The nightlife options in Mexico City go way beyond your everyday bars and clubs. There are classic cabarets with live orchestras and hot lights, pulquerías where pulque (a fermented agave drink) flows all day, and cantinas overflowing with mariachis and tequila. Mexico City’s nightlife is truly in a class of its own, and if you can’t find your style of drinking establishment here, then it probably doesn’t exist.
Patrick Miller $ — Come for the high energy dancing and stay for the all-too-frequent dance offs. Located in a reconditioned warehouse, Patrick Miller is where people gather to show off their best moves. Everyone — hipsters and punks, young and old — get together at Patrick Miller on Fridays, making it the most democratic party in town. The place gets hot inside, but there are beer and energy drinks to cool you down. Patrick Miller is open from 9:00 PM to 4:00 AM, but arrive on the earlier side to guarantee entry.
El Real Under $ — El Real Under is a gateway to the mid-1980s goth and post-punk scene. The place is built into an old house in Roma and has two floors with different themes. The walls are covered in murals and illuminated with red lights. It’s the perfect alternative to the more commercial options around town and a great spot to get into the city’s underground culture.
Mama Rumba $$ — A classic dancehall in the heart of Roma, Mama Rumba specializes in Cuban rhythms, especially salsa. Visit Mama Rumba on Wednesday and Thursday nights for its famous dancing lessons, which are suitable for every level. If you’re already an experienced dancer, come during the weekend and share your moves with some of the most experienced salsa dancers in town.
Departamento $$ — The name should be a good sign of what this place is all about. Departamento is like partying at the apartment of a friend who has great taste in music and excellent party-planning skills. Live DJs and occasional jazz bands complement the atmosphere in this classic after-hours spot.
Los Amantes $$ — With more than 300 mezcals (including a house brand), Los Amantes claims to be the largest mezcaleria in the world. There’s a good selection of traditional Mexican food to complete your mezcal choices, and the staff is always willing to help you decide your next drink. It’s a great spot to indulge in one of Mexico’s more traditional beverages, especially after a day roaming around Polanco or Chapultepec.
AM Local $$ — AM Local is one of the most popular after-hours clubs in Mexico City, especially for fans of EDM. Local and international DJs keep the party going until 5:00 AM. The place is large, so you shouldn’t have trouble getting in. Inside, you’ll find a dance floor and a spectacle of lights.
La Botica $$ — One of the first places to rise after the mezcal boom in Mexico City, La Botica is an easygoing dive bar. It has its own mezcal brand, and the staff can guide you through tastings. The mezcalería is reminiscent of traditional, small-town Mexican bars with tin tables and foldable chairs. It gets busy on weekends, but you’ll be able to get a table if you hang around for a while.
Xaman $$$ — One of Zona Rosa’s best-kept secrets, Xaman is an underground bar that mixes fancy cocktails with shamanistic vibes. The live DJs are in charge of keeping the esoteric atmosphere with a little help from incense sticks, low lights, and lots of plants. Arrive here early because it can get crowded late at night. There’s no way to spot the bar from the outside, but it’s not that hard to find once you’re on the right block.
Salón Tenampa $$ — This traditional cantina is in the middle of Garibaldi Plaza, better known as the mariachi square of Mexico City, and has been around since 1925. Salón Tenampa oozes folklore with huge murals of Mexican celebrities, endless rows of papel picado (decorative paper) on the ceiling, and mariachis playing traditional tunes. The food is fine, and there are plenty of drink options, but you really come here for the vibe.
Bósforo $ — Bósforo is a mezcal bar with a speakeasy feel. It’s small but rarely overcrowded. Here, you’ll find a selection of some of Mexico’s best mezcals, and the staff can guide you through the entire agave category. Bósforo also has food like blue corn quesadillas and crunchy chapulines (grasshoppers) with chili and lime. There’s no sign outside, and it can be a little bit tricky to spot, but it’s worth the search.
Río de la Plata/El Otro Río $ — If you’re looking for a local experience in Mexico City, head to Río de la Plata. The cantina is one of the cheapest options in Centro, and it’s popular with young locals. The place is small and gets crowded late at night. If you arrive here after midnight and you’re unable to get in, a good option is to step into El Otro Río, a larger bar managed by the same owners next door. El Otro Río has live music and a small dance floor. Both places serve tortas (sandwiches) until late.
Zinco $$ — A small sign and narrow set of stairs are the only signs of one of Centro’s best-kept secrets. Zinco is a jazz club (the name is an homage to NYC’s Zinc Bar) located in the basement of an Art Deco building that originally housed a bank. The vault doors are still in place, and they help set the mood for an evening of live music. National and international jazz ensembles play here Wednesday through Saturday. Booking in advance is recommended.
Marrakesh Salon $ — The biggest LGBTQ party in Mexico City takes place every single weekend in El Marra. This vintage, unpretentious bar is much more than its kitsch decorations and live shows. It’s is an all-welcoming place where people let go of their inhibitions and party to the rhythms of local and international hits.
Salón Tropicana $ — This dance hall is the cathedral of salsa and rumba. Located in one of the corners of Garibaldi Plaza, it’s one of the best places in Centro to practice your dancing skills. Salsa, merengue, danzón, and cumbia are the usual rhythms played by live orchestras. You’ll find a very diverse crowd, including some foreigners looking for a break from the mariachis in the plaza. El Tropicana is quirky, colorful, and always busy. A true classic of Mexico City.
Las Duelistas $ — Pulquerías are a sight to behold in Mexico City. Las Duelistas specializes in pulque, a traditional fermented beverage made from the sap of agave plants. Pulque has a peculiar flavor and can be an acquired taste, so first-timers should try a flavored pulque (oat is a classic). Las Duelistas is over 100 years old, and it’s as quirky as bars come in Mexico City. The walls are covered with a mural full of pre-Hispanic elements. Keep in mind pulque is more of an early-in-the-day kind of beverage, and pulquerías close soon after sunset.