Whether it’s punk, garage, alternative, or metal, rock music is just as popular in Mexico as some of the more traditional music like cumbia or norteña. Here are eight spots across the country where you can hear some of the country’s best new rock and rollers, or simply sit back and listen to some classic covers.
One of rockers’ favorite Mexico City bars for live music is Caradura, which hosts bands ranging from punk to indie to hardcore bangers. An intimate space in Mexico City’s hip Condesa neighborhood, the crowd is young, energetic, often sweaty, and passionate about live music. Make sure to bring ID (many places in Mexico City don’t check, but Caradura does) and just show up on a random night to see what happens. You’re sure to be in for a great show.
The city of Monterrey is known for its love of rock and live bands. At Nirvana Rock Joint, you’ll find live music every week, along with buckets of beer, fancy cocktails, and bar snacks like guac with roasted crickets and tacos. This is one of the city’s best rock venues, though you can also sit back and enjoy some classic tunes in the background. Don’t miss ladies’ night, where beers are two for the price of one for the female clientele.
Café Iguana is a place with a lot of history in Monterrey. Even during the tough years when historic downtown was a ghost town due to violence, this bar held on and stayed afloat. They have a multi-room space that features various music genres throughout the week, from jazz or funk to metal and everything in between. Now that the Centro is back in the spotlight, this is a fantastic spot to see some live music… and drink a forty from a paper bag—that’s right, it’s that cool.
Abel’s is a part of Ensenada’s growing bar scene that hosts rock bands from across the peninsula and the country—don’t miss it if you’re in Baja. It has a classic your-buddy’s-garage kind of ambiance, and a full bar with some delicious Ensenada craft beers, along with nachos and other classic bar snacks.
El Imperial is one of the best and most popular live-music venues in Mexico City, particularly for fans of rock and electronica. Their decor leans toward all things vintage and antique, and the space is frequented by hipsters and lovers of alternative. The venue itself is a two-story building with a stage on the first floor and a pulsating dance floor on the second floor, which is known as “El Room.” Usually, national rock bands perform at El Imperial, but it’s not uncommon for international bands to take to the stage.
A classic dive bar and pool house, Metro Bar has live bands on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and a rock ‘n’ roll ambiance that will make you feel you’re among friends. They have an ample menu of national beers either in bottles or on tap, classic cocktails (nothing too fancy pants), and traditional bar food: sandwiches, burgers and fries, tacos, and a selection of wings. They offer reasonable prices for food and drink—and, of course, pool.
This eclectic venue hosts art and film events, sports viewings on flatscreen TVs, and of course live music. At La Palapa, you’ll find classic rock, cover bands, and metal groups every Friday. They have a bar area, a private VIP space on the second level, and a main stage area. They’re open during the day and serve food like nachos and tacos. There are always special promotions.
One of Puebla’s best places to see live bands that aren’t just 1980s cover bands, Bourbon St. has an old-school style and features soul, new jazz, rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly, and rhythm and blues. The food is American-style casual, but everything is made in house with deliberate care for the ingredients and preparation. This is no preppy hangout or pretentious cocktail bar, but a place for authentic music lovers who want to sip their whiskey and chill in a no-frills bar with a great grungy ambiance.