Cantinas, bars and drinks that may seem a bit strange or let’s say unique to this country are a big part of Merida and Mexico’s nightlife.
A cantina in Mexico traditionally is a kind of bar frequented by males for drinking alcohol and eating free botanas (appetizers), and sometimes singing the blues and passing out on the curb as they leave the premises! They open at 12pm and close at 10pm. There are some cantinas that are still like that, mostly in the deep Centro, where, as a woman, I would not go in by myself or with a group of friends. However, a new concept of cantinas has been the trend for a long time, the hours, vibe and look in general casual with plastic or simple tables are the same, but they are places frequented by all sorts of people. You go there to listen to music, drink inexpensive drinks and laugh with friends. Lots of groups do cantina tours and go from cantina to cantina to eat free food and drink beer, tequila or mezcal!
A good group for this is Tour Cantinero MID
Drinks you may have never tried until you came to Mexico
Now, here in Mexico there are many ways you can drink a beer. You can get it with sweet and sour with gummies, hot sauces and candied with salt or chamoy to give it that special touch.
- The Michelada is a drink made with beer, lime juice, assorted sauces Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce (often chili-based), spices, chili peppers and many times accompanied with a stick of gummied spice chamoy. It’s not for the faint at heart, but most definitely a favorite.
- The Chelada is what I call beer lemonade. It’s actually quite good on the hot 110 degree days in Merida, They serve you a beer and a glass with ice and a good amount of pure lemon juice in the bottom, no sugar. The glass rim is salted and you pour the beer over the ice. It’s a beer lemonade! Or a chelada and it is super refreshing.
- Ojo Rojo this one is similar to a bloody mary but with beer and also similar to a michelada. It is very popular for those who have had a long night out and need a refresher in the morning. It’s the hangover beer. It has lime, salt, hot spices, clamato, pepper, worcestershire sauce (and if in Yucatan many times they will add in chamoy). As is with the bloody mary, the bartenders get creative.
What free snacks do they give you at the cantinas?
In many cantinas in Mérida you can enjoy more than 20 types of traditional Yucatecan snacks. In the best cantinas, such as Lucero del Alba (known for the great botanas) they may bring to your table small plates of papadzules (an egg enchilada with pumpkin sauce), kibis, tacos, spaghetti, and even main dishes in mini size such as relleno negro and poc chuc. You get all this for free with your drink. Other cantinas like the famous La Negrita, give you just some popcorn with hot sauce and fried pig skin, so it depends on where you go. But either way it’s a good way to drink, but have something in your stomach too.
We are going to start the tour with one “cantina” that was popularized by their traditional “chivos,” or jumbo glasses with the secret michelada recipe that has been passed through generations.
La Casita de Paja
A traditional house with a thatched roof that has quenched the thirst of thousands of Yucatecans for generations, a few years ago it became popular offering legendary micheladas accompanied by snacks, music and a safe environment for everyone.
Rodrigo V: Excellent historic cantina in the city, one of the few that are still truly canteens, 5 stars
La Cantina El Porvenir
After drinking one “chivo” or maybe 2 and a delicious snack, our next stop is La Cantina El Porvenir where the waiters are the hosts and vodka with natural grapefruit juice is one of the stellar drinks.
“Very nice atmosphere, beautiful old “cantina” with minimalist touches, good prices, I loved it” Enrique.
Alejandro j: Good and comfortable place, especially if you are looking for a good price and a place to be among friends. 5 stars
Cantina el Cardenal is an excellent option if you like good food and live music and a variety of snacks to share with friends. We recommend the garden area, a cool place with excellent acoustics.
Jorge M: It is my favorite cantina, the beer is very cold, they have a great choice of cocktails, the food is delicious, you can talk, there is a place available to be comfortable, the atmosphere and decoration are excellent, 5 Stars.
Another spectacular option to close the night is Salón Gallos, a restaurant bar, with a Lebanese-Yucatecan gastronomic fusion, cinema and wine bar.
The place has a particular charm that will transport you in an atmosphere with good music that will make you forget the outside world.
Lucero del Alba
Both restaurant and cantina they are a great place to start a cantina tour because they bring you real food with your booze!
Evee G. I like the place, you eat very well! the atmosphere is delicious, they have live music, it seems super appropriate and it is so much better if you get a place on the terrace, 5 stars.
The house of Jazz in Mérida. At Dzalbay they have to best music scene in town. They have a different band every night of some of Merida’s top musicians. Historical and bohemian bar with craft beers, mezcal, signature cocktails. It’s a great place to meet foreigners and locals alike.
Learn more about Dzalbay in the following article from our online magazine: LINK
Lucy C: Little corner in Mérida where you can enjoy live music, blues and jazz accompanied by your favorite drink and delicious chat. The visit is highly recommended. Affordable prices. 5 stars.
Old and renovated bar in the Historic Center. This is a great place for live Cuban music every day and a packed ambiance where many gather to enjoy the afternoon. They offer draft beer, a full bar, snacks, homemade lunch and dinner, a place where you can enjoy with friends and dance all day.
Sharon H: You may have to wait in line to get in but it’s worth it! 5 stars.
LGBT+ sport bar to have fun and enjoy a good time with music, snacks and delicious drinks.
Claudia A. ¡I love this cantina, by far my favorite! 5 stars.
What was your favorite place? Tag us on social media and share your adventure! Thanks for reading us, do not forget to share the online magazine with your friends.