Monica Ruzansky’s Rockin’ Guide to Mexico City
A half dozen places you just gotta hit.
For the jewelry designer Monica Ruzansky, there’s no place like home. And though she finds New York plenty appealing, the exuberance of her native Mexico City has no rival. “The energy, the food, the nightlife—it’s addictive,” explains the mastermind behind AILI’s pared-down gems. So book a trip, visit six of Monica’s fave spots, and don’t be surprised if you never want to leave. —mattie kahn
“This delicious place is on the fancy side but still casual. Every time I go back to Mexico, I have to visit it. Make sure to get the soft-shell crab taquitos, tuna sashimi, and the zihuatanejo tiritas—fish cured in lime. They also make their own fluffy and tasty tortillas. And all of this is best when you accompany it with a clamato-michelada.” (Durango 200, Roma, Cuauhtémoc)
“This is a more casual restaurant. I love this place for the aguachile de camarón, which is raw shrimp cured in lime and chili powder. I could easily eat an order for myself and not share.” (Nuvo Leon 109, Cuauhtémoc)
La Lagunilla Market
“La Lagunilla is a really great flea market, where you’ll find all kinds of Mexican vintage objects, old movie props, furniture, toys, clothing… I also go there to visit one of the regulars who sells stones and has an amazing selection of minerals.” (Rayón and Allende)
Mercado de Sonora
“This market is fascinating! It’s divided into different sections. On one side, there are traditional Mexican toys and piñatas. And on the other, there are all sorts things for white and black magic. You can find anything from soaps to attract love, amulets or herbs for any kind of medical condition…I highly recommend it.” (Fray Servando Teresa de Mier 419, Merced Balbuena)
Parque de Chapultepec
“The one place not to be missed is the Parque de Chapultepec. It is the biggest national park in Mexico. Have some flour chicharrones with valentine—a spicy sauce—as a snack while you go for a stroll around the lake, and then go up the hill to the castle for a magnificent view of the city. The castle is now a museum that was once the home of Maximiliano, the ill-fated emperor of Mexico.” (Periodista, Miguel Hidalgo)
“One place where I like to hang out with my friends is an old Spanish restaurant and cantina called Covadonga. You can still find men playing dominos. It is a simple but authentic bar—there is no music, but between the conversations of the crowd, you can hear the domino pieces falling, like a soundtrack to the night.” (Puebla 115, Roma Norte, Cuauhtémoc)
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A Month of West Coast Flea Markets With Workhorse
Shaking up your Sundays.
There’s a name for the euphoria that Zoë Chicco and Nicole and Amber Sutton feel when they approach a promising flea market. “We call it the antiques high,” Amber says. “It’s this feeling of knowing that you’re about to find something meaningful and gorgeous and unique.” Given that Workhorse’s line of handcrafted jewelry is brimming with old-world appeal, these guys ought to know. And these are the markets in and around Los Angeles that they dedicate their Sundays to. —mattie kahn
First Sunday of the Month: Pasadena City College
Nicole: “We tend to head here more for décor objects than anything else, but you can really find all kinds of things here. A little while ago we scored these amazing antler-type horns, and I once left with basically a trunkful of glass decanter bottles.”
Second Sunday of the Month: Rose Bowl
Nicole: “You have to be careful here—it’s probably the most popular market in Los Angeles, so it can be a little overpriced. Still, it’s quite a scene and a fun way to spend a weekend. If you dig deep, you can find some great stuff.”
Third Sunday of the Month: Long Beach
Nicole: “Long Beach is awesome—just amazing. It’s definitely our favorite. The last time we were there, we got a whole bunch of little trinkets and things that we’ll incorporate into next season’s Workhorse collection. How many baby rings have we bought there? Too many.”
Amber: “On a great day, we’ll have gotten so much stuff that we have to go back with another car to just get the haul home.”
