Only a short flight from Austin is an elegant and pedestrian-friendly haven for foodies, shopaholics and culture enthusiasts. The chic Polanco neighborhood of Mexico City is a gem inside the greater metropolis of the world’s fifth largest city and a safe retreat for American tourists.
Polanco's avenues have the charm and walkability factor of a European city, where neatly tended sidewalk patios for dining al fresco in the 70-degree summer temperatures take center stage. In the evenings, these same outdoor tables are illuminated by candlelight as restaurants, filled with smartly dressed clientele, stay open well past midnight.
An ideal itinerary begins with a stay at the refined and optimally located luxury boutique hotel Las Alcobas. Situated on Avenida Presidente Masaryk, the avenue known as the “Mexican Rodeo Drive,” this modern boutique hotel offers an upscale experience with a distinctly warm and local flavor. Through his passionate vision and creativity, hotelier Samuel Leizorek has provided the neighborhood with a truly welcoming and unique sanctuary.
Following is a curated list of restaurants and sites to see in the neighborhood that are either within walking distance or a quick Uber ride away from any Polanco-area hotel.
Lunch in Mexico City begins at 4 pm and dinner at 10. To truly enjoy the lively social scene and to get the best service, it is better to dine at local meal times.
Pujol. Perhaps Polanco’s most famous award-winning restaurant, offering farm-to-table modern Mexican fine dining. Reservations required.
Anatol. This culinary gem is located in the Las Alcobas Hotel and features a menu that is an inventive combination of contemporary Mexican and American comfort food favorites like macaroni and cheese, done with a polished elegant presentation.
Sylvestre. Located above Nobu in a beautifully, built-out space, this sleek eatery offers Argentine food in an awesome atmosphere. Ask to be seated in view of the beautiful vertical garden.
Ivoire. For a lovely atmosphere and traditional brasserie food, this is a great spot located near Lincoln Park. Visitors clamor for the beautiful seating near the balconies upstairs with views of the park.
Malamén. This adorable restaurant has the most fascinating story behind it that starts with a girl who took solace in her cooking as she lived through the Mexican Revolution. Her discarded cookbook was found and now, long after her death, her recipes are being used daily at the quaint Malamén.
Tori Tori. Definitely a local favorite, this place is super chic, and the sushi is excellent quality. The award-winning interiors are a work of art as well. Save room for mochi for dessert.
Mythos Estiatorio. Located on a corner near Lincoln Park, this restaurant offers fresh, delicious Greek food. The casual atmosphere is great for lunch.
Cipriani. The luxury chain recently opened its Mexico City outpost and is booked solid for dinner weeks in advance. This is a fun spot to visit for rich Italian food and people-watching in the evening.
Central Central. A short ride away in the Santa Fe neighborhood is the recently opened Central Central, offering amazing Spanish food in a stunning location with beautiful views on the terrace.
Jules Basement. This speakeasy-style bar has entry through a fridge door. There is an extensive menu of champagnes, whiskeys, mezcales and tequilas. If you get hungry, food can be ordered from the taco place on the ground floor.
Catamundi. This charming, casual wine bar is great for a quick bite. It offers a large variety of artisanal cheeses and wines.
Scotch Bar. Recommended by the Las Alcobas hotelier, Scotch Bar creates well-prepared cocktails and bar snacks in a beautiful atmosphere.
Dinsmoor. An upscale and energetic nightclub with quality cocktails.
Common People. This trendy, multilevel concept store is a must-see if only to check out the architecture and interiors of the building itself. The second floor has an adorable coffee shop — a perfect spot for a shopping break.
Lemon Chic. Right above Cipriani Restaurant is this women’s clothing boutique carrying an assortment of contemporary brands such as Red Valentino, Joie, Rebecca Taylor, Wildfox and Current Elliott.
Avenida Presidente Masaryk. This avenue runs for 3 kilometers, but the main shopping area is from Taine and ends in Moliere. This is where to find all of the big luxury brands.
Things to do in and nearby Polanco
Museo Soumaya. This iconic museum has more than 66,000 pieces of art with an emphasis on, but not limited to, many of the most well-known European artists from the 15th to 20th centuries. It is noted for having the largest collection of sculptures by Auguste Rodin outside of France and the world’s largest collection of his art.
Jumex Museum. Across from Museo Soumaya is the Jumex Museum, which is said to have the largest private contemporary art collection in Latin America, including works by Jeff Koons, Andreas Gursky and Gabriel Orozco.
Chapultepec Castle. Located in the middle of Chapultepec Park on one of the highest points of the city, the historic castle affords not only amazing panoramic views of Mexico City, but also lessons in a fascinating period of Mexican history.
Lincoln Park. Enjoy a walk through the park with its fountains and manicured green spaces that are bustling with dog walkers, bikers and joggers. If you find yourself there on a Saturday morning, there is a street market selling fresh fruits, vegetables, and snacks such as tacos and quesadillas. Also in view are the neighborhood’s many lovely midcentury mansions built in the “Colonial Californiano” style and protected by beautifully trimmed hedges and gates.