When I first visited Mexico City back in 2007, I had the flu. It was the week of New Year’s Eve, no one was in town, and everything was closed — not that most of the city’s hip boutiques or restaurants even existed back then. And yet I still fell for it, so hard. My friends and I walked around Condesa and Roma until our feet ached, enchanted by all the colorful, mismatched architecture. We tried mole for the first time, visited the Pedro Ramírez Vázquez–designed anthropology museum, ate cactus tacos at a famous taco stand. Mexico City just had this amazing, inspiring feeling about it, something in the mix of the food, the visual beauty, and the very old meeting the very new. So it was probably inevitable that it would become what it is now: a major cultural capital, with a thriving design, art, and culinary scene that’s home to some of the most exciting creative talents we know. Starting today — and thanks to the generous support of Tequila Don Julio — we’re devoting five full days to spotlighting them. Welcome to Mexico City Week.
We’re kicking off the series with Sight Unseen’s official guide to our favorite places in the city to eat, sleep, shop, and drink cocktails made with Don Julio 70, the world’s first clear añejo tequila, which pairs an añejo’s flavor complexity with the smoothness of a blanco. If you’re one of the, oh, eight zillion people who are planning a trip in the near future, this guide will singlehandedly take care of you. If you somehow missed the memo that Mexico City is a place you need to visit immediately — if not jump on the bandwagon and move to — then the stories we’re planning to post this week, from a studio visit with Pedro Reyes to a romp around town with Su Wu, should take care of that too.
Where to Eat
Masala Y Maiz
We generally advocate for eating Mexican food while in Mexico, but the Juarez lunch spot Masala Y Maiz is an obvious exception — its dishes reflect the Mexican, Indian, and East African heritage of its founders, complete with small-batch natural wines and a space designed by Pedro Reyes.SU recommends: uttapam with vegetables and an egg, Masala y Maiz mead
It’s worth eating at Meroma for the setting alone — an ’80s modernist home reimagined by OPA studio with furniture by Comite de Proyectos. But there’s also an adventurous farm-to-table menu and cocktail list, including the Peru Peach, which works well with Don Julio 70.SU recommends: crudo with pecan, serrano, fried parsley, and lemon
|Mercado El 100|
Heading to La Lagunilla flea market on Sunday? Stop at this organic farmer’s market first. Beautiful produce, but there’s also a stall at the far end, Otzi Otzi, that serves one of our favorite meals in the city: tlacoyos with a dozen homemade topping options, all for around $1.50 each. It’s also great for
You’ve seen it on Instagram, but we can confirm it’s worth the hype: Having an extremely long lunch at Gabriela Cámara’s seafood mecca Contramar is a must-do in Mexico City. Book a table in advance and — trust us — don’t eat anything for 12 hours before you go.SU recommends: the famed tuna tostadas and grilled fish, a Don Julio 70 margarita, and a nap afterwards
There’s a lot of pink and a lot of terrazzo in this stylish new spot helmed by an NYC expat chef, but all you’ll notice is the food — every dish is a flavor bomb, inventive yet not overly fussy.SU recommends: the smoked-fish dip, the Israeli salad, and allll of the veggie sides
Charming, cozy Bacal is primarily a wine bar, but every Thursday and Saturday night the owner invites friends to cook a family-style meal — some chefs, some amateurs, always under $10, always amazing.SU recommends: whatever food’s on offer, plus a bottle of natural wine
Lalo! for the best chilaquiles; Rosetta for high-end Italian; Lardo for more laid-back Italian in a charming setting; Maximo Bistrot for elevated seasonal food; Delirio for an upscale take-out deli; Amaya for Baja cuisine and wine; Campobaja for interesting seafood; El Pescadito Condesa for cheap fish tacos; Nicos for an old-school classic Mexican lunch; Pujol for famed white-tablecloth fare; Molino el Pujol for inexpensive tacos by the same chef; Pizza Felix for a delicious yet casual dinner behind Bar Felix (mentioned below)
Where to Drink
A small, congenial bar run by two expat Andrew Tarlow alums. It’s known for great food and a hip crowd, and for being one of the only places in town where you can get a big ol’ kale salad.SU recommends: balancing the richness of the fried avocado sandwich with the freshness of a Don Julio 70 “Palomina” — grapefruit juice, fino sherry, salt
