Microguides

How to spend a day in Condesa, Mexico City’s on-trend neighbourhood

This tree-lined district in Mexico’s capital is getting more and more popular, rich with bars, restaurants, parks and boutique shops, writes Nick Hilden

Tuesday 16 May 2023 11:05 BST
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Locals and tourists are fans of Condesa’s cool, cosmopolitan vibe
Locals and tourists are fans of Condesa’s cool, cosmopolitan vibe (Getty Images)

Our microguides series is inspired by the slow travel movement, encouraging travellers to relax their pace and take a deep dive into one particular neighbourhood in a well-loved city. Rather than a whirlwind itinerary which aims to hit up every must-see attraction, these compact, close-up guides encourage you to zone in, take your time and truly explore like a local.

A laid-back escape from the megacity vibes of Mexico City, the chic colonia of Condesa has long been popular among international crowds but especially so since the pandemic. Scores of digital nomads fled here to escape lockdowns in their home countries, and today the neighbourhood is practically bursting at the seams with foreigners who reside in monthly rentals and frequent an expansive variety of bars and restaurants.

Flourishing around the dual parks of Parque Mexico and Parque España, it’s an exceedingly walkable district where one spends the daylight hours browsing stylish shops and drinking coffees at corner cafes, evenings wandering in the soft light of sunset filtered through violet jacaranda trees, and nights partying at lively bars and cocktail joints. There is no denying that it is a delightful place to spend your visit to Mexico City; here’s how to spend a day checking out its best bits.

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Do

Explore the parks

The essential Condesa experience involves simply perusing its central parks. Depending on the time and day, the central plaza of Parque Mexico will be full of families playing, dance collectives stepping salsa or bachata, pop-up clothing and handicraft vendors – it’s a plentitude of people watching.

The Foro Lindbergh can be found inside Parque Mexico, which is among the larger green areas of the city
The Foro Lindbergh can be found inside Parque Mexico, which is among the larger green areas of the city (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Hit up the House of Gaga

A perfect representation of Mexico City’s brilliant contemporary art offerings can be found at the House of Gaga gallery. Boasting exhibits from both national and international artists, it’s a must for visiting art appreciateurs.

Go Under the Volcano

Located just off Plaza Popocatepetl is the English bookstore Under the Volcano. Curated by longtime expat Grant Cogswell, it offers an array of used titles, renowned and obscure, and is situated conveniently above the bar Yellow Garden – the perfect place to enjoy a drink and a good book.

Check out Chapultepec

Adjacent to Condesa is the sprawling park of Chapultepec, home to a historic castle, a zoo and a lake, and a treble of world-class museums: the Modern Art Museum, the National Museum of Anthropology, and the Tamayo Museum of Contemporary Art.

The centre of Plaza Popocatepetl
The centre of Plaza Popocatepetl (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Eat

Ojo de Agua

If you’re looking for breakfast and refreshing juices, Ojo de Agua is practically the tiny international capital of the neighbourhood. It’s a constantly packed brunch spot where you’ll hear a dozen languages spoken.

El Autentico Pato Manila

Duck tacos. Duck tortas. Duck spring rolls. Duck wontons. The menu is simple but delicious. The restaurant claims to be “the most authentic of the taco shops in Mexico,” but there’s nothing authentic about its Mexi-Asian fusion. Who cares – it’s amazing.

Hot Mamma’s Kitchen

Louisiana-style chicken and waffles in Mexico? Yes. Not only does the fried chicken taste incredible, with a variety of flavours and spices to choose from, but the restaurant serves as a perfect location from where to watch the foot traffic of Avenida Nuevo Leon pass by.

Drink

Baltra Bar

Balta Bar is a cosy cocktail joint that’s so tiny that it can be hard to find a seat – but it’s worth trying your luck. The atmosphere is classy, the staff charming, and the drinks taste amazing. Try the mezcal negroni.

Deleted Souls

A cool spot that wears mixology on its sleeve, you go specifically to enjoy complex drink flavours with a healthy side of cocktail showmanship. It’s got a pleasantly dark, neon atmosphere to boot.

Bizarro Café

If you’re looking for a rough-around-the-edges dive to cater to the punk in you, this is it. With a rock and roll dungeon aesthetic and the occasional live performance, Bizarro Café is the perfect place to indulge in a bit of rowdiness.

Shop

99 Records

This place is great for two reasons. First, if you’re a music fan, it’s the sort of record shop where you’ll often find rarities that fell through the cracks and ended up in Mexico. Second, 99 Records has a diverse menu of cocktails and coffees for you to sip while you browse.

La Vida Boutique y Galeria

Lovers of vintage clothes and art should dip into La Vida, where there’s all sorts of weirdness to be found. Be ready to explore an array of colourful, eclectic jewellery, clothes, and other handicrafts.

Avenida Tamaulipas and Mercado Michoacan

While Mercado Michoacan leans more into fresh produce and a smattering of restaurant options, it also offers a healthy dose of handicrafts. From there, wander down Avenida Tamaulipas to explore random shops and street vendors.

Stay

Maria Condesa

The décor is pleasantly bohemian, the onsite bar a great place to meet fellow travellers, and the location of Maria Condesa is as central as it gets. And at roughly £130, the price is good too.

Mondrian Mexico City Condesa

If you’re looking to splurge, Mondrian offers a modernist, artistic aesthetic and balconies with outright awesome views. It has four sleek onsite restaurants to choose from as well.

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