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Mexico City's Stylish New Venues

The latest offerings in Mexico’s capital are bringing an extra dose of style south of the border. Here, the lowdown.

By Aric Chen

Stay

The latest addition to the grand Paseo de la Reforma is the St. Regis Mexico City (doubles from $430). Inside, 189 neutral-toned, Yabu Pushelberg–designed rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of the city center. Amid the luxury-brand shops of the upscale Polanco district, north of the city’s Chapultepec Park, Las Alcobas (doubles from $275), also by Yabu Pushelberg, is refreshingly intimate: beds in the 35 rooms are covered with embroidered linens, while bathrooms have whirlpools and steam jets. You’ll find a younger vibe at Great ValueRoom Mate Valentina (doubles from $150), which opened in April in midtown’s Zona Rosa nightlife hub. Magenta sofas and textured wall patterns add a playful touch to the 62 sleek, white rooms. And southeast of the park, in chic and leafy Condesa, Great Value Condesa DF (doubles from $175; dinner for two $80) has become one of the city’s most fashionable addresses, thanks to its buzzy scene (including the popular El Patio Japanese-Mexican fusion restaurant) and relaxed, vintage-inspired design.

Eat

A posh crowd lunches at seafood specialist Contramar (lunch for two $70) in the historic Roma neighborhood northeast of Condesa. Get to this standard-bearer for the tuna tostadas and fluke ceviche before the restaurant closes at 7:30 p.m. Rosetta (dinner for two $61), also in Roma, is where the glitterati head for local celebrity chef Elena Reygadas’s Italian fare (octopus carpaccio; asparagus risotto), served in a restored Belle Époque mansion. In Polanco, the minimalist interior of Biko (dinner for two $115) sets the stage for a Basque-inspired menu that contrasts classic dishes—sea bass in clam sauce—with such experimental interpretations as boneless short rib de la olla, slowly cooked with raisins, piñon, and cinnamon. If you’re in the mood for good old-fashioned frijoles or pork-topped tacos al pastor, don’t miss Condesa’s Taquería El Califa (dinner for two $20), which serves some of the best Mexican comfort food around.

Art Scene

The city of Frida and Diego hasn’t lost its creative edge, thanks to a handful of pioneering museums and galleries. On the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneoshowcases contemporary international and Mexican artists such as Gabriel Orozco in a soaring, light-filled building unveiled in 2008. The Museo Universitario del Chopo is an early-20th-century building turned experimental art and performance hall that was recently redesigned by star architect Enrique Norten. Chapultepec Park’s Museo Tamayomounts excellent exhibitions—currently, by Guadalajara conceptualist Jorge Méndez Blake—and is undergoing expansion. To see the latest in emerging art, head to KurimanzuttoOMR, and Proyectos Monclova, a trio of galleries known for staging the city’s most cutting-edge exhibitions. Keep an eye out for a giant chimney stack of a building housing billionaire Carlos Slim’s Museo Soumaya. Designed by Rem Koolhaas protégé Fernando Romero, it’s scheduled to open at the end of the year in Nuevo Polanco.

Shop

Even if you don’t look like a Mexican movie star, you can dress the part at Condesa’s NaCo Miscelánea. This purveyor of hipster sportswear was cofounded by actor Diego Luna (Y Tu Mamá También). For vintage Luis Barragán chairs and other Modernist Mexican furniture, look to Roma’s Chic by Accident. The co-owner also opened the nearby La Valise, a combination art-and-literature bookstore, objets shop, and photography gallery. And be among the first to check out Celeste House, from the group behind the Mexico City–based indie fashion magazine of the same name. Opened last month in a renovated 1940’s house in Polanco, it is stocked with everything from Christian Louboutin shoes to 19th-century Latin American silver. Its third-floor English tearoom transforms into a champagne bar at night.

Mexico City International Airport

With the 2007 opening of Terminal 2, Benito Juárez International Airport gave Mexico City yet another gallery. The 7,000-square-foot T2 Exhibition Center (aicm.com.mx) is now showing artifacts from Mayan, Zapotec, and other pre-Columbian Mexican civilizations. Also in T2, a new outpost of Pineda Covalin translates the colors and symbols of Mexico’s rich culture into stylish scarves, ties, shoes, bags, earrings, and cuff links.

Safety Advisory: The U.S. Department of State has issued a warning about travel to Mexico, especially to border towns. Mexico City has been relatively secure, but travelers should exercise caution. For more information, visittravel.state.gov.