I'm an Art Deco-holic, so it's no surprise that Condesa - a Mexico City neighbourhood built around an old racecourse - made my little heart sing. Apparently, when it comes to architecture from the 20s-40s, it's right up there with Miami and Brussels - cities where apartment blocks, public buildings and shops have been preserved en masse. In this case, it's because developers overlooked the once-grimy neighbourhood in the 60s and 70s, when other areas were being modernized; Condesa was only rediscovered by the cool crowd in the Nineties and is now thoroughly gentrified. One of the most charming things about it is that it's built in a loop, literally on an old race course, with a park in the centre (Parque Mexico). The leafy streets radiate out from this quietly lush pocket, and they're filled with chic chilangos walking their dogs and sitting in sidewalk cafes. We joined them, walking miles every day. Other than just gawping, eating street tacos and taking 364 photos of doors, here were some highlights...
Ground zero for urban cool is Condesa DF (Avenida Veracruz 102), a design-centric boutique hotel housed in a former apartment building. Stay in one of the airy rooms or visit the rooftop bar for sunset drinks with chic Condesans.
The D.F. tradition of long, lively lunch at Contramar (Calle Durango, 200) shouldn’t be missed. The stylish seafood restaurant is a gathering place for chic chilangos who spend hours at the hot spot, dining on the hot-spot's famous tuna tostada and grilled whole fish smothered in divorciado, a sauce that's half green and half red.
When in Mexico, trying mescal is a must—and there are plenty of mezcalerias dotted about town to help you tick that box. Two of the best are in Condesa: La Botica (Campeche 396) and La Clandestina (Alvaro Obregon 298). Enjoy little glasses of the agave distillation from the Oaxaca region with a plate of orange wedges spiked with chili.
Antojeria La Bonita, (Tamaulipas 104) is a modern cantina that serves updated casual classics. Don’t miss the central Mexican classic, pulque, a milky alcoholic beverage beloved by the Aztecs that’s made from the maguey plant.
In a tradition that harks back to Aztec times, Tuesday’s tianguis (market), on Agustin Melgar, is where you’ll find incredible street food (think blue corn tlacoyo cakes, stuffed with huitlacoche and cactus) as well as locals picking up their fruit, vegetables and even freshly-butchered meat. Don't miss it!
A tiny hole in the wall store at the base of a huge Art Deco apartment block, The Right Choice (Agustin Melgar, 2) is packed to the rafters with furniture and objets d’art from the 1940s to the 1970s.
Have you been to Condesa? Did we miss out on anything? That's cool, because we're totally going back.