Nightlife in Cabo San Lucas has several different settings, from high-energy dance clubs to laid-back cantinas. Even the word nightlife is something of a misnomer, since many beachside hangouts draw large crowds in the afternoon, and generous happy hour specials are a feature of most downtown drinking establishments. Nonetheless, good old-fashioned bars – lively and welcoming watering holes with honest drinks and good-time music – are relatively easy to find.
One of the easiest ways to gauge the quality of area establishments is by counting the number of expats and local types holding down bar front real estate. Tourist Corridor landmark Latitude 22+ Roadhouse is the area’s signature stop for residents and long-time visitors, thanks to its old-school atmosphere, downhome menus, and amazing barstool vantages of Land’s End.
Cabo Wabo and Giggling Marlin remain two of the top time-tested stops in Cabo San Lucas. Both have been around for more than 20 years, but still consistently pull in the crowds with live entertainment and late night revelry. Beer lovers, meanwhile, will find it hard to resist Baja Brewing Company, which serves up fine food and the best suds in Baja California Sur at three area locations.
Cabo Lounge, for years the preferred locals’ bar in downtown Cabo San Lucas, is currently closed following the untimely passing of beloved owner Juan Tatemura. However, it is hoped that the bar will reopen again in the near future.
Owners Scott and Amanda Osborne have helped make this one of the most popular downtown bars, fusing great pub-style food and eclectic music to create a thriving late night party atmosphere in their courtyard location at Plaza Real (right next door to Happy Ending). The music varies according to the time of day (or night), ranging from country to hard rock to late night dance mixes. A hard rocking band plays four nights a week, and the crowds are generally going strong well after midnight. But perhaps the best thing about Cabo Blue is that it not only draw hordes of tourists, but has also become popular with the local crowd via competitive prices and daily specials. The food is excellent, particularly the fish tacos. ((624) 143-7323)
If Cabo San Lucas had a hall of fame for drinking establishments, Giggling Marlin would be in it. Although not as popular as it once was - its halcyon days as a party mecca were in the 1990s – the place still retains an esteemed spot on the local nightlife circuit. Things get crazy here after midnight, with jello shots and people being voluntarily hung upside down on a fish scale (getting their pictures taken for the "well-hung club"). But by day or night, this is a good spot to stop for something to eat. Their menu is simple but good, with many affordable options. Breakfast offerings run to breakfast burritos and huevos rancheros, while all-day options include tamales, enchiladas and chile rellenos. (624-143-0606)
This place has a loyal clientele, and it's easy to see why. Their ongoing offer of two beers and two tequila shots for five dollars remains the best deal in town. Unlike many bars in Cabo San Lucas that don't really hit their stride until after midnight, Happy Ending is a perfect spot to while away the afternoons and early evening hours - beer pong, anyone? - as well as a congenial stop for happy hour. The sound system plays rock and country standards, their televisions show all the latest sporting events, and there is plenty of shaded seating. And don't forget the bar menu, and the area's best souvenir t-shirts. Free phone calls to the U.S. and Canada are another added benefit. ((624) 143-0707)
Jungle Bar has never quite been the same as it was during the heyday of Strogeno, when lead singer Monster and the boys would kick out the jams four nights a week - in two languages - and the crowds would spill far out onto the sidewalks. But this is still a popular hangout for night owls who want to avoid the disco/DJ scene: those who don't want to feel out of place in their ripped jeans and concert shirts, or need a place to wash out the road dust after stabling their Harley. Sports are shown on the high-def televisions, but the sound is turned down whenever there's a good band playing, which still happens on a regular basis. Tuesday and Thursday are ladies' nights. ((624) 143-7401)
Nowhere is exactly where you want to be. That's the motto of the bar, and it's often true, particularly on Tuesdays, when Nowhere Bar hosts the best ladies' night in Cabo San Lucas. Ladies drink for free from 8-10 p.m., and single men might also want to take note, although they'll have to pay for their drinks. The DJs are great, not only on Tuesdays, but just about every night, and the location is fantastic - on the Marina at Plaza Bonita - with great views of the pleasure yachts and fishing boats. People watching is also a popular pastime here, as you can watch the world go by along the scenic marina boardwalk. (624-143-4493)
