Midwesterner in Mexico header image

Unique shopping & snacking in DF

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.

Shopping:

1) Itten Deco, Galileo 41B in Polanco, between Masaryk & Emilio Castelar

Here are a few of their acrylic coasters; some are opaque, some translucent.

Here are a few of their acrylic coasters; some are opaque, some translucent.

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.

Acrylic bracelets in various colors; necklaces & earrings are available in similar, smaller designs

Acrylic bracelets in various colors; necklaces & earrings are available in similar, smaller designs

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.

A variety of other table decor available at Itten!

A variety of other table decor available at Itten!

2) Artefacto, Amatlan 94 in Condesa between Michoacan & Campeche, OR Luis G Urbina 74 in Polanco just west of Julio Verne.

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.

My mom got us an early Crimmas present of this bedspread & 3 matching pillows from Artefacto. Very fun!

My mom got us an early Crimmas present of this bedspread & 3 matching pillows from Artefacto. Very fun!

Eating:

3) Maison Belen, Galileo 31 in Polanco at the corner of Emilio Castelar.

How tasty does this lime meringue tart look, with its little edible flowers on the side? Highly recommended...

How tasty does this lime meringue tart look, with its little edible flowers on the side? Highly recommended...

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).

The main table inside Maison Belen... I must have those chairs...

The main table inside Maison Belen... I must have those chairs...

Here's the standard menu; during lunch it's also accompanied by 3-4 specials that are usually quite tasty.

Here's the standard menu; during lunch it's also accompanied by 3-4 specials that are usually quite tasty.

4) El Encrucijada, Atlixco 168 in Condesa, between Alfonso Reyes & Campeche

A great locale to solve the world's problems over what ends up being ~1 bottle of wine per person.... ;)

A great locale to solve the world's problems over what ends up being ~1 bottle of wine per person.... ;)

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).

Here's the bar + some of the wine storage @ El Encrucijada

Here's the bar + some of the wine storage @ El Encrucijada

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.

Tasty snacky bits ala tapas in Spain, overlooking the open window seating area. The bottle of water is a rarity...

Tasty snacky bits ala tapas in Spain, overlooking the open window seating area. The bottle of water is a rarity...

And a blurry view of the wine menu scribbled on the wall...

And a blurry view of the wine menu scribbled on the wall...

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??

Bookmark and Share
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

7 Comments on “Unique shopping & snacking in DF”

  1. #1 Joy
    on Nov 7th, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Awesome, and our red eyes in the group pic — makes us look more sloshed than we were really were (right?)

  2. #2 Alice
    on Nov 8th, 2009 at 4:23 pm

    So that’s the cool acrylic! I love those bracelets. May need to stop on over for some of those.

  3. #3 Sak
    on Nov 12th, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Oh man… if this is where you’ve been eating… you don’t know mexico at all!!

    I’ve lived here for a good 18 years of my life (give or take) and taught my share of americans what Mexico really is, and I have to tell you, I’m yet to get any complaints.

    I don’t mean to be rude, but honestly, the places you’re showing are made for tourists and mexican pompous-snobby-wannabes, which is not to say the two are the same, but that only that kind of mexican would eat in a place like that, even on a “special occasion” you would go to a place selling some other kind of food, not overly fancy everyday food (which this is).

    The very first thing I tell tourists that come to me is “eat anywhere on the street and avoid fancy restaurants” and the reason isn’t only the fact that they will charge you 10 times more than they should, but that so far, every single tourist I’ve taken around has LOVED the taco stands (yeah those that seem to have NO concept of hygiene whatsoever), the tortas, quesadillas, mueganos, churros, panes, etc. that you find on the street (those in La Merced and Central de Abastos are some of the best), and NEVER gotten sick from it, however, those who have tried VIPS or Burger King, or El Lago, or any other sort of fancy place (even “well established” sushi places) have wished they never even thought of it….

    Not entirely sure why they get sick from those, but they sure do. The only “dangerous” stands I’ve found in here so far are those INSIDE chapultepec, actually, those the government regulates. Because even the ones OUTSIDE that no one cares to lay a hand on are DELICIOUS and sooooooo cheap!

  4. #4 Sarah
    on Nov 13th, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    Man, that guy above reeeeally knows Mexico [insert sarcasm here]. Lame!

    Those places look adorable. I’m planning a visit to Mexico City and I’ve found your blog to be very helpful, informative and entertaining. I’m definitely going to get my fill of taco stands while the getting is good (yea!), but it’s also great to know a cute place in Condesa to get a glass of wine.

    Thanks so much!

  5. #5 Julie
    on Nov 16th, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Hi Sak, Thanks for your comments. I certainly agree with your point regarding street food & taco stands being a ‘must do’ in DF, and we’ve definitely had our fair share of 5-10 peso tacos!! However, I would also argue that “Man cannot live by tacos alone.” :) I think one of the most amazing things about DF is indeed the breadth of options– it’s an international city & you can find great examples of most types of cuisine.

    This post was certainly not intended to offer a definitive eating guide to traditional Mexico City food… (given that I listed a mere 2 spots & did conclude with the “fresa” disclosure) Additionally, the two spots I listed certainly aren’t the “fancy” overpriced standard-Mexican-food locations you warn against (which I also agree with avoiding– the only “hair enchilada” I’ve had has been at a VIPS!). Rather, my intent was to highlight a couple amusing niche spots for folks in the event they need a break from Vitamina T (tacos, tamales, tlacoyos, etc.)

    Sarah– So glad you’ll be making the trek down to DF!! I’m sure you’ll love it as much as we do. Just holler if I can offer any further biased advice. ;)

  6. #6 Shopping in the Mexico City Airport – Midwesterner in Mexico
    on Jun 28th, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    [...] gathered by this point, there are few things I love more than products with a Mexican theme and kitschy shops for hipsters. When these worlds combine, good things [...]

  7. #7 Greg
    on Sep 11th, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful article. Thanks for providing this info.

    my blog … bing.com – Greg,

Leave a Comment