We were lucky to find a 2 bedroom house on Benito Juarez, just near the malecon for our 5-month stay. As well as clothes, cameras, etc, we packed loads of kitchen accessories, a spare blow-up bed, tables and camping chairs, but left the kitchen sink at home. The back cargo rack was only about 3 inches from the road once we were loaded up!
This was not an area we would have originally sought out, but we are very pleased with the neighborhood here in "north Centro". Why? Location, location, location! We are just half a block from the malecon a few blocks south of the Fisherman's Monument. This means that we actually walk on the malecon regularly!
The beach has turned out to be such an important part of living here that I have made a separate webpage on it. See Living in North Centro: The Beach.
We have occasionally bought fish from the guys down on the boat ramp. However, the pescaderia across the road is more convenient to pick up fillets of botete or other fish in the mornings.
If you prefer shrimp to fish, then the shrimp ladies are a short walk (3 blocks) to the corner of Aquiles Serdan and Alejandro Quijano. We have ended up using the same "changuera" for all our purchases.
Many street vendors and service people come past during the course of a day. First delivery is the newspaper, which can come by bicycle or on foot. Around 8am I hear the recorded message shouting out the morning news and know I have only a few minutes to get downstairs to buy it.
Then we listen for the fruit seller - mandarins, apples and occasionally pears or melons (cantaloupes), about 9am.
He is followed by the street sweeper at 10am. We give him 10 pesos once a week in appreciation of his 7-day a week work cleaning up around the car and stoop.
After that, you might hear the peanut guy calling out. He carries a large sack of peanuts on his back, and doles out bags of peanuts for 5 pesos each. We usually buy two if we hear him and are running low. The roasted peanuts are very fresh and tasty.
In the afternoon, another recorded message heralds the tamal seller. He rides a motorbike, so you have to go out as soon as you hear him. The tamales are very big and taste great, on a par or better than those from MazTamales, and you have a choice of beef, chicken, pork or shrimp. A bargain at only 10 pesos each.
At 6pm, you hear a deep "Pan!" and there will be a line up for the pastries of the "pan caliente" seller about 2 doors down the street. These generally cost 4 pesos.
At the same time on cooler nights once every couple of weeks, you will hear a piercing whistle sound that drives the dog nuts. Go outside and you will find banana and sweet potato roasted in a charcoal fired portable oven available singly or mixed, for around 25 pesos. You will be asked if you want it "con leche", which means he will drizzle condensed milk over it for no extra charge.
The last comforting call of the evening is "Elote!", about 8:30pm. The kids come out from the alleyway opposite to have roasted corn on the cob, with mayonnaise and chili powder.
From daylight till about 10:15pm, you can catch the bus to the Golden Zone or the Gran Plaza, just down the street on the corner. The green (usually, when not covered with giant advertisements) modern air-conditioned Sabalo Centro bus runs about every 15 minutes and costs 9 pesos. Gran Plaza buses run more frequently, are louder and not air-conditioned, and cost around 6 pesos.
There are quite a few eating places around the block. This street restaurant one street over on Guillermo Nelson sells caguamanta (manta ray soup) in the mornings. There are no seats, and it can be quite crowded standing around the cart.
Mariscos Toņo is on the opposite corner. In the mornings they are shucking oysters. In the afternoons they get good crowds, and often mariachis will play for customers. One afternoon, a banda was there for over 5 hours. Led by the tuba player, they played many difficult songs in time and in tune!
There are more well-known restaurants within a few blocks of us, such as Cenaduria El Chayito (on Teniente Azueta just behind the shrimp ladies), Cenaduria La Copita (on Bellisario Dominguez and Zuņiga) and Mariscos El Camichin (on the malecon at Guillermo Nelson).
There are quite a few hotels in our area to the north of Zaragoza. We have in the past stayed at the Lerma (on Simon Bolivar), and been glad of its courtyard where there is secure off-street parking. Rooms there are around 150 pesos.
Both the Hotel Santa Barbara and Hotel Del Rio on Benito Juarez have good clean rooms at a little more than the Lerma. Others within a few blocks include the Hotel Oro (on Aquiles Serdan, rooms advertised for 150 pesos) and Hotel Zaragoza (on Zaragoza between Juarez and Serdan).
The Hotel Posada Maņanitas around the corner on the malecon has rooms for 150 pesos (1 person, cama matrimonial), 200 pesos (2 people) and 350 pesos (2 bedroom suite with kitchen for 4 people).
Steve has written a more comprehensive review of living in Centro on the Tripadvisor forum. See Living in Centro. It is worth taking a few minutes to read it as he has covered the advantages in greater detail than I can here.