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Best Bars in Cancun: Skip the Nightclubs and Party in an Intimate Venue



Cancun boasts some of the best nightlife on the planet. From huge discos to theme bar/restaurants, Cancun has something for everyone. Whether you visit a nightclub or a small bar, music is always part of the experience. You'll hear Salsa, Techno, Hip-Hop, Reggaeton, Rock and more in Cancun.

If giant nightclubs, or “antros” as young locals call them, aren't your thing, try a smaller venue. In many bars, employees spend much of their time socializing with and entertaining visitors, which makes for a more intimate experience. After a relaxing day of lounging in the sun and swimming in the azure Caribbean Sea, there's nothing like having a delicious dinner while watching the sunset and then heading to a lively nightspot.

Old standbys like Senor Frogs and Carlos n' Charlie's never disappoint, and Senor Frogs in now located in heart of the Party Center. The Black Pub in Plaza Solare downtown features live Rock. Smaller dance bars like Congo feature sexy dancers and a staff that is full of surprises.

Whichever you choose (Maybe try more than one on the same night!) Cancun's bars won't let you down. You are in for the time of your life!


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Toro Rojo
Photo courtesy of Toro Rojo

Toro Rojo (The Red Bull) is located on Bonampak Avenue across the street from Plaza Toros (the bullring). People flock to this small bar/restaurant for two reasons, the excellent service and the delicious food prepared with quality ingredients. They have a huge selection of interesting mojitos. Toro Rojo is open from 1 pm until 2 am every day and they offer specials every single day like nachos and a beer for 100 pesos, 6 free beers with the purchase of super nachos, 20 pesos beers, 2 x 1 beers for those wearing a rock or metal band t-shirt and 50 peso mojitos for the ladies.

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McCarthy's Irish Pub is located in downtown Cancun, not far from the Hotel Zone entrance, in Plaza Solare on Bonampak Avenue. They feature live rock most days of the week and also show the big game or fight as well. They are known for their amazing wings (Original BBQ, BBQ & Jack and BBQ & Chipotle) and but they also serve snacks, burgers, baguettes, ribs, steaks, pasta, salads and dessert. McCarthy's carries beer from Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands, the US, the Czech Republic, Germany, Cuba, Denmark, China, Argentina, England and of course Mexico. Wow!

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This bar/restaurant is a local favorite. Located on the corner of Bonampak and Sayil Avenues across the street from Plaza Toros (the bullring) and just steps from the Plaza Las Americas/Malecon Americas shopping mall, La Playita is open daily from 11 am to 3 am and each day they feature a different special from 10 peso mugs of beer to 2x1 mojitos . This is a great place to start your night out, hang out with friends or catch a sporting event on television. Try ceviche ( a raw seafood dish marinated in lime juice) or one of their delicious tostadas or tacos.

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Las de Guanatos is a local favorite. There are various locations in downtown Cancun. The most popular is the Plaza Toros (bullring) location and on weekends they feature live music. All locations feature drink specials like seven beers in a bucket for 100 pesos or 2 x1 micheladas. Guanatos is known for its delicious "tortas ahogadas" (baguette sandwiches drown in savory sauce) and "micheladas" (prepared beer cocktails). Favorites include the Ojo Rojo (Red Eye) and a Mango or Chamoy michelada. All locations are open in the early afternoon until the early morning hours.

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Hard Rock Cafe
Photo courtesy of Susan R. Vincil


For over 40 years, Hard Rock Cafe has been known for delicious food, live music, and its amazing collection of rock 'n roll memorabilia. Each Hard Rock Cafe is different and the Cancun restaurant has a mural on the ceiling that represents the Mayan people that once ruled the Yucatan Peninsula. There is also a hot pink Cadillac sticking out of the wall above the stage, and a large stained glass piece that includes Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley, the King of Rock 'n Roll himself. Hard Rock Cafe serves "new" and traditional American food. The restaurant is open daily, from 11am-2am. Occasionally, there are Battle of the Bands contests, but these special events are only held a few times a year.

Recommended for Bars because: Hard Rock Cafe is a bar, but it's also a restaurant that serves American classics. It's conveniently located in Cancun's Party Center.

Kristin's expert tip: Visit Hard Rock Cafe during the day for lunch and cocktails and sit outside on the balcony.

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Pancho & Willy's Karaoke Cantina
Photo courtesy of Susan R. Vincil

Pancho & Willy's is located next door to the popular restaurant, Captain's Cove, across the street from Omni Cancun Hotel & Villas. Karaoke nights are very popular. This multi-level establishment is often full of people singing, dancing and having a fantastic time. If you want to have dinner in Pancho & Willy's, you can order from the full menu of Captain's Cove. This open-air bar/restaurant borders Nichupte Lagoon so patrons are able to get a good look at the resident crocodiles, Pancho & Willy, after whom the bar was named.

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Carlos n' Charlie's

Carlos n' Charlie's provides party seekers with an ideal atmosphere to enjoy a night out in Cancun. Live bands and DJs pound out music, drinks are reasonably priced, and the kitchen does a good job of keeping everyone from becoming too famished from all of the fun and dancing. Order guacamole and they'll make it at your table. Be sure to let them know if it's your birthday. Join the waiters when they jump on the dance floor to lead a group dance. Learn how to dance Salsa to a live band on Tuesdays and Friday nights.

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Congo Bar

This small open-air bar is smack in the middle of all the action in Cancun's Party Center and is always full of fun-loving locals and tourists all night long. Since this is a smaller bar rather than a nightclub, the open bar prices are lower than those charged in larger venues. Also, since it's open on two sides, you can see how wild & crazy the party is before you even enter. There isn't really a dance floor to speak of, but that doesn't stop anyone from dancing. Expect go-go dancers, shot girls and every once in awhile, a strong burst of confetti. Grab a balloon and join the conga line.

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The Black Pub is located in downtown Cancun across the street from Plaza Toros (the bullring) in Plaza Solare on Bonampak Avenue. This fashionable bar/restaurant is one of the most popular nightspots in downtown Cancun because of the food, ambiance and live music. They're open from 2 pm to 3 am Tuesday through Saturday and offer specials some nights. They feature live rock music almost every single day and regularly show sporting events. Ladies drink free on Wednesdays from 9 pm to 1 am and they often have 2 X 1 drinks and open bar specials.

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Senor Frogs
Photo courtesy of Kristin Busse

The name Senor Frog's is synonymous with fun. This bar and restaurant has sawdust on the floor so you don't have to worry about your children making a mess. Kids can order "virgin" versions of the famous drinks in yard glasses that people love to take home as souvenirs. Around 9 pm this family-friendly restaurant turns bar/nightclub. The lively staff always makes sure everyone has a blast. Conga lines, balloons, confetti and craziness are the norm here. Senor Frogs know how to throw a party. They feature a glow party, foam party, reggae night, and have a Latin night with a live band.

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Meet Kristin Busse

After vacationing in Mexico many times, Kristin decided to move to Cancun "for a year". That was in 2001.

Kristin grew-up in Michigan and studied Communications at Michigan State University....  More About Kristin

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