Fourth Sunday of the Month: Santa Monica Airport
Nicole: “Santa Monica is smaller than the others, which is nice, because you can get there early in the morning and be done before lunch. The things that vendors sell there are usually a bit higher-end—really nice and kind of European, which we love. Going there is such a good way to wrap up the month, because it’s a little different than the others—a little quirky.”
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Kora’s Insider-y Tour of New York’s Chinatown
There’s more than dim sum.
When the rad gal behind Kora’s earthy-sleek bangles and hammered brass cuffs raved about a candy shop below Canal Street that she calls her “happy place,” we were desperate to know more about her downtown hangs. Ends up Maxandra Short’s love affair with Chinatown goes all the way back to her childhood—she spent her formative years growing up in Southeast Asia. From tea wonderlands to kung-foo shoes joints (seriously), here’s her tour of the neighborhood’s coolest—and possibly weirdest—spots. —carlye wisel
Aji Ichiban: “I am a candy freak. So is my brother—we can both chart the course of our childhoods through candy. Middle school for me was all about these Japanese gummies that I’d get in Jakarta, and I was also obsessed with Polo mints. Whenever I see them, I am brought right back there. Whenever I go to Aji Ichiban, I’m literally giddy with the thought of so much sugar. I always stop here after dim sum and stock up on strawberry sour belts—which they sell by the pound—crystallized ginger, and Pockys.”
Sunshine 27: “Dim sum is a pretty constant Sunday family ritual—and has been since we lived in London, ironically enough. There are a few in our rotation. This is the best and most authentic, food and atmosphere-wise. It also gets insanely packed, so you have to get there early, or wait an hour. It’s not for the faint of heart—the dim sum carts whip around the room at a frenetic pace, so sometimes you have to throw yourself in front of them—but it’s well worth it.”
Nom Wah Tea Parlor: “They serve dim sum all day, which is good if you’ve gotten a late start. It has a lovely vintage vibe to it and is much calmer than Sunshine 27.”
88 Optical: “This has been my go-to eye place for years now. I either get my glasses here or have them fit lenses to vintage pairs I bring in, and they do an incredible job.”
Nyonya: ”Nyonya is the best Malaysian restaurant in the city. I also love people-watching from one of the window tables. Get the Hainan chicken rice and the roticanai, a warm puffy pancake that you dip into this amazing curry.”
Ten Ren Tea Time: “My place for bubble tea. And two doors down, Ten Ren Tea and Ginseng Co. has every kind of tea imaginable. I’m particularly fond of their loose-leaf jasmine tea.”
Grand Sichuan (Canal Street): “To my utter horror, I discovered recently that Grand Sichuan is currently closed—but only temporarily, thank god, while they build a hotel above it or something. This chain is, hands down, the best Sichuan food in Manhattan, and the Canal Street location is the best of all the many Grand Sichauns. People will want to fight me on this, but I’m sticking to my guns. I love to come here with massive groups of friends and share a hot pot, insanely spicy Sichuan dishes, and a lot of Tsingtao.”
Bok Lei Po Trading: ”This is a martial-arts supply store on Mott Street. I go here for Feiyue sneakers—apparently a favorite of Shaolin monks & kung-fu masters—and black slip-on slippers, but if you’re in the market for ninja stars or swords, this is the place for you, too.”
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Anna McKeon Shops Sydney & NYC
Eight stores, two cities—the Wah Wah designer’s take on shop ‘til you drop.
