The Best Bars in Mexico City
You may know Corona, Tecate, and Modelo, but there’s much more to Mexico City’s bar scene than exported beers. Try domestic craft brews, wine from Baja California that’s rarely exported, and local spirits like tequila, mezcal, and pulque. For something less spirited, visit the many cafes where you can drink coffee or chocolate at any time of day.
Aguascalientes 232, Hipódromo, 06100 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
One of many mezcalerías in the trendy Condesa neighborhood, Alipús Endémico distinguishes itself by extensive wine, beer, and cocktail menus in addition to the selection of mezcal—tequila’s more complex cousin. Nearly all of the beverages and spirits here are from Mexico, so sample the varied flavors of the country. Worried about imbibing too much? There’s a kitchen on site where you can order specialties inspired by the state of Oaxaca, including guacamole with chapulínes (grasshoppers).
Calle Querétaro 225, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Biergarten, located on the roof of Mercado Roma, is a hip urban artisanal food market in the equally popular Roma neighborhood. This is a casual, open-air spot where you can try locally-crafted beers from the barrel or in a bottle. There’s always a beer of the month—and while the hoppy stuff is the house specialty, there are plenty of other options, too. There are classic and contemporary cocktails, as well as smashes (try the Mezcal Smash, with Semillero Mezcal, cinnamon simple syrup, and pineapple).
Is this polished industrial space, in an odd corner of the Centro, the thinking man’s disco? Organizers prefer to speak in terms of a cultural center, and the installation’s multiple spaces are venues for everything from literary events and screenings to a dynamic agenda of live-music performances. But it’s the DJs and dancing that are bringing in crowds, crowds that are alternative and low-key, creative, sex-pref-neutral, and seemingly little impressed that their hangout has become so fabulous. Priced-to-move libations and overall edginess keep the crowd skewing young; the space’s various environments add variety to your night out—and sometimes there’s even a place where you can chat (or canoodle) without screaming.
Local F, Av. Emilio Castelar 107, Polanco, Polanco IV Secc, 11550 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Josélo’s location right on the periphery of Parque Lincoln—a peaceful park in the upscale Polanco neighborhood—is one reason to stop by for a cup of coffee. You can sit at a second-floor table and overlook the park as you sip and take a break from the capital’s chaos. The other reason to visit is the coffee itself. Beans here are sourced from the state of Chiapas, one of Mexico‘s main coffee-producing regions.
We live in the age of artisanal everything, from chocolate and coffee, to, you guessed it, water. At Mexico City‘s Casa del Agua, staff produce and bottle “local water” on-site. The bottles—designed artisanally, of course—are charming souvenirs that you can use over and over again (with your own, less expensive water) once you’re home. Be sure to go to the second level of the shop to see the filtration process, and to the terrace level to see where the water is captured.
In a country that produces as much coffee as Mexico, you might expect more cafés to feature domestic beans, but that’s not always the case. At Café Avellaneda, however, you can be certain that the coffee in your cup was brewed from beans grown in the Mexican states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, or Veracruz. The space is small but staff is warm and welcoming, and it’s an ideal spot for a cup of coffee before or after visiting La Casa Azul, also in Coyoacan. If you get your cup to go, head to Coyoacan’s main plaza (pictured here) and enjoy its fountain and people-watching.
A few years ago, Bósforo was a nondescript bar in the capital’s Centro Histórico (Historic Center) neighborhood. Its decor was nothing to write home about; in fact, it was so dark it was hard to make out whether there was any decor to speak of. Fast forward to today, and the dark, dull interior hasn’t changed. Nor has the bar’s focus: mezcal. The smokier cousin of tequila is an agave-based spirit that has grown exponentially in popularity over the past several years. Most of the bar’s offerings are small-batch mezcals in bottles with handwritten labels. What you try today may not be available at all the next time you visit. What has changed in the past year or two is Bósforo’s visibility. Once a bar that was really only for locals in the know, Bósforo is now visited by mezcal lovers from all over the world. If you’re a fan of the spirit—or you haven’t yet tried it and would like to—Bósforo is worth a night out in the Centro.
