Drinking dens with music and saloon-style cantinas, serving artisanal mezcals, margaritas and more, make up the after-dark scene in the Yucatán state capital.
While many in-bound revelers to Mexico’s Caribbean coast head straight to the party zones of Cancún or Playa del Carmen, you’ll find plenty of tequila flowing and salsa stirring in the Yucatán state capital, too. Increasingly cosmopolitan Mérida is home to the main university and students aplenty seeking fiestas. A steady stream of backpackers and traveling tourists joins fun-loving locals in the growing number of buzzing bars in the city, too. Read on for a rundown of our favorites.
It’s the easy-going atmosphere and great-value drinks that bring a younger, up-for-it crowd to this buzzing cantina. Interiors are awash with vintage furniture and curios, adding to the hip retro vibe. Oaxacan mezcal is the drink of choice for many of the patrons, so this busy bar soon fills up with people dancing and singing to the regular live bands who grace the stage here. Tacos also flow, filled with everything from zucchini flowers to crunchy crickets.
Over a century since it first opened its saloon-style swing doors, El Cardenal Cantina qualifies as the oldest bar in Mérida. Its semi-updated, old-school vibe balances hip with history, making it a popular haunt for locals and out-of-towners alike. There’s a decent selection of bottled craft beers and artisanal mezcals, too – most take their drink to the pleasant open-air patio. Regular live music and a great pizza menu complete a top-notch nightspot.
Great live music and cheap drinks pack people into this fun and friendly city-center cantina. As the name suggests, pulque (alcohol made from the sap of an agave plant) is available here, including a selection of cocktails made using the millennia-old alcoholic drink. The ancient tipple is not to everyone’s taste, so there’s plenty more on the menu, from mezcals and micheladas (a cocktail of beer, lime, juice and spices) to classic shots and artisan beers. Tasty finger food and Mexican-style snacks keep growling bellies at bay.
This self-dubbed “beer and party room” is among the most atmospheric spots in the city – choc-full of colorful murals, busy tiling and a rough-and-ready charm. It’s known for its great cocktails and some pretty good bar-food staples. But it’s the fiesta that really packs them in every weekend, with thumpingly good live reggaeton, salsa and cumbia (Colombian folk) music that quickly fills the dance floor. There’s a pleasant garden as well when you need a break from the heady scene inside.
This high-ceilinged, down-to-earth establishment is the perfect spot for a no-nonsense evening of drinking, eating and live music. It’s surprisingly big when you step inside, with chatty bartenders, cheap cocktails and generous happy-hour promos. There’s a second bar in the lovely big shady garden out back and belly-filling bar food to keep you going. Entertainment also comes in the form of foosball, vintage video games and one of the best pool tables in town.
Looking for more to do in Mérida? Start your day off with a visit to the most interesting Mayan ruins in the area before settling in for an evening at one of the best restaurants in the city. Book your base for exploring Yucatán’s capital now with Culture Trip. If Mérida takes your fancy, go further, and explore the rest of the area by booking a stay in nearby Campeche and visiting the best markets in not-so-far-away Cancún.
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