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Merida Night Life


Mérida is a great city; life here is more relaxed and slow-paced, but once the sun goes down, you will discover an important truth: Yucatecans know how to party, and they’re good at it. Testament to this are the numerous bars and discos scattered throughout the city, too many to count. Here at Yucatan Living we have undertaken the painstaking job (it’s tough, really…) of probando (trying out) an assortment of different nightspots to give you an idea of what’s out there when it’s Friday night and you’re ready for a little fiesta.

La Parranda (note: there are two, one in the centro and this one, in the north) is a lively, outdoor bar that’s usually crowded on most nights not only because it is a popular place, but also because the staff crams their tables into a small space. The décor is like Friday’s, but Mexican-style: sombreros, piñatas and red, white and green banners adorn the brightly painted walls. It’s always loud at La Parranda, especially when the live band plays (every Friday and Saturday night). If you’re lucky, along with traditional Mexican favorites like Luis Miguel and Ricky Martin, the band might play a few American pop songs, with questionably accurate lyrics. The various TVs scattered throughout the bar play music videos, and of course the music playing and the videos never seem to correspond. The drinks are not exactly cheap: about $30 pesos for a cerveza and $40 for mixed drinks, but it’s the fiesta atmosphere that makes the bar worthwhile. Save money and get a pitcher for $55.

El Cielo Lounge in Merida, YucatanIf you’re looking for a place to see and be seen, check out El Cielo, the aptly named terrace lounge bar/disco. Be prepared for a sometimes painfully long wait at the door, however, if you don’t know anyone behind the velvet rope or aren’t a hot chick (being blonde helps, too). People push and wave their hands in the air at the bouncers manning the door, trying to gain entrance. What fun! Once you do cross the threshold and climb the metal stairs to “heaven,” you’ll be greeted by minimalist, white décor accented by lazy neon lights. The bar is completely open to the air with one part covered by a roof. You can sit at high tables or low, white tables with white couches and square cushions. At first glance, the furniture looks posh and sleek, but a closer look reveals the wear and tear of many a borrachera such as cigarette holes, stains from spilled drinks and black streaks and rips from high heels. If you do get a table on open bar nights, the waiter will bring you a bottle of either vodka or rum, a bucket of ice, glasses and mixers for your table so you can be your own bartender. El Cielo plays mostly techno music, with some Spanish and English pop thrown in, and often invites guest DJs to spin. For everyone, the cover is cheaper before 10:30. It depends on the night, but women pay between $0-100 pesos and men between $30-150 pesos. Thursdays and Saturdays are open bar and Fridays are pay as you drink. It’s a good idea to make a reservation.

Mambo Cafe in Merida, MexicoFor a taste of the tropics and to test your salsa-dancing skills, head to Mambocafé in Plaza Las Américas. An older crowd usually frequents this disco, but twenty-somethings go too. Outside the music pulses, beckoning the experienced dancer and the two-left-footed alike. Once inside, choose a sala (there are two) and head to a table. A DJ warms up the crowd with latino pop music before the real show begins: a salsa band. They take the stage in front of a waterfall, and couples make their way to the dance floor in anticipation. The Cuban musicians dance and sing with such high energy and the floor literally shakes with the crowd’s appreciation. Don’t worry if you can’t dance, just have a good time with the flashing lights, smoke machine and Caribbean rhythms. During breaks, the DJ plays reggaetón, so you can either rest at your table or break it down some more. There is no cover charge on Wednesdays. Thursdays are open bar, women $70 pesos and men $150 pesos. Fridays and Saturdays have a general cover of $60 pesos for men and women.

Planet Bowl in Merida, YucatanMérida is not without a bowling alley, either. Planet Bowl, a two-story bowling and pool behemoth offers 32 lanes of bowling paradise, a pool room with around 15 tables, an arcade and a bar with full menu of all the junk food you need to bowl. Downstairs is the normal bowling alley and upstairs is “cosmic bowling,” which means music, UV lights that make the pins and space-themed walls glow, and waiter service. If you decide that bowling isn’t for you, but drinking is, then head to the small but comfortable bar and sit at one of the low tables surrounded by couches. All around on the walls are TVs playing music videos, but sometimes you can catch something more entertaining, like a video of incredible stunts. Normally the beers cost $22 pesos and mixed drinks cost $30 pesos, but on Mondays and Fridays it’s happy hour 2 for 1 from 6-9 pm. If there’s a lot of you (or if you just want to get really drunk,) order a cañon, a tall cylinder of cerveza with a tap at the bottom. On Tuesdays, bowling is 50% off.

