Mexico City has been having a moment for years now. Especially with Texans, situated just a short flight away from the influential metropolis. There’s a world-renowned culinary scene, fascinating modern architecture, and top-tier galleries that have established the city as an international art hub. But today, we turn our focus to an aspect of Mexico City’s culture that might not get quite as much shine: the stores.
And who better to guide us through the booming shopping scene’s ins and outs better than Sonia Gil, whose language learning company, Fluenz, offers a luxurious Spanish Immersion program in Mexico City. In tandem with elite language coaching, guests experience Michelin-starred restaurants, exclusive art tours, and an insider’s guide to the city’s vibrant shops.
What drew you to Ciudad de México (CDMX)?
Sonia Gil: The first time I visited Mexico City was in July 2016. By January 2018 I had moved and started a new branch of my business there. I felt an immediate connection. I love how vibrant Mexico City is. I am drawn to its design, to the food (who is not?) and to the people. In some ways Mexico City reminds me a bit of New York City with its Latin flavor — but a fraction of the cost. I love the aesthetics too. You will encounter unique, well-thought-out design constantly. Funky hotels, restaurants, shops, you name it.
What neighborhoods should we know in Mexico City?
Sonia Gil: I live in Polanco, and it is my favorite neighborhood to live in. It is one of the poshest neighborhoods of the city and where all the luxury brands are. I love that it has four incredible museums walking distance, where I often go, and Chapultepec Park (similar to Central Park) is also walking distance.
Now, in terms of a younger, funkier side of town, there are so many. But if I would have to pick, I would go for the tried-and-true Roma-Condesa. That is where you will find most independent brands, smaller type restaurants, bars, clubs. They truly are two different neighborhoods Roma and Condesa but they are adjacent to each other and by now they are sort of morphing into one. That is where I go to stroll aimlessly on the weekends, to have a quick drink at a bar, and to have a fantastic dinner at one of my favorite restaurants of all time, Sartoria.
What is the fashion staple for those traveling to Mexico City?
Sonia Gil: A leather jacket. Mexico City is quite chilly most of the year, especially at night, so you need a great jacket you can wear day or night. That is a black leather jacket for me.
Any hidden shopping gems in the city?
Sonia Gil: Are you sitting down with pen and paper? There are so so so many.
*Home and Furnishings
Trinitate (a gorgeous house filled with all sorts of ceramics)
Casa Bosques — the funky bookstore of your dreams.
Vinos Chidos — a small wine shop that offers tastings often. If you have not tried Mexican wines, you must! I could go on and on.
For a little more guidance, this site is a great go-to.
The neighborhood of Polanco, specifically, is known for its luxury shopping in Mexico City. Where are your favorite stops?
Sonia Gil: In Polanco, there is one shop I constantly revisit: Ikal. I would describe it as a concept store of very well curated local Mexican designers. They have homeware, shoes, clothing, jewelry, bags, skincare, you name it. If it is beautiful, and well made, chances are Ikal carries it.
Any other Mexico City recs?
Sonia Gil: If you come for the first time, the top well-known spots are a must. And be sure to make it to Carlota’s and Maximilian’s castle at the top of Chapultepec park.
Out of the norm, I would recommend the Mercado de Jamaica. It is a traditional Mexican Market, with ongoing corridors where you will find all sorts of things but most impressive are their flowers. It is the main market where flowers are sold, and it is fantastic to see. Mexico City has this peculiarity whereby you can find a flower stand every half mile, and many are open until late at night or even 24 hours. The people here really do like their flowers!
Have some churros and the richest most velvety hot chocolate at El Morro Churreria. Try a “concha.” You will find them easily. It is a bread often served at breakfast. It is sweet but savory and soft, and unique.
If you can find a reservation at the restaurant Pujol, it is sublime and worth all its hype. And if you come to one of our Fluenz Spanish Immersions, you’ll be able to. We have the chef’s table reserved every Wednesday evening for our guests.
Is there a time of the year you recommend visiting Mexico City?
Sonia Gil: The overall great weather in Mexico City is a well-kept secret. Throughout the year, average temperatures range from 55 to 70. May is the warmest month and it can go up to 85, but that happens only a few days a year. I am an optimist, but there is no bad time to come to Mexico City.
Certainly, the most beautiful time is when the Jacaranda trees are in full bloom with their bright light purple flowers around mid-March to mid-April. The whole city bursts with color, the temperature is ideal and there is no rain. We happen to have a new Fluenz Spanish Immersion starting almost every Sunday during that time of the year, so if learning Spanish and visiting Mexico city is of interest, that would be a great time to join one of our one-week sessions.