Mexico’s Coolest Boutique Hotel Restaurants And Bars, According To Hotels Above Par Founder Brandon Berkson

Mexico’s Coolest Boutique Hotel Restaurants And Bars, According To Hotels Above Par Founder Brandon Berkson

Mexico is a booming destination that’s only increased in popularity now that much of international travel has been limited. And when it comes to travel, where you stay matters and can truly make or break a trip. No one knows this better than Brandon Berkson, the founder of  Hotels Above Par, an expertly curated online guide of under-two-minute articles designed for the savvy traveler with an emphasis on high-end, design-forward boutique and independent hotels.

This website is unique for many reasons, but one of the best things is that it offers the traveler is easy-to-read, 300-word narratives written by travel journalists, alongside beautiful imagery. And a visually stunning, informative Instagram page, @HotelsAbovePar, which has garnered over 70k followers since its April 2020 launch.

We chatted with Berkson on some of his top picks for coolest boutique restaurants and bars.

From Spanish colonial-style interiors and sprawling courtyards to innovative gastronomy, wood-fried grills and insect-driven dishes, here are eight of Mexico’s must try hotel restaurants and bars, as told by Brandon Berkson, Founder of Hotels Above Par.

Hotel: Casa Hoyos | Bar: BEKEB

San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico

“The Spanish colonial town of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico is my happy place — I could spend the rest of my life living there. I am in love with the architecture, courtyard cafes, art galleries, and of course, the boutique hotel scene. So, if you’re a fan of finding a perfect vacation equilibrium between authenticity and trendiness, this town 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 mixes colonial styles with the vibrant contemporary dynamism of Mexican design.”

“The 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 & bar, Cosme. I recently was at BEKEB and sat down with Fabiola, who introduced me to her treasure trove of cocktail creations. We talked for hours, sipping cocktails while lounging on fashionable earthy-toned furniture. Among others, my favorites drinks were the Carajillo Allende — mixes espresso, Cacao liquor, and Banana liquor — as well as the Lavender Sour — served in a bird-shaped glass, it consists of gin, Cocchi Americano, Crème de Violette, Aquafaba, and lemon.”

Hotel: Hotel Sin Nombre | Restaurant: Restaurant Sin Nombre

Location: Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico 

“Oaxaca de Juárez is authentic, genuine, and culturally-rich — it’s largely untouched by commercial dynamos, making it the perfect destination for those looking to immerse themselves in provincial Mexico (expect colorful buildings and shops full of traditional craft). When here, I recommend staying at Hotel Sin Nombre. The setting is a 17th-century colonial-style building with 22 rooms. It has a super charming, high-ceiling courtyard atrium where guests can lounge, nibble, and sip wine after a day of touring the city.”

“They have an amazing fine-dining establishment, Restaurant Sin Nombre. Illustrious Mexican Chef Israel Loyola masterminds a menu here that offers vegan interpretations of authentic Oaxacan dishes. From flawless plate presentation to every tasty bite, the Black Mole with Roasted Cauliflower is incredible. I highly recommend ordering it during your next Oaxaca de Juarez vacation.”

Hotel: Brick Hotel | Restaurant: Cerrajería

Colonia Roma, Mexico City, Mexico 

“Mexico City’s trendiest neighborhood is Colonia Roma! It’s best explored through a tour with expert guide, Rodrigo Salas (@Roll.in.CDMX). He knows everything about the area, from all the chic boutiques to the authentic food markets, to the storied beaux-art style mansions. The barrio also hosts Mexico City’s most-stylish new haunt, Brick Hotel. It’s totally my style: 17 rooms, olive-like tones, suites with expansive windows, charming terraces, and a bottom-floor speakeasy.”

“The hotel’s restaurant Cerrajería artfully serves modern Mexican food with international influence from France and Basque Country. The décor flaunts floor-to-ceiling windows, and an open floor plan with plops of lush foliage everywhere. Chef Armando Acosta’s dishes are so tasty, you will be wanting to make a dinner reservation there every night of your stay. I am a huge fan of the Tiradito de Kampachi with macha sauce — it’s a perfectly-prepared raw fish plate that wins in both plate presentation and flavor.”