If it’s a casino you’re after…well too bad, because that’s illegal in Mexico. However, various places have been able to bend the rules just enough to be called centros de entretenimiento, or entertainment centers. This means that inside you can find slot machines, bingo, and depending on the place, sports betting.

Golden Island in Merida, YucatanOne of the newest, Golden Island, was constructed in the Planet Bowl style (and it’s right next door), as a mammoth box. Upon entering this 24/7 game center to the sound of easy listening/lounge music, an abundance of slot machines greets the eye, mostly being played by an over-40 crowd. The first thing to do is buy a card for $100 pesos to use on all of the machines. Then, get to it. Being a casino novata, or novice, I had to have the rules of the game explained to me twice by two different employees, and they were still almost impossible for me to understand. But after pushing some buttons, losing some money, then winning it back, I got the hang of it. Once out of money, just ask one of the attendants walking around on the floor to recharge your card for you; the minimum amount is $50 pesos. If you get hungry or thirsty, there are free soft drinks, but no alcohol, and snacks for a price. On Fridays and Saturdays starting at 2 a.m. they serve free pozole and chilaquiles. To claim your winnings, you have to leave the building (why?) and open a door on the outside where you will find room with a lone employee behind a glass partition counting money.

La Orden is a quirky bar above iiches(see below) with, believe it or not, a medieval theme. When it first opened, the waiters dressed in sinister-looking brown monk robes, complete with hoods. Thankfully they’ve abandoned that fashion statement in favor of more traditional waiter-garb. Amazingly, the bar still has a dark, dungeony feel to it even though it’s on the roof and open to the air. You can get a view of Prolongacion Montejo if you sit at one of the tables around the edge. On weekend nights there is a band that plays Spanish rock music and will take requests, if you have any. They have “snacks” on the menu, but they are little more than defrosted cheese sticks, French fries, etc. A pitcher of beer goes for $70 pesos.

If you’re tired of watching music videos or live bands and want something different to entertain you at the bar, check out iiches, a bar offering all the board games you could ask for. Located underneath La Orden, you can’t miss it because it has big, yellow smiley faces on the windows, presumably because playing board games and drinking is a happy combination. Grab your iiches (“friends” in Mayan) and take your pick. They’ve got Jenga, Battleship, Uno, dominos, Chinese checkers, Parcheesi, even Risk and Twister. The beers go for around $30-$35 pesos and mixed drinks from $30-$60 pesos and it’s ALWAYS 2 for 1, meaning they bring you two beers at once. Unless you’re a really fast drinker, the second beer gets warm by the time you’ve finish the first. Still, it’s pretty funny to play Uno in Mexico… I feel like I should say “One!” instead.


To drink a cerveza under a thatched roof without leaving the city, go to Lapa Lapa (read: la palapa) The first thing you see inside is the huge bar, showcased in the center of the room and on a lower level than the rest of the area. Towering above everything is the stage where bands play on weekend nights, usually rock tunes in Spanish and English. One night the singer did a pretty good rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, getting most of the nonsense words correct. Here you can buy a liter (yes…a liter) of beer for around $40 pesos that they serve you in giant plastic cups. Like most bars around town, they have a bunch of TVs scattered around, which usually play sporting events during the Las Birras in Merida, Yucatanday and music video at night. If you’re hungry, order the nachos. They are rrrrrriquísimo! Arrachera and pastor, guacamole, cheese, beans, jalapeños… all on a huge plate. Your arteries get a little bit tighter just looking at them.

If you spend any amount of time in Mérida, be it a day or a year, you must try a very special drink guaranteed to give quite a kick: the michelada. It’s beer mixed with lime, salt, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. And to try some great micheladas, go to Las Birras where you can find them in different flavors; chamoy (a tangy fruit), tamarindo, mango, pineapple and clamato (a mix of tomato and clam juice). Right now Birras is on its third opening (it was closed twice for selling to minors), but it’s packed on weekend nights with young Meridanos, which isn’t very hard because it’s a really small place. It’s grungier than other bars in town (in a good way), and it’s one of the few bars in Mérida where you don’t feel the need to dress up. One michelada will cost you $25 pesos, a liter is $40 pesos, and if you go with a lot of friends, get a metro, an impressive cylinder one meter high, for $110 pesos, which comes with eight prepared glasses. Delicious!

Editor’s Note: This is only the beginning. We’ll be adding more nightspots to our list as time and sore left feet allow. If you have a favorite place to hang, let us know by leaving a comment. For other great places to spend an evening, be sure to see our latest Events article.

