From Mariachi to Metal: The Best Live Music Spots in Los Cabos
By Chris Sands
Cabo San Lucas Local Expert
Live music is an integral part of the Los Cabos nightlife scene, with styles that run the gamut from mariachi to heavy metal. 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 still serenaded by singers, guitarists, and other roving musicians. Cabo Wabo Cantina is the area's signature live music venue, and 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, occasionally from visiting rock royalty. Jungle Bar and Cabo Blue are also popular with rock and roll aficionados, particularly those that like to party into the wee hours of the morning.
Sammy Hagar has gotten some competition recently, at least in terms of star power, now that Kiss members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have opened a Rock and Brews restaurant in San Jose del Cabo. But generally speaking, the best music in San Jose is found at the some of the town's best restaurants. Cuban jazz and Mexican standards are offered alongside fine wines and multi-course meals at area dining fixtures like Tropicana and Deckman's at Havana. Fans of Latin rhythms may also want to attend Fiestas Mexicanas theme night parties thrown by Medano Beach restaurants like Baja Cantina and The Office, which showcase traditional Mexican singing and dancing.
10 The Office on the Beach
Long one of the most popular cantinas on Médano Beach, this palapa-topped bar and restaurant draws big crowds of both locals and tourists. It's easy to see why. The Office is a great place to sit back and watch the waves roll in, with a full bar and a large array of menu options. The breakfast menu is heavy on omelets and smoothies, while seafood and hearty fare like hamburgers headline the lunchtime offerings. The dinner menu features traditional Mexican dishes, as well as seafood and steak options. On Thursday nights, The Office hosts a Gran Fiesta Mexicana with pre-Colombian folk dancing, waiters' shows, audience participation, pinatas, candy for children, free tequila shooters and other treats. (624-143-3464, 624-143-7440)
9 Hard Rock Cafe
The Hard Rock Cafe is one of the more familiar names for visitors to Cabo San Lucas. The local version of the rock and rolled themed restaurant chain is located just off the marina at Plaza Bonita, and offers all the hearty comfort food and vintage rock star memorabilia found in the chain's other international locations. What's different is the menu, which predictably enough, showcases plenty of Mexican ingredients and specialty dishes.. The Mexican Angus beef burger is a good example, and is served with melted jack and cheddar cheeses, fresh guacamole, Hard Rock salsa, and jalapenos. American favorites such as barbecue, sandwiches, and shakes are available. Live entertainment is also a staple. (624-143-3779)
8 Cabo Lounge
This is the best local's bar in town, and draws an eclectic mix of patrons that include dolphin trainers, charter boat captains, timeshare salesmen, and the occasional tourist. There are many things to recommend the bar, beginning with owner Juan Tatemura, who is a sort of Mexican version of Sam Malone. Free internet and phone calls to the U.S. and Canada are a popular feature, as are the five high-definition televisions showing all the latest sporting events, with American-style football and hockey drawing the biggest crowds. Juan has created several popular "flaming shots," and also runs a small grill, with pizzas, chicken wings and corn dogs available for $1. ((624) 116-2238)
7 Rockstone Tavern and Eatery
Rockstone is one of the newest additions to the Cabo San Lucas nightlife scene. The sports bar/restaurant/live music venue opened in 2013, and features rock and roll themed decor, indoor and outdoor bars and a generous selection of comfort food favorites. Appetizers include nachos, French fries, fried pickles, onion rings, poppers and popcorn shrimp, while highlights among the more filling fare include the excellent fish sandwich made with sea bass and topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion. Live music is on tap nightly - two bands perform on Friday and Saturday nights - and special drink prices are offered for beers and margaritas during happy hour. ((624) 192-9292)
6 Rock and Brews
Rock and Brews is a chain restaurant founded by Kiss members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, and like Cabo Wabo Cantina and Hard Rock Cafe, mixes comfort food favorites with live music and rock star memorabilia. The San Jose 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. Live music is offered several times per week. ((624) 105-2705)
5 Cabo Blue
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 throughout the day, with country music during the afternoon, hard rock in the evening, and dance music late night. The crowds are generally going strong well after midnight, and there is a hard rocking house band that plays four nights a week. But perhaps the best thing about Cabo Blue is that the bar 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)
4 Tropicana Restaurant
The onsite restaurant at the Hacienda-style Tropicana Inn, also known as the Tropicana, has been considered one of the best in Los Cabos for over 20 years. It's certainly hard to beat the location, which offers al fresco dining in the heart of downtown San Jose del Cabo. Tropicana is located less than a block from City Hall, and two blocks from the old church, Misión de San José del Cabo Anuiti. The food is excellent, and Chef Antonio Aviles' menu focuses on traditional Mexican cuisine and fresh local seafood. In addition to the tables out front, there is a lovely colonial-style indoor dining area with colorful murals. (624-142-1580)
3 Jungle Bar
The hard rock band here blows the doors off the place four nights a week. Monster, the lead singer, sings exactly like anybody he wants to at any time, whether it is U2, AC/DC, Offspring, or Mexicano rock and rollers that us gringos never heard of. Juanito, the long-haired Chuck Taylor wearing guitar player, is the Mexican version of Joe Satriani. They invite any tourist musicians with chops to sit-in on a regular basis. This is a great bar for night owls who want to avoid the disco/DJ scene, or who don't want to feel out of place in their ripped jeans and concert shirts. It's all rock, all the time, and gets better and better as the night goes on. ((624) 143-7401)
2 Cerritos Beach Club and 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 vibe available. Few tourists make it this far. Those that do enjoy some of the finest seafood Baja has to offer. They have their own brand of tequila here, appropriately named Cerritos, and it is exceptionally smooth and potent. The vibe here is well worth the drive. Longboards may be rented for twenty dollars. Boogie boards are available for ten dollars. ((624) 143-4851)
1 Cabo Wabo Cantina
Cabo Wabo has seen a lot of growth in the last twenty years, in Cabo 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 menu offers a lot of shrimps and ceviches, with the patio grill menu leaning towards burgers, wings, and chicken fingers. (624-143-1901)
About Chris Sands
Chris Sands is the author of Bohemia by the Bay, and writes about wine, golf and travel for publications such as Baja.com, Fodor's Travel, Los Cabos Magazine, 10 Best, U-T San Diego and USA Today. He is a full-time resident of Cabo San Lucas.
Read more about Chris Sands here.