The Alameda in Santa María la Ribera
Forever on the verge of being the next big target of gentrification, the district known as Santa María la Ribera—northwest of downtown—retains its neighborhoody, down-at-the-heels charms. Its streets are home to a mix of old-school cantinas (all perfectly visitor-friendly) and mom-and-pop restaurants, alongside some neglected architectural gems, hipster coffeehouses, and standard-issue, sometimes grimy local businesses—in short, it’s still real. The district’s centerpiece is its central plaza, known as the Alameda, and its exuberant Moorish-style gazebo (it started life as the Mexico
Pavilion at a long-forgotten world’s fair). Recently restored and awash in color, the kiosk is a gem—and the proud emblem of the barrio. Note some amazing old mansions and the spooky Institute of Geology lining the plaza. The nearby Museo Universitario del Chopo—housed in a glass-and-cast-iron former natural-history museum—is a renowned center for avant-garde art that leaves no viewer less than provoked.