Our city ‘cheat sheets’ are versions of the notes I send to friends when they are going to a city I know and love. x laura aviva
Updated: November 2021
The classics: EL CARDENAL (there are multiple, but I love the Calle de la Palma location downtown) and FONDA MARGARITA for early mornings (on the tail end of a long night out or…).
MAÍZ DE CACAO for a traditional breakfast, with a menu featuring heirloom corn and cacao treats. In Roma.
CAFÉ NIN (formally a Panadería Rosetta) in Juárez. Chef Elena Reygadas nails baked goods and beyond. Running alongside the tiny two-storied space is a very pretty serene patio corridor, which is a great place to sit and linger—and there’s now seating outside in front, too. Elena also has PANADERÍA ROSETTA in Roma Norte.
NIDDO in Juárez has a really lovely space designed by Frida Escobedo.
MOLINO EL PUJOL, Enrique Olvera’s tortilleria (with a limited menu of all-corn-all-the-time based snacks), and SAINT PANADERÍA for seriously delicious baked goods (and stellar baguettes) next door.
Market eating is also a great bet. There are many (see notes further on), but I especially love the ease of MERCADO MEDELLÍN in Roma, where there’s a food court, and multiple stands with a range of good coffee options.
For street eats, keep an eye out for vendors selling tacos de canasta (basket tacos). Here, and with any street eats, the goal is to find stands that have long lines and ideally a range of ages–that’s always a good way to gauge.
EXPENDIO DE MAÍZ: Interesting, playful, experimental—and often delicious (I’ve been a wee bit less charmed on recent visits, but still love the idea). There’s no menu—you just settle and they feed you until you tell them to stop.
And if you can’t score a seat at one of the tables at Expendio, you can step next door to EL PARNITA—very casual and easy-going, this is my go-to for everyday goodness. Order the quesadillas con frijoles, and tacos, tacos, tacos.
I really like HAVRE 77 in Juárez (in large part because of the design and good feel, and I especially like the casual oyster bar at the back), which is Lalo Garcia’s spin on Mexi-French. I was in to EM (which is in the old Máximo Bistro space) when there on a recent visit. And I thought HUGO WINE BAR in Condesa (small bites, natural wines) was pretty delicious.
PUJOL From a pure design perspective, the space is a total dream – beyond stunning. Both the outside drink lounging area and the interior restaurant area — I couldn’t love more. For a meal, I would say that the taco omakase bar is the way to go.
TICUCHI is in the old Pujol space — it’s dark and moody and small. Mostly corn-based bites and great cocktails and really a joy.
MÁXIMO BISTRO French techniques, Mexican ingredients, in a cool new space designed by Charles de Lisle.
QUINTONIL Somehow both upscale and low-key at the same time. The tasting menu gets a lot of attention here, but I prefer ordering straight from the menu. Ask for the back garden room.
Also: MEROMA in Roma.
EL VILSITO An auto garage by day, this is the place for tacos al pastor at night.
LOS COCUYOS Located downtown and open basically 24/7. Order the campechano.
EL TURIX in Polanco for cochinita tacos.
Made from the fermented sap of an agave plant and known as the drink of the gods in Mexico, pulque is not for everyone. (And, truth be told, it’s not for me, but I approach it anew each time, hoping I’ll finally be won over). At LAS DUELISTAS, the pulque is poured from wooden barrels that sit in front of graffitied walls. It’s a strong bet for an old-school spot to try pulque in a range of different flavors.
BÓSFORO for mezcal in Centro. BALTRA BAR in Condesa. HANKY PANKY for high concept cocktails (and high concept reservation/entrance scenario). 686 BAR in Roma above the restaurant EM.
By the bottle, I love the wine stores VINOS CHIDOS (which also does quick and easy deliveries) and ESCORPIO for a really impressive selection of natural wines and MIS MESCALES for interesting, small batch Oaxacan mezcals.
BARRAGÁN MUSTS: A gazillion pictures of Luis Barragán’s Mexico City spaces will never capture the spriritual element to the way he played with light and shadow. On the list: CASA LUIS BARRAGÁN, CASA PEDEGRAL and CASA GIRALDI, along with CASA ORTEGA (which has the most incredible gardens, the last designed by Barragán, and which are wholly worth a visit in and of themselves, even if you don’t see the inside of the house).
Also: Towers of Satélite (Torres de Satélite), Cuadra San Cristóbal (the stables/equestrian estate), the Fountain of the Lovers (La Fuente de los Amantes). And the maybe the best in terms of light/shadows is the not to miss Convento de Las Capuchinas.
At KURIMANZUTTO GALLERY, the collections are definitely rivaled by the modern concrete and wood space. Infused with great light, it’s designed by the Mexican architect Alberto Kalach.
Also on the gallery-front: GALERIA MASCOTA, TRAVESIA CUATRO, GALERIA OMR, LABOR, PROYECTOS MONCLOVA, LULU, and STUDIO IMA.
FUNDACIÓN MARSO is housed in a beautiful building in Juárez and hosts rotating galleries and showrooms within, including DIFANE (a new Mexican furniture design company) and PERLA VIVATIERRA (some of my favorite ceramic dishwares).
ONORA CASA A really lovely shop in Polanco, it’s owned by my friend Maggie Galton and her partner Maria Eladias. They work with artisans throughout Mexico, and their collections all have a beautiful, refined touch.
CHIC BY ACCIDENT (the store/gallery with the best name) is always worth a stroll-through.
CASA AHORITA is a new-ish store which is definitely worth a visit if it re-opens in CDMX.
I’m a big sucker for Mexican party supplies and paper goods. And the street Jesús Maria in Centro is filled with stores in this vein—LA ZAMORANA is the famous one (Gabriel Garcia Márquez apparently nicknamed it La Tienda de las Maravillas), but there are many just as good nearby. (And you can sneak in a taco stop at Los Paisas).
VICTOR ARTES POPULARES MEXICANAS Tucked away in a downtown building, this shop showcases a really thoughtful collection of folk art from all over Mexico. There’s a real sense of discovery in browsing/shopping here, with a range of handicrafts – both vintage and new – that you won’t find pulled together like this anywhere else.
XOCHIMILCO Tucked into the South of the city is a winding network of canals called Xochimilco, the last remnants of a vast water transport system built by the Aztecs. Within is a series of floating gardens referred to as chinampas. And in this area is a project from ARCA TIERRA—an agroecological community of farming families, chefs, food artisans… Some of the top CDMX restaurants source their produce from Arca Tierra, and the organization hosts both tours of the area and chef-driven events. It’s a super interesting project—follow their Instagram for event updates.
CASA ORGÁNICA An incredible house built by Javier Senosiain in 1985, it’s totally worth a see. 45 mintues or so outside of CDMX, and requires an advance reservation.
I’m also fascinated (but have never been) by LAS GRUTAS TOLANTONGO, a collection of hot springs built in to a cliff, surrounded by volcanic mountains. A 3-4 hour drive from CDMX, in Hidalgo.
IGNACIA GUEST HOUSE and NIMA LOCAL HOUSE (both in Roma), CASA DOVELA and OCTAVIA CASA (both in Condesa), and CASA PANI (in Cuauhtémoc, in a building designed by Mario Pani): all stylish and warm and well-located. THE RED TREE HOUSE is a b&b in Condesa is also lovely (more homey than stylish) and warm (and affordable).
Ceramic Pendant Lights
TEMOAYAN BLANKET COLLECTION
Handknotted Cotton Blankets
BARRO NEGRO COLLECTION
Black Clay Table Lamps