The Condesa and Roma district of Mexico City is a residential and restaurant area on both sides of Insurgentes avenue (Condesa on the west side, Roma on the east side) between Viaducto Miguel Alemán in the south and Avenida Chapultepec in the north. It's a large area with mostly Art Deco architecture, large parks, and a relaxed atmosphere.
La Condesa, an area consisting of several colonias on the west side of Avenida Insurgentes, was at one time an extremely fashionable part of Mexico City, particularly during the Golden Age of Mexican cinema in the 1940s and 1950s when it was home to many film stars. Mexico City's first Bauhaus-type apartment building, the Edificio Basurto, was built in 1938 and was popular amongst entertainment industry figures. After the 1985 earthquake which hit the area hard, many of its residents moved on to areas like Polanco and Lomas de Chapultepec and many of the Art Deco and midcentury modern homes and apartments became abandoned. Due to the high availability of housing stock and fascinating architecture, the area was rediscovered and became immensely popular with artists, musicians and other creative people in the mid-1990s, resulting in rising real estate costs and an abundance of hip restaurants, cafes, and bars. Today La Condesa is still worth a visit, although many of the pioneers have moved on to other neighbouring areas. One such area is Col. Roma, on the opposite side of Insurgentes from Condesa, which is less developed, but has a similar flavor. Although Colonia Roma was developed at the same time as Condesa, it traditionally was more middle class in population, with a large number of European immigrants who had fled the Spanish Civil War and the Holocaust, and despite the damage of the 1985 earthquake kept this character until the early 2000s.
The area of Condesa closest to Insurgentes is focused around Avenida Amsterdam, a large, oval street that used to be the track of the area's horse racetrack (thus the name for this colonia, Hipódromo Condesa). Av. Amsterdam is long and slightly curving, making it easy to lose your direction while going along it. It's dotted with small roundabouts where other streets cross it, and a large part of the area inside it is taken up by the Parque México, with an open-air amphitheatre on one end, and small lanes amongst large trees and fountains on the other. There are several good restaurants and bars in this area, but it's the most residential, and least urban, of the Condesa.
The other part of Condesa is Col. Condesa, a bit further away from Insurgentes, on the other side of Av. Nuevo León. This is much more heavily developed, and has an impressive assortment of bars, restaurants, and sidewalk cafes.
Col. Roma, on the other side of Insurgentes, has less greenery and is more urbanized. Its going through a period of very fast real estate development, as prices and popularity are increasing. There are new bars and restaurants popping up every week, and it's well worth a visit. Roma also has two small malls, one by Insurgentes, the Plaza Insurgentes, and another on the east side of the area, by Avenida Cuauhtémoc, the Plaza Cuauhtémoc. Both have stores and Cinemex movie theaters.
La Condesa has experienced a building boom in the late 1990s and 2000s, resulting in many new modernist buildings, carrying on the tradition of exceptional architecture that includes fine examples of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne.
Condesa and Roma don't have Metro stations directly inside the area, but there are a few stations at its periphery that will get you within a short distance's walk of your destination. For Condesa, stations Insurgentes, Sevilla, Chapultepec and Juanacatlan on Line 1 border along the north and west side of the area, and stations Patriotismo and Chilpancingo on Line 9 border the south. For Roma, stations Insurgentes and Cuahtemoc on Line 1 border the north, and stations Ninos Heroes, Hospital General and Centro Medico on Line 3 border the east.
The Metrobús, which runs up and down Avenida Insurgentes, is a very convenient way of getting to Condesa and Roma.
- OMR, Plaza Río de Janeiro 54, Col. Roma (cross street Durango; three blocks from Insurgentes Metro station), ☏ +52 55 5511 1179, +52 55 5207 1080. Six to eight different exhibitions rotate throughout the year in this converted house in the heart of the Roma district, focusing on the work of an emerging Mexican artist. Free admission.
- 1 Parque México. This park, located in the middle of the neighborhood, is an obligatory visit when you are in La Condesa. The park was built in the early 1920s. The main square of the park hosts frequent music bands and they also have stalls selling handcrafts and clothing. The park has a famous fountain of a woman and also a clock erected by the Armenian community.
- 2 Parque España. Another park located between Nuevo León, Sonora and Parque España streets. It was inaugurated on September 21st, 1921 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the Mexican War of Independence. It contains statues such as the monument to Lázaro Cárdenas. The park was designed by the pioneer of modern urban Mexico, architect José Luis Cuevas. It has a small lake with a rustic cement bridge that resembles a wooden bridge.
There are many small shops around Condesa, selling clothing from independent designers, crafts and trendy stuff. This place recalls the Palermo neighborhood in Buenos Aires or SOHO in New York.