Now that Anna McKeon of the architecturally simple jewelry line Wah Wah has been living in New York for two years, she more or less has two hometowns: her adopted one and Sydney, Australia, where she spent her formative years (and still visits on the reg). Lucky for us, that means she knows the best shopping to be had in both locales. Here, two sets of favorite stores nearly 10,000 miles apart. —olivia seely
“This is the place to go if you’re shopping for more casual apparel. I think of it as the Opening Ceremony of Australia. They’ll do an entire area for Topshop, which is great because it’s a store we don’t have in Australia. They’ll also do unique window displays, like one based on Where The Wild Things Are.” (incuclothing.com)
The Corner Shop
“I go here for a mixture of quirky young designers—those based in Australia as well as abroad. I find the way that the entire store is merchandised to be very inspiring—the window displays give you a sense of culture, and I admire the way they’re able to combine very different designers seamlessly.” (thecornershop.com.au)
“Land’s End is great for international brands (by international, I mean anything not based in Australia). It’s like a miniature gallery. They carry my favorite jewelry designer, Tom Binns—his bold, statement pieces mix materials that you wouldn’t normally see, like plastics with diamonds. When I first saw his stuff, it was like he was designing in a different era.” (landsendstore.com)
“Come here for accessories and peculiar finds. It’s set up much like a vintage store—and they do carry vintage clothing—in the sense that you have to really dig through it all. It’s complete chaos. You won’t immediately find something the first time you go in. I bought a really colorful pleated, printed skirt there.” (capital-l.com)
New York City
Maryam Nassir Zadeh
“This is by far my favorite store in New York, mainly for jewelry and accessories. It’s set up like a small art gallery because the pieces themselves are so unique. They don’t carry any mainstream brands. A lot of the stuff is handmade and one of a kind—you can’t get it anywhere else.” (mnzstore.com)
Creatures of Comfort
“I come here for everything! They always have the best brands. They also stock great shoes. Sometimes they have small exhibitions in the front of the store—recently, that section was dedicated solely to Japanese designers, which I really enjoyed.” (creaturesofcomfort.us)
“This is the place to go for gifts. You can find beautiful ceramic dishes, amazing soaps, unique vases, and these small boxes of wood that smell like lavender—very similar to incense. They also carry really amazing jewelry, which is the focus of the store. Because there is so much to look at, you can discover something new every time you go.” (loveadorned.com)
“I actually like their men’s clothes and accessories for myself. I really appreciate the aesthetic of the store. They use a lot of natural materials so that the pieces stand out. The whole store is very comfortable—it feels like you’re walking into someone’s house.” (assemblynewyork.com)
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Lauren Wolf Takes Us On a Tour of Oakland’s Coolest Neighborhood
Get yourself to Temescal ASAP, everybody.
In 2010, Lauren Wolf and her boyfriend moved from New York City to Oakland, California. And though the designer behind the gritty-but-elegant jewelry line loved her old neighborhood in Brooklyn, she immediately fell for Temescal—so hard that she decided to open a shop, Esqueleto, there. “It’s sort of hidden,” she says, “but it’s a real community.” Here, six of her favorite local haunts. —raquel laneri
Crimson Horticulture Rarities
“Our store’s in a unique space: It’s an alley of old horse stables that have been converted into commercial retail spaces. This horticulture store is just a stone’s throw away from us, and they do a lot of our plants.” (crimsonhort.com)
“Ali Golden is an Oakland-based ready-to-wear designer, and she basically hand-makes all her clothing in her store here. She does really contemporary basics, and they’re awesome. She just started a handbag collection, so I bought a bag—black and white striped canvas with brown leather handles. She’s also making a black silk top for me now.” (aligolden.com)
“Esqueleto’s alleyway connect back to this place called Pizzaiolo. It has been in the neighborhood for about eight years. It’s all local food. The chef who owns and runs the place used to work at Chez Panisse, so it’s really high-quality food and a really interesting menu. Get the pizza, obviously.” (pizzaiolooakland.com)
Mind’s Eye Vintage
“The owners are great girls. They stock the shop based on themes—last month was baseball, so they had a bunch of vintage Oakland A’s pieces. Now they have a ton of vintage bathing suits.“ (mindseyevintage.com)
“This is a sort of upscale Mexican restaurant, and the food is very traditional—I should know, I lived in Mexico! When you walk in you feel like you’re in old-world Mexico: high ceilings, bright colors, tables covered in that plastic floral print. We like to go there for margaritas.” (donatomas.com)
“I love the boxing gym. They offer Muay Thai boxing, an all-over strength conditioning boxing, and it’s really intense. Pacific Rim has been around for a really long time. Before work, I either do boxing here, or I go for a hike in the Oakland Hills, which is just 10 minutes from our house.” (pacificringsports.com)
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Rachel Albright’s Insider-y Guide to Richmond
If you didn’t have a reason to head to Virginia before, now you have six.
