Viaja Como Memo: The football star’s guide to the best places in Mexico City
Footballer Guillermo “Memo" Ochoa is a man of immense star power. On the field, he’s the ace goalie for the Mexican National Team, deflecting incoming balls like nobody’s business. Off the field, The Mexico City resident scores points as the ultimate CDMX insider. We asked Memo to share his favorite places to eat, sleep and hang out in the rising star capital.
Soccer legend Guillermo Ochoa wants to rewrite the narrative when it comes to his home town. “People often make a layover or pass by Mexico City,” he says, “but this city has great places to explore.” He’s not wrong. Thanks to 5,800 miles of near-perfect coastline, sun-starved snowbirds often head to classic beach towns like Cancun, Cabo, and Cozumel. But inland Mexico is a land of pristine lakes and volcanic peaks, enchanting towns draped in Spanish-colonial architecture, and a razzle-dazzle capital.
Indeed, Mexico City is having a moment. It’s smack in the middle of a cultural renaissance that includes impossible to get into Michelin-starred restaurants, cocktail bars often touted as the world’s best, and leafy neighborhoods where indie shops and sidewalk cafes flourish. The capital has even begun attracting savvy travelers hungering for more than marquee attractions like the Frida Kahlo Museum, the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, and the Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan. That’s where a true insider like Ochoa comes in.
Known affectionately to his throngs of adoring fans as “Memo,” the ace athlete is equally proud of his role as hometown advocate. “When I found out that I could be an ambassador for Mexico City, I did not have to think about it at all,” he says of his partnership with Expedia. “It’s a city I know very well. I grew up here. I went to school here; I learned to drive and got my license in this city. Everything happened here.”
“People often make a layover or pass by Mexico City, but this city has great places to explore.”
On the field, the mega-star, who currently plays for Mexican National Team, is a swift and agile player (if you haven’t seen the numerous deft saves he made against Brazil at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, YouTube it right now). He made his professional debut for Club América in 2004, won his first league title in 2005, and went on to make over 200 appearances as goalie for América. He has since played for French association football club Ajaccio, Spanish football club Granada, and Belgium’s Standard Liège.
Off the field, the Mexican goalkeeper is a devoted father to a daughter born in Corsica, a son born in Malaga, and another daughter born in Marbella “I have a child born in different cities, but the three of them in the end feel very Mexican,” says Ochoa, who moved back to CDMX three years ago to raise his family. “I spend a lot of time traveling and, when I have free time, I like to be at home with my family and play with my kids.”
Because of his stardom, it can be complicated for Ochoa and his family to be out and about in the city, but that hasn’t stopped the footballer from accumulating a list of local favorites he’s happy to share with the world. “I am proud to be an ambassador for my country,” says Ochoa, “[and] to let others know the charm this city offers and everything they can enjoy in Mexico City.”
Memo’s favorite places to eat, play, and hang out in Mexico City
A Taste of Tokyo
Roma Norte, the leafy and ultra-trendy neighborhood lined with chic cafes and design-forward shops, is also home to some of the city’s best restaurants, including San-Tō, a high-end “hand roll bar” featuring an assortment of sushi, sashimi, makis and mollusks best washed down with sake, Japanese beer, or the signature Tokyo to Roma “bitter is better” cocktail. Ochoa claims this as his favorite restaurant in the city.
A Family Affair
“It is a very special place because it is one of the reasons why I lived and grew up here in Mexico City,” says Ochoa of restaurant Tortas Don Polo, which his father owns and operates. In addition to its namesake tortas, Don Polo also serves chiles en nogada (a seasonal dish), traditional Mexican breakfasts, and café de olla (coffee made in an earthen clay pot). “People come back to the restaurant because they preserve the traditions of Mexico,” he says.
A Second Home
“It is an icon of Mexican soccer,” says Ochoa. Of course, he’s talking about Estadio Azteca, the official home of Club América and the Mexico National Football team. The largest stadium in Latin America, Estadio Azteca was built in 1966 and seats an astonishing 87,523 fans. “For me it is special because most of my career—key moments, remembrances, and historical memories—I have spent there,” he says. “It is where I have been able to be a champion, where I have been able to lift a Victory Cup with Club America.”
Mizrahi Meats Asador at Samara Shops
Mizrahi Meats Asador at the Samara Shops is where Ochoa heads for the best porterhouse, ribeye, and T-bone steaks in town. Located next to the swanky JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City Santa Fe, Ochoa claims Mizrahi Meats as one of his favorites and says it’s a secret spot unknown to most travelers. Its specialty is Black Angus, a marbled meat that is more tender than other cattle and purchased locally in Mexican markets.
In a city where speculation over who serves up the tastiest taco is the subject of endless debate, Memo’s mind is already set. “There is a well-known place near Estadio Azteca that always takes care of us called El Remolkito,” says Ochoa. One of the top taquerias around town, El Remolkito is famous for its variety of sauces and rotisserie-style meats like sirloin. “After a victory, tacos are a great option.” Ochoa likes to pick them up post-game and devour them at home with his family.
St. Regis Mexico City
Located along Paseo de la Reforma and just down the street from the roundabout boasting the iconic Angel of Independence, the St. Regis Mexico City proves the real estate maxim that location is everything. This luxury five-star property boasts seven restaurants, a day spa, and guestrooms with marble bathrooms and floor-to-ceiling windows. Towering 31 stories above the city, Ochoa says it offers Mexico City’s best views. Enjoy them at sunset on the terrace of King Cole Bar.
A Trip Down “Memo”-ry Lane
Coyoacán is one of my favorite parts of Mexico City,” says Ochoa of the neighborhood where he grew up and is today famous for its cobbled, tree-lined streets and Frida Kahlo Museum. “I went to school here, so I have many beautiful memories of my childhood, memories with my friends, and with my schoolmates.” Ochoa points to Coyoacán’s many cafes, terraces and artisanal marketplace as reasons visitors will love his childhood neighborhood.
Churros rellenos is not a place, but rather a favorite type of dessert—the stuffed version of Mexico’s beloved sweet treat. “You can find churros in Mexico City, but it’s not that simple to find churros rellenos—churros with fillings,” says Ochoa. He and his family head to the cobbled streets of Coyoacán where carts sitting outside the cathedral or within the markets sell the sugary dessert stuffed with dulce de leche, cajeta, vanilla, or chocolate. “It is certainly something you have to try,” he says.