- ZiniK (Radical Fashion), Amsterdam 12 (Col. Condesa), ☏ +52 55533277. 13:30-20:00. You can find exclusive designs and best prices.
Visit some of the nice book shops in the area.
- Librería Rosario Castellanos del Fondo de Cultura Económica (FCE), Tamaulipas 202, Col. Condesa (cross street Benjamin Hill). One of the biggest bookstores in Latin America. Worth the stop just to see the gorgeous interior. You can spend hours just browsing through the shelves.
- Cafebreria El Péndulo, Nuevo León 115, Col. Condesa (cross street Vicente Suárez), ☏ +52 55 5286 9493. Bookstore with a wide selection of books.
- 1 Mercado Alvaro Obregon. Sa 10:00-16:00. Along Alvaro Obregon Avenue, this market sells crafts, paintings and there is a unique stall selling fossils and meteorites.
- Mercado de Antiguedades de Cuauhtemoc Cuauhtemoc Avenue and Colima Street. Open on Saturdays at 10:00, this market sells lots of antique and vintage stuff, and there are many stalls selling vintage toys. Located two blocks away from Alvaro Obregon street. To reach from Reforma avenue, take a bus at Reforma and Bucareli street. Ask the driver to drop you at Colima street, you will see the stalls at your right along Cuauhtemoc avenue.
In addition to a lively restaurant scene, the area has some of the best street food in Mexico City. Vendors usually concentrate along Avenida Insurgentes which runs between the neighborhoods, particularly next to major metro stations.
Condesa has a developed restaurant scene, centered on a few blocks surrounding the triple-street intersection of Michoacán, Atlixco and Vincente Suárez, which can be pretty crowded during the day and very popular at night, especially on weekends. The restaurant area extends all along Michoacán from Tamaulipas to Mazatlan. You will find the majority of the restaurants listed below in this area.
- 1 Café La Glória, Michoacán, Col. Condesa (across from Primarossa). Daily 13:00-23:00. Reasonably priced Asian/Italian fusion with a Mexican touch, good bar and good coffee. The staff is laid back to the point of being unprofessional, don't worry about asking twice for your order. Try the pasta with chicken and sesame seed oil/soy sauce. M$80-200.
- Califa, Alfonso Reyes & Altata (a block or two from Av. Nuevo León). Su-W 13:00-23:00, Th-Sa 13:00-05:00. A little overpriced, but very high quality tacos. The specialty is the gaonera (try the one with cheese), a large, thin slice of tender beef, roasted and placed on a tortilla. The house salsas are also notable for being made with fried tomatoes. After dinner, try the traditional Mexican coffee with cinnamon, café de olla. M$100-200.
- 2 El Jamil. Lebanese restaurant
- El 10 (El 'Diez'), Alfonso Reyes 66, Col. Condesa (cross street Cosala), ☏ +52 55 5553 0734. Daily 13:00-23:00. Argentinian cuisine run by an Argentine owner, very good food at a very reasonable price. The bar is very popular at night.
- el ocho, Avenida México, Col. Condesa (between cross streets Nuevo León and Amsterdam), ☏ +52 55 5211 9010, +52 55 5211-9015. Su-W 08:00-24:00, Th-Sa 08:00-01:00. This hip cafe has some good food and a pervasive retro look. Billing itself as a cafe recreativo, it's got sudoku and word searches on the placemats, and pencils and scratch paper on every table; help yourself to the wall of board games and magazines.
- Frutos Prohibidos, Amsterdam 244, Col. Condesa (cross street Michoacán). Daily. This fast-food place serves rolled sandwiches using flat thin white bread. Wide choice of salads. M$80-120.
- Green Grass, Nuevo Leon #192, Col. Condesa (between Tlaxcala and Baja California). Daily. Fresh salads made to order with fresh greens and other ingredients. Ten locations in D.F. When you're missing fresh veggies, this is the place to go!
- Hookah Lounge, Campeche 284, Col. Condesa, ☏ +52 55 5584 1742. The club serves Middle Eastern food and flavored tobacco "hookahs" at your table. The music selection is extremely good ranging from Electro-arabic, to house.
- Parilladas Bariloche, Amsterdam, Col. Hipódromo Condesa (on the side of a small roundabout). Daily. This family-run restaurant is one of the cheapest places in the city to have good Argentinian/Uruguayan food. Start with some Provolone cheese and papas con amor (fried potato wedges with the peel still on). If you're hungry, also try the filete bariloche (for two people, about half a kilo of meat each), the bife bufalo or the arrachera. M$150-250.