Rachel Albright has lived in Virginia her whole damn life, and, though she felt a little style-starved growing up, she’s come to really embrace the local spots that fuel her line Academy Jewelry, which has its roots in Richmond but has gained a much broader fan base. These half dozen spots qualify as her haunts. —olivia seely
Lamplighter Roasting Company: “The best coffee in Richmond, hands down. I think almost anyone here would say the same. It’s the place to be any weekend morning—everyone you know will be there with their dogs in tow. The dark roast is my favorite, and they deliver anywhere in town on bikes, rain or shine!” [Ed: Oh, hey! Rachel’s wearing Dusen Dusen!] (lamplightercoffee.com)
Halcyon Vintage: “This is an absolutely amazing locally owned vintage shop here. Angelica is incredible and totally gets my style—she’s always pulling out things that she knows I’ll love (usually weird pants), and she knows so much about clothing, it’s ridiculous. I’ve been eyeing this floor-length sequin gown for months, I’m just waiting to get invited to a fancy soiree!”
VMFA (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts): “This is actually one of the best places in Virginia, I think. There’s such a great art scene in Richmond. I’ve been known to squeal and cry in art museums from excitement and emotion, and this one is no exception.” (vmfa.state.va.us)
Chop Suey Tuey: “Chop Suey Tuey is a small, locally owned, new-and-used bookstore in Carytown, the coolest part of Richmond. Plus, there’s a cool gallery room with work by local artists.” (chopsueybooks.com)
Need Supply Co.: “I spend most days in the studio here, and absolutely love being part of such a cool, creative team. Everyone is so inspired—it’s a little family of really funny, stylish, and smart people. And, there’s always a steady supply of snacks—Need Supply Co. loves snacks.” (needsupply.com)
The Roosevelt: “It’s my favorite restaurant in Richmond, and not just because my man is occasionally in the kitchen. The best part: my favorite drink, called The Shrub, made of gin, apple cider vinegar, blackberries, and cherries and served with a little love from T, the man behind the bar (who has the best beard in Richmond).” (rooseveltrva.com)
Photos courtesy of Cameron Lewis.
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Six Places on Lizz Wasserman’s Prague Hit List
These are the spots the Popomomo designer says you’ve got to Czech out.
Lizz and her husband Isaac on a visit to Prague in 2007.
It goes without saying that Prague is on most everyone’s bucket list. But for Lizz Wasserman, it’s also the very place where she met her husband and realized she was destined to be a designer. “It had a huge effect on me, knowing that I could take risks and chances and didn’t have to follow a prescribed set of steps to live my life. Which, in turn, allowed me to realize my dream was to be a fashion designer… that I could do it,” says the woman who now heads up the line Popomomo. Suffice to say, she has warm-fuzzy feelings for the place—and some of these off-the-beaten-path finds.
