Crafts for sale at the Plaza San Jacinto in San Ángel.
POOR Mexico City. Just as it was luring back travelers with cool new hotels, a flourishing contemporary art scene and semi-endurable pollution levels, Mexico’s escalating drug violence became front-page news. Then the capital became a swine flu epicenter. Suddenly, a run for the border didn’t seem like such a smart idea. Ready for the truth? The time to visit this megacity — about 20 million people live in the metropolitan area — has rarely been better. Eager to attract people again, luxury hotels are offering specials that slash room rates by up to 65 percent. More restaurants, hotels and art galleries have sprung up in chic neighborhoods like Condesa and Roma. And Mexico City has probably never been this clean: even the street vendors now cart around big bottles of hand sanitizer.
1) AZTEC ASSIMILATION
A stroll through Condesa, the lush neighborhood where Paris Hilton frolicked when she visited (don’t hold that against it), will quickly vanquish the stereotype of Mexico City as an unsafe eyesore. Start at Parque Mexico (intersection of Avenida Sonora and Avenida Mexico), where locals and their dogs mix with hipsters en route to sidewalk espresso bars. A Macarena dance contest (irony included) was in full swing in the band shell on a recent weekend. Atlixco, a side street nearby, is becoming a hub for boutiques. Soho Condesa (Atlixco 100B; 52-55-5553-1730) serves up funky sunglasses on fur-lined shelves, while Milagro (Atlixco 38, www.collection-milagro.com) has colorful handbags embroidered by local artists.
2) RESTAURANT ROW
The posh district of Polanco, with its leafy streets named after famous writers, is the center of the city’s foodie scene. There are newer restaurants — Astrid & Gastón (Tennyson 117; 52-55-5282-2666; astridygaston.com), the latest from the Peruvian restaurateur Gastón Acurio, opened with a splash about a year ago. But the young, moneyed crowd still flocks to an older favorite: Ivoire (Emilio Castelar 95; 52-55-5280-0477). The French-Mexican menu can be hit and miss (try the lobster risotto with azafrán for 250 pesos, or $20 at 12.5 pesos to the dollar), but the buzzy rooftop bar with candle-lit views makes up for it.
3) NO WORM, JUST CHICKEN
Mezcal, once spurned as the poor man’s tequila in Mexico and historically sold in the United States with a gimmicky worm floating inside, was embraced by trend setters here a few years ago and the craze continues. La Botica (Campeche 396, Condesa; 52-55-5211-6045; labotica.com.mx) serves up over 30 varieties, including one steeped with chicken breasts during distillation. Locals insist that the chicken softens the alcohol’s smoky flavor, and they are right. Sip, don’t slam.
4) ART INJECTION
Two stars of the contemporary art world — Gabriel Orozco and Miguel Calderón — have been nurtured by the quirky Kurimanzutto Gallery (Rafael Rebollar 94; 52-55-5256-2408; kurimanzutto.com), which moved into a renovated lumber yard in San Miguel last fall. Older galleries are clustered in the adjacent Roma district, including OMR (Plaza Rio de Janeiro 54; 52-55-5207-1080; galeriaomr.com), which handles artists like Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, known for working with electronics and sound.
5) NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Visiting art dealers and collectors often head to Contramar (Durango 200, Roma; 52-55-5514-3169; contramar.com.mx) for lunch, feasting on raw-tuna-topped tostadas and basking in the see-and-be-seen atmosphere. Another lunch spot, which has landed on several best-new-restaurant lists, is Fonda la Veracruzana (Medellín 198, Roma; 52-55-5574-0474). Decorated with white- and green-checkered tablecloths, it serves impossibly fresh Peruvian seafood dishes at bargain prices (44 pesos for a “small” portion of the ceviche, which came in a giant sundae glass). The salty fried shrimp with garlic (110 pesos) was good, too.
6) BIZARRE BAZAAR
You’ve done high art, now go low. Bazar del Sábado (Plaza de San Jacinto, San Ángel) is a Saturday flea market where locals and tourists alike go to haggle for deals on handicrafts (blankets, baskets, jewelry) and chat with street artists. Pick up a glittery, kitschy Our Lady of Guadalupe box shrine (about 155 pesos) and don’t miss the adjacent flower market, a dank but fascinating rabbit warren of cement stalls displaying over-the-top arrangements like a lion’s head made out of yellow spider mums.
