As cool and practical as e-readers are, bookworms from all over the world will agree on this: Nothing beats the feeling of hanging out in a bookstore for hours, browsing among the shelves, picking up a few books, and maybe starting to read one right there in the store’s coffee shop. For everyone who can relate to that thrill, Mexico City has many excellent options. Publishing houses with major history (like Porrúa and FCE, or Fondo de Cultura Económica) have their own bookstores all over town—although the locations in this list are some of the coolest– while local chains such as Gandhi and El Sótano have become solid, respected brands over the years. And don’t miss El Péndulo, a mini-chain of laid-back bookstores with restaurants inside, where you can catch live music or poetry readings from time to time. Read on for my take on the five best bookstores in Mexico City.
Ask pretty much any local about Porrúa, and we’ll all say we remember reading their editions of the classics in high school. As one of the country’s main publishing houses, Porrúa has several bookstore locations all over Mexico, but the prettiest one is its flagship store right in Centro Histórico, set in a cool, colonial-style building.
Known by many for its clever ad campaigns, this bookstore chain also has several locations all over the country, ans many of them include a café. The stores’ wide selection is definitely top-notch, and they’re especially good at stocking foreign-language books. Bonus: this location is known for excellent customer service.
Cafebrería El Péndulo
This coffee shop-meets-bookstore has six locations around the city, but the one in Polanco is particularly welcoming. Located inside a cool, bi-level house with wall-to-wall shelves, comfy couches and lots of plants, it’s perfect for browsing for hours and then meeting a friend for coffee–or just having coffee with your new books.
The original location of this bookstore opened in a basement in the 1960s—hence the name—but was destroyed in the 1985 earthquake, so this branch has been the headquarters ever since. Aside from books, you can stock up on DVDs and BluRays, CDs, plus all sorts of knickknacks and toys.
FCE Librería Rosario Castellanos
Another major Mexican publishing house, Fondo de Cultura Económica has several bookstores in the country, but the sleek space in Colonia Condesa is a stunner. With indoor cacti and a skylight, it’s worth a visit just because of the space itself, but culture vultures will rejoice at the sight of thousands of books and films for sale.