Mexico City’s grandest neighbourhood is back in vogue

5/3/2016 The Guardian

6142323949_5d5f048f77_m.jpgIt’s morning in Mexico City, and the traffic on Avenida Reforma, the city’s central artery, is in full flow, interspersed only by tamale carts dashing madly into the path of oncoming cars. A block away, its entrance guarded by two of the city’s landmark skyscrapers, Torre Mayor and Torre Bancomer, is Colonia Juárez, once the grande dame of Mexico City neighbourhoods, and now making a long-awaited comeback.

A few kilometres west of the historic centre, Juárez used to be the grandest colonial in the city. Local architect Rutilo Rojas says: “At the tail end of the  porfiriato [when Porfirio Díaz ruled Mexico, 1876-1911], wealthy families built enormous French-influenced mansions in Juárez, and lived there until the mid-century’s new urban developments began. Many demolished their mansions and replaced them with office blocks, which were easier to rent out.”

The horrific earthquake of 1985 sent the area into further decline. In the 1980s and 90s, a small pocket of Juárez, Zona Rosa, became a centre for the city’s gay scene, full of clubs and restaurants, but the rest of the area lay dormant. Now, developers such as regeneration specialist ReUrbano are helping restore its beautiful architecture. A wave of openings over the past six months has seen interest in Juárez reach fever pitch. Havre 77 is an oyster bar and restaurant from feted young chef Lalo García; other new spots include Lucerna Comedor, Teo Luncheonette, Taberna Luciferina, Osteria Isabella and Kyo Sushi. Milan 44 is an “urban market” where people can go for excellent coffee and cheese, a beard trim or a yoga class. In the past three years, three of Mexico City’s most exciting contemporary art galleries – José García, Marso and Karen Huber – have opened in Juárez.

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