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??