72 Hours: Mexico City
Mexico's vibrant, fast-paced capital has staked its claim among the world's top design cities. CDMX is an achingly beautiful and sophisticated city, saturated with color and dripping with greenery. Neighborhoods like La Roma, Condesa, and Polanco are filled with stylish restaurants, stunning architecture, parks, bespoke amenities, and more. This is our 72-hour shortlist for Mexico City.
In the 19 years since Gabriela Cámara debuted seafood hot spot Contramar, the restaurant scene in Mexico City has exploded, bringing chef-driven restaurants and ever more sceney lunch spots to the hoods.
Our favorite daytime spot is Enrique Olvera’s laid-back Eno. Modest and uncomplicated, traditional Mexican ingredients are used to dish out choices like organic yogurt with honey, French toast with house-made jelly, scrambled eggs with salsa verde, and zucchini blossom quesadillas (plus excellent coffee).
At lunchtime, grab a seat at one of the long shared tables and go for the Tepache, a fermented pineapple drink not dissimilar to Kombucha, to help digest one of the meaty tortas—aka the ultimate Mexican sandwich served on traditional bolillo bread rolls. Don’t forget to buy an oatmeal cookie or a concha—you know, for the road.
If you ask any Mexican (or legit worldly foodie) what is the best restaurant in Mexico City, the first answer will most definitely be Pujol. Pujol is the most renowned restaurant in Mexico, and has been repeatedly ranked as one of the world’s 50 best restaurants and among the top 10 restaurants in Latin America. This is Mexican fine dining at its best.
Dinner at Pujol can’t be rushed. Take full advantage of your reservation and work your way through the cocktail and wine list. The seven-course menu is sometimes switched up, and you’ll be given a few options to choose from for some courses. But the unmistakable staples are the street snacks (to start), the aged mole, and the churros. The only downside of eating at Pujol is that your local Mexican takeaway joint back home will never, ever be the same again.
When your time is limited hit the markets, but skip the corporate Mercado Roma, which locals consider “lame.” Instead, try and catch the Tuesday morning market on Calle Pachuca between Juan de la Barrera and Veracruz, offering fresh produce and local specialities, like huitlacoche (a delicious and slightly funky corn fungus) and nopal (cactus leaves), plus plenty of hot food stalls, serving stuff like flautas and tamales.
Polanco is home to some of the best shopping in the city and you can easily lose track of days and nights winding through Condesa and Roma’s tree-lined streets, dipping into parks, galleries, coffee shops and craft cocktail bars.
Located within the famous Chapultepec Forest, the Museo Nacional de Antropología (National Museum of Anthropology) holds artifacts from Mexico's pre-Columbian era, dating from about 100 B.C. to A.D. 1521. The facility houses artifacts, including the famous Piedra del Sol and the iconic Aztec Calendar Stone, as well as the famed 16th-century statue of Xochipilli, the Aztec god of art, games, beauty, dance, and maize (among others). The museum offers a look at how tradition, culture and life were formed in all regions of Mexico. As one of the largest and most visited museums in Mexico, the grounds are also home to a gift shop, a cafeteria, a locker room and the National Library of Anthropology and History.
Located in the lovely Plaza San Jacinto, this indoor market is focused on promoting authentic, high-quality Mexican crafts. After browsing the stands for antiques, artisanal shoes, textiles, ceramics, miniatures and jewelry, sit down for quesadillas at their restaurant. Keep its name in mind before you go, though: it’s only open on Saturdays.
Ideal for cocktails in Mexico City, Limantour is an upscale, trendy spot that mixes classic art deco design with the feel of a modern bar. Five mixologists stir and shake an extensive menu of cocktails and draw from a vast selection of spirits. Try the Margarita al Pastor, a margarita inspired by tacos al pastor (really, it's more amazing than it sounds), or the Texmelucan, which blends rum, sherry, chile ancho, and hints of plantain. The food is quite eclectic—you'll find seafood tostadas, fries, and Spanish-style potatoes all on the menu. It's a tasty selection.
There’s something deliciously ironic about the fact that the biggest city in North America is home to some of the world’s finest small hotels. And by small, we really do mean small. With just four bedrooms, this refurbished house in leafy Roma feels like a luxurious home away from home. This is the part of Mexico City that feels perhaps most like a European city, and there’s more than a little bit of that old-world elegance about the turn-of-the-century mansion where Nima makes its home. Once inside, however, you’ll find the style is contemporary, thoughtful, and subtly stylish — not a “design hotel,” per se, but a well-designed hotel all the same.
Each of the rooms has its own distinct personality, and is named for a distinctive local character. And if you’re traveling with a large party, or just living particularly large, you’re welcome to book the entirety of the house at once. We particularly love the Tovar and Teresa rooms at the front of the house – they’re the quietest (and largest), and have balconies perfect for people watching.
As for seeing the city: not only are you in the heart of one of its most walkable neighborhoods, but you’ve got some help in the form of a friendly concierge with plenty of knowledge and an in at seemingly every local restaurant.
Elegant, discreet and ultra-tranquil, La Valise is a block and half north of Alvaro Obregón in the fashionable Roma district, which is awash with independent boutiques, bars and restaurants. The area draws a more youthful and artistic crowd, but this three-suite refuge has not only kept its stately cloak, it’s got a silky new lining within. The artwork and furniture follows a cosmopolitan design scheme that splices European and Mexican styles with a hint of something more dreamlike.
Polished wood floors, artwork, bold hues and vintage panelling create an atelier atmosphere. ‘Patio’ is the simplest suite, coming with a large patio with a leather swing and Yucatecan hammock. ‘Luna’ has an amazing moon-like rolling door between the sleeping and living areas, white iron chairs, a velvet sofa and Seventies lamps. ‘Terraza’ is a stunning top-floor bedroom with a bed on rollers that can be rolled outside on to the terrace; the room also has an outdoor movie projector.
Surprising interiors, dazzling panoramic views, and double-height ceilings are a few of the eye-catching highlights of Distrito Capital. An ideal hotel option if your travel takes you to the business district of Santa Fe. Note that while in the city, Santa Fe is not one of the capital's more accessible neighborhoods; it is most visited by business travelers who have meetings or work at one of the many international corporations that have their Mexican or Latin American flagships here: Coca-Cola, Ford, Microsoft, and Sony among them. Rooms span the upper floors of one of Santa Fe's many (and ever increasing in number) skyscrapers, yielding incredible views, both of the other glass towers in the area as well as the mountains that ring Mexico City. Ceilings are tall and rooms are bright white, so rooms feel airy and light-filled. A terrace pool is good for early morning lap swimming or afternoon and evening splashes, with occasional breaks for cocktails at the al fresco bar.
This hotel is a testament to how cool Mexico's capital has become in recent years. Designed around the idea of creative minimalism, the 30 well-appointed guestrooms and suites look more like chic art spaces than hotel rooms. Any visitor will be simultaneously awed by impeccable design touches and excited by personal service flourishes. Fashionable without being zeitgeist-y, the inviting decor allows visitors to truly kick back and relax. The hotel is punctuated by vintage furnishings courtesy of famous mid-century designers. And Parisian interior designer Joseph Dirand has successfully created thought-provoking social spaces within the property, such as a lounge-friendly pool area and several spectacular terraces.
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