- Parrilla Quilmes, Alfonso Reyes 193, Col. Condesa. Daily. Authentic family-run Argentinian restaurant with wonderful meat, and good Italian pizza. Try the arrachera, and the four cheeses pizza. The Economist magazine calls it the place where carnivores with good karma meet their destiny. M$200-300.
- 3 Lardo, Agustín Melgar 6, Colonia Condesa, Cuauhtémoc (at the intersection of Agustin Melgar, Avenida Mazatlan and Avenida Veracruz), ☏ +52 55 5211 7731. M-Sa 08:00-23:00, Su 08:00-17:00. Creative Mediterranean food. Wood-burning oven. Lively corner location with open windows, plants and lots of light.
Roma does not have such a well-developed restaurant scene, but there are still many places to eat. A few are listed here, but you will also be able to discover many others on your own.
- BB Kfe, Manzanillo, Col. Roma (between Campeche and Coahuila, one block east of Insurgentes Sur). M-Sa 13:00-20:00. This small cafe offers excellent food at very low prices until 18:00. A set dinner includes a soup, a salad, a main dish, a small dessert, fruit flavored water, and coffee. The pasta dishes are good and portions are abundant. M$40-60.
- Sobrinos, Alvaro Obregon 110 (corner Orizaba), 5264-7466. An offshoot of Primos in Condesa. This semi-upscale restaurant serves mostly Mexican food, with interesting variations. They have a good brunch/breakfast too, and excellent coffee. Average M$200 per person.
- Mog Obregon 40. Tasty authentic Japanese food at good prices in a very warm, randomly decorated place. A nice spot to hang out and have a drink or coffee/tea also. Impressive tea selection.
- 4 Las Flautas, Tonalá 130 (Cuauhtemoc), ☏ +52 55 5584 0369, firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 09:00-22:00. Serves very good flautas and tacos de guisado. Delivery available. M$80-100.
- Tres Galeones, Jalapa 117 Col. Roma Norte. 11:00-17:30. Small, bustling lunch destination in Roma with some phenomenal seafood offerings. Smoked marlin, shrimp, fish "carnitas", and seasonal soft-shell crab in various formats (tacos, tostadas, sopes, burritos) are all extraordinary. Beautiful, intensely flavorful salsas & outdoor seating seal the deal. Why are you not eating lunch here right now? M$100-150.
In Condesa, you will find a number of bars on the north end of Avenida Tamaulipas, in addition to the restaurant area mentioned above.
- PataNegra, Juan Escutia, Col. Condesa (corner of Tamaulipas/Nuevo León, same building as the Foro Condesa), ☏ +52 55 5211-5563-4678. Daily 12:00-01:00. Relatively new, always popular bar/cafe with a good kitchen for snack food, and reasonable prices. Plays lounge, trip-hop, rock, etc. Good for chatting and meeting people.
- Mama Rumba, Av. Medellin, Col. Roma (one block from Insurgentes). Th-Sa 18:00-03:00. One of the most popular dance clubs/bars in the city, usually very full, plays salsa, merengue, and other Cuban music. There is another branch in San Angel, which is more popular and can be hard to get into.
- Hippodrome Hotel. Boutique hotel offering a historic landmark and luxurious accommodations.
- CONDESAdf. An amazing boutique hotel within walking distance of all the best bars, lounges, clubs and restaurants of Condesa. It is a design hotel with ipods in every room, a sushi bar rooftop bar and a night club in the basement. The people who work at the hotel are the nicest people you will meet and the hotel has a chocolate lab, Conde, as an amenity.
- 1 Hostel Condesa Chapultepec, Cozumel #53-A Col. Roma Norte (between Colima and Durango) (3 blocks from Sevilla's subway station), ☏ +52 55 52-11-10-24. Check-out: 12:00. US$12.
- The Red Tree House, Culiacan 6, Col. Condesa (Culican between Amsterdam and Nuevo Leon), ☏ +52 55 5584-3829. 16 beautiful units surrounding a peaceful courtyard. Rooms are reasonably priced and stylishly decorated. Many also have terraces. Breakfast includes the usual items plus a typical Mexican breakfast delicacy. Owners are friendly and very helpful with travel tips and assistance in arranging tours, etc.
- Condesa Haus, Cuernavaca 142 Col. Condesa (2-3 blocks from Patriotismo Metro), ☏ +52 310-622-4825. Condesa Haus is a lovely building of 8 suites and rooms near the Patriotismo Metro station. Each accommodation is beautifully and stylishly decorated, and the staff are wonderful. Special discount (no tax or fees) if you pay cash. US$85-150.