 

Yucatan Living La Parranda
Prolongación Montejo esquina con 13
Col. Itzimná
Tel: 911-0042

Yucatan Living Planet Bowl
Calle 32 por 59 y 61
Col. San Antonio Cucul
Tel: 911-0126

Yucatan Living El Cielo Lounge Bar
Calle 30 # 83-A entre  15 y 17
Prolongacion Paseo de Montejo.
Tel: 944-5127

Yucatan Living Mambocafé
Calle 21 #327 Mezzanine 2
Col. Miguel Hidalgo, Plaza Las Américas
Tel: 987-7533 / 987-7534

Yucatan Living Lapa Lapa
50 Diago. #476 x 29-A y 31
Col. Gonzalo Guerrero
Tel: 948-9260

 

Yucatan Living Las Birras
Prolong. Montejo (Plaza Carrillon)
Fracc. Campestre (across from Club Campestre)

 


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40 Responses to “Merida Night Life”

  1. Thanks for the article. I will be visiting Merida in a few weeks and am wondering if there is any group doing Tango there?
    Thanks,
    Maria

  2. GREAT to see more and different things to do, especially for the younger crowd! Welcome aboard! Can’t wait to see MORE of what there is to do in Merida at night!

  3. Can anyone provide info about the gay scene? Thanks.
    –Bob

  4. Bob, here’s a good article, if a tad dated.

  5. The Merida gay scene article is a good orientation to start, but some ownerships have changed and better orientation, if I may flatter the webmaster hosts here, is right here on YucatanLiving.

    One new bar, AngeLuz, (“Light Angel”) is just over the bridge over the periferico to the south of the airport – on your left in a warehouse area (surprise!) on the left (east) as you travel south. You’ll see the cars and parking attendant with flashlights if you’re checking on a popular (Fri or Sat) night. Although many have talked about it, I have never visited. Reportedly. it is “the best” of all the Merida gay bars (only 3 “discos”, plus a couple neighborhood type bars). “Best” depends on what you are looking for. Expect extremely loud music and throngs of people sitting at tables while not dancing.

    Neighborhood bars must close by 8 or 9 pm, so they aren’t too interesting ‘in the American way.’ Have a couple drinks after work, eat a few appetizers and go home, basically.

    Also note that a “disco” in Mexico is going to be very different from those in the US. The biggest change you’ll notice is that the places are packed with tables and chairs. People come in groups, sit down with their groups, get up and dance (if there’s time between the numerous “shows”) with their friends and drink with their friends. There isn’t nearly the mingling you will find in any small town bar of any orientation in the USA.

    Gay bars in Mexico tend to have an extreme overabundance (redundant yet? but necessary in this case!) of drag shows and strippers, usually interchanged through out the night. You thought you were dancing? Yes, that will be possible every hour or so, or after the shows end 15 minutes before closing.

    Also, for the Yucatecos, these bars are extremely expensive, costing in the neighborhood of a day’s or 1/2 day’s wages just to enter (two drink coupons included, usually). So, you aren’t going to meet regular people there. You’re going to meet rich, snotty kids (like any uppity bar anywhere) and small groups of friends who are having a special night out – together. And some Daddys with their groupies.

    So, “scene-wise”, Gringos are going to find established places to be quite a change. People-wise, people are people, the same as anywhere in the world. Any bar of any orientation is more dangerous and full of more miscreants and malcontents than any sporting event, church or school. So, just because you are out on your vacation, don’t forget to pay attention to those subtle clues to danger.

    Yucatecos are wonderful people. But there’s no 100% angelic guarantee. There are a few (at least) thugs, hoods, and thieves anywhere there are people. Bars generally ratchet up the percentage quite a bit. Just because Merida generally is safer and more tranquil doesn’t mean you won’t have a problem or two in a bar if you forget where you are, act rude, get overly drunk, insult someone, disrupt someone’s private celebration, etc.

    ( Re-reading this note makes me feel like I may be distantly(?) related to the Not-the-News-Guy. But… that’s the way it is in Merida.) ;-) Disco your bootie off!

  6. no conozco ninguno de esos,de hecho yo no frecuentaba muchos bares cuando vivia en merida era siempre de andar con los amigos en otros lados,playa o en casa de alguien,but i look forward to hit one of these i just hope they do not reject me at the door,hehehehe i remember this time this dude did that to us, i didn’t feel sorry for that dude hehehehehe,i do not like racism i hate it so bad.and i hate it most when is coming from a mexican dude to another mexican dude u know what i mean? that’s just wrong,i believe.

