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
MOLINO EL PUJOL, Enrique Olvera’s tortilleria (with a limited menu of all-corn-all-the-time based snacks), and SAINT PANADERÍA for baked goods 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.
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: ROSETTA, LARDO (which is almost all bar, and great for solo-dining), and MEROMA.
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.
By the bottle, I love the wine store VINOS CHIDOS, and MIS MESCALES for interesting, small batch Oaxacan mezcals.
And if you can sneak into the gardens at CASA ORTEGA (a house designed by Barragán that’s next door to Casa Luis Barragán), they’re phenomenal.
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).
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. A visit (especially on the weekend) will take you to colorful gondola-like boats that cruise the canals while food vendors, artisans and mariachi bands float past. It’s quite touristy (although you will see Mexican familiies, too) and can be a little kitch-y, but fun.
Most interesting about Xochimilco, though, is a series of floating gardens referred to as chinampas. And within 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.
Ceramic Pendant Lights
TEMOAYAN BLANKET COLLECTION
Handknotted Cotton Blankets
BARRO NEGRO COLLECTION
Black Clay Table Lamps