True Cost – Mexico City for 10 days in 2020

We touched down Friday night and I’ve been itching to fully record and go through all the expenses from our trip to Mexico City. Our first two expenses were the majority of our travel costs, i.e. plane tickets and housing. We found a lovely AirBnB in Roma Norte and we bought plane tickets from Seatac to Mexico City (MEX) for $940 each (I went with my partner and SO). The plane ride there was overnight and left at 10PM. We scored the row to ourselves (as did most of the other flyers on this less-than-full flight). They even gave us food a few hours in! Arriving early, we were initially wondering what to do prior to checking into our AirBnB but our host graciously let us check in 6 hours early and we took a much needed nap!

Surprising things:

  • The altitude is no joke! I could feel it in the shallow breaths that didn’t quite have as much oxygen as I wanted (almost like asthma) and how difficult it was to walk up stairs without becoming short of breath. I’m very glad we didn’t schedule our Teotihuacan trip until several days into our stay.
  • The traffic – if you are within a mile of your destination – driving might not be faster and Ubers don’t turn on their air-conditioning (opening the windows doesn’t create much of a breeze when you’re not moving that fast). There are lots of ride share bikes and some ride share scooters available but we decided not to stress about it and just walk. There was always traffic and it just got worse during ‘rush hour’.
  • The more popular restaurants were crowded all the time! Contramar, a fancier seafood restaurant, was always busy, even if it was 3PM!
  • Most of the time we ate at smaller places and they wanted us to pay after we were done eating. Sometimes it was confusing knowing how to order, where to stand in line or even if there was a line, and how to pay!
  • Most of the people who live and work in Mexico City don’t make a lot of money and their rent is surprisingly high! Our Merced tour guide told us that rent is oftentimes as much as a month’s pay (Mex$8,000) for a single bedroom. He told us that tips make up 30% of his take home pay. Tips are not obligatory in Mexico City, but after hearing this, I went from happily tipping nothing or 10% to 15% at every restaurant (and 20% at the fanciest/most attentive restaurant we ate at).

What I really loved about Mexico City:

  • How affordable it was for us
  • Being able to communicate almost all the time with the Spanish I know (rather rusty from not using for 10 years)
  • Being able to walk everywhere (so many little shops, cafes, and restaurants really close to us)

Recommend places to eat and what to get:

  • The Secret Donut Society – such a cool experience. The donut was just okay, but figuring out how to order and find your donut was rather exciting
  • Mog sushi (for a change of pace get some sushi – our favorite that we tried was the Spicy Maguro roll)
  • La Güera Tortas de Chilaquiles (all the sandwiches tasted the same to me but if you order the “bomba” I think it’s a combination sandwich)
  • 5 Hermanos in La Merced (Aisle 9) and get the Longaniza tacos!
  • Moles Dona Balbi in La Merced (close to door 5) has amazing Almond mole and other moles
  • La Gruta for the atmosphere and the Ensalada La Gruta
  • El Vilsito – the gringa tacos are amazing! Don’t forget the avocado salsa and limes.
  • Santa Clara (chain ice cream shops) has amazing ice cream (avoid pistachio)
  • Contramar has amazing tortas (appetizer) and queso flan that is divine!
  • Vips (for late night munching this chain has you covered)
  • El Cardenal has amazing mole
  • Tacos Joven – the adobo taco was amazing!
  • Agua y Sal – we absolutely loved everything we ate here, but especially the plancha frutos del mar

Prior to leaving the states, my partner took out $200 USD worth of pesos just in case and we got a decent exchange rate. Our plan was to use my Charles Schwab account to pull out pesos at a local ATM (they claim no foreign ATM fees for withdrawals in Mexico and indeed I have already received the fee back from my first withdrawal last month).

