Condesa & Roma: The Trendy Neighborhoods of Mexico City

Condesa & Roma: The Trendy Neighborhoods of Mexico City

Sat, 2012-07-14

When my husband and I debated where in the world we should go for a week-long vacation earlier this year, we were drawn back to Mexico City—where we’d lived for two years from 2008-2010. (You could kind of say that we’re big fans.)  It was refreshingly easy to put together our “What to Do” list, and near the top of the list was, “Stay in Condesa or Roma,” two neighborhoods nestled next to each other in the heart of Mexico City, just east of Chapultepec Park. Lots of folks have heard of this area, so I wanted to share a few of my favorite spots for sleeping/eating/shopping for when you’re next in this neck of the woods!

I generally described Roma/Condesa to our Mexico City visitors as “where the artists & hipsters live, plus 5,000 dogs.”  They would nod knowingly, envisioning sidewalks filled with young Mexicans wearing ironic t-shirts and skinny jeans while walking cutesy perros .  Condesa is the slightly-more gentrified of the two zones (the key sign being the constantly-heaving Starbucks that opened in 2004), but Roma is fast on its heels with chi-chi spots like Hotel Brick, where the fanciest suite goes for $650 USD a night. 

In interest of saving more of our pennies for food and drink, we opted for a lovely B&B called Villa Condesa (www.villacondesa.com.mx) during our stay. They opened in 2010 after a massive renovation of a historic home, and we were well impressed with both the facilities and the staff/service. We had a lovely room with a balcony, a welcome drink, full breakfast, daily happy hour, internet and bikes available to borrow all for $135 USD (pre-tax). Each evening, we felt quite refined as we popped back to our villa, had a glass of wine on the patio, and assessed where we should go for dinner. 

Needless to say, we had no shortages of food options! To share a few of the highlights that we’d recommend from our Condesa/Roma dining experiences—

Maximo Bistrot Local (Tonalá 133 at the corner of Zacatecas in Colonia Roma)  My fellow Mexico Today blogger Jim Johnson tipped me off to this gem, run by a former chef from Pujol (one of DF’s high-end spots).  Great, locally-sourced, one-age menu that changes daily and is super reasonably priced for the quality of food + presentation.   Read Nick Gilman’s review at http://goodfoodmexicocity.blogspot.com/2012/01/close-to-home-maximo-bist...

Con Sabor a Tixtla (Chiapas 173 at the corner of Medellín in Colonia Roma; open from 12-5PM) This colorful Guerrerenese fonda (a.k.a. from the state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located) has an impressive array of tacos & salsas we’d never encountered elsewhere—all apparently typical of the small town of Tixtla. Everything is cooked by the owners’ mother, and it’s worth a stop. My friend Lesley Tellez brought us here, and she has great guidance on what to order at http://www.themijachronicles.com/2011/04/where-to-eat-i n-mexico-city-con-sabor-a-tixtla. 

Gastrofonda Quim Jardi (Parras 15 between Nuevo León and Amsterdam in Colonia Condesa; open from 1-6PM)  This fonda was one of my favorite spots for a fancier comida corrida (the quick, multi-course, set menu lunch found all over DF). Here you typically get an interesting soup, well-dressed salad, and your choice of about 10 creative main course options, plus a small dessert and coffee or espresso for, and there’s always a tasty agua fresca of the day + beer/wine options.  

But woman cannot live by eating alone…  She has to take advantage of the fun shopping options in this area as well! My favorites include—

La Primavera Vidrio Soplado (Colima 264 just east of Insurgentes, Colonia Roma, phone number 55.5207.1159)  This is the place to come for all-things-colored glass— ranging from tumblers to margarita glasses, hearts to bowls, 3-foot tall cylinders to decorative square vases. Their products tend to be a single color (vs. having elaborate designs), but some of the smaller glasses are a bit showier and it’s a great spot if you’re craving a few of the hand-blown glass hearts that I saw all over Mexico. Great for reasonably-priced home decor options, and they’ll even cut holes in the bottom of items you want to use as planters.

La Hamaca y El Rebozo (Chilpancingo between Avenida Mexico and Amsterdam, Colonia Condesa)  If you’re in search of a unique gift from Mexico for a new mom, check out this boutique. A baby sling is only one of many uses that the rebozo has among Mexican women; the shawls sold here are handmade by Mexican artisans across the country with many distinct designs, and are accompanied by instructions to show you how to securely attach your baby to you! The prices here are on the high side, but the products are l ovely. Get a preview on their website at http://www.lahamacayelrebozo.com.mx. 

DFC (Colima 124-D between Córdoba and Mérida, Colonia Roma)  So this tiny store is a little bizarre…but it’s worth popping in because you’re already in the area. To quote from their website, “DFC is dedicated to the marrying of traditional Mexican techniques and styles with modern design…”  You’re looking for a rug with a paleta (Mexican-style popsicle) on it? Done. An oversized, bright yellow avocado sculpture? No problem. A serving platter decorated with Carlos Slim’s smiling face? They’ve got you covered.  Be aware that some of the models on their website (http://www.totaldfc.com) are a bit scantily-clad, but their neon-lit store in Roma is definitely worth a viewing. While you’re there, pop into Sicario next door as well (http://www.sicario.tv/sicario-roma/, open 12-8PM).

I’ll save the plethora of nightlife options for another post, but be sure to save time for both relaxing in the beautiful parks (Parque México in Condesa and Plaza Rio de Janiero in Roma), and drinking adult beverages (La Nacional for mezcal; Bar Lilit for trendy cocktails). You’ll easily be able to fill a weekend with exploring Condesa and Roma, two of my favorite colonias in Mexico City.