Plugged In: The Best Live Music Spots in Cabo San Lucas
By Chris Sands
Cabo San Lucas Local Expert
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.
10 Rockstone Tavern and Eatery
Rockstone Tavern 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 n' roll themed decor, 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 football season. ((624) 192-9292)
9 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)
8 Cabo Blue
Owners Scott and Amanda Osborne have helped make this one of the most popular downtown bars, fusing great pub-style food and plenty of 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 are hard rocking bands playing four nights per 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 tasty, particularly the fish tacos. ((624) 143-7323)
7 Cabo Lounge
This semi-hidden lounge draws an eclectic mix of patrons that include flamingo trainers, writers, professional Scrabble players and the occasional tourist. There are many things to recommend the place, 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 $1.50. Local guitar virtuoso Brian Flynn plays here at least once a week, currently on Sunday nights. ((624) 116-2238)
6 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)
5 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 Mexican rock n' 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)
4 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) 143-4851)
3 La Palapa
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)
2 Two for the Road
Hidden in the breezeway behind Solomon's Landing, on the marina side of Wyndham Cabo San Lucas 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)
1 Cabo Wabo Cantina
Cabo Wabo has seen a lot of growth in the last twenty years, both in the city 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, while the patio grill favors burgers, wings and chicken fingers. (624-143-1901)