No one quite remembers when the hipsters started flooding into what is still a rather Kiwanis-club-style banquet hall for Mexico’s Spanish community, but they’re here to stay. Arts and media types, often in large, vociferous groups, favor the ground-floor cantina—a wide-open, too-brightly-lit space featuring a fabulous midcentury bar—where they rub elbows with domino-slamming old-timers. Yes, drinking is the big idea, but the menu of old-school Spanish fare (tortilla omelettes, croquetas, seafood, and pork dishes) is entirely serviceable, particularly after midnight when attendance peaks (it’s said it only closes after everyone clears out, almost always in the wee hours). Everyone who’s anyone claims to be “over” Covadonga, yet there they are, nightly, cutting up with beloved friends; keep your eyes peeled for genius writers you wouldn’t recognize anyway.
For libations in Colonia Roma, visit the cantina Salón Covadonga, where waiters in white shirts and bow ties serve up palomas, tequila drinks made with grapefruit soda. At this sprawling local institution, you’re just as likely to find old-timers eating pulpo (octopus) and playing dominoes as you are to see groups of modern-day beatniks discussing the current art scene—Joy Hepp. This appeared in the May/June 2011 issue.