With its hidden speakeasies, hot restaurants and refurbished colonial mansions, the Colonia Juárez is buzzing. Much like it’s trendy successors—Colonia Roma and Colonia Condesa to the south—the Juarez neighborhood was up, then it was down, then it was way down. Now it’s rising again. Craft beer bars, hipster fondas and designer boutiques are scooching in beside car stereo shops, tamal vendors and the ubiquitous OXXO convenience stores.
The Juárez was born at the end of the 19th century as a suburb for the city’s wealthy elite. The neighborhood originally boasted Porfirian-era mansions and streets christened with the names of Europe’s finest cities. In the 1960’s, artists and intellectuals drew an edgier crowd, and the colonia became an epicenter for Mexico City’s gay community. After the 1985 earthquake sent rich residents fleeing to the suburbs, the Juárez sank into a sort of decadent limbo, with stunning 19th-century tenement housing alongside Korean restaurants, dance clubs, and abandoned buildings. Today the Zona Rosa—an area comprising the Juárez’s most western streets—remains popular with the young LGBT community, the avenues lined with bars, clubs and racy underwear shops.
Now the neighborhood is beginning to draw a different crowd. But you might not always be able to see them. Juarez visitors’ favorite activity seems to be hiding out in one of its various hidden cocktail bars and restaurants. A night behind doors might find you sipping cocktails at Hanky Panky, eating a wild mushroom burger at Loose Blues on Dinamarca street, or listening to a jazz quartet at Parker & Lenox. When you are ready to come up for air, you can grab a pizza al fresco at the Lucerna Comedor beer garden or sit for a spell in one of the colonia’s many tiny parks. You can try out chef Eduardo Garcia’s new French bistro, Havre 77, or Josefina Santacruz’s Asian-inspired spot, Paprika.
Trends aside, there continue to be excellent old cantinas, tacos al pastor and tamales oaxaqueños to be found along Juarez’s avenues. Visit during the day to see the Chocolate Museum with lickable chocolate wallpaper or the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Wax Museum in a fabricated castle on Londres street. You can also attend a yoga workshop or dive into a scone at the Panadería Rosetta. All this good stuff is making it easy to want to hide out for a few days La Juarez and discover what’s behind closed doors.
Lydia Carey is Eat Mexico’s Assistant Director and author of the new Roma guidebook, Mexico City Streets: La Roma.