Mexico is a booming destination that is only gaining popularity now that most international travel is limited. And when it comes to travel, where you stay matters and can really make or break a trip. No one knows this better than Brandon Berkson, the founder of Hotels above the park, a expertly curated online guide to articles under two minutes long designed for the discerning traveler, with a focus on upscale and avant-garde boutique and independent hotels.
This website is unique for many reasons, but one of the best things is that it offers the traveler easy-to-read 300-word stories written by travel journalists, as well as beautiful images. And a visually stunning and informative Instagram page, @HotelsAboveBy, which has garnered more than 70,000 subscribers since its launch in April 2020.
We chatted with Berkson about some of his top picks for coolest boutique restaurants and bars.
From Spanish colonial-style interiors and sprawling courtyards to innovative food, wood-burning grills, and insect-based dishes, here are eight of Mexico’s must-see hotel restaurants and bars, as Founder Brandon Berkson said. of Hotels Above Par.
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico
âThe Spanish colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, is my happy place – I could spend the rest of my life there. I’m in love with architecture, courtyard cafes, art galleries and, of course, the boutique hotel scene. So, if you’re a fan of the perfect balance between authenticity and trend, this city and the hotel I’m about to tell you about is for you. When here, I almost always stay at Casa Hoyos. It’s super cute, with 16 rooms and an overall aesthetic that blends colonial styles with the vibrant contemporary vibrancy of Mexican design.
âThe hotel has a fantastic rooftop bar, BEKEB. It’s run by master mixologist Fabiola Padilla, who returned to Mexico after helping run Enrique Olvera’s New York restaurant and bar, Cosme. I was recently at BEKEB and I met Fabiola, who introduced me to her treasure trove of cocktail creations. We talked for hours, sipping cocktails while lounging on trendy earth-toned furniture. Among others, my favorite drinks were the Carajillo Allende – blend of espresso, cocoa liqueur and banana liqueur – as well as the Lavender Sour – served in a bird-shaped glass, it consists of gin, Cocchi Americano , Violet Cream, Aquafaba, and lemon.
Location: Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico
âOaxaca de JuÃ¡rez is authentic, authentic and culturally rich – it’s largely untouched by commercial dynamos, making it the perfect destination for those looking to immerse themselves in the province of Mexico (expect colorful buildings and shops full of traditional crafts). When here, I recommend staying at the Sin Nombre hotel. The setting is a 17th century colonial style building with 22 rooms. It has a very charming, high-ceilinged courtyard atrium where guests can relax, snack and sip wine after a day of sightseeing. â
âThey have an incredible gastronomic establishment, the Sin Nombre restaurant. Illustrious Mexican chef Israel Loyola has designed a menu here that features vegan interpretations of authentic Oaxacan dishes. From the impeccable presentation of the plate to each tasty bite, the black mole with roasted cauliflower is amazing. I highly recommend ordering it on your next vacation to Oaxaca de Juarez. â
Colonia Roma, Mexico City, Mexico
âThe trendiest neighborhood in Mexico City is Colonia Roma! Best to explore on a tour with an expert guide, Rodrigo Salas (@ Roll.in.CDMX). He knows everything about the area, from all the posh boutiques and authentic food markets to fine art-style mansions. The area is also home to Mexico City’s most stylish new hangout, the Brick Hotel. It’s totally my style: 17 rooms, olive tones, suites with floor-to-ceiling windows, charming terraces and a underground bar on the ground floor.
âThe hotel’s restaurant, CerrajerÃa, artfully serves modern Mexican cuisine with an international influence from France and the Basque Country. The decor features floor-to-ceiling windows and an open floor plan with plops of lush foliage throughout. Chef Armando Acosta’s dishes are so tasty, you’ll want to make a dinner reservation there every night of your stay. I’m a big fan of Kampachi Tiradito with Macha Sauce – it’s a perfectly prepared raw fish plate that wins both in presentation and flavor.
