Fashion Designer Rolando Santana’s Mexico City
Rolando Santana, the New York-based fashion designer and judge of Elle Mexico Diseña (think of it like a Mexican Project Runway), grew up in Cuernavaca, but calls Mexico City his second home. Here, he shares his perfect day in the Distrito Federal with Charlotte Steinway
“Condesa, Roma, and Polanco are my favorite neighborhoods in D.F. — they’re very young, very vibrant. A lot of smaller designers have storefronts there; there are tons of little bars and restaurants everywhere. For brunch, I love chilaquiles (a mix of fried corn tortillas, salsa, and eggs); it’s one of my all-time favorite dishes and my favorite place to order them is Maque. It’s also a bakery, so it’s fun to see them making their fresh sweetbreads while you’re enjoying your cup of coffee.
As a designer, it’s been fascinating to see how concept stores are taking off in Mexico City.
After breakfast, I’ll go window-shopping around the little boutiques and art galleries in Roma. As a designer, it’s been fascinating to see how concept stores are taking off in Mexico City. For example, Romita is a multi-level store in Roma that sells wares from local designers, and also has a fantastic restaurant. They’ve got everything there: shoes, clothing, accessories, jewelry, and even if you want a cup of coffee, you can just go to the rooftop and enjoy it up there on a nice day.
In Polanco, there’s also another great, art-oriented shop, called Common People, which has a Hungarian café on the top floor overlooking a nearby park. Few people tend of Mexico City as a fashion-focused place, but you’ll find a whole slew of talented designers here. Cañameil carries modern, beautiful clothes exclusively by Mexican designers.
A lot of Mexican designers also tend to have their showrooms in Polanco. A good friend of mine, Kris Goyri, has his atelier there and I love to pop by. If you want something from the city that’s truly one-of-a kind, you can make an appointment to see his collection.
For dinner in Polanco, my favorite has to be Pujol; they do an incredible interpretation of Mexican cuisine from Chef Enrique Olvera. I love their simple dishes, like their grilled corn with different sauces, a high-end riff on Mexican street food, or their Madre Mole, another one of their regional specialties. Plus, the drinks are fantastic as well — their tamarind mezcal margarita always keeps me coming back.
After dinner, I have a friend who owns a little bar in Roma called Limantour; it’s got a relaxed, bohemian vibe to it, so it’s the perfect place to head after dinner for a low-key drink with friends. Every time I go, I order this frozen vodka cocktail with fresh mixed berries; it’s just so refreshing, especially in the summertime. I’m not really a big club person, but if I’m looking to go out in Polanco, I love the 1OAK that just opened there. It’s not to small but it’s not huge — so in general, it’s always easy to have a good time. After the bars, we always go to taqueria El Califa. It’s the complete opposite of Pujol: It’s a chain, it’s always crazy packed, but between two and four in the morning, everyone tends to end up there."
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