Neighborhood guides: Live like a local in Zona Rosa, Mexico City
15 Dec 2021
Zona Rosa is where you should go if you like the sound of browsing local artisan stores, and sitting and eating while people-watching from the veranda of a street-side café. This striking barrio (neighbourhood in Spanish) was named after a large number of the buildings were painted pink during the early 20th century when the area was mostly residential.
Nowadays, Zona Rosa (in particular Amberes Street) stands out as being the neighborhood with a strong LGBTQ+ community. While the area’s heyday may have been in the swinging 60s, you’ll still notice the sex shops and dimly lit 90s-era clubs scattered about the streets.
When in this part of the city, you should also visit the barrio coreano (Korean neighborhood). Recently, Zona Rosa has become home to a growing Korean community, fusing the two different cultures, while also introducing all things Korean: cuisine, products, clothes and of course, karaoke.
Here are the spots we recommend.
Blom is a female-founded cafe, which is unusual in Mexico City. Owner, Viridiana, likes to keep things local, from the beans to the artwork on the walls - even the logo was designed from a nearby graphic artist. You might not expect to see an iced matcha latte on the menu in MEX, but you shouldn’t overlook it here.
Casa Bell is the lunch-only café that will peak the interest of any design aficionado. The picturesque location offers fine food with a side of serenading - you’ll notice caged birds line the courtyard walls. If you only have one dish, make it the "pato Bell," a platter of minced duck para taquear (for taco-izing).
La Beatricita has been a fixture of Zona Rosa's high-energy neighborhood since the early 1970s. More of a restaurant than a taquería, the orange-walled space works for both lunch and dinner. From the lengthy list of tacos, we recommend the crisp-tender chunks of slow-cooked carnitas and the chewy stewed pork rinds, chicharrón guisado, in a sharp tomatillo sauce.
Kinky has three floors of fun - food on the first, cabaret on the second, and a terrace for dancing on the third. Much like the clubs in New York’s Chelsea in the 1990s, all bartenders are bare-chested. Expect to dance into the early hours to both English and Spanish music.
From Naples to Mexico City via New York, Dr Pizza is a welcome newcomer to Mexico City’s pizza scene. You’ll discover an extensive menu of pies named after famous and fictional doctors at the stripped-back location.
Librería Jorge Cuesta
If you’re looking for second-hand books, this is the spot. This labyrinthine of a shop has stacks on stacks of used, and mostly Spanish-language books. If you like a bookstore to lose yourself in, this is it.
Querencia is a cool and conscious plant shop. It’s perfect for eco-friendly cosmetics, ceramics, plates, pots and, of course, actual flora.
Incendiarias is the neighborhood’s feminist bazaar. Its conception centred around creating a physical space for and by women artists and designers. Now it acts as a collective, “a network of women from different latitudes who have a common home: incendiaries."
Loose Blues is a vintage-inspired lifestyle shop that stocks brands from Japan, the US, as well as local Mexican designers too. Above the shop floor, there’s also a Dining Bar, where you can taste the delicious fusion of Japanese and Mexican cuisines. Expect to hear jazz, blues, and funk music that perfectly sets the mood.
Don’t miss Taco Tuesdays at Lucio, a taqueria by five best friends who managed to capture the essence of the neighborhood in their food and mood. Each week, a guest chef creates a one-night-only taco menu that’s best enjoyed with tepache, a house-signature fermented pineapple drink.
After dinner, take a stroll down to Joe Gelato for dessert. We recommend asking for the secret menu: it’s here you’ll find maiz gelato topped with smoky pox, a popular corn liquor first used by the Mayans in religious ceremonies.
For an elevated evening, opt for dinner at Amaya. This Baja-Mediterranean restaurant takes its cue from chef Jaír Telléz, who is known to have introduced the first-ever exclusively natural wine list in Mexico here.