Hotel: Downtown Mexico | Restaurant: Azul Histórico

Centro Historico, Mexico City, Mexico 

“I am a huge fan of anything Grupo Habita, one of Mexico’s trendiest hotel groups. Wherever I am in Mexico, if there is a Grupo Habita property in that town, I always try to visit it. During my last trip to our southern neighbor, I particularly was in awe by their Downtown Mexico hotel. It sits in the city’s historic district and is a short walk away from the famous Zócalo. Its Spanish colonial-style interior and exterior are stunning.”

“But, the best part? The courtyard restaurant, Azul Histórico, which hosts a charming patio space canopied by towering trees. The place is perfect for a romantic dinner. My favorite dish might not appeal to everyone, but I am quite an adventurous eater: Guacamole con Chapulines, or Guacamole with grasshoppers. Don’t say “no” just yet — they are amazing. For dessert, finish off your meal with their yummy tres leches cake. Get a slice and count it as a cheat meal — you will thank me later.”

Hotel: Casona Sforza | Restaurant: Casona Sforza Restaurant 

Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico 

“Located on the beach in the increasingly trendy beach town of Puerto Escondido, Casona Sforza is, in my opinion, a boutique hotel and design lover’s dream. Its 11 vaulted suites, neutral tones, tropical woods, and natural textures collectively contribute to its awe-inspiring aesthetic that stands out from other hotels in the area.”

“Their in-house restaurant & bar is atmospheric, with an alluring patio that looks out to the sea. Food & drink-wise, everything is farm-to-table and sourced from local producers. When here, you must try the Mezcal Jamaica, which includes Espadìn Mezcal and infusions of hibiscus flower in its recipe. There’s nothing like sipping this cocktail while witnessing the sun go down. 

Hotel: Bruma Casa 8 | Restaurant: Fauna

Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California Norte, Mexico 

“Valle de Guadalupe is the perfect weekender for those who live in Southern California — it’s less than two hours by car from the San Diego/Tijuana border. Being that this is an easy drive, it’s a great option for those who want to take an international trip but don’t feel comfortable flying just yet. When here, I like to travel with regional expert Erick Rosales (@BajaTourGuide). He offers a wide range of tours that include pick-up and drop-off at the border.”

“With my most recent trip, we went to Bruma Casa 8, which hosts one of my favorite restaurants of all time, Fauna. They also have a winery on-site called Bruma Vinicola. The atmosphere is alluring here, especially the outside patio and its views of vineyards and rolling hills in the distance. Led by renowned Chef David Hussong, the farm-to-table restaurant sources ingredients from its on-site herbal garden. The menu is always changing, however, for the most part, their special braised lamb is always offered. This dish is irresistible; I talk about it all the time, to this day.”

Hotel: Las Ventanas al Paraíso | Restaurant: Sea Grill

Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico 

“This beachfront hotel is absolutely gorgeous, both the accommodations and on-site restaurants. To all the Cabo lovers out there, this place needs to be on your list, especially if you’re a fan of unique stays that don’t have a cookie-cutter, mega-resort feel. My favorite is the Sea Grill, which is right on the sand and decorated in ocean-toned furniture. Golden hour is the best time of day here, especially with the color of the sky, rhythmic sounds of crashing waves in the background, warm air, and one of the restaurant’s margaritas in hand.”

“In terms of gastronomy, they are known for cooking via wood-burning grills and clay oven. I have so many favorite dishes, but if I had to pick one, I would probably go with the Vegan Coconut Ceviche. When in Mexico and on the beach, I always go towards the ceviche! Overall, the food is very clean here, with even more nutritious items now than ever — a result of the hotel’s new partnership with plant-based lifestyle brand, Bonberi.”

Hotel: Paradero Todos Santos | Restaurant: Paradero Todos Santos Restaurant

Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico 

“Paradero Todos Santos is one of Mexico’s coolest new hotels. It’s set in the bohemian-chic town of Todos Santos — one hour north of Cabo. The property is thoughtfully eco-friendly, design-forward, and unique; in fact, it has an 80 percent landscape, 20 percent manmade structure blueprint. Chef Eduardo Rios — who formerly was at famous Mexico City restaurant, Pujol (another amazing place to eat at when in the capital) — is at the helm of Paradero Todos Santos’ open kitchen. He serves Mexican coastal cuisine.”

“The dishes are fresh, with majority of the ingredients sourced from local and on-site gardens, surrounding family farms, as well as the Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez. They make their corn tortillas from scratch, in a clay oven. Believe me when I tell you that these corn tortillas are phenomenal and you must order a plate with them, at least one time while there.”

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