  7. CasiYucateco;
    I like the idea of local gathering places for us. I’m well past the age of going to the disco, but I do enjoy a drink and friends. I think you get to know people better and establish real friendships that way not to mention a sense of community. The more I read about Merida, the more I like it!

    Keep up the great work there Working Gringa! Your posts are a wondeful snippet of life that I hope to lead in the not to distant future!

    Thanks
    Dave

  8. Thank you, everyone, for you replies. CasiYucateco — Thanks for your insight. I live in Los Angeles, and one of the problems of mixing here is that people go out to hang with their friends rather than to meet new people. Sounds like it isn’t only an LA problem. Dixieboy — I agree. Working Gringos — great website. I prowl this and several real estate websites fantasizing about living in Merida. (I’m a junkie for architecture and interior design). Retirement looming in 5-6 years…who knows? — Bob

  9. Just a quick note to point out that this article was researched and written by a new correspondent to Yucatan Living, Christine. Working Gringa is too busy working (and this month entertaining visiting family and moving into a new house) to have THIS much fun!

    Thank you Christine! And thanks to our readers who are adding valuable additional information.

  10. Bars and dancing are fun, but personally, I think being able to have a decent conversation beats all that. Exchanging ideas, or just gossip, and enjoying life (without having what’s left of my eardrums shattered) is more attractive to me too. Being creative – painting, designing, photography, writing, whatever, seems more attractive too.

    Late at night in Yucatan? What better place is there to be than the beach far from a town? Pitch black sky, millions more stars than you can see in the light-polluted cities, it’s incredible. The sound of the sea, waves rolling softly in the sandy beach and all of creation above you.

    Once in a blue moon a nightclub is lots of fun, but so much more can be accomplished with the same amount of time, even if just idle hours star-gazing.

  11. Great posts Working Gringos! and as a former Merida party girl (not to be confused in any way with the american kind) i must say you might want to check out Cantamexico, just a fun karaoke bar, but make sure you go to the one near the remate de Paseo Montejo since you will for sure get a more authentic experience, or maybe check out the other one located in Pronlogacion i believe, if you want to check out some meridanos practicing their english singing skills. Another suggestion is the other room in Mambo Cafe with their northern mexican music they also have a live band.
    Miss home… keep giving me a fix of it pleaaase!

    Saludos.

  12. Tremendo articulo and very informative. Will be there with a group from my university in the states…looking foward to experiencing the authentic Merida.

    Hasta Luego mi gente!!

    Jonathan

  13. Mambo Cafe. Where is it located? I’ll be in Merida March 11th, Gabi. Norteno music is muy alegre. Cantamexico in Prolongacion?

  14. HI there! Loved the article but missed the address for iiches and La Orden????
    Thanks for the gay bar info too because there is nothing quite as fun and I have been unable to get any info on where to go. If there are more addresses I would like to know.
    My passion is live rock music in Spanish and English and I will always be looking for these locations. Thanks a million .

  15. Nancy,

    This is so typical. We can’t find the address for La Orden or iiches, but we have the following:

    La Musa Bar
    Prolongacion Montejo #379 x 5 y 7
    Tel. 948-38-38

    iiches
    Across the street from La Musa

    La Orden
    Above iiches

  16. If I remember correctly, Mambo Cafe is upstairs at the south end of the Plaza de Las Americas mall (outside entrance at the top of the long staircase) which is on the west side of town.

    Re-reading my post on the gay bars, I don’t want anyone to think those are dangerous places. They are perfectly fine. But, I do see some tourists who tend to be a bit more foolish in strange situations. So, word to the wise and all that.

    The people are wonderful, the bars are fun, the shows are… well, interesting, if surprising either in tackiness or elegance. (The music will be ear-splitting. Someone once said that it’s not a party in Mexico unless the speakers are so loud they are distorted!)

    Enjoy a night out and have a good time. Yucatecans LOVE to dance!

  17. Mambo Cafe Merida (it is a chain)

    Open Wednesday through Saturday after 10 pm (it says 9 pm on the Spanish version of the website)

    Calle 21, # 327, Mezanine 2
    Colonial Miguel Hidalgo
    Plaza Las Americas

    (999) 987 – 7533 or 7534

    English Website Here
    Spanish Website Here

  18. I’m glad my article is getting a lot of positive comments :-)

    If you’re looking for live rock music, check out El Laberinto, which is a few doors down from La Parranda on Montejo. The owner is a music-lover, and there’s always live bands playing (I think it’s his band actually,) on Fridays and Saturdays.

  19. Hey Chris,

    Just be careful when you go to El Laberinto. Last Friday Luca (Crystel’s friend) and Raf (his guest from Belgium) went there and they tried to charge them almost twice what they had.