Tanga Tanga is a favorite of locals, and a great place to hang out if you want to end up in a conversation with a grizzled charter boat captain or jewelry store owner. It's located at the Plaza de la Danza near Nick-San and the Tesoro Los Cabos resort, and features plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. Live music is a semi-regular occurrence, and this is one of the more popular places in Cabo San Lucas to watch live sporting events. The bar draws big crowds for hockey, football, basketball, and soccer matches from around the world. The outdoor section features umbrella-shaded tables, and offers prime people watching along Marina Boulevard. Pub-style food is available from the onsite kitchen, and the nearby deli Tio Guido's will happily deliver to your barstool. ((624) 144-1504)
Baja Brewing Company
Baja California Sur's first brewery now has three locations - the original in San José del Cabo, a roof-top spot on the ninth floor of Cabo Villas on Médano Beach, and on the Cabo San Lucas Marina at Puerto Paraíso - all of which have proved exceedingly popular with tourists and locals alike. Fine food is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with menu options ranging from hamburgers and gourmet pizzas to filet mignon and other high-end entrées. The beers are excellent, either in a bottle or on tap, and you can order flights of the draft beer to get a sense of their offerings. If you can only visit one of their locations, check out the roof-top location at Cabo Villas, which offers excellent views of Médano Beach and Land's End. ((624) 143-9199)
Cerritos Beach Club & Surf
Cerritos Beach Club & Surf is the perfect place on the planet on Sunday afternoons: jazz on the beach on a plywood stage, with surfers dropping into perfect barrels directly behind the band; 2009 Los Angeles Music Critics Circle award winner Diego Ramirez on keyboard, with statuesque San Francisco jazz singer Daline Jones providing the most positive and tranquilo vibes imaginable. Few tourists make it this far. Those that do enjoy some of the finest seafood Baja has to offer. The combo platters are a preferred sharing option, but the menu has plenty to choose from, including comfort food faves like burgers and fries. The scene here is well worth the drive. Longboard and boogie board rentals are available for active types. ((624) 143-4851)
Cabo Wabo Cantina
Cabo Wabo has seen a lot of growth in the last twenty years, in its surroundings and in its business, which has now spun off a tequila brand and several U.S. locations. The bar was started by former Van Halen and Montrose frontman Sammy Hagar, and has become a mandatory stop for just about everyone who comes to town. This is a local landmark and has been for over twenty years, with great live music, a pumping sound system, and good food and drinks. The cantina offers a lot of shrimps and ceviches, with the patio grill menu leaning towards burgers, wings and chicken fingers. Signature cocktails include the Waborita, a house twist on the traditional margarita. The best time to visit, although tickets are hard to come by, is during October, when Hagar hosts his annual birthday bashes with loads of big-name guests. ((624) 143-1188)
Latitude 22+ Roadhouse
The walls of Latitude 22+ are a Los Cabos history lesson, filled with old photos of enormous catches and fishing contests, prominent local personages, and even life preservers from notable area vessels. The place comes by its nautical aspect honestly - owner Mike Grzanich first came to Cabo San Lucas on a tuna boat in 1959 - but also serves as a treasure trove for license plates and other souvenirs left by visitors over the years. The bar is one-of-a-kind, with gorgeous Land's End views available from your barstool, and old-fashioned booths in the back offer privacy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Rib-sticking pleasures range from white sausage gravy slathered Croatian Eggs Benedick to chicken fried steak, rib-eye steak and pot roast. Piano player Peter Bacon is a big draw during the high season. ((624) 143-1516)
About Chris Sands
Chris Sands is Editor at Baja.com, co-writer of Fodor’s 2015 guide to Los Cabos, and a regular contributor to Los Cabos Magazine and 10 Best/USA Today. He lives in Cabo San Lucas.
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