Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mexico City Cantinas

Here's a great story from the BBC looking at Mexico City's forgotten cantinas. I'm not a big cantina goer myself but I do enjoy visiting when out with new arrivals to the city. There are some low-down fun places in the centro historico, crumbling away.

BBC Travel has this one.

Clustered around the historic centre of Mexico City are hundreds of old and crumbling cantinas. Following years of neglect, the cantinas and city centre are now staging a comeback.

"The government has rescued the centre. The streets are cleaner, safer and customers are returning," said the Ricardo Mancera, the operator of the La Ópera cantina. Cantinas are a cornerstone of Mexican cultural heritage and the emergence of a young art and design scene in the centre is helping to keep the cantina tradition alive.

Cantinas were historically a private space for men to drink, talk and play dominoes. Now a refuge for men and women, cantinas are busiest between 2 pm and 5 pm, but stay open until midnight. Beer and tequila are the drinks of choice and many cantinas serve botanas (appetizers) after a few rounds of drinks. Music is part of cantina life and wandering guitarists and singers ply their trade for around 30 pesos a song.

The best cantinas in the centre are within blocks of each other and easily visited on foot.

See the story for a review on some of the best hidden gems in old Mexico City, including:

El Tío Pepe (Independencia 26, at Dolores)

La Ópera (5 de Mayo 10, at Gante)

El Río de la Plata (República de Cuba 39, at Allende)

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