87 Calle Ometusco
The setting of Felina Bar feels somewhat like hanging out at a friend’s apartment: all vintage chairs and couches, with low lighting and jazz setting the scene. Don’t rush the bartenders, who mix drinks with great attention and will happily tell you about spirits and the burgeoning Mexico City cocktail scene.
Av Oaxaca 87, Roma Nte., 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
As its name suggests, gin is the spirit of choice at this cocktail bar, which is inspired in every way by all things “across the pond.” Mixologists and servers in button-down Oxford shirts prepare and deliver—what else?—gin and tonics in a setting that’s all pinstripes and British kitsch. Live music rounds out the scene; check the bar’s Facebook page for the current lineup.
Londres, Juárez, 06600 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Mexico City’s fun speakeasy shows no signs of stopping. Officially a membership club, ambitious gate-crashers (doll up and don’t be pushy; foreign accents not a liability) should look for a rather forlorn, seemingly late-night Calle Londres sandwich shop. Are those customers and employees real? Once you’ve talked your way through the air-lock-style door to the back room, you reach a genie’s bottle of a lounge, outfitted in sexy, disco style. Groups take booths and others sit at the bar where surprisingly friendly—and deeply knowledgeable—bartenders shake, stir, garnish, and ignite some of the city’s most showstopping haute cocktaillerie. They’re happy to make your usual, but why not let go a little, allowing mixologists to add their surprising touches? A winning combo of insiders-only and everybody’s-welcome. [Editor’s note: Go to the Hanky Panky Facebook page and send them a direct message. They’ll respond with the exact address and a reservation.]
439 Paseo de la Reforma
If the city has you overwhelmed, whether by its chaos or its abundance of choices, and you want to take refuge in the familiarity of a hotel bar, you can’t do much better than St. Regis’s King Cole Bar. Sit inside at the bar or on one of its loungers and enjoy live music with your drink, or—better yet—head out to the terrace, where you can watch traffic zip by on the city’s main avenue, Paseo de la Reforma. You’ll also be looking out upon the Diana the Huntress fountain, a snapshot-worthy landmark in this city that has no shortage of them. In fact, you can also see the Angel of Independence statue and Chapultepec Castle from here. As for drinks, the must-try is the Sangrita Maria, a blend of mezcal, sangrita, and pasilla chile puree. Every St. Regis bar creates a signature cocktail, and this one is definitely representative of Mexico City. If you’re a smoker, ask to see the bar’s cigar selection.
Malintzin 155, Del Carmen, 04100 Coyoacan, CDMX, Mexico
Co-owner Diego Luna, one of Mexico‘s most internationally recognized movie stars, helps draw celebrities and other see-and-be-seen folks to La Bipo, his bar in the Coyoacán neighborhood. Designed as a cantina-style watering hole, La Bipo has a full cocktail bar and plenty of beer options. Decor is inspired by Mexican pop culture. As one example, the menu evokes lucha libre by appropriating the same kind of font used for posters promoting Mexican wrestling.
Calle Isabel la Catolica 30, Centro Histórico, Centro, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Whether you’re new to mezcal or have already added it to your repertoire, you’ll probably like La Botica, a mezcal bar among The Shops at Downtown in the Downtown Hotel in Centro Histórico. The bar is on the smaller side, with all tables for two, and it’s a good place to have a drink or two in the late afternoon–perhaps before dinner at Azul Histórico, an excellent restaurant on the ground floor of the same building.
Av. Álvaro Obregón 106, Roma Nte., Cuauhtémoc, 06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
One of the capital’s original contemporary cocktail bars, Limantour ranks #20 on the World’s 50 Best Bars list. Mixologists here take their sweet time to make drinks, so don’t plan on stopping by if you’re in a hurry; the idea is to slow down and savor the experience of having a drink crafted carefully for you. Cocktails are named for places that inspire them or from which their spirits were derived. Try the Pernambuco, prepared with paprika-infused Cachaça from Brazil and mixed with a compote of plantain, vanilla, and lemon.
