Mix with the Locals at Cancun's Best Downtown Bars

Cancun is the most visited vacation destination in Mexico, and one of the most popular in the world. People visit from all over the globe to experience Cancun's turquoise blue Caribbean waters, white sand beaches and unparalleled nightlife, dining and shopping. There's no shortage of bars in the Hotel Zone, but downtown Cancun also boasts many unique bar/restaurants that serve up live music and/or a DJ, beer, wine and cocktails, and delicious local food, all at more economical prices than in the Hotel Zone.

Plaza Toros (the bullring), Plaza Solare and the surrounding area is home to many of Cancun's most popular bars, like Las de Guanatos, McCarthy's Irish Pub and La Playita. For a night of Latin dancing, Gran Mambo Cafe, located in Plaza Hong Kong, is your best bet.

Avenida Nader and Puerto Cancun are home to some new trendy nightspots, including Amarula con acento tropical, Barezzito Puerto Cancun, Elton Dueling Pianos, Cantina la No. 20 and Roof Top Districto Nader. Nebrina Gin & Cocina, formerly located on Nader, has moved to a shiny new location on Huayacan Avenue.

Escape Cancun's Hotel Zone one evening and experience a night on the town like a Cancunense (Cancun resident).


Barezzito Puerto Cancun is a slick nightclub, complete with flashing strobe lights and heart-pounding music. Located in Marina Town Center mall, Barezzito comes to life every Wednesday to Saturday at 9:30 pm. Wednesdays offer open bar for only 150 pesos (about 8 dollars). The club features live music, and during their breaks, reggaeton. The crowd tends to be younger. If it's a little loud for you inside, sitting outside on the terrace is a good option. There are plenty of taxis available at the end of the evening, or if you're not going to drink, there is plenty of parking available as well.

Recommended for Downtown Cancun's Best Bars because: Barezzito is a trendy nightclub for those who are looking for a night of drinking and dancing.

Kristin's expert tip: Let them know if it's your birthday and they'll give you a free shot.

Read more about Barezzito Puerto Cancun →

Grand Mambo Cafe is the number one spot to dance Salsa, Merengue and Bachata in Cancun. Located downtown in Plaza Hong Kong, Mambo Cafe features live music Wednesday through Saturday. Open bar is available on Thursdays. If you're celebrating a birthday and make a reservation on a Friday, they will give you a free bottle of rum, vodka or tequila if 10 of your friends pay cover. On Saturdays if reserve a table for 15 people you'll get a free bottle of Captain Morgan or Smirnoff. Bottle service will get you a front row seat right next to the dance floor. There is live music every night and the party doesn't end until about 4 am.

Recommended for Downtown Cancun's Best Bars because: Grand Mambo Cafe is more like a nightclub and features live Latin music and dancing.

Kristin's expert tip: The live music doesn't start until after midnight.

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Nebrina Gin & Cocina, located in downtown Cancun on Nader Avenue, not far from the entrance to the Hotel Zone, is one of those places to see and be seen for locals. They specialize in gin cocktails (they offer at least 20 brands of Gin) and Mediterranean and Mexican dishes. The wood interior is refreshing as it is almost non-existent in Cancun. Favorites include the tuna tartar and fish and chips. Live music, sporting events, DJs, Nebrina Gin & Cocina offers indoor and outdoor seating and is open Monday through Saturday from 6 pm to 4 am.

Recommended for Downtown Cancun's Best Bars because: Nebrina Gin & Cocina is a hip bar-restaurant that is popular with locals.

Kristin's expert tip: On Thursdays, ladies can get 3 gin cocktails for 199 pesos (about 10 dollars).

Read more about Nebrina Gin & Cocina →


Another swanky new bar/club located on Nader Avenue, Roof Top Districto Nader is located well, on the roof of the Gamma hotel. They offer deep house music, lounge, disco and serve food, wine, a variety of creative cocktails and bottle service with a great view of Cancun. In fact, their hashtag is #DrinkWithAView. They often show an important sporting event on their big screen and offer theme nights like Pop night and specials like 2 x 1 on distilled liquors. There is a DJ every night beginning at 8:00 pm. Swings, comfy couches and a reflecting pool all add to the ambiance. Dress to impress, this is not a flip-flops and cut-offs kind of place.

Recommended for Downtown Cancun's Best Bars because: Roof Top Districto Nader is one of the newest bars on Nader Avenue and offers a great view of the city.

Kristin's expert tip: This is definitely a younger crowd, and remember, the legal drinking age in Mexico is only 18.

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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!

Recommended for Downtown Cancun's Best Bars because: Mccarthy's Irish Pub offers great specials and live rock music.

Kristin's expert tip: Happy hour (2x1) is everyday from 4 to 9 pm.

Read more about Mccarthy's Irish Pub →

Located on Nader Avenue, which has come back to life with trendy bars and restaurants, in the heart of downtown Cancun, Amarula offers deep house electronic music, mixology and tasty eats, all "con acento tropical" (with a tropical touch) Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10:00 pm to 3:00 am. The décor is colonial meets art deco meets tropical and the crowd is fashionable. Wednesdays and Fridays are ladies night, and cover is only 50 pesos (about 2.50 usd). On Thursdays they offer open bar for just 250 pesos (about 12 usd). Call ahead and reserve a table.

Recommended for Downtown Cancun's Best Bars because: Amarula con acento tropical is the new Cancun, sleek and fashionable.

Kristin's expert tip: On ladies night, chicas drink for free with their 50 pesos cover charge.

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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 or 2 x 1 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.

Recommended for Downtown Cancun's Best Bars because: Las de Guanatos has locations all over downtown Cancun and they serve the best cheladas and micheladas in town.

Kristin's expert tip: Don't bother with small drinks, order the liter!

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Located on the water in the swanky new Marina Town Center mall in Puerto Cancun, this beautiful cantina delights the senses with a modern twist on traditional Mexican cocktails, cuisine and fun, in a contemporary, upscale atmosphere. They often show the big game on their huge screen and feature live music, including Mariachis. Don't miss "toques toques", an odd but popular bar pastime which originated in Mexico City. A group of people hold hands and the two people at each end grab a metal tube which is attached to an electrical machine. The tubes provide a mild electroshock passing through everyone in the group.

Recommended for Downtown Cancun's Best Bars because: Cantina la No. 20 is an upscale, authentic Mexican experience.

Kristin's expert tip: Sit outside on the terrace for a spectacular view of the marina.

Read more about Cantina la No. 20 →

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 and each day they feature a different special from cheap mugs of beer to 3 x 2 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. They feature a DJ every Friday and Saturday at 10:00 pm.

Recommended for Downtown Cancun's Best Bars because: La Playita serves delicious food and features great specials. This is a local favorite.

Kristin's expert tip: Don't miss 3 x 2 mojitos on Sundays.

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It's not clear whether Elton stands for Elton John, or why they don't have an actual dueling pianos show, but this super popular new bar-restaurant is located in Puerto Cancun and features a live showband and DJ every Wednesday through Sunday. Their small menu offers paninis, skewers, tacos, tostadas, and some steak and seafood. This club is packed with all ages so you'll feel comfortable if you're in your 30's, 40's or beyond. There is no cover. Call ahead and reserve a table and settle in because Elton Dueling Pianos is open until 3:00 am.

Recommended for Downtown Cancun's Best Bars because: Elton Dueling Pianos is one of downtown Cancun's most popular new nightspots.

Kristin's expert tip: You may want to have dinner elsewhere and arrive around 11:00 pm, as things in Cancun never get going until around midnight.

Read more about Elton Dueling Pianos →


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