If I had a peso for every feather-hat-wearing, turquoise-pendant-toting gringo I saw walking the cobbled, leafy loop of Avenida Amsterdam, I’d be able to afford the rising cost of a cappuccino in Condesa. I’m only joking (but not really), as Condesa certainly is Mexico City’s latest borough to make international waves, which can be seen in its rising culinary prowess—and the sheer number of foreigners moving here.
After going strong for nearly six years in the Colonia Juárez neighborhood of Mexico City, I had a change of heart. It happened suddenly, mostly thanks to a party held at a Condesa apartment (yes, it was hosted by an ex-New Yorker) that went from the evening well into the morning. It was around daybreak, from the comfort of a rooftop Jacuzzi, that I saw the view: It was a completely unobstructed vista of the Castillo de Chapultepec, which would be akin to viewing Central Park—while in a hot tub. At that moment, I decided I had to take the plunge, too. If I couldn’t beat them, I was going to join them. So I, too, packed my bags and moved to Condesa earlier this year. When I did, a Mexican friend jokingly asked me, “Mija, has your English improved?” (I was born in the States, and English is my first language, for what it’s worth!)
The castle views got me first—the silhouettes of the mountains and volcanoes, second—and then the parks. The neighborhood is home to both Parque México and Parque España, as well as a short walk away from the Bosque de Chapultepec, the city’s largest green space. And out of all the neighborhoods in Mexico City, Condesa is receiving the most investment in terms of hospitality. Andaz and the Mondrian recently opened, as well as Hotel San Fernando by Bunkhouse Group. Then there are the restaurant and café openings, which show no sign of slowing and are only increasing this leafy neighborhood’s demand.
From a Jewish delicatessen offering the best schnitzel and salty dill pickles in town to a Mexican-German chef serving up buttery lemon pasta that would leave even the most die-hard fan of Italian cuisine impressed, Condesa is officially on the map when it comes to where to eat and imbibe in Mexico City.
Here, your guide to the best eateries in Condesa.
Cafés and Bakeries
The uptick in development in Condesa comes with its morning delights, including some of the city’s best new cafés. The most popular of them all is Mendl, a Jewish delicatessen that has the feel of a retro New York diner. At the entrance, you’ll find a window to order cappuccinos and buttery babka to hold you over as you wait for your table to be ready. Once inside or seated at the outdoor pavilion, it can be a tough choice to narrow down your order. Options include eggs and lox with fried potato latkes you can dunk in thick cream sauce or perfectly crisp chicken schnitzel with a side of dill pickles.
If the lines are too long, or you’re looking for a grab-and-go option, then head over to the café’s sister spot: Quentin on Avenida Amsterdam (there are a few outposts in the city—use Google Maps wisely). Here, you’ll find the same delicious coffee and chai lattes as at Mendl and even more pastries, including one of the best chocolate banana bread slices in the city—it’s half dipped in powdered sugar and reminiscent of a yin-yang symbol.
Also nearby is another cult-favorite bakery where lines can run long. Saint is not only beloved for its coffee, as many residents, myself included, go exclusively to get one of the café’s flaky almond croissants. Keep tabs on the Canopia Instagram. This afternoon hang is constantly hosting a rotating menu of events, from brunches with DJs to dumpling and wine nights. On the other side of Parque México is Hule, a café by day that transitions into a vinyl bar and natural wine den on weekend evenings. If you do go in the morning, the cold brew with housemade horchata is not to be missed.
Restaurants and Taquerías
While Ciena has the feel of an all-day café, this restaurant has an impressive menu of small plates that can have you continuously ordering for an entire afternoon, especially with its coffee bar, aperitivo menu, and variety of cookie options. Dishes include leafy salad starters (kale, spinach, and endive) and more robust plates like a crispy chicken sandwich served on a buttery brioche bun or ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese and topped with cherry tomatoes and basil.
For a more formal dining experience, two recent additions stand out. One is Botánico, an open-air restaurant set within the courtyard of a renovated Art Deco home. At the restaurant’s center is a giant cactus with a small pond at its base. Within it are dozens of swimming axolotl, an aquatic salamander the Aztecs revered as an embodiment of the god of fire and lightning. Not-to-miss dishes crafted by chefs Alejandra Navarro and Ernesto Hernández include crispy tuna tostadas topped with a smoky salsa matcha sauce and decadent grilled pork chops made creamy with white bean puree and a cactus salad.
But the best may be Anónimo by the Mexican-German chef Klaus Mayr. Not only is the playlist ever-impressive (from Tupac to Bad Bunny to Kendrick Lamar), but the pasta is perhaps the best the city has to offer. If you go with a group of friends, order everything, especially the decadent and delicious Bolognese pizza topped with a swoon-worthy, tomato-based beef sauce.
Finally, if you want to keep it casual and grab a quick meal before or after cocktails, opt for one of the two best taco bars in Condesa. There’s El Greco (for al pastor and tacos arabes) and El Güero (for tacos de guisado, or various types of stewed meat), which are conveniently located only a few blocks in distance.
Wine and Cocktail Bars
In the evening, there are plenty of sleek spots to slip in to enjoy a glass of natural wine, including NIV, the newest wine bar in the neighborhood. Featuring an extensive program of female winemakers from around the world, some of the most delicious pours include a spicy pinot noir from California to a full-bodied white Roussane from the Rhone Valley in France.
Be sure to order from the small-but-mighty menu, from the best baba ganoush in the city to a raviolo al’ uovo that’s buttered perfection. Just across the street is another newcomer, Malcriado, where the Chiapas-sourced coffee and desserts (sticky toffee pudding, anyone?) are as delicious as the bottles of orange wine.
If dinner at Ciena is on the books, then it’s an easy choice to head upstairs to Ololo, a speakeasy-style cocktail den that specializes in the art of crafting a classic martini. On select nights, the bar welcomes in some of the city’s top DJs, who spin their vinyl well into the morning hours. For a little more upbeat night out, there’s Caimán, a wine bar that can turn rowdy come midnight. For late-late night, head back to Canopia, which turns into Siqe come dark. Expect a DJ and a crowd of cool kids with mezcal in hand.
This article was originally published on Vogue.com