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Jun 9, 2008 07:05 AM

9 hour layover in Mexico CIty - where to go for breakfast?

I will arrive in Mexico City @ 5:30 a.m. I imagine it will take me a little while to go through customs and take a cab into the city. I figure I will be in the city right when restaurants are opening for breakfast. Here is what I need - a great restaurant in a central area where I can walk/sightsee after eating. I have never been to Mexico City and probably won't be back for a while. I am open to all types of restaurants (hotels, holes in the wall, etc.).

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  1. At that hour of the day, your arrival time, it should take you less than 30-minutes to pass Immigration. I don't think you'll have to clear Customs because you'll be connecting to an onward flight and your luggage will be transferred directly. Customs is typically cleared at your final destination.

    Assuming you leave the airport in an authorized/secure taxi at 6 a.m. the trip into the center of the city shouldn't take more than 15-20 minutes. Heading to the Centro Historico district is probably the best thing for you to do. Not many businesses will be open at that hour of the morning. So, maybe wander about for an hour or so and work-up a really good appetite and then get something to eat.

    I've never thought of breakfast in Mexico as one of the better meals of the day. Some restaurants in and near Centro Historico which you might want to think about are: Cafe Tacuba (a favorite of mine), the coffee shop at Sanborn's (at the Casa de Azulejos), El Cardenal (more of an upscale, power breakfast place), and the outdoor terraces at either the Holiday Inn or Majestic Hotels - overlooking the Plaza de la Constitución.

    If the weather cooperates, sitting and overlooking the Plaza de la Constitución when the flag-raising ceremony takes place can be one of those special moments not often presented for our enjoyment. I don't recall at what hour the daily ceremony takes place, however.

    The best breakfasts I've had in the city have been when I've purchased a tamale and a glass of atole or freshly-squeezed orange juice from one of the many street vendors and have stood amongst the small group of others on the sidewalk, eating what I've purchased. It's an on-your-feet meal but it's the way in which so many city residents have breakfast every day and I enjoy "going local." If you're walking around Centro Historico in the early-a.m. you're bound to encounter/see the vendors selling the tamales and atole.

    You'll want to be back at the airport about 2-hours prior to your flight and because you'll be traveling back there during one of the day's "rush hours," I suggest you allow 30-45 minutes to get there.

    I have a lot of photos of Mexico City uploaded to online albums, which I'm re-organizing - and I've recently created a Centro Historico-only album of photos you might find interesting to look at before arriving in the city:

    Enjoy the visit!

    1. Alot of great info from gomexico... but I suggest you skip the cab and take the subway directly to Mercado La Merced... nosh a little have some fresh squeezed juices... than take the subway back to the Zocalo area... explore... have a power breakfast at El Cardenal... explore some more... grab a final meal at Cantina La Opera... and go on your way.

      What you want to do is take the 5 / Yellow Line towards the Pantitlan exchange... transfer to 1 / Pink to La Merced... it opens right into the Mercado... from there take the Pink towards the Pino Suarez exchange... transfer to 2 / Blue Line and exit at the Zocalo.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Eat_Nopal

        I considered recommending using the Metro, but for a first-timer I don't think it's a good idea. I thought, too, about recommending La Merced, but at that early hour of the day and for a first-timer, I don't think it's a good idea. Poco a poco (little by little), that's my advice. We don't know dkiely, but if he/she is an adventuresome person who has some knowledge/command of Spanish and/or is good at solving puzzles, maybe what you're suggesting would be exciting to try.

        1. re: gomexico

          I took the metro by myself on my first day in Mexico City, and I didn't have a problem. I speak very elementary Spanish (just what I've picked up through traveling) and I'm a young, petite, very white female. It was rush hour and I took it from the Zona Rosa (Insurgentes station) to the airport. I wrote out a route for myself like the one Eat Nopal provided, and kept it on a little piece of paper in my hand so I didn't have to open my bag or look at a map or anything. It was painless, although the walk from the airport metro station to international arrivals was a bit longer than I had expected. I would not hesitate to recommend the metro, and after I later had a taxi driver go backwards two full blocks downtown in rush hour I would probably say you're better off on the metro!

      2. It's not daylight at 5.30 AM, although it might be by the time you're through Customs and Immigration.

        If you take the suggestion for the Metro, you'll have to leave your bags somewhere at the airport. Luggage is not allowed on the Metro. If you take a cab to the destination you choose, luggage can go with you but will be a major hassle on the streets and in a restaurant.

        I'd say the easiest is to stow the luggage at the airport, grab the Metro to the Centro Histórico, have a wonderful breakfast at the classic Café Tacuba, and spend the rest of the time you have available enjoying the sights. When hunger grabs you, later in the day, have a taco or two on the street.

        Most of all, have a wonderful time in one of the best cities on earth.


        1. I'm curious as to what happened. Everyone seemed to assume that you were on an international - international layover. I've been stuck in Mexico for a number of international - national, national - international, and national - national breakfast layovers.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            On any of these layovers, do they give you a hard time about leaving the airport and coming back in?