A Guide to Roma, Mexico City's Newly-Buzzy Neighborhood

4:35 PM 1/31/2019

by Meredith Maltby

Discover the secrets of the Oscar-nominated movie's namesake neighborhood.

Condesa DF
Condesa DF
Undine Prohl
Netflix isn’t the only one celebrating the 10 Oscar nominations that Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma has received — the actual Roma neighborhood, located west of the historic city center in Mexico City, is also enjoying its moment in the spotlight. 
 
While Cuaron’s meticulous depiction of Roma in the 1970s shows a prosperous middle class neighborhood, the area lost some of its luster as a result of the 1985 earthquake. In the past few years, Roma has been reborn as an expat hotspot and is now home to some of the city’s best restaurants, chic boutiques and boutique hotels.

 
"The Roma neighborhood has been known for its bohemian and artsy ambiance for many years," says Nicholas Gilman, the Mexico City-based food writer behind GoodFoodMexico.com. "Incredible restaurants and galleries in the neighborhood have been attracting the cultural elite for some time. The release and acclaim for this movie is only going to continue to make the area a popular spot for visiting creatives." 
 
But making the most of a visit to Roma means knowing which stairs to climb and which unmarked doors to knock on. Here, some of the best places to discover and uncover in the tree-lined colonia, including those visited by the Hollywood crowd.
  • Stay

    DF Condesa

    Right outside of Roma is the Condesa DF, the city’s original and still-buzzing boutique hotel property. Within the Art Nouveau building perched on the edge of the Parque España is an inviting modern interior that has played host to its fair share of celebrity visitors, including Bono, Viggo Mortensen and most recently Drew Barrymore, who stayed there when she was in town to launch Flower Beauty. It also houses one of the city’s best rooftop bars for grabbing an evening cocktail. 102 Avenida Veracruz, Colonia Condesa.

    La Valise

    With barely a sign outside, one could easily walk past the entrance to this tiny property with just three suites, but then you would miss out on an intimate and interior-driven experience. Each room feels like your own private apartment complete with kitchenette, living area, bedroom and a spacious bathroom with a freestanding tub and rain shower. The hotel's discretion makes it a favorite of site for Vogue Mexico fashion shoots, including a recent one with fashion designer Esteban Cortazar, who counts Tracee Ellis Ross and Saoirse Ronan as fans.  Breakfast is offered in your room or pop next door to Almanegra Café for a complimentary cappuccino. Tonalá 53, Roma Norte.

    Ignacia Guest House

    A signless entry beckons only those in-the-know to this beautiful bed & breakfast set within a restored 1913 mansion. Each of the five luxuriously appointed suites are inspired by a singular color; the green suite is set within the landscaped garden. Factor Eficiencia in partnership with the interior design studio A – G developed the property, seamlessly blending the original details of the home with modern finishes and furniture, including a dining area for homemade breakfasts painted a sweet shade of pink. Jalapa 208, Casa B, Roma Norte.

  • Eat

    El Roma Bistrot

    With an envious position overlooking the Plaza Rio de Janeiro, El Roma Bistrot is a newish spot from Joaquín Cardoso, a rising chef in Mexico City who used to work for Enrique Olvera, Mexico’s culinary king. His solo venture is reminiscent of a classic French bistro and is attracting guests like actress and producer Olga Segura, who is producing the upcoming film Waiting for the Barbarians, based on the J.M. Coetzee novel.  Share some croquetas to start and then try the fish a la plancha followed by the tarta de chocolate, expertly prepared by Cardoso’s pastry partner Sofia Cortina. Plaza Río de Janeiro 52, Roma Norte.

    Fonda Fina

    An offshoot of top-ranked restaurant Quintonil, Fonda Fina was opened by Chef Jorge Vallejo and showcases the cooking of his protégé Juan Cabrera Barron. It continues to attract local foodies and Thor star Chris Hemsworth, who dined on the star chef's fideo seco with chilaquiles – a traditional Mexican pasta dish. Celeb chefs Massimo Bottura and Rick Bayless also indulged in the artfully prepared tamales and tacos. Medellin 79, Roma Norte.

    Contramar

    This perennially-packed restaurant is hardly a secret, but it’s still worth a visit to what is probably one of the most famous spots in the neighborhood – Salma Hayek is a regular when she is in town. Make sure you book in advance for a late lunch, order the tuna tostadas, a whole fish and then finish it off with their famous fig tart for dessert. Calle de Durango 202, Roma Norte.

    La Docena

    Another seafood standby, La Docena bills itself as a New Orleans-inspired restaurant. Originally founded in Guadalajara, the Roma outpost is the perfect place to linger over a plate of oysters or po'boys and spot actresses Ela Velden and Maria Fernanda Quiroz or telenovela star Gonzalo Garcia-Vivanco. Avenida Álvaro Obregón 31, Roma Norte.

    Rosetta

    Nestled within a colonial-era townhouse is chef Elena Reygadas’ award-winning restaurant and one of Alfonso Cuaron's favorites. Reservations are essential if you want to enjoy her modern take on classic Italian food with a Mexican flair. Top Chef winner and TV host Kristen Kish and former E! News anchor Catt Sadler have been spotted at tables in the covered courtyard with its fresco-painted pastel walls. If you can’t score a table here, sample Reygadas' breads at the Panadaria Rosetta across the street or grab a seat at the bar at Lardo, her Mediterranean-leaning restaurant on a corner in nearby Condesa. Colima 166, Roma Norte.

    Churrería El Moro

    With five locations around the city, this 24-hour churro spot is perfect for a late night snack or sugar fix any time of the day. Emily Ratajkowski recently enjoyed these crispy, pillowy treats while there on vacation with her husband Sebastian Bear-McClard. There are also weight different types of hot chocolates and consuelos--basically a churro ice cream sandwich. Frontera 122, Roma Norte.

  • Shop

    Indian Pipe Society

    More of a showroom than an actual shop, the Indian Pipe Society houses rotating made-in-Mexico brands and is currently home to Audette (a line of brightly colored, structured leather handbags and accessories by two Parisian expats, whose fans include L.A.-based fashion and travel photographer Pia Riverola), Dulce Armenia's sleek swimsuits in body-flattering cuts and muted colors, and Avocet Jewelry that is handcrafted by Mexico City native Michelle Goni. Ring the nearly-hidden buzzer for access. Chihuahua 56, Roma Norte.

    Cordoba 25

    Entering this location (that houses two boutiques, a book shop and an art gallery) is a bit like stumbling into someone's expertly curated closet and living room. Apartment 25 carries hard-to-find brands such as Comme des Garcons and new-to-Mexico L.A. label Rodarte. Creative director Deva Tarno hand picks fashion by local designers at the boutique Naked. A vast selection of international magazines and books-- the exclusive outlet in Mexico for Cuaron's book "Roma" from Assouline--make Casa Bosques bookstore a must-visit destination. And peek up the back staircase to discover up-and-coming Mexican artists at the tiny Machete gallery. Cordoba 25, Roma Norte.