7) OUR LADY FRIDA
Homage must be paid to Frida Kahlo, the seemingly ubiquitous unibrowed painter and wife of the muralist Diego Rivera. Most visitors head to her former home, now Museo Frida Kahlo (Londres 247, Coyoacan; 52-55-5554-5999; www.museofridakahlo.org.mx). In the former home of a socialite art collector, the Museo Dolores Olmedo is a less touristy gem (Avenida Mexico 5843, Xochimilco; 52-55-5555-1221; museodoloresolmedo.org.mx) where some of Kahlo’s famous canvases hang. Look for the self-portrait depicting her spine as a broken stone column.
8 ) PARADE, FLOAT
Get in touch with your inner Aztec with a visit to the nearby “floating gardens” of Xochimilco (www.xochimilco.df.gob.mx). This network of shallow canals, where early settlers farmed on artificial islands, is a remnant of the lake that once covered part of the valley where Mexico City rests. Locals arrive on weekends for raucous fiestas on trajineras, wooden boats painted in wild colors that can seat as many as 20 people. Hire your own boat for about 160 pesos an hour . Other boats sell food (tacos, circles of jicama on a stick) and beer. Feel like joining the party? Hire a mariachi band (prices vary) to sail with you.
9) GASTRONOMIC GLITZ
Rejoin the 21st century at Distrito Capital (Juan Salvador Agraz 37; 52-55-5257-1300; hoteldistritocapital.com), a sleek restaurant that opened last year in a skyscraper in the ritzy Santa Fe business district. The chef Enrique Olvera — the force behind Pujol, one of the city’s fanciest restaurants — serves up a more casual menu here of surf (sea bass marinated with guajillo peppers and garlic in a pineapple sauce, 195 pesos) and turf (New York steak with guacamole and prickly pears, 250 pesos). If it’s a clear night, the hotel offers spectacular views of the volcanoes beyond the city.
10) IT’S (NOT) A DRAG
The Ballet Folklórico? That’s for wimps. Downtown — still a shady area at night, so leave the jewelry behind — is a cabaret show that is as outlandish and bizarre as it is exhilarating. At itty-bitty La Perla (República de Cuba 44, Centro; 52-55-1997-7695), drag queens bedazzled within an inch of their lives entertain a multigenerational crowd of (mostly heterosexual) locals. Couples dance salsa between shows; the cover is 120 pesos. Have your picture taken with the impersonator Lupita D’Alessio, the Liza Minnelli of Mexico.
11) FREE RIDE
After a busy Saturday, unwind on a bicycle: the government lends them free (with helmet) from kiosks along the Paseo de la Reforma, although you may want to skip the line and rent one from vendors set up in front of the National Museum of Anthropology (Paseo de la Reforma at Gandhi; 52-55-5553-6381; mna.inah.gob.mx). The Paseo de la Reforma, modeled in part on the Champs-Élysées, is closed to cars on Sundays until early afternoon to accommodate bicyclists. It’s liberating to zoom through the circular plaza marking the Mexican War of Independence — and not only because it is usually choked with traffic. A good pit stop is the entrance to the Bosque de Chapultepec, the city’s largest park, where vendors sell freshly peeled, spice-covered oranges for a few pesos.
12) CACAO MEXICAN STYLE
Reward yourself with Mexican chocolates from Princesse Cacao (Fernando Montes de Oca 81, Condesa; 52-55-5211-0276). The newish chocolatier specializes in artisanal candy from Tabasco and Chiapas, the two southern Mexican states where some historians say chocolate was invented, or at least refined (about 13 pesos apiece). Fabuloso!
Continental, Delta and AeroMexico fly to Mexico City from New York, starting at $434, according to a recent online search. For safety reasons, avoid hailing a cab when you arrive at the airport. Rather, arrange for a pickup from your hotel ahead of time. If you forget, hire a licensed taxi from inside the airport.
The Four Seasons (Paseo de la Reforma 500; 52-55-5230-1818; fourseasons.com/mexico) is the roost of choice for luxury travelers. Aside from its well-coordinated car service, the hotel is known for its azalea- and myrtle-filled central courtyard. Special weekend rates start at about 2,125 pesos, or about $170 at 12.5 pesos to the dollar.
The hipper-than-thou Condesa DF (Avenida Veracruz, N. 102; 52-55-5241-2600; condesadf.com) opened five years ago and is still ground zero for urban cool and celebrities, who flock to its atrium bar. Bring earplugs. Rooms start at 2,066 pesos.
***Also if you need a 1, 2 or 3 room apartment at Polanco, Lomas de Chapultepec, Tecamachalco or Zona Rosa, you could stay with us. Check our webpage www.khsuites.com *** (Info added by the editor of this blog, but it could suit your needs.)
Article take from: NY Times Also more info here.