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Style + Design

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

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“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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