WHERE TO STAY
Mexico City is home to nearly every major international hotel brand, as well as an array of stylish and creative boutique-style properties and plenty of smaller, budget-friendly hotels.
If boutique style is your thing, you’ll want to check out the portfolio of Grupo Habita, which pretty much invented the concept of the chic boutique hotel in Mexico. Among their cool properties are Condesa DF, which sits in a lovely former apartment building in the trendy Condesa district, Distrito Capital, which is located in the business-popular area called Santa Fe, and Downtown Mexico, which sits inside a massive building in the historic city center.
Also downtown is the Hilton Mexico City Reforma, a soaring and sleek luxury hotel that overlooks the handsome Alamada Central park, within walking distance of the Palacio de Bellas Artes and lots of downtown attractions. Rooms have a view to die for at the Hilton, and it’s worth booking an Executive Room with access to the Executive Lounge, which serves drinks and food with an equally impressive city view.
If being in the super-gay Zona Rosa is a priority, you can’t do much better than Roommate Valentina, a mod-but-affordable hotel right on the block with the highest concentration of LGBTQ nightlife. If you prefer a large, full-service hotel close to the action, Galeria Plaza Reforma is an excellent option, with a lovely rooftop pool and fitness center, as well as a restaurant called Almara, which serves tasty Mexican-Mediterranean fusion cuisine.
A few blocks away, the magnificently luxurious St. Regis Mexico City towers over Paseo de la Reforma, offering sumptuous accommodations as well as lots of pampering at its Remede Spa and gourmet cuisine at La Table Krug, which serves from a sophisticated tasting menu.
Mexico City is home to many other luxury hotels, including: the Four Seasons, InterContinental, JW Marriott, and Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection property, but my most luxurious moments in Mexico’s capital were spent at the St. Regis, enjoying the view from its indulgent spa.
The gay-owned Condesa Haus is a wonderful choice for travelers of all stripes looking for comfortable accommodations in the beautiful Condesa district and within walking distance to the neighborhood’s trendy restaurants and shopping. Both Airbnb and Homeaway also offer lots of beautiful options in Mexico City, especially in Condesa and Roma Norte.
Mexico City brims with delicious flavors. The city is home to six AAA Four Diamond restaurants (per the 2019 awards), two top rankers in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and even more ranking venues in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants for 2018 (the most recent awards). So prepare to have your taste buds delighted.
“Mexican cuisine is a combination of our native ingredients, such as corn, peppers, tomatoes, squashes and wild greens with ingredients brought from all over the world after the Spanish conquista,” said Benjamin Herera, co-founder of Quest Mexico Tours, which offers guided foodie excursions around the city, including market visits, cantina crawls, taco tours, and cooking classes.
“Most Mexicans consider ourselves mestizos (a mix of races) and our cuisine is also a result of the melting pot Mexico City was during the 16th century. In recent years, many talented chefs and cooks have put Mexican cuisine on the international map by teaching about our great dishes and ingredients, and by opening many high end restaurants in Mexico City and other cosmopolitan cities all over the world.”
Herrera said that his best-selling foodie tour is popular because it visits one of the best places to connect with authentic Mexican cuisine and culture: Mercado Jamaica, one of the city’s oldest markets, which also serves as a wholesale flower market (the word “Jamaica” in Mexican Spanish means “hibiscus”). With more than 1,500 stalls selling more than 5,000 different types of flowers, the market is a great place to sample everything from tacos and tamales to huaraches, which are long, flat cornmeal cakes filled with refried beans.
Throughout the city, visitors will find diverse cuisine that ranges from high-end, sophisticated international creations to deliciously traditional, budget-friendly dishes.
At the top end are award-winners like Pujol, which was named one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2018. Its seasonally changing menu features a trademark Mole Madre, a delicious chocolate-infused sauce served with warm tortillas. Also among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants is Quintonil. Named for a green Mexican herb, Quintonil serves the creations of Chef Jorge Vallejo, making expert use of local ingredients for innovative contemporary Mexican cuisine like crab tostadas and cactus sorbet.
The awards for Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants were equally favorable for Mexico City. Among the winners are Sud 777, which serves contemporary Mexican cuisine created by French-trained Chef Edgar Nuñez, and Rosetta, which is set in a lovely townhouse in the Roma district. Rosetta’s Chef, Elena Reygadas, first studied English literature at Mexico’s National Autonomous University before heading to New York City’s French Culinary Institute.
Other upscale options include Limosneros, a favorite in the historic city center where traditional Mexican ingredients and techniques come together in a stylish setting. The upscale taco tasting menu and chef’s tasting menus are a mouthwatering way to sample a variety of the chef’s creations.
Among the top choices for fusion cuisine is Maximo Bistrot, in Roma. French and Mexican elements come together with delicious results in this farm-to-table restaurant, thanks to Chef Eduardo Garcia, who honed his talents at Mexico City’s Pujol and New York City’s Le Bernardin before launching this venue.
For someplace more traditional consider Nicos, a restaurant with more than 60 years on the scene, and a go-to place for classic dishes like enchiladas with green sauce and organic pork marinated with chili, brown sugar and chocolate. Traditional Mexican delights are also the specialty at El Cardenal, which has four locations in the city. Artisanal methods are used to create fresh items like tortillas, bread, cheese, and even chocolate.
The gayest neighborhood, the Zona Rosa, is not exactly a hotspot for culinary excellence, but it does have some surprising finds. “I go to Zona Rosa for the Korean food,” said Herrera. “Café Kkot is a Korean coffee shop and restaurant that is in the heart of the gay area and has some amazing food. And for authentic Korean barbecue, I go to Na De Fo on Liverpool Street.”
One thing is for sure: In Mexico City, you won’t go hungry.