The Mexico City Guide
It feels like Mexico City is going through a major moment, where all the things that used to make it such a vibrant, cosmopolitan city, are just that much better now. We’ve always loved the tacos and the incredible street food that you can find on practically any corner, but now chefs like Enrique Olvera at Pujol and Jorge Vallejo at Quintonil are deconstructing classic recipes and taking them to the next level. Then there’s the art scene, where it’s no longer just about iconic 20th-century artists like Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, but about new, world-class art institutions like the Soumaya, and the Museo Jumex that have both landed in the last five years. Even tequila has possibly been outdone by hundreds of boutique mezcal brands that spring up on an almost monthly basis. The list goes on. Basically, Mexico City, or CDMX—as it’s now known—just got a whole lot awesomer.
SanbornsAv Francisco I. Madero 4, Centro Histórico | +52.55.5512.1331
Sanborns is a kind of upscale generalist marketplace: You can get your prescription filled just as easily as you'll find toys, books, magazines, and a decent meal at the cafeteria. The chain—owned by billionaire Carlos Slim—is ubiquitous in the city, but its branch in the Centro Histórico is something special. Housed in the historic Casa de los Azulejos, an 18th-century palace covered in tiles, it's simply one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Meanwhile, inside the cafeteria, where the Mexican intelligentsia used to hang out in the 50's and 60s, milkshakes and club sandwiches are served up by women in kitschy, old school uniforms. And then there's the dining room, covered in old frescoes and historic photographs (it was once also the National Jockey Club).
Roma QuinceMedellín 67, Colonia Roma | +52.55.5207.8682
When it comes to home decór, this newly opened concept store in an old restored mansion in the Roma is doing a lot of things right: They've gathered a handful of supremely tasteful, local textile and accessories brands—all previously basically unknown in the city—like Bindilou, Namuh, and San Miguel Allende's Casa Acanto, and brought them under one roof. In addition there's also our favorite, Trinitate, which makes gorgeous white-glazed tableware a la Astier de Villatte, and an endless variety of garden ornaments. Basically, you can come here and decorate an entire home in purely hand-crafted goods, without it looking folksy or tired. Plus, they've also brought a handful of clothing brands with a similar ethos, and beloved brunch spot Carlota & Emilia, in too—perfect one-stop shopping.
Mercado LagunillaCorner Rayón & Allende, Centro Histórico
On the same site since colonial times, the Lagunilla is one of the biggest covered markets in the city, selling food, furniture, and cheap clothing. On Sundays, though, things get a little more interesting when antique dealers and casual vendors set up on the streets surrounding the market. Though there's a lot of junk to sift through, and a good number of stalls selling pirated goods, there are some treasures to be found—costume jewelry, retro sunglasses, old-school 50's kitchen goods, and more. Plus, the torta and cold-pressed juice stand right inside one of the main entrances into the antiques area is awesome. You'll want to have your wits about you, though, as the market and its surrounds do harbour the occasional pick-pocket.
El Bazaar SábadoSan Jacinto 11, San Ángel | +52.55.5616.0082
On Saturdays, as the name implies, one of the most delightful things you can do is head over to the sleepy, cobble-stoned streets of San Angel to shop in this grand old colonial plaza. It's jam-packed with artists and artisans who sell their wares here week after week, including paper flowers, embroidered blouses, tin toys, carved Pepita glass, etc. Some of it is on the folksy side, but there's always at least one discovery to walk away with. Plus, there's a restaurant inside serving solid quesadillas (though there's also a street stand right outside that out-does these), and right across the street is the weekly artist's street market, where there are some good finds to be made.
DecadaDr. Atl 62, Santa María la Ribera | +52.55.6234.5081
This is probably one of the best shops for high-quality Mid-Century antiques in the city, as owners Cecilia Tena and Lucía Corredor split time between Berlin and New York buying and importing their finds back to their shop in Polanco. You'll find retro credenzas, Herman Miller tables and chairs, Anglepoise-style lamps, and everything you need to stock a vintage bar—all in great condition and displayed in inspiring vignettes. The owners were living in Berlin when they got the idea to open up a vintage shop in Mexico city, hoping to bring a little bit of its playfulness into modern Mexican interiors.
Rodrigo Rivero LakeCampos Elíseos 105, Polanco | +52.55.5281.5377
Rodrigo Rivero Lake's office in a penthouse apartment in Polanco and his warehouse in Naucalpan are kind of insane, packed to the brim with museum quality antiques from Mexico, India, and beyond, along with paintings and sculptures by major modern Mexican artists. An incurable collector, he's spent a lifetime on the hunt both in Mexican flea markets, at European auction houses, and on the road in India. On the weekends, he heads to the Lagunilla Antiques Market in Mexico city, where all the vendors know him by name, and always have a thing or two to show him. He's also written the book on the influence of Japanese artisanry on Mexican Viceregal antiquities: It's heady stuff and might seem intimidating, but Rodrigo is a totally charming, welcoming host to anyone who visits his gallery. Ask enough questions and he'll give you a special tour of the space—he once showed us a trove of paintings by his old friend and fellow antiquarian Chucho Reyes, one of the most influential Mexican painters of the 20th Century. It's by appointment only and so worth it.