Dům U Zlatého prstenu (House of the Golden Ring): “This small museum is right in the middle of the crazy tourist land that is Stare Mesto. It has a great collection of Czech 20th-century art. In the basement, there’s also a tight showing of Czech contemporary artists. The cafe is a good escape from that neighborhood, too.” (Týnská 630/6)
Bata: “Bata is an important company to Czech history, but instead of browsing the shoes, check out the building. It’s a great example of Functionalist/International architecture by Czech’s favorite modern architect, Jan Kotera. You can’t miss it on Václavské náměstí/Wenceslas Square.” (Václavské náměstí 774/6)
Parukarka: “Prague is all about the beer gardens—almost every park has one. This one is a well-kept secret and the least formal of all of them. You pay a small deposit and walk around a giant park, and there are kegs everywhere!” (tram to Olšanské náměstí)
Traditionals: “Traditionals kicked off my own personal collection of wood textile-printing blocks—they have pieces from a textile factory from the end of the 19th century. They also have great modrotisk, which is beautiful blueprint fabric. (Haštalská 7)
Cajovna ve vezi: “The name of this place literally means Tea in a Tower. It’s a Buddhist tea house in a tower near Letenské náměstí, where I used to live. Take the steps—for what feels like forever—and enjoy tea and little sandwiches with an amazing view.” (Na výšinách 1)
Fraktal: “Near Tea in a Tower is Bar Fraktal. Isaac and I had our goodbye party here when we moved back to the U.S. in 2001, and we went back in 2008. The same cute couple still owns it, and now you can get salads and sandwiches and beer inside or on their sidewalk deck.” (Šmeralova 178/1)
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Caitlin Mociun Takes On Williamsburg
Eight under-the-radar spots the plugged-in designer is willing to share.
Caitlin Mociun’s gorgeous, recently opened shop is smack in the heart of Williamsburg, and the airy, spare storefront has the feel of a gallery—as the crazy-thoughtful jewelry designer sees things, the clean-slate approach helps visitors embrace what’s in store. “In so many shops, customers tend to think, ‘My house doesn’t look like this, so these things aren’t for me,’” she explains. “The space is very minimalist—polished cement floors, stark white walls. There’s not even anything built in yet, so I can move things around on a whim.” She also lives in the ‘hood and is thus a full-fledged Billyburg insider. These are the other places she’s willing to let you in on, as long as you don’t tell everyone you know. —mireille hyde
Mociun: 224 Wythe Ave.! Open Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 8p! (mociun.com)
Pilgrim Surf Supply: “This is a great, cool new surf shop just up the street from my house. I don’t even surf myself. But they have swimsuits too, and I just love the way it’s put together.” (pilgrimsurfsupply.com)
Walter Foods: “Among many other fantastic things, they have an incredible lobster roll. Somewhat snobbily, lobster is my favorite food. It’s just delicious!” (walterfoods.com)
Sprout Home: “I stop by Sprout to pick up nice plants for the shop—they have a super pretty flower shop next door as well. I love the idea of putting teeny plants in ceramics.” (sprouthome.com)
St. Anselm: “This is way better than Peter Luger’s—it recently got written up again, so it’s slammed all the time. But if you like meat, it’s worth the wait.”
Brooklyn Fox and Honey: “These next-door-neighbor spots have a great, well-curated selection of nice underwear and lingerie.” (brooklynfox.com; honeygifts.com)
Bakeri: “This is my go-to spot for absolutely delicious sandwiches, iced tea, and amazing baked goods. They close at 5p, so it’s more of a lunch spot—perfect for grabbing something quick on your way though the neighborhood.” (bakeribrooklyn.com)
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Seattle’s Finest, According to Iacoli & McAllister
The designers give us a tour of the seven spots they heart the most.
Being based in the moody, beautiful, artist-nurturing city of Seattle has had a huge impact on Iacoli & McAllister, and one of the best parts of town, in the humble opinion of the duo behind the line, is Capitol Hill, where they have their studio and create stunning, clean-lined furniture and jewelry. As Jamie Iacoli says, “It’s the densest part of the city, and it’s also the hippest and gayest. I can stumble outside, and there’s a ton of amazing local, seasonal restaurants within a five-block radius and a real sense of community.” Here, Jamie gives props to the places in her adopted hometown—Capitol Hill and beyond—that she and her cohort Brian McAllister can’t get enough of.