Centro Historico, Mexico City, Mexico
“I am a big fan of everything Habita Group, one of the trendiest hotel groups in Mexico. Wherever I am in Mexico, if there is a Grupo Habita property in this city, I always try to visit it. On my last trip to our neighbor to the south, I was particularly impressed with their hotel in downtown Mexico City. It is located in the historic district of the city and a short walk from the famous ZÃ³calo. Its interior and exterior in Spanish colonial style are breathtaking.
“But, the best part? The courtyard restaurant, Azul HistÃ³rico, which has a charming patio covered with towering trees. The place is perfect for a romantic dinner. My favorite dish might not appeal to everyone, but I’m a pretty adventurous eater: Guacamole con Chapulines, or Guacamole with Grasshoppers. Don’t say “no” right away, they are amazing. For dessert, finish your meal with their delicious tres leches cake. Take a slice of it and count it as a cheat meal – you’ll thank me later.
Hotel: Casona Sforza | Restaurant: Restaurant Casona Sforza
Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico
âLocated on the beach in the increasingly trendy seaside town of Puerto Escondido, Casona Sforza is, in my opinion, a boutique hotel and a design lover’s dream. Its 11 vaulted suites, neutral tones, tropical woods, and natural textures collectively contribute to its impressive aesthetic that stands out from other hotels in the area.
âTheir on-site restaurant and bar is atmospheric, with an enticing patio that overlooks the sea. As for food and drink, everything is farm-to-table and sourced from local producers. When you are here you must try the Mezcal Jamaica, which includes EspadÃ¬n Mezcal and hibiscus flower infusions in its recipe. There’s nothing like sipping this cocktail while watching the sun go down.
Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California Norte, Mexico
âValle de Guadalupe is the perfect weekend getaway for those who live in Southern California, less than a two hour drive from the San Diego / Tijuana border. Since it’s an easy ride, it’s a great option for those who want to take an international trip but don’t yet feel comfortable flying. When here I like to travel with regional expert Erick Rosales (@BajaTourGuide). It offers a wide range of tours that include border pickup and drop-off.
âOn my last trip, we went to Bruma Casa 8, which is home to one of my all-time favorite restaurants, Fauna. They also have an on-site winery called Bruma Vinicola. The atmosphere is alluring here, especially the outdoor patio and its views of vineyards and hills in the distance. Run by celebrity chef David Hussong, the farm-to-table restaurant sources ingredients from its on-site herb garden. The menu is always changing, however, for the most part their special braised lamb is still on offer. This dish is irresistible; I talk about it all the time, to this day.
Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico
âThis beachfront hotel is absolutely beautiful, both the accommodation and the restaurants on site. For all Cabo lovers, this place must be on your list, especially if you’re a fan of unique stays that don’t feel like cookie-cutter and mega-resort. My favorite is the Sea Grill, which is right on the sand and decorated with ocean-toned furniture. Golden hour is the best time of day here, especially with the color of the sky, the rhythmic sounds of waves crashing in the background, the hot air, and one of the restaurant’s margaritas in hand. â
âOn the gastronomic side, they are known for cooking on wood-burning grills and earthen ovens. I have so many favorite dishes, but if I had to pick one I’d probably go with the Vegan Coconut Ceviche. When in Mexico and on the beach, I always go for the ceviche! Overall, the food is very clean here, with items even more nutritious than ever, a result of the hotel’s new partnership with plant-based lifestyle brand Bonberi.
Hotel: Paradero Todos Santos | Restaurant: Restaurant Paradero Todos Santos
Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico
âThe Paradero Todos Santos is one of the coolest new hotels in Mexico. It’s located in the bohemian-chic town of Todos Santos, an hour north of Cabo. The property is carefully ecological, avant-garde and unique; in fact, it has a plan of 80 percent landscape and 20 percent man-made structure. Chef Eduardo Rios – who was once at Mexico City’s famous restaurant, Pujol (another amazing place to eat when in the capital) – heads the show kitchen at Paradero Todos Santos. It serves Mexican coastal cuisine.
âFood is fresh, with the majority of ingredients sourced from local and on-site gardens, surrounding family farms, as well as the Pacific Ocean and Sea of ââCortez. They make their corn tortillas from scratch, in a clay oven. Believe me when I tell you these corn tortillas are phenomenal and you have to order a plate with them, at least once during your stay.