We wanted a quick getaway to recharge and decided that 4 days in Mexico City would be a good place to do that. We had been hearing about a new design scene there, the architecture of old and new, and about the incredible food.
There is a lot one could write about Mexico City with its distinctive culture and rich history, but this is about all the things I love- design and architecture, independent designer shops and restaurants.
La Roma is the hip neighborhood with boutiques, cafes and restaurants lining its streets. It is the kind of neighborhood that you really have to spend time weaving through the streets with no agenda to discover the tucked away shops. Top on my list was Roma Quince – a design concept store set in a colonial mansion (see photo above) that has a courtyard cafe that welcomes you. It couldn’t possibly be any more enchanting. The shop did not disappoint with it’s highly curated textiles, clothing and jewelry crafted by Mexican Designers. It’s the one place we spent the most time… and money.
Next was Trouve which is one of the very few Mid Century Modern design stores. It was a fun exploration through the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s with what seemed to be very reasonable prices. Definitely the best store of its kind in the city for vintage finds, and if it wasn’t for the hefty cost of shipping we would have purchased an exquisite pair of brutalist lamps.
We experienced a lot of different food in the neighborhood, starting with street food which is the way of life for these city dwellers. There were a lot of people swooning around a couple of vendors on one particular corner so that is where we headed. It was Oaxacan Mexican which is anything from tlayudas and tamales to tacos with their distinctive ingredients and flavors. Incredible!
Our most decadent lunch was at Maximo Bistro – a restaurant we learned about in Anthony’s Bourdain’s Parts Unknown show on Mexico City. I loved the rustic Mexican decor with a splash of Mid Century Modern. The food is farm-to-table which is a fairly new concept in Mexico City, with a slant to French. From the mushroom and tostado appetizers to the red snapper entree, every bite was savory.
Housed in a once grand, but now welcoming townhouse, Rosetta’s was the most recommended restaurant. It is Italian inspired with seasonal ingredients at the center of the menu. The pasta literally melted in our mouthes and we loved all the seafood dishes from our appetizers to entrees.
We couldn’t have ended our trip at a better restaurant than Casa Virginia. I completely fell in love with this restaurant housed in a Colonial Mansion. It’s an incredibly elegant yet relaxed space with it’s tall ceilings, white washed plaster walls sparsely decorated with modern art, and all white linens. And with all the delicious food we ate every day, this was somehow my favorite from the beginning to the end of the meal.
Condesa is another popular neighborhood with restaurants and bars, parks, and beautiful tree-lined, residential streets. We stayed at Hotel Condesa df – the city’s first boutique hotel. I liked it because it was a bit of a hideaway and yet, still convenient. Overall, it was a good hotel, but I was let down with the somewhat rundown interior and overall service. It is touted as having the best view for sunsets and I definitely agree with that. An incredible, lunch/brunch destination in the neighborhood is Contramar. This seafood centric restaurant was filled with bustling energy and waiters hustling like I’ve never seen before, and the food was absolutely delish.
The architecture around the entire city is pretty spectacular from the tiled and colonial style homes, galleries and museums (Museo Soumaya below) to the churches (Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral below) and the incredibly decadent stained glass ceiling of the Gran Hotel.
We were also privileged to have a tour of renowned architect, Luis Barragon’s, last home he designed in 1976 from a guy who grew up there and whose parents still live there. The design is an incredible display of color and mastering light.
In the end, Mexico City is a growing metropolis, and the design and cuisine worlds seem to be driving a lot of that growth. We were warned by many to be “safe” – something we were a bit surprised to hear. We read the travel bans, but there was nothing noted that deterred us. This proved to be true as there wasn’t a moment we felt unsafe. It’s like any big city – there are bad parts you stay away from, you keep your bags secure, and stay aware of your surroundings – something I do everyday as a New Yorker.