OnoraLope de Vega 330, Polanco | +52.55.5203.0938
The brainchild of Maggie Galton, a NYC transplant who spent years working with artisans across the country, and business brain Maria Eladia Hagerman, Onora sells beautiful handicrafts designed for contemporary homes. Banish visions of multicolored fiestas from your head, though, their palette is restrained to black, white, grey, beige, and the occasional pop of color, and the products themselves are exquisite. They carry black clay candleholders from Oaxaca, table runners from Chiapas, serving dishes from Puebla, and much more—this shop makes us want to start over and redecorate.
YakampotEmilio Castelar 215B, Polanco
Francisco Cancino's line of sleek, pared down women's clothing is a big hit among Mexico's magazine editors, and we can see why. First there are the elegant, season-less silhouettes that make his clothing a wardrobe perennial, and then there's the fact that it's all handmade by artisans across the country. Fittingly, his first shop in Polanco, designed by Emiliano Godoy and Tuux, is built with the same local, sustainable principles as his clothing. Check out Yakampot's sister brand, Arroz con Leche, for adorable kids clothes.
This nomadic design market has been going since 2010, with 15 editions to date, where participating artists, fashion and product designers, and food and drink purveyors sell their wares. They're massive shopping events, where you can walk away with some pretty great finds from some of the best names in design, including clothing from Carla Fernández and Carolina K, mezcal from Mezcal Amores, furniture by Oscar Hagerman and Pirwi, and beautiful chocolates from unelefante. Watch their site for the announcement about their next edition.
Sandra WeilEmilio Castelar 185-B1, Polanco | +52.55.5280.7597
Long silk dresses, draped trousers and culottes, and delicate blouses are the kind of feminine pieces you'll find at Peruvian designer Sandra Weil's flagship store. Located in Polanco, in a new complex of cool clothing and design boutiques, you can also find her elegant line of wedding dresses here, hanging in a beautiful system of vertical plywood racks designed by the up-and-coming architects Zeller y Moye. If you can't find what you're looking for, you can enlist her couture service to tweak any of her designs just for you. Photo: Moritz Bernoully, Courtesy Zeller y Moye
Carla FernándezIsabel La Católica #30, Centro Histórico | +52.55.5510.9624
If there's one designer who has managed to take traditional Mexican embroidery and textile techniques and make them contemporary and wearable—and not in a hippie-ish way—it's Carla Fernández. She's spent years traveling the country establishing partnerships with some of the best indigenous artisans to make her bold, geometric designs. The clothing rails at her shop at the Downtown Hotel were designed by Pedro Reyes, one of the most prominent conceptual artists in Mexico—a great match for Carla and her smart, sustainable clothing line.
Casa BosquesCórdoba 25, Colonia Roma | +52.81.8356.8688
Housed in a whitewashed, renovated home in the Roma and decorated with sleek bookshelves, casually placed Jean Prouvé chairs, succulents, and ferns, Casa Bosques offers a curated selection of indie magazines, journals, and books from small publishers. Their selection goes way beyond what you'll find in any of the city's more established bookshops and is a godsend for anyone interested in fashion, art, and design, as independent titles like The Gentlewoman, Apartamento, AnOther, Purple are hard to come by. Visitors are invited to leaf through the titles and make themselves comfortable in the homey space (they also make small batch chocolate bars). This summer, they opened up a new shop in Polanco's new mini boutique complex, Anatole 13.
180°Colima 180, Colonia Roma | +52.55.5525.5626
While 180° has all your hipster basics covered with Fjällräven backpacks, special edition New Balances, and Penny skateboards, this shop's real allure comes from its mix of up-and-coming local clothing and design brands. You'll find Julia y Renata and Alejandra Quesada dresses, printed jumpsuits, capes and jackets from Carolina K, bikes by Saintvelo, designer chocolate bars from Casa Bosques, and magazines, books, and zines from local publishers.
Common PeopleEmilio Castelar 149, Polanco | +52.55.5281.0800
Located in a beautiful 1940's mansion in Polanco, this three story concept store—undoubtedly inspired by Colette in Paris—stocks books, music, vintage furniture, and hard-to-find international brands. They're basically out there to outfit the classic hipster with jewelry by Venessa Arizaga, Herschel backpacks, New Balance sneakers, and clothing from the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Comme des Garcons. In addition to all the foreign lines, the owners, husband and wife Max and Monica Feldman, are great at discovering local designers and mixing them in with the other big names. They've also recently opened a men's shop at Caballería in the up-and-coming Colonia Juarez.