Discover the Best Cantinas in Mérida: Our Top Picks

Chemas Bar & Cantina in Merida Mexico

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My first introduction to a cantina was in Star Wars. I’ll never forget the vibe, the snappy music, and the variety of patrons. The Best Cantinas in Mérida are no different. Cool vibes, great people watching, and unique experiences are found on our list of favorite cantinas, ranging from traditional to trendy. Whether you’re in the mood for live music, delicious food, or a unique atmosphere, we’ve got you covered. So grab some friends and head to one of these hot spots for a night to remember. There are many cantinas in the center of the city with other bars which adopt a similar vibe and style. Here’s through the story of the cantina as well as some of our favourite spots that you should definitely check out!

History of the Cantina

Once upon a time in the beautiful city of Mérida, there was a small building tucked away in the bustling streets of the city. This unassuming structure was home to a historic cantina that had been serving up the finest of Mexican drinks and dishes for more than a century. As the story goes, the cantina had been a fixture of Mérida since the mid-1800s. At the time, the city was a major trading hub, and travelers from all over the world came through Mérida to conduct business. It wasn’t long before the cantina became a favorite spot for merchants and locals alike to unwind after a long day.
The cantina had seen it all. From the revolution and the Great Depression to two World Wars, the cantina had weathered the storm and remained a steadfast pillar in the community. Even as the city around it grew and changed, the cantina continued to offer the same authentic experience to its patrons.
Over the years, the cantina became more than just a place to eat and drink. It became a cultural institution, a living testament to the history and traditions of Mérida. It was a place where people gathered to share stories and celebrate life, where tourists and locals alike could come together and experience the heart and soul of the city. Today, the cantina is still going strong, welcoming visitors from all over the world who want to experience a true taste of Mexico’s vibrant culture and history. With its unique vibe and welcoming atmosphere, the cantina is a living piece of Mérida’s past, present, and future.

La Negrita Cantina

La Negrita Cantina is a must-visit spot for anyone looking for a traditional cantina experience. Located in the heart of Mérida’s historic center, this cantina has been serving up cold drinks and delicious food for over 100 years. The atmosphere is lively and authentic, with live music and a friendly crowd. Don’t miss their famous “chelada” (beer with lime and salt) or their tasty “botanas” (snacks). Featuring saloon-style doors, brightly colored drinks, vibrant music, and an unbeatable atmosphere, La Negrita is an ideal spot for a Sunday afternoon.

 Dzalbay

A short walk away from La Negrita is Dzalbay, another excellent spot for great music. Recognized for being the place for top-notch musicians to get their start, Dzalbay is popular with locals, expats, and visitors. It offers visitors stunning mural art, and a stage that looks like a living room from the early twentieth century, which allows guests to feel even closer to the musicians. Furthermore, there is also a rooftop bar to be enjoyed on a warm summer’s evening.
Dzalbay Cantina in Merida Mexico

La Fundación Mezcaleria

For a trendy and modern cantina experience, head to La Fundación Mezcaleria. This popular spot offers a wide selection of mezcal and craft cocktails, as well as delicious small plates to share. The atmosphere is chic and stylish, with a mix of locals and tourists enjoying the lively ambiance. Don’t miss their signature mezcal flights, which allow you to sample different varieties of this traditional Mexican spirit.

ALL TIME BEST CANTINA IN MÉRIDA:  El Cardenal Cantina

For a more traditional cantina experience, El Cardenal Cantina is a must-visit. This historic spot has been serving up cold beers and classic Mexican dishes for over 100 years. El Cardenal showcases the authentic charm of traditional cantinas with its simple music and casual atmosphere. The decor is rustic and charming, with colorful tiles and vintage photos adorning the walls. Don’t miss their famous chicharrones, crispy fried pork rinds that are the perfect accompaniment to a cold cerveza. The cozy terrace provides a pleasant outdoor setting to relax and enjoy your time with friends. Plus, the prices are very reasonable, making El Cardenal Cantina the perfect spot for an evening out without breaking the bank. Don’t miss out on this wonderful experience!

El Lucero de Alba

El Lucero del Alba, with its many years of tradition, has established itself as one of the best cantinas in Mérida for indulging in a wide variety of Yucatecan snacks, all while paying only for the beers. The food here is scrumptious, diverse, and bountiful, and you can choose the perfect atmosphere to enjoy it in- either on the breezy terrace, or in the intimate interior. From traditional cochinita pibil tacos to sizzling queso flameado, this cantina offers an experience like no other, all while sipping on an ice-cold cerveza. A must-visit spot for any visitor to Merida looking to delve into the delicious world of Yucatecan cuisine.

Non-Cantina Bars 

  • Pipiripau – perfectly situated down the road from La Negrita, Piripau is always buzzing. 
  • Casa Chica – We love the vibe at Casa Chica, a chill bar with locally brewed beers and tasty food served by friendly staff.
  • Mayan Pub – A delightful garden with a giant tree, the Mayan is a local institution, especially with the service industry. 
  • Bierhaus – For beer lovers, of course you’ve got to check out the German bar Bierhaus
  • Hennessy’s – Aside from being a fantastic place to meet locals and foreigners, enjoy incredible food and watch sports. 

Final Thoughts on the Best Cantinas in Mérida

Stepping inside a cantina in Mérida is like taking a trip back in time. The ambiance is warm and cozy, and the walls are lined with vintage memorabilia, such as old photographs and advertisements from the past. Despite their nostalgic charm, many of these establishments are quite modern, featuring live music performances, sleek designs, and a wide range of food and drink options. In many ways, these cantinas are like the heart of Mérida. They are where the locals gather to catch up on gossip, enjoy a good drink, and indulge in some delicious snacks.
What’s particularly interesting about the best cantinas in Mérida is their diverse clientele. You might be surprised to see how many different kinds of people come together in these establishments. From workers to artists, teachers to journalists, and even foreigners, there’s a real sense of community in these cantinas.
Of course, it’s important to note that not all cantinas are created equal. Some are classic and traditional, while others have a more modern twist. Additionally, some establishments may not be open to women, so it’s worth doing a bit of research before deciding which ones to visit. Whether you’re looking for a cozy spot to unwind with friends or want to explore the city’s cultural heritage, cantinas are sure to leave a lasting impression. So, grab a drink, indulge in some snacks, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of Mérida’s cantinas!
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