While on a scouting trip in Mexico, Los Angeles gallery owner Heather Taylor takes copious notes on the capital city's style and design.
MEXICO CITY – Like Los Angeles, Mexico City is a sprawling metropolis best appreciated as a series of small towns nestled within one giant city. You could spend weeks exploring the diverse culinary, cultural, and artistic offerings! But if you only have a weekend in D.F. (Distrito Federal), things can get overwhelming. Behold! A loose itinerary based on the best of the city's historic and modern designs.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Rise and shine in the comfort of Condesa DF, the chic hotel centrally located in the elegant Condesa neighborhood. Situated on a tree-lined street, this fully restored 1928 building centers around a plant-filled atrium where guests can eat breakfast alongside Mexico's young and powerful (who all seem to congregate here). After a day taking in the sites, head to the rooftop bar for a margarita and city views. Retire to your room for a warm bubble bath with Malin + Goetz products.
WHERE TO EAT
Besides all the good people-watching, Condesa DF has a breakfast buffet that resembles a Dutch still life, complete with charcuterie, cheeses, pastries, tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, and local fruit. Lunch is long and lively at Contramar, a swanky restaurant specializing in seafood. Not to be missed: the hot-spot's famous tuna tostada and grilled whole fish smothered in pescado divorciado, a sauce that's half green and half red. For an afternoon snack that is as stylish as it is delicious, pop over to the drop-dead gorgeous tea house Celeste and order high tea or a glass of Champagne. (Do not forget to browse the boutique downstairs.) Dinner: Take a break from regional fare with inventive Italian at Rosetta.
WHAT TO SEE
Start at the roots. Visit Museo Nacional de Antropología, an architectural gem filled with Mayan artifacts, traditional crafts displays, and colorful folk art. Pay a visit to the Museo Frida Kahlo, the converted childhood home of Mexico's most beloved artist and most recognized cultural export. The lush garden and interiors (her bedroom and studio remain as she left them) will inspire you to dig deeper into the history of this iconic figure and perhaps paint your house blue. Don't miss the mole recipe located on the door of the kitchen. The obvious next step: House-Studio of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Diego (Avenida Altavista, at Calle Diego Rivera), the home Rivera built for himself and his wife in the early 1930s. With its concrete walls and austere lines, the Juan O'Gorman-designed structure still feels avant-garde.
WHERE TO SHOP
From enormous marketplaces to intimate boutiques, there are plenty of opportunities to take Mexico home in your suitcase. Set aside at least an hour to browse over 5,000 square feet of Common People, a concept shop located in a colonial building in the swanky Polanco neighborhood. Think of it as a general store for the fashionable set — you can buy everything from locally made slippers and candles to magazines and key chains to Comme Des Garcons accessories.
In the Roma neighborhood, make it a point to stumble upon Emmanuel Picault's Chic by Accident, a dramatic furniture shop and Mexican-design showroom housed in a refurbished mansion from the '20s. You will feel like you've landed in the middle of an Architectural Digest spread. On the other end of the spectrum is Mercado Artesanal de la Ciudadela, which has a dizzying selection of covetable crafts (hand-embroidered linens, leather sandals, embellished mirrors) at reasonable prices. Before you leave town, make sure to swing by the cozy cafe and gourmet food store Delirio to pick up local and organic cooking supplies: jars of deep-red chipotle chili paste, discs of Mexican chocolate, and local honey.