns out, not much, because construction was underway for Day of the Dead celebrations. Instead, we hit our favorite rooftop bar, Terraza Catedral and enjoyed a beautiful evening overlooking the city. We wrapped things up with dinner at Azulismo, enjoying gorgeous food and even better service.

Friday was mostly about tacos, with a side helping of race cars. We had a light breakfast of fruit with more fruit on our apartment’s rooftop, then met up with Avidan for our tour. Since this was our third tour with him, we changed things up a bit and visited some new spots. It was great to catch up, hear about all the good things going in his life, and his plans for what’s next. If CDMX is on your todo list (and it should be), a tour with him is a must.

After stuffing ourselves full, we hopped the metro to the racetrack. We wanted to get our bearings to make Saturday and Sunday less stressful. Getting in was a breeze – the metro stops directly outside the track, and we were inside within just a few minutes. In past years, it sounds like things have been a bit more hectic, with folks waiting for hours to get inside.

The atmosphere inside the circuit is pretty chill – there’s merchandise to buy, food and drinks for purchase, and a couple games. Otherwise everyone just hangs out and enjoys being around other fans. We found out seats for FP2, and got our first taste of in-person F1 cars. They’re very pretty in real life! And not nearly as loud as I expected – nothing compared to the old IMSA racers going around Road America with unmuffled V8 engines. They’re very, very fast though. Even in free practice, they routinely exceed 200 miles per hour before braking for a 90 degree turn at the end of the first straight. Which happens to be exactly where our seats were! Aside from a lack of shade, I can say with pretty good confidence that section 3 or 3-A at the Mexico City GP is the place to be.

After free practice, we wedged ourselves onto a very packed metro train and took it all the way to the end of the line. We’d been researching Day of the Dead related events, and the city’s official guide mentioned an event at the Axolotl Museum. It promised food, vendors, dancing, and more. From the subway station we took an Uber out to the museum, but what we discovered didn’t quite meet our expectations. It was more of a low-key family event, with pre-hispanic dancers talking about Day of the Dead rituals. It was exactly the kind of event we’d attend in Minneapolis, but we were definitely out of place as tourists (and only understood a bit of what was being said). Still a fun experience!

We decided to change things up Saturday, by starting the day with tacos. Not just any tacos though – lamb barbacoa at El Hidalguense. A nice light start to the day. We did a lap of Parque México in the hopes of seeing the dogs which are normally up for adoption on weekends, but it turns out the city has put an end to the dog adoption events due to concerns about unscrupulous breeders. We always enjoyed going to see the older street dogs looking for new homes. Sniff.

Around noon, we went back to the track for qualifying. We got there early and claimed some nice shade under a tree. We mostly just hung out, which was very pleasant. Qualifying itself was exciting – it’s the time of the weekend when drivers are really pushing, using the most aggressive engine setups and stickiest tires. There was a bit of an upset, as this year’s wunderkind Max Verstappen only managed to qualify in third, and Daniel Ricciardo made it all the way to 4th. The vast majority of the folks at the track were there to root for the hometown hero Sergio Perez (Checo), who qualified 5th.

Rather than pack into the subway, we took an Uber back across the city for some shopping, ice cream, and dinner. Kat and I finished the day by walking to the Zocalo to see what was happening. We stumbled upon a costumed Day of the Dead bike ride, and a street festival all around the square – lots of good food, families, and music. We were extremely mad at ourselves for being full.

We had a bit of a slow start Sunday – folks were feeling the effects of a lot of time under the sun in the grandstands. In addition, a new and very loud restaurant has opened next to our apartment which kept us up a bit later than we’d have liked. We had a nice breakfast at the restaurant next door, then caught a ride to the track to claim some shade before the race.

The race itself was about as exciting as F1 gets, but with some majorly mixed emotions. Checo crashed in the first turn of the first lap – he saw a gap and thought he could make it up to the front of the pack, but ran out of room and got caught up with a Ferrari, bringing his race to a very early end. The crowd, which spent the whole weekend chanting “Checo! Checo! Checo!” and singing songs to him, was in tears. We had a front row seat to that action, and lots more over the course of the race – passes, crashes, and some amazing drives. It’s all edge-of-the-seat excitement, as drivers dive for corners while braking from 200mph, millimeters away from other cars.

We wrapped up the day with more ice cream and a nice dinner at the square down the street from our apartment. Monday morning there was just enough time to get to the market for some candy before heading to the airport.

I’m really glad we were able to pull this trip together. Seeing F1 in person was amazing, and I couldn’t imagine a more exciting race. Mexico City continues to fill me with joy – I’ll share some more thoughts on that later. Soon, we’ll be landing in Minneapolis with snow in the forecast, but I’m already thinking about when we can return to CDMX.

2 thoughts on “Mexico City 2023

  • Debra Marsh October 31, 2023 at 12:02 am Reply

    What a fun weekend! Thanks for the great description.

  • Susan October 31, 2023 at 1:16 am Reply

    I agree with Deb. Thanks for sharing. So nice.

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