A taka-taka band performs outside of a cantina  

Oftentimes dark, dirty and filled with cigarette smoke and blaring music from a corner jukebox, cantinas are the typical Mexican bars. Please note that this page is written for a male audience, because it's generally not recommended that women enter or drink in cantinas.




Also, don't be confused by the word "cantina" - if you see a restaurant and cantina in a tourist area, it's not the same as the small-town cantinas described here.

These aren't tourist bars, and don't be surprised if you get some surprised looks when you walk in the door of a cantina. And expect to be approached by every panhandler who walks through.

Cantinas are the common man's drinking place, where the one with some money buys a large bottle of beer (cahuama) and shares it with his friends.

They can be an interesting place to have a conversation, as people in cantinas are generally pretty friendly (if they're not, make an exit).

And cantinas are also frequented by "working girls." In fact, some cantinas are actually strip clubs where prostitutes dance and mingle with customers.

Expect women to approach you and ask you to buy them a beer, or to buy a cahuama so she can get a plastic cup and share it with you. If she wants you to buy her a drink, first ask her (and confirm with the bartender) how much it will cost - many times the women work for the bar, and if you buy them a beer then it will cost more (often several times more) that the standard beer. In turn, the bartender will give them a slip of paper that they turn in at the end of the night for their cut of the profits.

And while it may seem like an interesting cultural experience (especially after a few beers with your new friends), don't drink too much, and be cautious. Don't leave your wallet on the bar, don't leave money on the bar when you go to the bathroom, and don't trust anyone. And if you end up spending time with one of the señoritas, remember to use all precautions.

Scheduled Events