Live music is an integral part of the rollicking Cabo San Lucas nightlife scene, with styles that run the gamut from rancheras and Latin jazz to good old-fashioned rock n’ roll. Most of the better known bars and restaurants offer live entertainment at least once or twice per week, and patrons at those that don't are likely to be serenaded anyway by roving singers, guitarists and the occasional mariachi band.
Cabo Wabo Cantina remains the area's signature live music venue, as it has been for the better part of two decades. Founded by former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar, Cabo Wabo features live music on a nightly basis, with occasional visits from rock and country royalty around the time of Sammy’s annual birthday bashes.
Cabo Wabo is far from being the city's only rock n’ roll themed option, however. Talented local bands and performers can be found throughout the downtown area: at restaurants like La Palapa; locals’ bars such as Cabo Lounge and Cabo Blue; and late night haunts like Jungle Bar and Rockstone Tavern.
Travelers of a more mellow disposition may prefer the jazz standards favored at Two for the Road, or Sunday afternoon trips to Cerritos, when chanteuse Dahline Jones and keyboardist Diego Ramirez showcase tropical Latin jazz on the beach in front of a gorgeous Pacific Ocean backdrop.
Rockstone Tavern and Eatery
One of the newest additions to the Cabo San Lucas nightlife scene, this combination sports bar/restaurant/live music venue opened in 2013, showcasing rock n' roll themed décor, indoor and outdoor bars and a generous selection of comfort food favorites. Menu highlights include nachos, French fries, fried pickles, onion rings, poppers and popcorn shrimp, as well as more filling fare like burgers and sea bass sandwiches topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion. Live music is on tap nightly - most notably from local favorites Los Rancheros Tristes - and special drink prices are offered for beers and margaritas during happy hour and NFL games. ((624) 192-9292)
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)
Puerta Vieja Restaurant & Bar
Scenically set in the Tourist Corridor between cape cities Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo, Puerta Vieja offers an excellent fine dining atmosphere, with quality food and wines, gorgeous seaside views of Land's End and El Arco, and terrific live music courtesy of singer Rosalia de Cuba, who performs with her band on Cuban Nights (Friday and Saturday, 7 to 10 p.m.).The steaks are very good here, as are seafood offerings like jumbo shrimp, clam chowder, seafood soup (with octopus, squid, shrimp, lobster, and crab Guerrero-style), fish filet, steamed lobster tail and lobster thermidor. Surf and turf lovers will want to sample the Puerta Vieja special with lamb chops, jumbo shrimp and lobster tail. (624-104-3334, 624-104-3252)
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)
Latitude 22+ Roadhouse
The walls of Latitude 22+ are a Los Cabos history lesson, filled with old photos 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)
Rock & Brews
Rock & Brews is a chain restaurant and beer garden founded by Kiss members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, which, like Cabo Wabo Cantina and Hard Rock Cafe, mixes comfort food favorites with live music and rock star memorabilia. The San José del Cabo location opened in early 2013, and features a dining room decorated like the backstage area at a rock concert, with murals, album covers, musical instruments and other rock-themed collectibles. Burgers, sandwiches, and pizzas headline the menu offerings, but salads and starters like nachos, hot wings and garlic fries are also available. Musicians or DJs perform nightly. A second location on the Cabo San Lucas Marina opened in December, 2014. ((624) 105-2705)
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 of options, 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) 129-6315)
Following a a recent change in ownership, La Palapa has become a popular downtown haunt for Caboholics, as well as anyone who appreciates Texas-style comfort food. Chili and chicken fried dishes are the specialty of the house - chicken fried bacon, anyone? - but the kitchen also cooks up seafood, burgers, pastas and Mexican favorites, including "Big-Ass Nachos" and "Big-Wet Burritos." There is even a bit of "Rabbit Food" (salads and such) for those watching their caloric intake. La Palapa has also provided a consistent showcase for local guitar hero Brian Flynn, who performs three nights per week. Flynn and friends play country, blues and Southern rock n' roll every weekend (Thu. - Sat.), from 7 or 8 p.m. until whenever the crowd thins out. ((624) 143-9569)
Two for the Road
Hidden in the breezeway behind Solomon's Landing, on the marina side of Tesoro Los Cabos Resort, Two for the Road is the premier local spot for live jazz, martinis and even a bit of sophisticated conversation. Marty and Kathy Daniels - he plays piano, she sings - have owned the place for the last seven years, and are open most evenings: Mon. - Sat., 7 p.m. to midnight (with some seasonal variation). It's the perfect antidote for those tired of typical Cabo style nightlife, i.e. the type of people who prefer the great American songbook to ear splitting dance music or hard rock cover bands (translation: anyone over 30 years old). ((624) 143-7759, (624) 132-2282)
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)
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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