Zona Rosa is a business and entertainment district located in a portion of Colonia Juárez, near the center of Mexico City. It is one of the city's most touristy areas, filled with hotels, dance clubs, restaurants, bars and live bands. Demographically, it boasts a healthy gay population as well as a relatively high concentration of Korean immigrants. Mexico City's financial heart is also here, with the Mexican Stock Exchange building and the recently built 35-story HSBC building next to the Angel de la Independencia, amongst other banks with offices in this area. It is clearly defined by Avenida Insurgentes to the east, Avenida Chapultepec to the south, Paseo de la Reforma to the north, and Calle Sevilla to the west. Though not considered part of Zona Rosa, a lot of its characteristic style spills northward across the Paseo de la Reforma.
Zona Rosa (which means "pink zone", not to be confused with zona roja, a red light district) was the place to go for nightlife in the city, but recently other areas, most notably Condesa, have since surpassed it in trendiness. Nevertheless, there is still heavy tourist traffic, and you will easily find yourself accosted by people in the streets selling goods and services, be it dance and strip club promoters, tourist information from police officers, tours from taxi drivers, plus the usual crowd of street vendors, lottery vendors and beggars. If you're not interested, just ignore them.
Angel de la Independencia
Glorieta de Insurgentes, the plaza-and-traffic circle at the intersection of Avenida Insurgentes and Avenida Chapultepec, is a transportation hub for the Metro and Metrobus and is an excellent stopping-off point.
You can hop off at Insurgentes Station (Line 1, pink). The station exits in the plaza at the center of Glorieta de Insurgentes, where good people-watching opportunities abound.
If you are riding on Chapultepec Avenue, ask the driver to drop you at Florencia Avenue. Keep in mind though, that the MicroBus is packed.
You can access the area using Niza Avenue, Reforma Avenue or Insurgentes Avenue. There are several parking lots charging around $14 pesos an hour. Several restaurants have their own valet parking, charging between $30 to $45 pesos. There are also parking meters charging $10 an hour. Make sure you pay enough when using meters, as unlike other countries where the police will just leave a ticket on the dashboard, in Mexico City, they will put a wheel lock to violators and paying fines is a very expensive and troublesome process. Meters are off on Saturdays and Sundays.
The double-decker hop-in and hop-off tourist bus that runs along Paseo de la Reforma, and throughout many other areas of the city. You can depart Zona Rosa at the Angel de Independencia for connections to the pyramids, the south of the city and the normal tourist route. Be sure to check the schedule at the tourist information booth a few steps from the stop.
Walking is the best way to move around. The area has a few pedestrian-only streets, being Genova the main street where many restaurants and shops are located.
- Angel de la Independencia— A victory column located on a roundabout over Paseo de la Reforma in downtown Mexico City. El Ángel was built to commemorate the centennial of the beginning of Mexico's War of Independence, celebrated in 1910.
- Torre Mayor— The Torre Mayor stands on Paseo de la Reforma and soars 225 meters above the ground with 29 high speed elevators.
- Paseo de la Reforma— Be sure to check out the Paseo de la Reforma, a long avenue with fine examples of architecture, numerous banks and offices, ancient residential areas now transformed into fashionable venues and spectacular monuments.
- Fuente de la Diana Cazadora— This fountain by Fernando Olaquibel was originally known as "The Archer". It depicts the beautiful Diana Cazadora aiming her arrow at infinity.
- Statue of Cuauhtemoc— Bust of Cuauhtemoc, the Aztec ruler of Tenochtitlan from 1520 to 1521 is displayed proudly in el Zocalo.
Zona Rosa is probably the only area in Mexico City that really never sleeps. It's a great place to start and end your night. Mexico´s Zona Rosa is also known as a meeting point for the gay community.
- Plaza del Angel, Hamburgo and Amberes street. This complex houses several antique shops and on Saturdays and Sundays, there are more informal dealers selling vintage stuff. Arrive early as dealers close around 4PM.
- Plaza la Rosa, between Amberes and Genova street. Shopping precinct that has over 72 prestigious shops and boutiques, including Mango, Furor, Iker and others.
- Jardin del Arte, Rio Nevada, between Sullivan and Manuel Villalongin. Colorful market on Sundays with more than 100 artists exhibiting and selling their paintings and sculptures.
