Nightlife in the city’s Centro Histórico is often not praised like the Colonia Roma or Condesa, but the fact of the matter is downtown has lots of great options for going out. Whether it’s views you’re after, the perfect cocktail, or a seedy corner to make-out, here is a list of bars we think you will like.

1. Bosforo

Bar, Mexican

© Scott Mattoon / flickr

Get your mezcal fix at Bosforo where you can find a long list of different mezcals from different regions of the country as well as beer chasers. There’s not much else in the way of cocktails, but it’s not necessary. The bar inself feels a bit like an old warehouse (in fact it might actually be an old warehouse) with few chairs and lots of cool, scruffy-looking kids hanging out and talking politics.

2. Las Duelistas

Bar, Mexican

© Katie Bordner / flickr

Suprisingly, this hole-in-the-wall pulque bar has become very popular with the young, college (and let’s admit it, High School) crowd. Most afternoons it’s packed with young people downing buckets of slimy pulque and chattering away elbow to elbow. The place is a classic and unlike other pulque joints which tend towards dark dens of alcoholism, the vibe here is light and friendly, even for foreigners.

3. Bar La Opera

Bar, Mexican

Bar La Opera
© StellarD / wikimedia commons

If you have a flair for the historically dramatic, spot in at the Bar Opera and take a look at the hole supposedly shot into the ceiling by Emiliano Zapata. This old decadent beauty of a bar was once the place to see and be seen in high-class Mexican society and was the after hours hang out for the city’s opera, as you might have guessed from the name. The liquor list here is never ending, but no fancy molecular, smoke-infused cocktails, just straight-up regular drinking. The food is also really good, with escargot and octupus some of the favorites.

4. La Azotea

Bar, Mexican

La Azotea Bar
© Lydia Carey

With an incredible view of the Centro’s main park, la Alameda, La Azotea has a great list of signature cocktails and a short menu of contemporary Mexican food. This bar sits atop the hip Barrio Alameda with contains a bevy of nice shops and eateries. The bar is all the way up at the top and there is no elevator, so don’t get stumbling drunk before you go. Better yet, stay at the eco-boutique Chaya B&B and only have a single set of steps to go up and down.

5. Zinco Jazz Club

Bar, Nightclub, Mexican

Zinco Jazz Club
© Noé Martínez / flickr

You can’t get jazz at any old place in Mexico City, and Zinco’s is a prime spot to catch both national and international acts. With the downstairs basement vibe of a New York joint, Zinco’s usually has a cover to see the band and moderate list of all things alcoholic at the bar. Right in the heart of the Centro Histórico, you’ll miss this place if you don’t pay attention (its sign is barely visible) so you can be sure it won’t be packed with tourists.

6. Hilaria

Bar, Mexican

Located on the first floor of the Centro Joyero (a complex of jewelry stores), Hilaria gastropub has dozens of craft beer brands from around the world and a full menu of classic Mexican dishes with a twist. Take note of the mural of Cantinflas, Dolores del Río and El Indio Fernández, famous personalities in Mexico and have yourself a mezcal cocktail to finish off the night.

7. Downtown

Bar, Boutique Hotel Restaurant, Mexican

Downtown Hotel Bar
© Lydia Carey

On the rooftop of the Downtown Hotel is the hotel bar that is open to guests and non-guests alike. The rooftop swimming pool is probably the only one you will find in the entire city and the view from the heart of the Centro Histórico is breathtaking, especially at night. The space is all open-air so cooler nights demand a sweater or jacket. The cocktails, while on the pricier side have a solid mixologist behind them.

8. El Mexicano

Bar, Mexican

Regina Street
© Thomas_H_photo / flickr

A divey student hangout on one of Centro Histórico’s main streets for nightlife, Regina street, El Mexicano sells curados – pulque flavored with all variety of fruit and spice – mezcal and a full menu of Mexican dishes including roasted grasshoppers on guacamole. There is seating inside and out but outside is much cooler as the cramped indoor space tends to heat up with the onset of evening. Staff is friendly, but busy, so don’t expect hyper-attentive service.

9. Miralto

Restaurant, Bar, Contemporary, Mexican

Miralto holds the charm of an earlier era, with waiters dressed in white button downs and black vests and an art deco decor. Once the tallest building in Mexico City (and the first skyscrapper to be built in a siesmic zone) the Torre Latinoamerica where the bar is located has some of the most extensive views of the city that are best enjoyed just as the sun sets and the lights below begin to twinkle on. The drinks are a little watered down and the service is terribly slow, but the ambiance and the view are worth every moment.

10. Tenampa

Bar, Mexican

El Tenampa
© FlyingCrimsonPig / flickr

The main attraction of the Centro’s Garibaldi square is the Tanampa bar, where the beer is drunk by the draft and the tequila flows freely. Often packed with singers and revelers on the weekend, this is a classic spot on a Mexico City pub crawl, albeit a little cheesy. Mariachis roam the restuarant playing songs for a few bucks and the restuarant overflows with colorful paper flags and other Mexican flair.

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