Bosforo has achieved somewhat legendary status in Mexico City as the spot to drink mezcal — especially obscure, small-batch mezcals from other parts of the country. It also has a nameless restaurant next door that’s a must-go on its own.SU recommends: coming on a weeknight and trying whatever the bartender suggests
It’s doesn’t appear on maps, we couldn’t find a photo of it, it’s only open Thursday nights, and we wouldn’t be letting you in on it if we didn’t already hear so many American accents in the crowd. But it’s very, very crowded and very, very fun.SU recommends: Mexican winery Bichi’s “Pet Mex”
Felix is the go-to spot if you want a fun night out in Roma. First eat sardines, farro salad, and pizza at the verdant restaurant out back, then come up front to the bar and settle in for an artisanal cocktail.SU recommends: Their gin, lime, and cucumber cocktail — but with Don Julio 70 instead of gin
Bottega for a teeny Italian wine bar that’s also a gourmet market; Felina for a classed-up Condesa cocktail bar; Le Tachinomi Desu for top-shelf Japanese food and sake; Covadonga for a weird, old-school banquet-hall vibe that the art crowd seems to love; La Clandestina for a moody mezcaleria; Maison Artemesia for vintage furniture and live jazz
Where to Shop
Casa Mimi is a true cabinet of curiosities — the tiny two-floor space is packed with rarities old and new that founder Nicole Pierpont has hunted down from local estates and makers. A great spot to snag traditional Mexican textiles.
Bettina Kiehlne’s by-appointment showroom is actually part of her own home, though there is a door dividing them. But it’s nice to feel like a personal guest in her world, where Tezontle pieces mingle with prints by young California artists and furniture she designed herself.
|Chic By Accident|
This design gallery in an old apartment in Roma is essentially the eclectic personal collection of architect Emmanuel Picault, who makes no distinction between vintage sofas and art, contemporary works by designers like Brian Thoreen, and oddities like a stuffed flamingo.
Casa Bosques is a chocolate line designed and conceived by the New York/Mexico City creative agency Savvy Studio, but its flagship shop in Mexico City is also a bookstore, newsstand, and library — aka a great place to spend an hour or two relaxing and hanging out.
La Lagunilla, on Sundays, is Mexico City’s best-known spot for antique-hunting (be sure to ask a local where to enter — the fair is big and mostly full of non-antiques). But our fave flea is on Saturdays, wrapped around Jardin Dr. Ignacio Chavez. It’s smaller, but we always score there.
|Ven a Mi|
Graphic designer Blair Richardson opened this appointment-only store downstairs from her studio, where she sells her curated finds from artisans around Mexico — ceramics, textiles, kitchenware, furniture, etc. To visit, DM her on Instagram and she’ll give you the exact address.
New York jewelry line Tuza’s Mexico City store is a millenials’ post-modernist paradise, and its apparel may only appeal to the under-30 set. BUT, upstairs they have ceramics and furniture (much of which the founder herself designed) that’s worth a look.
The design store Trouvé is on 1stdibs, so technically you don’t have to go to Mexico City to shop it. But it’s way more fun to get an in-person tour and hear the stories behind each piece, from obscure hand-carved chairs by Mexican architects to crazy tiki bar lamps.
Hi Bye for nouveau-raver fashion with an interior by Fabien Cappello; Atra Gallery for the showroom of design lines Atra and Bogus Studio; Esrawe showroom for Hector Esrawe’s furniture and objects; Varon’s new store for a multi-brand Mexican fashion experience; Morada Morada for vintage clothing; Tetetlan for yoga, food, a library, and a chic Mexican design and crafts store; Utilitario Mexicano for design-y anonymous Mexican-made objects a la Kiosk; Audette for sleek, graphic leather bags made by hand in Mexico City; Taxonomia for a stylish concept store with beauty, fashion, and design; Xinu Perfume for an amazing sensory scent experience; Onora for high-end local crafts and fashion; The Feathered for a designer boutique with brands like Lemaire and B Sides; Mis Mescales for bringing home artisanal mezcals; Bazar Velas for decorative Mexican candles
What to See
Ago is the city’s first serious, serious design gallery, opened this fall by Rudy Weissenberg and former Design Miami director Rodman Primack. The roster includes top talents like Fernando Laposse, Fabien Cappello, and Anndra Neen.
|UNAM and Ruta de la Amistad|
Two of our favorite places to see public art are UNAM, a sprawling collection of huge sculptures you can climb on, and the Ruta de la Amistad (above), colorful works by 22 artists, built for the 1968 Olympics a bit outside the city.
