The Gig, Stay, Eat and Dance Info You Need for Vive Latino (March 14-17)
GIG An exhilarating cultural incubator and a hive of new ideas, Mexico City also turns into a rocker's paradise when Vive Latino hits town--bringing with it a roster of Latin rock royalty (Los Autenticos Decadentes, Los Amigos Invisibles and Enjambre), buzz bands like Tame Impala (whose Kevin Parker says that playing in the capital "was the first time we felt like rock stars") and major international stars, this year including Morrissey, Blur and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. "The vibe, the intensity, the happiness--it's just crazy," Mexican songstress Carla Morrison raves. The festival's presence can be felt throughout the diverse neighborhoods of the sprawling city. Offstage, look for the indie hipster acts and the fans that love them in the buzzing streets of Condesa, which Nacional Records VP of artist and client relations Jennifer Sarkissian notes, "is the trendy go-to spot for cool little venues, sidewalk cafes and overall hipness." (Check out Cafe La Gloria and Le Patio at Condesa DF.) Sebastian Franco of Mexican rock act Bengala loves the easygoing La Colonia Roma, also now a magnet for the creative classes, with its cool shops like Chic by Accident (chicbyaccident.com) and such galleries as Galeria OMR (galeriaomr.com), currently showing Gabriel de la Mora. History buffs will want to gravitate to Coyoacan, once home to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, with its cobblestone streets and charming restaurants.
STAY Mexico's hottest hotelier Grupo Habita (grupohabita.mx) has four sexy Mexico City properties--Habita Hotel, Condesa DF, Distrito Capital and Downtown Mexico--that are hubs for the music set, drawing the likes of Radiohead, U2, Nick Cave and Katy Perry. Also big with music types is a buzzy W Hotel (starwoodhotels.com), where everyone from Justin Bieber to Pitbull to Justice and Britney Spears have been spotted. Its Whiskey bar is a genuine scene, but the bon vivant's choice would be the Preferred Hotel Group gem in the trendy Roma neighborhood, Hotel Brick (hotelbrick.com). Its chic Loncheria Olivia and Brasserie La Moderna restaurants are both overseen by celeb chef Richard Sandoval.
EAT For non-natives, it's a no-brainer to eat indigenously here, as the Mexican food back in the States pales in comparison. Matador Records director of publicity Nils Bernstein, a Mexican food aficionado and frequent habitue of Mexico City, raves that Contramar (contramar.com.mx) has "the best seafood and people-watching" (the Tuna Fillet Contramar is a specialty), but for the budget-minded he suggests Pacifico 7 (located at Orizaba 156), owned by Bengala's Franco. (Try the Tostados de Marlin.) DJ/producer Camilo Lara swears by his favorite taqueria, El Fogoncito (multiple locations, fogoncito.com), while Arts & Crafts Mexico co-founder Armando David Ortigosa loves the "amazing Mexican food at Nicos" (Cuitlahuac 3102), known for its locally sourced cuisine. For something truly atmospheric, BMI director of writer/publisher relations for Latin music Marissa Lopez says Sanborns at Casa de Los Azulejos (casadelosazulejos.com) "is a beautiful restaurant in a building from the 16th century." Lunch is especially buzzy.
DANCE Though there's more than enough music to catch at the festival itself, for some local flavor, Ortigosa also recommends taking in the "great jazz bands at Zinco" (zincojazz.com). El Imperial Club (Alvaro Obregon 293) is another amazing spot for live music, with gorgeous vintage-style interiors. But to rub shoulders with Mexico City's beautiful people, Sony Music VP of A&R Guillermo Gutierrez suggests the sexy, cocktail-centric Apotheke DF (Durango 205) and also the after-hours scene at the secretive, industrial-mod M.N. Roy (mnroyclub.com), which epitomizes the city's fashionable nightlife.