Mexico City—Chaotic splendor

This article was excerpted from the Wall Street Journal’s Insider’s Guide to Mexico City.

Mexico City is one of the most dynamic, mysterious and beautifully chaotic cities. It’s enormity may be daunting—sprawled over 573.4 square miles, the Distrito Federal’s metropolitan area houses nearly 20 million people, making it the third largest urban center in the world.

To orient yourself, start out in the Zocalo, the main square and heart of the city since the Aztecs first staked their claim in the early 14th century. Wander any of the cobblestoned streets throughout the Centro Historico, for a ragtag sensory overload of booksellers, food vendors and knick-knack purveyors. For those with more Champagne tastes, there’s Polanco, a tony neighborhood of Maserati and Bentley dealerships, Gucci and Chanel boutiques and guys with pink button-downs and popped collars.

Condesa DF
Cool people traveling to Mexico City most likely stay here. At night, both hotel guests and actual Condesa residents hang out in the lush courtyard. Avenida Veracruz, 102;



Las Alcobas
A lovely place, owned by a true hotelier, Samuel Leizorek. It was designed by Yabu Pushelberg and is by far the most luxurious of the city’s smaller inns. Av. Masaryk, 390;

El Turix
This unassuming little spot serves only one kind of taco: “Cochinita Pibil,” otherwise known as Yucatan-style, slow-roasted, marinated pork. It’s delicious, and insanely cheap. Emilio Castelar, 212

King Cole Bar
The St. Regis bar is famous for its “Sangrita Maria,” a Mexican take on a Bloody Mary. Paseo de la Reforma, 439;

La Botica Mezcalería
They serve more than two dozen varieties of mezcal. Cute little pharmacy-style bottles teeter along the walls. They’re responsible for making this formerly down-market beverage relevant again. Campeche, 396;

El 52
Cristóbal Riestra recently opened his own space, an extension of his parents’ OMR Gallery next door, to show young, emerging artists. Plaza Río de Janeiro, 52;



Magistral Concept Store
Set on the main shopping street in Polanco, this place is special to me. It carries a mix of clothing, home goods, art and design pieces by mostly up-and-coming Mexican designers, but also international ones like Comme des Garçons and Jason Wu. Av. Masaryk, 495;

The dining room has beautiful light, which makes everyone and everything look stunning. The food is a mix of traditional and modern Basque-inspired dishes. Av. Masaryk, 407;

This article was excerpted from the Wall Street Journal’s Insider’s Guide to Mexico City.




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