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 places on this list are some of the coolest. Local chains such as Gandhi and El Sótano have become solid, respected brands over the years.

Cafebreria El Pendulo photoPhoto by nan palmero

Though the books line the walls of Mexico City’s Cafebrería El Péndulo, this place offers so much more. Visitors can order breakfast and is indeed a great place for a fancy weekend. You can have lunch and dinner from the cafe and drinks from the bar, all while enjoying live music, poetry readings, stand-up comedy, improv, and more.

This cafe/bookstore even has valet parking. The dining gets less formal over each floor — table dining on the ground floor, sofas and reading for the cafe on the first floor, and a bar on the second floor. Come Saturday and Sunday mornings for great live classical music.

Not only is the food great, but this is also a very interesting place to hang out. They have an amazing collection of old records that you’ve never seen in the United States and there are interesting books from the best Latin American authors.

Cafebreria El Pendulo photoPhoto by nan palmero

The store has a large selection of novelty gift items, too. Some of which are journals and pens, perfect for documenting your vacation. Be sure to give a nudge to the pendulum that is suspended from the ceiling before heading out. The sand-filled, cone-shaped pendulum swings back and forth, making patterns as it is given a gentle push.

This is a beautiful, multilevel bookstore with cafe seating on each level, including a rooftop cafe (sadly, not open first thing in the morning). Their selection of books is good and the staff is most willing to help you locate anything you might be looking for (even if your Spanish is broken at best).

Breakfast offerings are ample and fresh. Have a lovely fruit, yogurt, or granola platter (a day off from the usual Mexican fare) and very, very good strong coffee. The service is quick and polite, the atmosphere is welcoming.

It’s amazing how gorgeous spots hide in plain sight, and such is the case of El Péndulo, one of the prettiest neighborhoods in the city. You will really enjoy the ambiance. It’s a unique little spot for sure.

Easy access – The well-lit bookstore/cafe/bar has an impressive selection of good books. Both Spanish and English books are available. Staff is nice and pleasant. While waiting to buy a book, various floors have coffee and dessert. The downside is that all the books are sealed with shrink wrap so you can’t even scan before you buy to see if that’s the one you want.

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