If you're looking for fast food chain restaurants or internet cafes, they're practically on every corner in Zona Rosa.
- Pancho's Bar, Av. Chapultepec (On north side of street, between Insurgentes station and Amberes; around the corner from Best Western Royal Hotel). This restaurant is a lot bigger than it looks, but on this crowded sidewalk of Avenida Chapultepec just west of the station you might almost miss it. They tape a photocopy of their menu above every table, but don't let that fool you--the staff are professional and the food is great, especially at these prices. It's Mexican cuisine with a creative streak. The house tortilla chips and salsa are excellent, and can fill you right up before your meal even arrives! On the cheap end, quesadillas are $14, flautas (chicken or beef) are $10, and you can get a very large and very satisfying torta (there are a few varieties) with fries for $30; most other meals start with soup and rice before getting to the main dish and go for an average $50, though there are a few dishes that are as high as $180. $45-65.
- Dragón, Calle Hamburgo (between Niza and Copenhague). M-Su 11AM-10PM. Mid-priced Peking style Chinese food, semi-formal atmosphere. The Peking duck is the specialty, also try the beef in orange peel sauce. $150-250.
- Zampano's, Calle Nápoles, Col. Juárez (between Liverpool and Londres). M-Sa. Owned by expats from the US and Australia, this is an excellent and cheap pizza place. The clientele is a mix of expatriates and Mexicans. Try the mariposa salad or the mexigarita pizza (a ot black sauce and tomatoes), then the Ruca Suprema (with everything) or the Ary's Pollito (chicken, corn, and avocado). Beer is 2 for one during happy hour. The music is vibey and if you get inside when it is cold or raining, the oven gives a nice warmth. $60-140.
- Beatricita, Calle Londres 190-D (between Florencia and Varsovia), ☎ +52 55 5511 4213. M-Sa 10AM-6PM. The best tacos in the city. Established by Beatriz Muciño Reyes, who decided to immigrate into the city in 1887 alongside her brother Claudio, hoping for a better life. In the morning, you may enjoy a complete breakfast for $42, which includes: juice, coffee and the pastry of your choice; 2 tacos or eggs in any way you may think of, chilaquiles with eggs or chicken or pork rinds in green salsa. For lunch, there's a menu which includes: soup, rice, and the plate of your choice among 9 typical Mexican dishes, a soda and dessert for just $47. Don't forget to drop by on Viernes Pozolero(Fridays). On weekends, you cannot miss the Pancita en Cascabel (cow guts cooked in cascabel chili sauce) or a mushroom soup. $60-140.
- Fonda del Refugio, Calle Liverpool. Typical Mexican cuisine specializing in sauces and fussy dishes. Great desserts and excellent service. One of the highest rated Mexican restaurants in Mexico City. Founded by a Mexican food critic in the early 1950's, this is the restaurant for Mexican celebrities (Maria Felix) during lunch, and foreign ones during dinner.
- Tokyo, Calle Londres (near the mini-mall Plaza de la Rosa). Excellent food at reasonable prices. Don't miss the $60 set menu (Monday to Friday only). $100-200.
- Cafe Ventura, corner of calles Hamburgo and Genova. A nice place to have breakfast or lunch. You can sit inside or on the patio. They have great meal specials for about 50 pesos. For breakfast try the chicken chilaquiles, or you can just get pancakes.
- Bar Milan, Calle Milan, Col. Juárez (corner with General Prim, a few blocks from the corner of Insurgentes and Reforma). W-Sa 6PM-3AM. Popular with a bohemian crowd, Bar Milan has a very relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere. It has a tendency to get overcrowded however. Plays electronic music and rock We-Th, more Spanish language rock and Latin music Fr-Sa. The mojito is the specialty cocktail. Note: Cash needs to be changed into milagros, the in-bar currency, before use, bartenders and waiters don't accept cash. Larger-denomination milagro bills can be changed back when leaving. $60-300.
- El Colmillo, Calle Versailles, Col. Juárez (corner with General Prim). W-Sa 11PM-6AM. Run by British expatriates, this is one of the best electronic music clubs in the city. Relatively large dancefloor and lots of places to sit downstairs, lounge upstairs. Theme nights, upstairs often plays hip hop, reggae, funk, downstairs tends to be psychedelic trance or house. Often very few people before 1AM or so. $80-120 entrance (''depends on if you want just downstairs or also the lounge, occasionally more on special nights and with international DJs''), $100-300 drinks.