    The manager wasn’t very helpful either, he was very rude and threatened to have their butts kicked by the “security” guys.

    And when I went there (like a year ago, maybe less) I couldn’t hear my thoughts. I know rock music is supposed to be loud, but if you have some big speakers inside a place the size of a living room, your hearing is at risk! It’s a darn good band tho…

  20. glad to hear there is a salsa dancing place and a casino. No question now as to where I want to live in mexico

  21. I will be In Merida this summer with my 15 year old son, who plays (American) jazz piano. I am wondering if I might be able to find someone to teach him Latin-style jazz (I know that means many different things). Thanks!

  22. Dori, we suggest you contact David Abhari, the owner of Jazzin’ Merida, Merida’s new jazz nightclub. His phone number is 999-924-5628 (he doesn’t have email) and he speaks English. He should be able to hook you and your son up with a good local jazz teacher.

  23. YES laberinto is extremely loud! if you want to have a conversation over your beer, do not go there.

  24. hey joseph, who are you? i didn’t realize, but you’re talking about people i know! do you know me?

  25. Thanks for the info you guys. I do know where La Musa is. I have been planning to go to Labrintos since I heard about it a while back. I just finally saw it last night. Future fun I hope and I will be on my best behavior.

  26. Hey Chris,

    I work at Eclectec (Yucatan Living’s publisher) AND I’m friends with some of your friends… small town isn’t it? ;)

  27. this is a really nice website and i hope to visit again ….

    i will be an expat soon ish in Merida with my gang….anyway keep the good work and read you laters.

  28. I’ve been hearing about a place called “Entre Tangos” where they supposedly give something of a tango class, and also have a live band and a show, on Saturday nights. A friend of mine and I tried to go on a Sunday to check the place out, because we had been told on the phone that they were open on Sundays, but they weren’t. I’m not sure what they do the rest of the week, but it’s worth checking out. They are on Perez Ponce in Col. Itzimna. If anyone else has any information about tango I’d like to know, too.

  29. A fabulous read! Very informative…good details and descripts!

  30. I think the name on the post is Anny. Regarding Entre Tangos, it is a great restaurant in Merida. They have even had some tango performers during dinner hours. I saw a couple from the US dance there last year. They were Carlos and Carol. Very nice indeed. I got their card. Their web site as http://www.collegevilletango.com.

    Also, there is a new tango community becoming active in Merida by Silvia Kater, a very well known tango singer Send me an email and I can send you some information on how to contact the organizers. CD97*AOL.COM

  31. You left out Cubanchero, the home of the great Gonzalez family and the living legacy of the Buena Vista Social Club.

  32. es un hermoso lugar visitenos!!!! no se arrepentiran

  33. I will be in Merida for Dia de los Muertos this year; flying in from my Peace Corps posting in Honduras. Any suggestions for cool things to do and see?

  34. Absolutely! Check out our Day of the Dead articles… and be sure to go to the zocalo on October 31 during the day…

    http://www.yucatanliving.com/daily-life/day-of-the-dead-2008.htm

  35. Is there an indie/alternative scene in Merida? Where can I go if that is what i like? I am interested in local bands :)

  36. We would suggest La Quilla, which is on Calle 60 and Calle 45 (read more about it on the Merida Art page, linked from the middle of the front page of this website.

    Also, the Casa de Todos is on Calle 64 at Calle 55… definitely counterculture.

    Not sure about bands, but go to either of these places and ask around.

  37. Hi Andrea, its been long time since good alternative bands played in La Quilla, nowadays there is no regular place. But on Friday 12th of march 2010 starts a series of gigs at Dante (the big bookstore in Prolongacion Paseo de Montejo close to Burger King) and its 100% great alternative/indie rocknroll! 5 differerent bands, $30 cover, $20 pesos beer, 2×1 in nachos!!!!.

  38. Thank you for all of your informative and insightful guides, Yucatan Living Editors. I am planning a group trip throughout Yucatan for the first two weeks in November and am hoping you can provide some updates on the best nightlife scenes- particularly gay nightlife. We are visiting the following locations and would be very grateful for any recommendations you or anyone posting here may be able to provide: Tulum, Valladolid, Chiche’n, Izamal, Merida, Campeche, Palenque, Villahermosa and San Cristobal. Thanks again.

  39. I’m headed to Merida in a couple of days. Could someone tell me where the gay bars are now?

  40. We were in Merida in 2012 around Jan 7-10 and there was a HUGE street party going on. Does anyone know if there will be something like that THIS year and if so, what the date or dates would be? Thanks.

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