Thursday, May 23, 2024

The best and brightest of Mexico City in 2023

While old standbys should always be on the list when visiting Mexico City, this vast metropolis is teeming with new projects that delight all the senses. 2023, like most years, has brought with it newly minted hotels, shiny new dining rooms, unforgettable cocktails and even a new museum dedicated to one of the city’s most famous architects.

A few very nice hotel options opened in Mexico City this year including two that we covered in a more extensive piece: Volga and a revamp of what is now the Hotel San Fernando in Condesa. Volga’s ambiance is more for the young, jet-setting crowd, with dance music pumped through the sound system and a hip rooftop hang space where you can have a drink and get a breathtaking view of the city. Once inside the sleek black marble and earth-toned rooms, however, you can easily leave the party behind and chill. Formerly a ho-hum hotel in a gorgeous Art Deco building, the Hotel San Fernando was revamped this year into adorable home-away-from-home apartments with a great bar downstairs and breezy rooftop patio just steps from Parque México in Colonia Condesa.

Colima 71

Colima 71 is now one of the few hotels with over a dozen rooms in the heart of the Roma. Located in a building redesigned by Alberto Kalach, best known as the architect of the José Vasconcelos Library, its rooms are more spacious than you’d expect in a former elementary school – almost every category has a small outdoor patio or balcony. An all-day barista will keep you fueled in the main lobby if you want to work, or you can take advantage of the honor bar for an end-of-the-day mezcal or whiskey. If you are a member of SoHo House you were probably particularly excited this year when they opened up their first location in Latin America in a Baroque mansion in Colonia Juárez with a luxurious pool and tequila bar for the kind of high-society socializing that the brand is known for.

This city’s food and drink scene is an ever-evolving landscape of locations – the good ones stick around and the others are usually sloughed off pretty quickly. Any list is only the tip of the iceberg and of course very subjective. But here’s one anyway. The city can always use more good pizza, so I was happy to see the folks from the restaurant Sartoria open Pizzeria della Madonna. Located in Roma Norte, the pizzeria works with a wood-fired oven and serves interesting pie combinations like mushroom ragu with artichokes, black olives and Italian ham or black and white truffle cream, guanciale and cacio e pepe cream. As you can expect from its owners, who also own wine bar Bottega next door, Pizzeria della Madonna has an extensive international wine list. The restaurant’s casual but hip ambiance makes it a great date night spot.

If you hanker for an excellent bagel with lox or made-from-scratch pastrami sandwiches, Mendl Delicatessen opened this year to much fanfare and with a throwback décor reminiscent of the delis of old. In a similar nostalgic vein, the team from restaurant Cicatriz opened Ojo Rojo Diner this year, complete with swivel bar stools and 1950s-inspired mint green decor. The Patty Smith Melt is divine and you won’t find another root beer float in the entire city. Blaxicocina in Narvarte has brought soul food to Mexico City, with a fried chicken and chorizo hash with ancho-corn cream sauce that beautifully represents the Southern-meets-Mexican flavors on the menu.

For libations, NIV wine bar popped up in March with an extensive list of top-quality wine from around the world and small plates like hummus and mixed olives that will keep you fueled through a few good bottles. Winning a spot on this year’s 50 Best Bars in North America list was newcomer Rayo Bar, which opened its buzzy, modern rooftop bar this past spring. They serve some of the city’s most interesting and solidly Mexican cocktails with a well-rounded list of local spirits that go beyond just mezcal and tequila. Rayo incorporates endemic flavors like palo santo, guava and hoja santa bitters in its list of ten handcrafted cocktails that you can taste before you order from glass stopper bottles that arrive at your table along with a small welcome snack.

There’s much more to the city than just eating, drinking and sleeping on high thread count sheets though. This year saw the opening of the Casa Museo Pedro Ramírez, which honors the late, great architect of the Museum of Anthropology, the Estadio Azteca and the New Basilica of Guadalupe with a tour through his former home, a look at the plans and documents he used to create his masterpieces and a peek into his daily life.

The Yayem travel brand, which started as an app for exploring local haunts and hangouts around the world, opened a coworking space in a stunning Colonia Roma mansion that makes going to work every day a pleasure. The space hosts mezcal tastings, taco tours and other activities for its members and non-members alike. Finally, the new Bomboti shop and gallery in Polanco is the combined effort of a local interior design firm and visual artist for Mexican-made art or household goods. It has a vast collection of luxury ceramics, local and international fashion and decadent design pieces for yourself or a lucky recipient.

Lydia Carey is a freelance writer and translator based out of Mexico City. She has been published widely both online and in print, writing about Mexico for over a decade. She lives a double life as a local tour guide and is the author of Mexico City Streets: La Roma. Follow her urban adventures on Instagram and see more of her work at www.mexicocitystreets.com.

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