I pulled out $11.04 USD =Mex$200  on 2/26 the first day, $158.45 USD =Mex$3,000 on Saturday 2/29, and $25.03 USD =Mex$400 on Thursday 3/5
Prior to leaving the states, we bought some peanuts and drinks at the airport = $12.14

The total the two of us spent together was: ~$3100
AirBnB: $715 USD
Airplane Tickets: $1150 USD
Transportation: Mex$2,469.50 ($120 USD) + $25 USD
Food and groceries: $12.14 (Airport Snacks) + Mex$12,891.50 ($626.49 USD)
Entertainment: $190.78 USD (La Merced) + Mex$5,357 ($260.33 USD)
Bathrooms: Mex$25
Misc (gifts, etc): Mex$410

Here is the list of most everything we did and everything we bought with our Mex$ cash and credit cards:

2/26 Wednesday:

  • The secret donut society. #5 Mex$50 cash
  • El Pescadito Taqueria. Tacos de camaron, tacochango, que-sotote, quesadilla, Agua natural. Mex$198 visa Rachel CC ($10.39 USD)
  • Panaderia: mocha donut and lemon cookie donut Mex$16 cash
  • Bosque de Chapultepec
  • Street fruit Mex$35 cash
  • Groceries Mex$76 cash
  • Mog sushi Mex$1017.50 visa Jon CC
  • El Moro Churrerria: Hot chocolate, chocolate bar gift, red velvet seasonal churro, regular churros Mex$173 visa Rachel CC ($9.08 USD)

Uber Mex$134.20 ($7.07 USD)
Uber Mex$37.34 ($1.81 USD)
Uber Mex$46.94

2/27 Thursday

  1. La Güera Tortas de Chilaquiles Mex$230 cash 5 sandwiches (each type of sandwich)
  2. Street vendor: Hamburguesa de piña y hamburguesas de piña y queso Mex$96 cash
  3. Street vendor Churros. 3 regular and one filled with chocolate Mex$26 cash
  4. Corn esquite from street vendor Mex$20 cash
  5. Bares y Pulques Los Insurgentes: Pulque mango y pulque de la casa con smokey and sweet mezcal shots Mex$340 cash

Uber Mex$45 ($2.48 USD)
Uber Mex$37.33
Uber Mex$37.34
Uber Mex$47.26

2/28 Friday

  1. La Merced tour Jon paid in advance $190.78 USD

1. Tacos McTeo. Carne enchilada tacos with cactus, onion and fries.  Location: In the banquetón (the large food hall that runs the perimeter of the market), near Aisle 16.
2. Fried Tamal. Location: Banquetón, between Aisle 14 & 15.
3. 5 Hermanos. Tasty tacos de suadero. Location: Banquetón, at Aisle 9.
4. Moles Dona Balbi. Mole tasting. Location: close to door 5
5. Señora Edith’s Pre-hispanic Ingredients. Chapulines, jumiles and more. Location: Nave Mayor (main fruit and vegetable building), between Aisle 12 & 15.
6. Tacos de Cabeza (Beef Head Tacos!). Location: Outside the Nave Mayor, in the road that runs between the market and the meat section.
7. El Pollo. Quesadillas de Huitlacoche. Location: In the center of the market Aisle.
8.Taquería Arandas. Tacos de cabeza. Location: Calle de Bolívar 15, Centro Histórico
9. Here we finished up with a refreshing drink.

  1. Farmacia Mex$113.50 visa Rachel CC ($5.84 USD)
  2. Mercado San Juan vanilla bottle and vanilla beans Mex$320 cash
  3. Lucha libre Mex$400 cash
  4. Lucha libre bebidas Mex$300 cash
  5. Lucha libre Mex$8 cash propina
  6. Lucha libre Mex$10 baño propina
  7. El Vilsito tacos Mex$400 cash con propina: 2 gringa, 2 milanesa, 2 al pastor con queso, 1 al pastor, 2 pollo con queso, Coca Cola

Uber Mex$55.53
Uber Mex$84.88
Uber Mex$60.13
Uber Mex$58.57

2/29 Saturday

  1. Maxidona 4 filled donuts Mex$134 cash
  2. Prepared mango from street vendor Mex$20 cash
  3. Pizzeria Cancino Cibeles – large Margharita pizza Mex$288 visa Rachel CC ($14.81 USD)
  4. Pizza tip Mex$20 cash
  5. Santa Clara Ice cream double cones: taro and triple chocolate; lemon and spicy mango Mex$210 visa Rachel CC ($10.80 USD)
  6. Cinépolis movie Invisible Man Mex$167 visa Jon CC
  7. Cheddar popcorn and sprite Mex$109 cash

