Cafe culture meets gallery chic in Condesa, the Mexico City neighborhood that’s become the new oasis for young bohemia. We went south of the border to check it out.
Lay of the Land
By day, stroll Amsterdam, the art deco main drag, for indie boutiques and hot galleries. After dark, the scene hits hotel rooftops, mezcalerias, and late-night eateries along avenidas Tamaulipas, Oaxaca, and Nueva Leon.
Condesa DF, the area’s first boutique hotel, with its iPod-appointed rooms, hammam, and outdoor therme, attracts the young and impossibly cool (Avenida Veracruz 102; +52-55-5241-2600) as does sister spot Hotel Habita in nearby Polanco (Avenida Presidente Masaryk 201; +52-55-5282-3100). Prefer something a little more old-school? Just-opened Hippodrome Hotel is located in a renovated historic landmark (Avenida Mexico 188; 866-539-0036).
Locals love stripped-down taqueria El Califa de Leon, where steak and chicken tacos (con queso) are served with fresh avocado (Altata 22; +52-55-5271-6285). Nearby hotspot Aguila y Sol is the mecca for beautiful people and nouveau Mexican eats like guacamole with pomegranate and tequila y sangrita (Avenida Moliere 42; +52-55-5281-8354). After dinner, the DJ may save your life at Ixchel’s blue room (Medellin 65; +52-55-3096-5010).
Ricardo Seco stormed Fashion Week Mexico (yeah, they have one) with deconstructed Converse and clothes (Amsterdam 308; +52-55-5584-8449). Nearby Colectivo 7 is where up-and-comers sell one-of-a-kind clothes and bags in traditional Mexican colors with a modern alterna-bent (Amsterdam 92; +52-55-5553-1793; now closed). Get empowered ’round the corner at Juana de Arco (Joan of Arc) in hot bikinis, colorful lingerie, and girly knits (Montes de Oca 14; +52-55-5212-0559; now closed).
• Go high-low: Ogle wrestlers at Arena Mexico (189 Calle Dr. Lavista, Col. Doctores; +52-55-5588-0385) and contemporary art at Kurimanzutto, the hot gallery (Mazatlan 5 Depto. T-6; +52-55-5286-3059).
• For breakfast, eat pan dulce (sweet bread) and chilaquiles (tortillas in salsa with eggs). Work it off at Tamara di Tella’s Pilates studio (Amsterdam 282; +52-55-5564-3344).
• Make like a local: Don’t hail a cab. (Kidnapping is no joke.) Have the hotel or restaurant arrange a safe ride. And beware the alcohol consumption. Altitude sickness is no joke either.