It seems like every other week a friend of mine has been traveling to Mexico City, and I keep hearing how amazing this colorful city is! It’s a city that is high on my bucket list (especially since visiting the Frida Kahlo exhibit recently while in New York), so when I was chatting with St. Frank founder, Christina Bryant, and she told me about her frequent sourcing travels to Mexico City for the store, I immediately tapped her for her hot spots. Read on for her insider tips on this special city–where to stay, eat, drink, shop and what to pack.
1. Can you give us a little peek into your sourcing world and travels for St. Frank. And how often do you go to Mexico City?
Yes! As you know we work with artisans around the world who are working in traditional craft methods to produce our collection. We work in over two dozen countries around the world, but Mexican Otomí embroidery was in our original launch collection and since we’ve been working there for six years, we now work with seven additional artisan groups across Mexico–a forth generation Day of the Dead painter / sculpture, candlemakers, a Oaxacan embroidery workshop, and the four workshops making our tabletop line–handblown glass, black clay, red clay, and ironwood. I’m in Mexico City at least once a year for this and for fun–I have several close friends who live there.
2. How would you best describe the city?
It’s extremely beautiful and sophisticated and a true mix of cultures–Indigenous, Spanish, and American. It’s also huge (plan to avoid the traffic if you can) and diverse. The art and food scene is off the hook. I’m a nut for architecture and walking around Roma, Condesa, Centro Histórico, and beyond is truly breathtaking.
3. How many days / nights would you recommend going for and where to stay?
I would go for 4-5 days and then carry on to Oaxaca or another part of Mexico if this is your one and only visit. That said, I usually go for a long weekend–it’s not that far from New York! In terms of where to stay, if you’re looking for the most luxe experience, stay at Las Alcobas in Polanco. It’s a boutique hotel and very well done. Polanco is a fancy and safe residential area, but it is not my top choice for location because the streets are lined with luxury stores that you can find in the US for the most part. I prefer the Condesa and Roma neighborhoods and there are several boutique options there. I’ve heard good things about La Valisse and I will try it next time I’m there.
4. Favorite meals?
There are so many! It’s a true foodie destination. My favorite restaurant it Rosetta–go for lunch or dinner and ask to sit in the courtyard, which is lovely. Contramar is an absolute don’t-miss for a late, long lunch; order the tostada de atún, which is legendary and lives up to the hype! Casa Virginia is another favorite for dinner–charming. Everyone will tell you that Pujol is the best restaurant in Mexico City and I’m sure it’s great, but I haven’t been yet!
5. Best coffee?
It’s kind of a whole in the wall, but I love to start the day with a latte at Chiquitito Café (they also make a mean avocado toast).
6. Where to grab a drink?
Bistro Maximo has a great bar upstairs of the restaurant. The hotel Condesa DF also has a fun rooftop bar.
7. Where to shop?
Don’t miss Bazaar Sábado in San Angel, only open on Saturday mornings. Go around 11 AM. There’s great craft shopping there. Carla Fernández is a Mexican designer with a couple shops that are worth checking out. And, if you’re a sucker for bookstores, like me, try Casa Bosques.
8. Favorite cultural sights not to be missed?
Go to the Palacio Nacional and Palacio de Bella Artes in the Centro Histórico, also don’t miss historical sites and yoru dose of Diego Rivera murals. If you’re a craft addict like me, I also recommend the Museo de Arte Popular, which is not far from those sites, and has a great museum shop, too. Of course, you cannot miss Museo Frida Kahlo (and book tickets to avoid the line). If you’re staying long enough, it’s worth venturing outside of the city to the indigenous pyramid complex of Teotihuacan.
9. What are your favorite Mexico City finds that we can shop at St. Frank?
You can find our full Mexican collection here. My current favorites are our newly-released piggy bank, made in red clay in Oaxaca. I am gifting this to all my godchildren, but I’m going to get one for myself, too! How cute would this be on a stack of books in the entryway for loose change? I also love all of our black clay tabletop and I use those plates, bowls, and mugs daily. Espresso is the first step in my day and I just invested in a few more of these because I just love the handfeel. We recommend you wash these by hand, but I’ve been putting mine in the dishwasher and they’re fairing fine! And this was one of my very first designs and or original piece from Mexico, so it will always be a fave.
10. What should we be sure to pack for the trip?
You know, I think people often pack for Mexico City as if they are going to he beach or somewhere really off the beaten path. I pack for this place as if I’m going to Paris. A chic, walking-friendly outfit for day (think fashion sneakers / flats with a Rachel Comey dress, sunhat, and cross body bag) and then pull out ALL the stops for night. Let’s be clear, Mexican women know how to dress and are super femme. You know that feeling when you’re in Italy and look over at the chick pulling off stilettos and a Dolce top like she’s a Penelope Cruz doppelgänger? Yep. Be prepared to feel like ya gotta keep up!
Images courtesy of Christina Bryant and St. Frank