Uber: $162.59 ($8.33 USD)

Uber Mex$171.85

3/1 Sunday

  1. La Otilia GF cafe/bakery Mex$240 visa Rachel CC ($12.34 USD)
  2. Agua Mex$10 cash
  3. Contramar Restaurant: tortas de Atun y calamari, witch fish, pescado a la talla, pan de queso, lemonade, orange refresher, passionfruit water Mex$1634 after tip visa Rachel CC ($84.03 USD)
  4. Turibus Mex$360 cash

3/2 Monday

  1. Bus tickets to archaeological zone round trip Mex$208 cash
  2. Entrance to Teotihuacán Mex$160 cash
  3. Bathroom tip Mex$5 cash
  4. Sparkling lime water Mex$20
  5. La gruta Mex$1525 Jon CC
  6. Cold water Mex$25 cash
  7. Water Mex$14 cash
  8. Chai tea Mex$50 cash Guell cafe
  9. 5:30-6:30pm intermediate pole class free
  10. Vips Mex$657 Rachel CC ($34.31 USD)
  11. Casa de Toño Mex$85 Jon CC
  12. Oxxo 2 waters, apple soda, 2 toilet papers Mex$64.50 cash

Uber Mex$37.34
Uber Mex$165.04
Uber Mex$47.49
Uber Mex$102.41

3/3 Tuesday

    1. Banana flan Mex$26 cash
    2. Pays coranado Mex$276 Rachel CC ($14.39 USD)
    3. En dharma massages 60 minutes with 30 minutes cupping Mex$2800 Rachel CC ($146.22 USD) Mex$500 cash tip
    4. Sabe: Salad of the day, bolognaise, manzanita soda, agua del día Mex$299 Rachel CC ($15.34 USD)
    5. Contramar coconut flan and cheese flan Mex$300 cash
    6. Doble ice creams Santa Clara: pistachio and macadamia; triple chocolate and coffee Mex$206 Rachel CC ($10.74 USD)
    7. Mex$151 cash Taqueria Los Cocuyos: longaniza x2, sesos, cabeza, cachete, Coca Cola
    8. We checked out El Zocalo y Miralto on top of torre Latinoamérica and the cathedral near the zócalo and walked around inside the house of tiles

Uber Mex$37.34
Uber Mex$36.99
Uber Mex$71.82
Uber Mex$42.11


3/4 Wednesday

      1. Zócalo baño Mex$10 cash
      2. Turibus purple line Mex$320 Rachel CC ($16.41 USD)
      3. El cardenal : mole tradicional de pollo, 4 tacos longaniza, 2 flan de queso, limonada x2, naranjado. Mex$742 Rachel CC ($38.69 USD)
      4. Mex$55 cash oxxo waters +small items
      5. Turibus sur verde (already paid)
      6. Hot chocolate and mocha from street vendor Mex$90 cash
      7. Dorilotes 2x from a street vendor Mex$100 cash

Uber Mex$70.85
Uber Mex78.25
Uber Mex$116.65
Uber Mex$59.45
Uber Mex$134.68

3/5 Thursday

      1. Tamales Doña Emi Atole de cereza de manzana y chocolate Mex$45 cash
      2. Tacos Joven- Tacos: adobo, chicharrón, carne con mole verde, papas refritas Mex$76 cash
      3. La Pipope, Taro y refresco manzanita Mex$70 Rachel CC ($3.59 USD)
      4. Museo de chocolate entrance fee Mex$150 cash
      5. Museo de chocolate hot chocolate with milk, hot chocolate with Chile, natural chocolate cacao cake, Mika cake Mex$163 Rachel CC ($8.36 USD)
      6. Museo de cero y museo de Ripley Mex$500 Rachel CC ($26.07 USD)
      7. Oxxo aguas y más bebidas Mex$97 cash
      8. Finca santa Veracruz Cibeles ensalada Cam Mex$56 cash
      9. Agua y Sal Mex$1730 Rachel CC ($88.74 USD)

Uber Mex$38.53
Uber Mex$60.38
Uber Mex$59.03

3/6 Friday

      1. Sabe near our Airbnb $205 cash machaca con huevo y avocado toast
      2. Vanilla extract at the airport $90 cash

Uber Mex$124.21