Over the course of his life, painter Diego Rivera collected nearly 50,000 pre-Hispanic artworks from almost every indigenous civilization in Mexico’s history, then built the unmissable pyramid-shaped Anahuacali museum to house them.
The powerhouse contemporary art gallery of Mexico City — in a beautiful building that also houses a book store and events space. Its stable includes Danh Vo, Gabriel Orozco, Mariana Castillo Deball, Rikrit Tiravanija, and more.
Perhaps you’re as sick as we are of seeing the houses built by Luis Barragan — Casa Barragan, Casa Gilardi, and Casa Pedregal — on the Insta feed of every human that visits Mexico City. But you really can’t go and not see at least one of them in person. You just can’t.
|Museo Nacional de Antropologia|
The National Anthropology Museum is the kind of history museum that you went on field trips to as a kid. But as you’ve probably heard, it’s stunning, and the building and its epic courtyard were designed by Pedro Ramírez Vázquez.
Museo Arte Moderno for special exhibitions and a top-rate sculpture garden; Museo Frida Kahlo for a glimpse into the artist’s colorful home (book in advance); Galeria OMR for contemporary art by Jose Dávila, Candida Höfer, et al; the museums Jumex and Tamayo for more contemporary art; the Legoretta-designed Camino Real hotel for an Insta-worthy Memphis moment; the El Eco for an art gallery with incredible architecture; LIGA for an architecture center with exhibitions and talks; Pais de Volcanes for an astounding outdoor Vicente Rojo sculpture at the Memory and Tolerance Museum; Casa Wabi for exhibitions of international artists working with local artisans and communities
Where to Stay
|Ignacia Guest House|
The owners of this 1913 family home turned six-room hotel in Roma added a modern wing out back and chic designer furniture, but kept it OG by naming it after the family’s fabled housekeeper. The whole hotel is organized around a relaxing courtyard garden where you can eat your chef-made breakfast or enjoy the complimentary cocktail hour.Prices: Starting at $295 per night
Pujol chef Enrique Olivera opened this B&B last year. It boasts two minimalist bedrooms, a concierge, and access to a Kinfolk-y kitchen and dining room — outfitted with Frama furniture — where guests can take a cooking class or join in on private dinners cooked by Pujol alums and visiting chefs.Prices: Starting at $550 per night (for the full 2-bedroom house)
Casa Pani for a brand-new design-y Airbnb owned by the team behind Yola Mezcal; Hotel Carlota for industrial-chic rooms and a slick pool; Distrito Capital for business trips and Joseph Dirand interiors; La Valise for eclectic design and great service; Ryo Kan for elevated Japanese-style minimalism
Click here to visit our official Sight Unseen Guide to Mexico City on Google Maps.
This post, and the upcoming Mexico City Week, was generously sponsored by Tequila Don Julio, but all thoughts and editorial content are our own. Like everything at Sight Unseen, our partner content is carefully curated to make sure it’s of the utmost relevance to our readers. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Sight Unseen.
About Sight Unseen
Jill Singer and Monica Khemsurov are the co-founders of Sight Unseen, an online magazine dedicated to discovering what’s new and next in contemporary design. They founded Sight Unseen in 2009, and Sight Unseen OFFSITE in 2010, and through both endeavors have helped launch and foster the careers of some of design’s most influential talents.
Sight Unseen also curates exhibitions, produces and co-hosts events, and provides editorial and marketing services for a variety of clients, including Sonos, Everlane, Arper, Herman Miller, Iittala, Mondaine, Ford, The Ace Hotel, Refinery29, Creatures of Comfort, the Standard East Village, Urban Outfitters, Lincoln, Etienne Aigner, and Shinola.
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