Elliott Bay Book Company
“They have a great magazine stand and amazing coffee, and the space is beautiful. It’s a half a block from the studio, so we go there every few days to have a coffee and to flip through magazines.” (elliottbaybook.com)
Volunteer Park Conservatory
“This park is a 15 to 20 minute walk from our studio. The conservatory has stunning views of the city, an Asian Art Museum, and a gorgeous greenhouse.” (volunteerparkconservatory.org)
“Walking in here makes you feel like you’re on a movie set—it’s that sickeningly sweet Pacific Northwest sort of place, and it’s great. There’s a sandwich shop, cheese shop, flower shop, butcher, oyster bar, wine bar, and one of Matt Dillon’s restaurants, Sitka & Spruce.” (melrosemarketseattle.com)
“This Belltown neighborhood shop was started by our dear friend and photographer Charlie Schuck. He carries beautiful—beautiful!—objects [Ed: See the America mirror above], and he throws some fun parties, too. We call him Good Time Charlie. He’s magnetic.” (hereisobject.com)
North Cascades Highway
“The photos of this road say it all. It’s part of what makes this area magical.”
“Our great friend Jill Wenger is the owner of Totokaleo. She’ll be moving to our neighborhood, Capitol Hill, soon, opening a much larger store with home goods. I go to her site at least three times a week for wardrobe inspiration.” (totokaelo.com)
Ferry to Bainbridge Island
“It’s a 35 minute ferry ride from downtown Seattle across the sound to Bainbridge Island, and it is the best way to see the city—for only $6.50.” (wsdot.wa.gov)
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Laura Lombardi’s Seven Most Trusted Chicago Spots
This transplant knows the coolest stuff happening in her locale.
Although Laura Lombardi hails from New York, she traded in the apple for some wind in 2008—a move motivated by a desire to continue art school in Chicago, but that instead led to the creation of her eponymous line of vintage-fueled metal jewelry in 2009. These days, Laura makes all of her designs by hand from her west-of-downtown studio—which is right across the hall from fellow Of a Kind alum Sarah Fox of Cursive Design. Here, the jeweler shows off her favorite digs in her adopted hometown. —jiayi ying
The view of downtown Chicago from Laura’s studio.
“Architectural Artifacts is a great place to look around and get lost. It is in this big warehouse and is filled with salvaged pieces—giant industrial tables from forever ago and church doors, for example. The man who owns it travels all over the world to source them. He just got back from Argentina with these incredible pots that were made from wood and strips of horse hair.” (architecturalartifacts.com)
A feathery game on display at the Field Museum.
The Field Museum
“I really like the Chicago Field Museum—it’s kind of like the Museum of Natural History in New York. They have artifacts from throughout the ages, and I love to go there for inspiration. I took this picture there a while ago—it’s of a Native American game.” (fieldmuseum.org)
Mmm…Milk & Honey granola.
Milk & Honey
“Milk & Honey is one of my favorite places in my neighborhood. They have really good housemade granola that they’re locally famous for—it’s sold at all the grocery stores here. It was one of the first places I ate at when I got to Chicago, and it’s always one of those places I keep on going back to.” (milkandhoneycafe.com)
Laura’s setup at Dose in October 2011.
“Dose started in Chicago this year. It’s a monthly market that combines food and fashion. A lot of local restaurants, designers, and boutiques participate—I try to make it down there every month. It’s held at the River East Art Center, which sits right on the river—it’s this gorgeous place with high ceilings and a beautiful view.” (dosemarket.com)
“The Find opened this year on Grand Avenue, which is right by my studio. That street is known for having a lot of furniture and interior design stores, and I think The Find has the most beautiful collection—they have these hand-embroidered flags and interesting cowhide pieces. They really curate the selection.” (thefind-antiques.com)
A peek inside Eskell.
“This boutique in my neighborhood carries a bunch of really great lines like In God We Trust and Erin Considine, as well as their own designs. It’s my go-to when I need something cute to wear.” (eskell.com)
“Merz is this different-from-the-norm apothecary—it’s sort of a one-stop shop for things that aren’t easy to come by here. They have beet candles, fun gift bags, and a lot of European products. I have this awesome gold toothbrush from there. You know those Minx nails in that super-bright gold? It’s like that!” (merzapothecary.com)