Depending on which chart you read, Mexico City will rank anywhere from No. 8 to No. 12 on the “world’s largest cities” list. You don’t need a tally to tell you that a decent percentage of those 20-plus-million residents have a sizeable amount of disposable income.
Now, add in well-to-do residents from nearby cities like Guadalajara and Puebla who regularly visit the Mexican metropolis.
Finally, equate in the international guests who annually come into town for a bit of culture and cuisine and things get really interesting.
Major companies have taken notice, too. Apple and Victoria’s Secret finally debuted retail stores in the city in 2016. The Ritz-Carlton is opening its first Mexico City location in 2019. Simply put, these are exciting times around town.
If you don’t have the patience to wait for the Ritz’s doors to open, join Forbes Travel Guide and the throng of trendsetters heading to Mexico City right now for upscale shopping, chic hotels and some of the world’s finest culinary experiences.
Las Alcobas may not be a name that immediately comes to U.S. travelers’ minds just yet — the February-opening Napa Valley outpost will certainly have something to say about that very soon — but its reputation is firmly established in Mexico City.
Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Las Alcobas, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Mexico City sits on Presidente Masaryk Avenue, a stretch on par with Fifth Avenue that’s blanketed with designer labels like Louis Vuitton and Chanel.
The seven-story hotel stands tall among the brands simply because it knows it belongs. The Yabu Pushelberg-designed property offers a mix of modern furnishings, wood and stone elements and gorgeous floral arrangements that come together in a crescendo of calm and class.
Public spaces aren’t the only areas spoiled with elegant touches, however. Las Alcobas’ 35 rooms have a sense of modernity without going overly clunky with the gadgetry. Blind-opening touchscreens are user friendly. Cabinet lights turn on automatically when you reach for snacks in the complimentary minibar. And the bathroom sink, while giving the appearance of being a mere slab of marble with a faucet attached to it, is as attractive as it is functional.
Then there’s the Pasaje Penthouse, a 1,600-square-foot palace fit for a king. A full living room, a dining area and a butler kitchen certainly don’t hurt that declaration. And the breathtaking terrace allows you to fully survey a city that rarely sleeps. Once you step back and turn from the railing, you’ll spy your master bedroom that you can almost hear whispering for you to come a little closer.
Mexico City’s dining landscape is worthy of all the accolades it has gotten over the past few years. Chefs like Enrique Olivera and Ricardo Muñoz Zurita have made it their mission to get as many visitors as possible to sample all that the country has to offer.
Las Alcobas’ signature restaurant is Anatol, which is helmed by chef Justin Ermini. A Culinary Institute of America graduate who sharpened his skills at Five-Star Jean Georges and other esteemed eateries, Ermini has cooked up the perfect place for a bite any time of day.
Still, Anatol takes on a life of its own in the evening. It’s then when the kitchen really struts its ability to create locally adored dishes that have a sprig of Italian influence. Taste the gastro genius for yourself in black bean soup dabbed with smoked foie gras and brioche crumbs or a locally caught bass that’s paired with wild rice, almonds and caper-lemon brown butter.
The chic Polanco area, as you’d guess, is rife with other posh dining options. Right next door to the hotel, in fact, rests chef Martha Ortiz’s Dulce Patria. Ideal for canoodling couples or lively groups, Dulce Patria turns down the lights while raising expectations for a memorable dining experience. The free-spirited kitchen has fun with colors, textures and flavors, as witnessed in the Veracruz marimba-style red snapper or zucchini in jade-toned pumpkin seed mole.
Not a five-minute drive from there is Quintonil, which may be the most sublime example yet of the city’s movement toward ensuring that local ingenuity and ingredients are delivered in an elevated manner. Since its 2012 debut, this Jorge Vallejo-anchored restaurant has been one of the most-beloved establishments in the world.
Vallejo’s crew has won over critics and customers by serving meals that go beyond the table to a place that almost feels like art. Squash blossoms are plated in such a delicate way that they look like a Diego Rivera painting. Grilled trout and whole roasted cuitlacoche (corn fungus) may not sound terribly appealing, but just wait until you see the makeover that the kitchen gives the dish. And who knew cactus sorbet could ever taste so heavenly? On top of all of that, the service is seamless and the wine list is nearly endless.
If you think the retail possibilities are amazing along Presidente Masaryk Avenue, just wait until you see what’s literally in store for you a few blocks over at El Palacio de Hierro Polanco. Mexico’s answer to Harrods or Bloomingdale’s, El Palacio de Hierro has a number of stores across the country, but its most ambitious address is the newly renovated Polanco location.
The product of a $300 million transformation in late 2015, the colossal store — if “El Palacio de Hierro” weren’t hanging out front, you’d easily mistake the 646,000-square-foot structure for a mall or a ritzy office building — is a one-of-a-kind dreamland for shoppers.
The ground level presents a mix of jewelers, eyewear companies and makeup stations. But this is far from your typical collection of M.A.C. and L’Oréal counters; many of the cosmetics brands have their own onsite treatment centers where you can get full facials and more for making a purchase.
Things only get plusher the higher you go up the escalator. The likes of Carolina Herrera, Hermès and Chanel have “stores” that rival anything you’ll find on Madison Avenue or Rodeo Drive. Make a pit stop at Starbucks or at the massive food hall (think Eataly with a side of nopales con queso) before trekking back to the familiar racks (Christian Dior, Hugo Boss) or discovering new local designers (Victoria).
After a full day of roaming the aisles, you’ll undoubtedly be famished. El Palacio has two sit-down choices for sustenance — Cantina El Palacio and Prendes. The former, with its second-floor terrace positioning, lets you nosh on shrimp habanero while catching the afternoon breeze.
The “Prendes” name is a respected one that has echoed in Mexico City since the late 1800s. And while the location has changed from the busy city center to the ground level of a posh shopping center, you can find remnants of a bygone time in the warmth of your server.
A black-and-cream color scheme, funky chandeliers and a buzzy four-sided bar ensure that the place has a vibrancy about it. A wall of portraits dedicated to famous former patrons is a nod to the past while shrimp tacos, premium-cut steaks and a crispy mezcal worm appetizer are right on trend for what today’s discerning diners expect.
We couldn’t find a tastier example of what Mexico City is fast becoming if we tried.