Tonalá No. 23, Roma Norte, Roma Nte., 06700 Cuauhtémoc, CDMX, Mexico
The specialty at Artemisia is absinthe, and the bar even has its own French-made custom blend. The bar space located within the Porifiran-era mansion is small and intimate—better to enjoy your drink, staff says (and to control noise and crowds, one presumes). And while absinthe is the main reason patrons show up here, Artemisia (which is also a restaurant) does offer a full range of other spirits and will happily make a cocktail for you with whatever tipple strikes your fancy.
Calle Milan 14, Juárez, 06600 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
The establishment bears two names for a reason. Lenox is the front room, a restaurant chasing after that holy grail of U.S.-style diner food that’s just refined enough to appeal to the beautiful people (remember Max’s Kansas City?). Tables are tight and eavesdropping may be impossible to avoid, so watch what you say. Behind Lenox lies Parker, a larger (if just as crowded) space, home to live music, sexy lounge areas, and a long, shimmering bar whose staff is thoroughly up-to-date on the latest craft cocktails. What might first seem like a cliquey crowd opens up after a drink or two.
Plaza Garibaldi 12, Centro, 06010 Centro, CDMX, Mexico
Full disclosure: It’s authentically tourist-tacky in Plaza Garibaldi, the traditional Mexico City center for mariachi music and culture. But when you’re ready for a serenade, you’re ready. The plaza fills up late at night, every night, with a motley crew of local revelers from all walks of life, plus visitors, vendors, and dozens of extravagantly attired orchestras. Taking a table at Salón El Tenampa, right on the plaza, may afford a modicum of order. A Garibaldi institution beneath its fabulous neon sign, this music hall pulls in a fascinating, Felliniesque crew of misbehaving pencil pushers, shady ladies, brokenhearted tequila swillers, wide-eyed travelers, and slumming hipsters. Strolling bands—usually pretty good—are available for hire, but bring them in close to your table to avoid sonic interference from every other trumpet in the joint.
Independiencia # 26 Centro, Colonia Centro, Centro, 06050 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
A step through Tío Pepe’s swinging saloon doors is a walk back in time indeed, to a classic cantina (dating to the 19th century) that, while skewing divey, harbors no ill will toward thirsty people of all stripes. Some regulars prefer to just stare into beer mugs, but you’ll also see mixed groups of colleagues from nearby offices popping in for attitude adjustments. Leave the haute mixology for another venue; but do take in the long, elaborate bar and whimsical beer-barrel light fixtures—something you just don’t get much anymore. Note that unlike many traditional cantinas, you’ll find zero food here, so BYO peanuts or potato chips if you’re feeling peckish.
Copenhague 6, Juárez, 06600 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Hidden Xaman is a trip to the post-technology future, a mysterious, underground garden in the center of the urban jungle. Once you’re in—finding it takes some poking around—craft mixologists take the Mexican liquors you know and push them to the edge. The bartenders showcase rare ingredients like cempasúchil marigold, xoconostle prickly pear, and cacao, not to mention artisanal vinegars, spooky tinctures, and kombucha teas, presented in line with all-but-inscrutable pre-Hispanic names. Electro-shamanic beats from resident and guest DJs take you back to that lost weekend in Tulum. So hip it hurts but all are welcome.
Calle Dinamarca 44, Cuauhtémoc, 06600 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
A brother-sister expat duo has opened this chic slice of Brooklyn in Colonia Juárez, the neighborhood currently angling to be Mexico City’s hippest. No complaints on that account at Cicatriz, whose open, industrial-styled storefront is a forum for several daily moods. No-compromise coffee and a variety of alternative baked goods form the morning agenda; lunch means a major emphasis on locally sourced greens in great salads and roasted iterations; the meatball and fried-chicken sandwich are both major crowd-pleasers as well. After five, it’s time to get your drink on; the bartenders deliver superior, crafted quaffs, but free from all the fuss you’ll see at other haute mixology spots. The earnest, healthful menu is enhanced by an overall vibe of do-it-yourself chic.