I’ve never been a big fan of cookie-cutter, chain restaurants/shops (except in a pinch), so I am always excited to find a unique, locally-owned spot to spend my pennies (or pesos in this case). God knows there are zillions of non-chain options in Mexico City, but here are a few of the more amusing selections I’ve come across recently.
1) Itten Deco, Galileo 41B in Polanco, between Masaryk & Emilio Castelar
Their website is a bit sketch (i.e. half of the links appear to be decorative/ nonfunctional) so I couldn’t get too much background info from there, but the salesgirl told me the owner is a architect who does her own designs in acryllic + a variety of other materials. The main floor is primarily accessories & jewelry– placemats, coasters, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, etc. Upstairs, there are a some furniture pieces, pillows, other house decor, & some neat photos-on-canvas of Mexico scenes.
Don’t get so distracted by the wall hangings upstairs that you nail your shin on a near-invisible clear coffee table, as my mom will attest. 😉 Great spot for a unique, reasonably-priced gift; I loved the colored acrylic coasters that are a jumble of letters or numbers. You can find a pic of the exterior here.
Their website is also a bit worthless, but at least it has wee maps. Artefacto has primarily housewares & accessories, their website claims “ethnic-contemporary”. Prices are a bit spendier at this spot (i.e. $38k-$41k pesos for a very pretty couch), but there are smaller accessories (i.e pillows, stuffed animals, lots of stuff made of a beige-y onyx or marble stone that I love) that aren’t *too* crazy. If nothing else, it is fun to look/covet.
3) Maison Belen, Galileo 31 in Polanco at the corner of Emilio Castelar.
This cute little brekkie/lunch spot was opened just a couple months ago by a Cordon Bleu culinary school grad. The decor is the cutest ever, and they have gorgeous desserts (as well as tasty lunch entrees & sammies). I think this would be the perfect spot for a small baby or bridal shower– there is only 1 table inside, but it is surrounded by a sweet pink couch & crazily-upholstered chairs that seem to scream “girly celebration”. (The other tables are outside but under an awning & protected by plastic-y walls if it’s windy.) Stop by for a tasty capuccino or a light lunch (or what you think will be a light lunch until you realize you HAVE to eat dessert too).
4) El Encrucijada, Atlixco 168 in Condesa, between Alfonso Reyes & Campeche
This tiny wine bar is hidden on a residential-y street in Condesa. There about 5 seats at the bar, 5 seats looking out onto the street via an open-window bar built into the wall, and a handful of small bar-height tables. I’m a fan because they have a good selection of a variety of wines at a variety of price points, impressively starting at $120 pesos for an Argentine red (though suspiciously that wasn’t in stock last time we visited…conspiracy??). 😉 There is some kind of regulation in DF regarding certain places that serve booze require you to order food w/your drink, so your group has to order *something* small to eat along with your wine. Ok, twist my arm. They have tapas-esque piles of meats, cheese & olives, as well as bread slices with a variety of tasting toppings (i.e. olive tapenade- my fav).
This is definitely not a see-and-be-seen kinda place, but more of a great hole-in-the-wall to go with a small group or for a drink before dinner (and not drop $100 pesos on a fancy cocktail elsewhere in Condesa!) El Encrucijada is open from 6PM everyday but Sunday, until midnight M-W, 1AM on Thurs, and 2AM on the weekend. Website is again fairly worthless (a theme here), but see a few blurry pics below that I tried to snap all subtle-like w/o a flash.
These are just a few of the more niche-y, small fun (and fresa-ish) spots I’ve tracked down so far. Any chilangos have other amusing insider tips they’d be willing to share??