Photo (above) by Aaron Hicklin
If the neighboring hoods of Condesa and Roma don't disabuse you of any ideas of Mexico City as a noisy, dirty, polluted metropolis, nothing will. This gentrified area, with its art nouveau architecture and cafe society, could be twinned with New York City's West Village or L.A.'s Silver Lake, but with several advantages over those boho counterparts, including more trees and better nightlife.
Start your day with great coffee and a plate of huevos rancheros at Cafe Toscano (Orizaba 42), on the corner of Plaza Rio de Janeiro, and end it at Artemisia, a seductive absinthe bar in Roma. In between, pick up a quesadilla at the food market on Avenida Pachuca (Tuesdays only) and stroll through Parque Espana (Avenida Sonora), where muscle boys work out on the bars and dog-walkers promenade.
Photo below by Sarah Crumb
Channeling Porfiriana, an architectural portmanteau that wedded Europe's iron and wood with Mexico City's airiness and light, and sitting atop a collection of trendy shops anchored by the Garash Gallery, Romita Comedor is as well suited for a casual, open-air lunch as for a boozy night out. The menu's always stocked with Mexican favorites, including homemade guacamole with grillos, or crickets.
Alvaro Obregon 49; RomitaComedor.com
Photo by Sarah Crumb
Tom's Leather Bar
Named for the legendary gay erotica illustrator, Tom's is a come-as-you-are hole in the wall that caters to a mature, more seasoned crowd. With a dress code that's more of an incentive than a precondition, go-go boys who take it off south of the border, and skin flicks on loop, Tom's may be the best little leather bar in Mexico.
InsurgentesSur 357; Toms-Mexico.com
Photo of statue in Plaza Rio de Janeiro by Aaron Hicklin
The requisite neighborhood speakeasy-meets-absinthe bar takes mixology to the next level.
Tonala 23; MasionArtemisia.com
Photo courtesy of Artemisia
There are newer hotels, but this flagship of Grupo Habita (owner of The Americano in Manhattan) has a serene, relaxed elegance that complements the neighborhood. Rooms are set around a central courtyard, and the rooftop sushi restaurant, overlooking Parque Espana, is a standout. A turquoise and olive color scheme, Malin+Goetz toiletries, and free WiFi throughout complete the experience.
From $205 per night, Avenida Veracruz 102, CondesaDF.com
Photos by Undine Prohland Mike Berlin
The Indian nationalist revolutionary and founder of Mexico's communist party for whom this club is named would be baffled by M.N.Roy's scenes of privilege and excess, but music, as another great sage once said, makes the people come together. To be fair, music does trump all else at M.N.Roy, where there is no fancy, overpriced bottle service, and patrons are either dancing downstairs or smoking pot on the balcony up above. The design -- by French architects Emmanuel Picault and Ludwig Godefroy -- is pretty stellar, too, incorporating a timbered pyramid ceiling that summons the city's Mayan heritage.
Merida 186; MNRoyClub.com
Photo by Ramiro Chavez