Written by Stephanie Carmon
In keeping with the true spirit of having the fortune of living a mere 20 minutes’ drive to the sea, most Meridians leave town during the month of July and into the first two weeks of August installing themselves at the beach. They either own a house, rent a house, couch surf at their friend’s house—however they make it happen, they are chillin’ in their hammocks under the sun and over that sand. Some people make it back to the heat of the cement jungle during the week, but mostly the weekends are de playa.
When I first arrived in Merida, eight years ago, I remember that during this time the town would completely empty out. It was a ghost town. Everyone was beach life-ing. However now, if you aren’t paying too close attention you might not notice that most Meridians are gone because Merida has grown into such a metropolis and there are so many visitors that it is just as busy in town as it is at the beach. Nevertheless, it is fascinating to note this cultural migration.
One of the best parts of this phenomenon is that not only the people move out to the beach, but nearly all nightclubs, big restaurants and cafes set up in their temporary beach residences too. So besides the classic beach restaurants where you can get fried fish and ceviche, there are some of Merida’s favorite fine dining places as well. This happens in Chicxulub Puerto, located eight km east of the Progreso, and 65 km north-northeast of Merida. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. This quiet fishing town turns into little Ibiza making it a great place for fun, great food and an attractive ambiance. For those of you who may be interested in dancing your way through the night, there are numerous places to go and different types of music to hear. For those who like a festive atmosphere, but are not keen on the all-night outing with Merida’s finest, you can still partake in this uniquely Yucatecan summer season and dine at one of your favorite Merida restaurants such as La Recova Beach, La Gloria, La Parrilla or Esvedra, just to name a few.
Last Friday I went out with photographer Luis Morales Machado to check out the scene and we ended up at 4 different places. I started the evening at 7:30pm and ended it at almost 4am. All four were recommended to me and I now recommend them to you.
First stop was La Recova. This family owned and operated Merida favorite is always a perfect choice for dinner. The beach location opens at 7pm till 1am Tuesday through Sunday. We showed up pretty early by Yucatecan standards so there were only a few diners, which was just fine for us! Victor Campos, whose family owns this establishment, and his fiancé Diego Ceron were our gracious hosts and dinner buddies for the evening. If you want to try out an elegant dinner experience at the beach, this is your place. We tried the grilled octopus, abalone carpaccio and Argentinian empanadas: two words—Damn Good. It has an A/C indoor dining area as well as an outside area as well. Be sure to make a reservation if you are planning on going after 8pm, though, because the place gets packed!
Located on the corner of Calle 19 and 50 Chicxulub.
Our second stop was La Gloria. I frequent this upscale cantina in Merida and the beach location is definitely just as cool. The refreshing sea breeze makes it a place where you would be perfectly happy spending the whole evening. They serve traditional Mexican dishes with a slight gourmet touch. The guacamole, fried cauliflower and tacos al pastor pictured below are amazing! Because it is a meeting point for those just starting their night, they also have some good drink specials. There is a young, hip feel to La Gloria, yet it caters to a wide range of ages. The music is a variety of Mexican classics and modern pop. It opens at 7pm, however the party atmosphere really gets going around 10pm-3am. It’s a great place to enjoy the night with friends.
Located on corner of Calle 19 and 40.
The third spot we cruised was Esvedra. It’s located right across the street from La Gloria so that made things easy. This place gets totally packed around 10pm, so definitely a reservation should be made in advance. It is a fun and young crowd 25-35 years old or so. The music is DJ style club-like music and there is a disco ball shooting light beams all over. They have a pizza bar with a wide variety of toppings and the aroma of the wood fired pizza coming fresh out of the oven are too tempting to pass up. We also enjoyed some breaded shrimp tacos. Esvedra is another meeting place to start the night out before going to the clubs. It is open Thursday through Saturday, 9pm-3am.
Located on corner of Calle 19 and 40.
The fourth and final destination of the night was Honky Tonk. Personally, this is one of my favorite night clubs in the city. At the beach, it was incredible because you are under the stars. It caters to a crowd between 30-50 and above. It is a dueling club where there are live musicians in the center of the club playing on the piano, drums, guitar and all musicians are singing. They play a wide variety of music from rock to pop in English and Spanish. They take song requests and can play just about anything. It’s a place to go if you want to dance, and sing along with the band. It’s great to see everyone thoroughly enjoying themselves in this place. It opens at 9:30pm, and really gets going till 12pm-4am.
Located on the highway from Progreso to Telchac (in Chicxulub) it is past Los Trompos, the big taco place, on your way to Uaymitun. After Chinitos and before Mares. Huge black wall with the name in big white letters.
These are just four spots out of many at the beach. If you want to try something different and take part in the Yucatecan beach nightlife, I would suggest heading to Chixulub for the night. It’s great excuse to get out of the city for night time fun and breathe the fresh sea air.