In Amberes street, there are a few places to go and let loose on the dance floor, including:
- BoyBar, Amberes 14, ☎ 5511-3915, . F 3PM-8PM, 11PM-5AM. A nightclub which opens in the afternoon (Fridays only). It has a lobby, 1st floor and terrace. It's very well-known for its 'Dark Room' where people get in and flirt.
- Lipstick, Amberes 1 (cnr Paseo de la Reforma), ☎ 5514-4920, . closed Sun-Tue. This nightclub is one of the hottest in the gay community. It has a 1st floor and a terrace, it has lots of screens on which you can see the videos of the song that's played.
The Zona Rosa is also a very gay-friendly area. In the information kiosks you'll find many guides with gay places to visit in the zone. A good first stop is the BGay cafe on Amberes (a street which also has several other gay bars and clubs).
Some of Mexico City's most renowned hotels are located in Zona Rosa.
- Hostal Casa Vieja, Cerrada de Londres 7, Col. Juárez (between Sevilla & Toledo), ☎ 55 5208 3004, . Simple but sweet guesthouse aimed at backpackers. The location makes it a good starting off point, easily accessible by foot, bus or metro to just about everything.
- Hostelling International Zona Rosa, Cerrada de Hamburgo # 156, building 5, Col. Juárez (Slightly hidden, walk up Hamburgo and turn right into the alley after the 7-11). Awesome location, very nice staff, within walking distance to the Metro at Insugentes and many other area attractions. hi
- Best Western Royal Zona Rosa, Amberes 78, Col. Juárez, ☎ +52 55 9149 3000, . A bit pricey if booked direct. Two in-house restaurants, as well as penthouse poolside bar. Standard room sizes, very clean, with TV, desk, and minibar (fee for minibar use). Free wi-fi throughout the hotel. Since the hotel is a 17-storey tower, and the rooms are on floors 5 and up (ground-4th fl.: parking garage), street noise is not an issue. $80-120.
- Hotel NH, Liverpool 155, Col. Juárez. Modern hotel with a great location. First rate service and the staff are very professional. Hotel has a outdoor heated swimming pool, fitness center and wireless internet access. $81.
- Holiday Inn Express, Paseo de la Reforma 208, ☎ + 52 55 9150 5900, . Inexpensive but surprisingly good value with clean rooms, friendly staff and a great location, just across the street from the WTC. Price includes a free continental breakfast.
- Hotel Marco Polo, Amberes 27, ☎ +52 55 5080 0800, +52 55 5080 0831, . Located on the gayest street of Mexico City, this gay-friendly hotel is an excellent choice for gay and lesbian travelers looking for a well-equipped, moderately-priced hotel in the heart of the Zona Rosa.
- Hotel Geneve, Londres 130, Col. Juárez (two blocks from Insurgentes metro station), ☎ +52 55 5080 0800, +52 55 5080 0831, . This top end hotel is located in the heart of Zona Rosa, making it a prestigious address to stay in. While the hotel has been around since 1907, constant renovations maintain its luxurious interior with dark wood paneling and corkscrew Solomonic columns.
- Embassy Suites by Hilton Mexico City - Reforma, Paseo de la Reforma 69, Col. Tabacalera, ☎ +52 55 5061 3050, . Recently opened, the Embassy Suite offers up a desirable stay. The suites are larger than average, with 2 large flat panel TVs in each room, and a spectacular view from the 17th floor. The building contains an indoor pool and the free breakfast is mouthwatering and delicious, with the cook preparing fresh and local treats. Price also includes 2 hours of free cocktails with light snacks every night.
- Sheraton María Isabel, Paseo de la Reforma 325, Col. Cuauhtémoc (In the Plaza de la Independencia), ☎ +52 55 5242 5555, . Decent, but not impressive 4 star hotel located in the heart of Zona Rosa, next to the HSBC tower and facing "El Ángel" (Monumento a la Independencia) in the heart of the banking district. The bedrooms are of a good size and it has a good gym and pool.
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