Brimming with artisans, colonial charm, and a thriving community of creative expats, San Miguel de Allende has scored a spot on the bucket lists of design fans for years. But recently, a new hotspot in Mexico has been taking over everyone’s Insta feed with snaps of chic homewares, stunning hotels, and perfectly composed plates of food: Mexico City. We asked two avid fans of Mexico City, Chairish’s own creative director Brigitte Monet Boyer, and interior designer Grant Gibson (who is leading a boutique travel experience to the capital city in 2020, just so you know), to share the ultimate insider’s itinerary. And for devotees of San Miguel, we’ve got you covered with our shortlist of where to eat, stay, shop, and an entire collection devoted to the city!
Topping both Brigitte and Grant’s must-eat list, this buzzy spot features seafood as the star and lunches last well into the evening. “I am still dreaming of the raw tuna tostadas,” says Grant.
For Mid-Century Modern fans, the new location of foodie-favorite, Pujol, is a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.
Elena Reygadas’s Eatery Empire
The various eateries helmed by chef Elena Reygadas are local favorites, and for good reason. Visit Lardo for café-style dining, Rosetta, her Italian-inspired eatery in the now-famous Roma neighborhood, Pandería Rosetta, where morning lines form for traditional conchas, guava and ricotta rolls, flaky croissants, and other “yummy baked goods,” as Grant says, and now Café Nin, a sandwich and salad affair.
Looking for a low-key taqueria? “El Califa is sort of Mexican fast food. Cheap, fresh, but delicious,” says Grant.
For the food hall experience, Brigitte suggests a visit to the indoor Parián Condesa, where you’ll find organic produce, smoked meats, not to mention the restaurant famously devoted to Oaxacan cooking, Pasillo de Humo.
GRANT’S INSIDER TIP: EAT MEXICO
“A chef friend suggested doing a food tour. For four hours, Paco guided us on a private culinary walk through the markets and street vendors. The Gourmet San Juan Market was a highlight, including a cheese and mole tasting, and shopping for dried chilies.”
BRIGITTE’S INSIDER TIP: DRINKS!
“Visit Baltra in the Condesa has incredible, inventive cocktails. If you’re in a mezcal mood, also in Condesa is La Clandestina, where you can try tons of different mezcals, or stop into the tiny nearby mezcal bar La Botica.”
“Check out the home decor concept store Roma Quince,” advises Grant. “They’ve gathered a handful of supremely tasteful, local textiles in an old restored mansion in the Roma.”
“Onora is filled with contemporary housewares in monochromatic colors of black, gray and white,” says Grant. But modern isn’t all that’s on offer. “They carry beautiful, local, hand-crafted home items from Oaxaca, Chiapas and Puebla.”
Among Brigitte’s favorites is this gallery store, offering a curated collection of modernist design and furniture pieces from both Mexican and international designers. Eras range from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, to contemporary creations.
Curation is the name of the game at this homewares store, where most of the items are either purchased or commissioned from local makers.
GRANT’S INSIDER TIP: FLEA MARKETS
Grant describes Centro Artesanal La Ciudadela as “a designer’s dream. It’s a huge market filled with artisanal products from all over Mexico. I always love picking up housewares when traveling.” At this market specifically, Grant suggests looking for the stunning handmade pottery made from black clay, known as Barro Negro, from San Bartolo Coyotepec in Oaxaca. For a Sunday flea market, his go-to is Mercado Lagunilla. “Antiques, plenty of junk to sift through—but treasures abound!” Grant also loves El Bazaar Sábado, which is on Saturday, as the name implies. “This market is in the beautiful cobbled stone streets of San Angel. A little bit more folksy, but discoveries can be made.”
Casa Luis Barragán
“It is hard to pick a highlight of the trip, but this might take the prize,” says Grant of his visit to the home of the Pritkzer Prize-winning Mexican architect Luis Barragán. “For years, I have been an admirer of his use of texture, light, geometric forms and color, which are like nothing that I have seen before. Worth a visit and paying extra for the right to photograph. In 2004, it was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because it is one of the most influential and representative examples of modern Mexican architecture. Make sure to book far ahead of time—I booked a month in advance and was able to snag the last tickets.”
Palacio de Bellas Artes
Also on Grant’s list is this architectural gem located in the heart of Mexico City. “Construction began at the turn of the century when architects were fascinated by Beaux Arts and Art Nouveau, but the project was halted during the Mexican Revolution,” shares Grant. “It was ultimately completed in 1934, in Art Deco style, and the result is nothing short of spectacular. Don’t miss the murals!”
Contemporary Art Museums
Mexico City has a thriving contemporary art scene, and both Brigitte and Grant named Museo Rufino Tamayo, located in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park, as a must-see. “It has a wonderful collection of modern and contemporary art,” says Grant. Another of Brigitte’s favorites is the Museo Jumex, which opened in 2013 and focuses on contemporary art.
Museo Frida Kahlo
You shouldn’t leave town without a visit to Casa Azul, or the Blue House, which is the former residence of Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera, and has since been dedicated to Kahlo’s life and work. Take a tip from Grant and plan ahead. “If you book online you can avoid the long lines wrapped around the block,” he advises.
The Red Tree House
“Suggested by a few friends, it is a cross between a boutique hotel and a B&B,” says Grant. “Set in the Condesa neighborhood, the owners did a complete renovation of the beautiful 1930’s home. The staff (and Abril the dog) couldn’t be any nicer or more helpful. There’s a different homemade Mexican breakfast each morning and wine in the courtyard after exploring all day. A perfect way to meet and chat with travelers from around the world.”
Located in the cobblestoned Centro neighborhood of Mexico City, and housed in a 17th century converted-mansion, old-world charm and modern comforts collide at this hotel. With a rooftop pool, two fantastic restaurants, and tons of shops, it’s an experience unto itself.
SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE: The Shortlist
Lead Photo by Carlos Aguilar / Unsplash