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Mexico Nightlife

1.5 Tequila Lounge
Avenida Melgar at Calle 11 Sur
San Miguel , Cozumel
Mexico 77600
Tel: 52 987 872 4421

A cool, sleek indoor bar, hip DJ, and wooden over-water deck with cushy white ottomans are all unusual sights on casual Cozumel. Locals are thrilled to be able to actually dress up for a night of martinis at classy 1.5 (named for the number of ounces in a shot glass). Tourists in board shorts and flip-flops crash the scene around sunset to quaff a few Cozumel Slammers, a truly horrid concoction of rum, blue curaçao, and Sprite.

Hotel Habita
201 Avenida Presidente Masaryk
Mexico City
Mexico 11560
Tel: 52 55 5282 3100

This hotel bar sits atop the minimalist Hotel Habita, which means lots of white couches and chairs set at perfect angles on the gleaming wood floors. The best part is the row of bar stools (white, of course) set on the rail so you have an unmatched view of the skyline. If the evening is a little chilly (which for locals is about 70 degrees), you can cozy up to the outdoor fireplace that runs along one wall.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 6 pm to 2 am.

Arthur Murray San Miguel
68 Hernandez Macias
San Miguel de Allende
Tel: 52 415 152 0095

Don't laugh—Arthur's doing just fine in San Miguel. Walk past this glassed-in studio around 8 pm on a Friday or Saturday night, and you'll see dozens of wannabe salsa dancers struggling with downbeats and frozen hips during warm-up classes before the band arrives and the rhythm heats up. During the week cha-cha, rumba, and freestyle sessions end by 9 pm, just in time for dinner on the patio at the Baile Café. Hourly classes are available for visitors.—Maribeth Mellin

Open Mondays through Thursdays 5 to 9 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5 to 11 pm.

Dreams Cancún
Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 9.5
Zona Hotelera
Tel: 52 998 848 7000

Age isn't an issue at Azúcar, where some of the best salsa dancers are couples who've clearly spent at least one lifetime together. That doesn't lower the hip quotient, however. This is one place where your sexiest stiletto-heeled sandals will fit right in. Multipiece Latin bands keep the crowd pulsing with steady salsa and merengue rhythms. Watch the dancers onstage to learn the basic footwork and sip a mojito or two. You'll soon find the beat irresistible.

Closed Sundays.

Bar Matilda
53 Aldama
San Miguel de Allende
Tel: 52 415 152 1015

Chic locals mingle with hotel guests from Mexico City at this glam bar and lounge at the stimulating Hotel Matilda. The party moves between low couches and white leather chairs on the sleek white patio to the high stools at the bar, where mixologists infuse their cocktails with fresh herbs. Munchies include fries with white truffle oil; personal pizzas with Feta, olives, and capers, and other combos; and a hearty short-rib taco. Aiming to please all takers, the bar hosts ladies' nights, art openings, and special drinks prices for major sporting events on TV.—Maribeth Mellin

19 Umaran
San Miguel de Allende
Tel: 52 415 154 9432

The artsy, bohemian crowd in San Miguel consider this German bar, restaurant, and art gallery their second home. Owner Detlev Kappstein fills the series of small rooms and nooks with bawdy artworks from Peter Leventhal, Terra Mizwa, and others. The menu naturally veers toward bratwurst sausages and such, and a seasonal menu features the freshest produce—nine asparagus dishes on one night. Jazz groups play occasionally, and art is often the topic of conversation.—Maribeth Mellin

Open Mondays through Saturdays 5 pm to 1 am.

Cabo Wabo
Calle Guerrero
Cabo San Lucas
Tel: 52 624 143 1198

Ever since opening in 1990 with an MTV-covered Van Halen concert, band member Sammy Hagar's cantina (he's part owner) has hosted live bands and musicians vacationing in the area—surprise appearances fuel the local rumor mill. The club's restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily, while bands start rocking in the cantina around 9 pm. Try a Waborita made with the club's signature tequila, conveniently sold by the bottle in the cantina's gift store. On an average night, you'll find cover bands, but big bands often get booked (buy tickets in advance), and you never know who will show up to jam.

Restaurant open daily 11 am to 11 pm; club is open daily from 7:30 pm.

Chocolata Lounge
99 Mesones
San Miguel de Allende
Tel: 52 415 152 1958

This longtime hotspot (previously known as Pancho y Lefty's) hosts different events nearly every night of the week. There are Friday and Saturday night "fiestas," live local bands on Wednesdays, and pulque night on Thursdays (pulque is a local brew made from a particular kind of agave plant).

Closed Sunday–Tuesday.

The City
Blvd Kukulcán, Km 9.5
Zona Hotelera
Tel: 52 998 848 8380

Big-name talents including DJ Sasha, Ludacris, and 50 Cent thrill thousands at The City, which lives up to its name in size and the variety of its crowds. More than 5,000 music lovers can fit in the four-story club; nine bars keep the booze flowing. The City Lounge is the quietest area and has a good martini and munchies menu. The party doesn't end at daylight, since The City also has a beach club with cabanas and outdoor bars.

Coco Bongo
Forum by the Sea
Blvd. Kukulcán, Km 9.5
Zona Hotelera
Tel: 52 998 883 5061

A favorite haunt of MTV-watching frat boys, Coco Bongo is a longtime favorite of the wild young things—up to 1,800 per night come during high season to dance atop every available surface in the club. The night begins with Madonna and Michael Jackson impersonators on the hanging stage at one end of the arenalike building, and builds to a frenzy with flying acrobats, conga lines, and massive video screens dropping from the ceiling—along with confetti, streamers, and bubbles. Earplugs could come in handy.

Coco Bongo
Avenida 10 at Calle 10
Playa del Carmen
Mexico 77710
Tel: 52 984 803 5939

Wildly amusing, this offshoot of a popular Cancún club dazzles the senses with Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga impersonators strutting onstage amid whirling acrobats and mimes on stilts. Once the crowd is thoroughly stimulated, the dancing begins—on tables, the floor, wherever a free space appears.—Maribeth Mellin

Open daily from 10:30 pm.

De Santos
771 Morelos
Puerto Vallarta
Tel: 52 322 223 3052

De Santos is one of the hippest bars and restaurants in Puerto Vallarta. Arches and curving brick walls evoke a chapel, but the behavior inside this urban-style club is decidedly more raucous. City types will feel right at home noshing on Mediterranean dishes before house DJs take the reins, rocking the crowd until the wee hours.—Maribeth Mellin

Diablito Cha Cha Cha
Calle 12 between Avenidas 1 and 5
52 984 803 3416
Playa del Carmen

Spicy Mexican-Asian tapas (tempura calamari, tuna tostadas) fire up the taste buds while DJs spin an increasingly intense hip-hop beat beneath this peaked palapa bar. Locals casually dressed in camis and shorts sink into wicker chairs to chat and dine or congregate around the bar sipping cool mojitos. Serious dancers move on to La Santanera after midnight.

Open daily 1 pm to 3 am.

Calle 6 at the beach
Playa del Carmen
Mexico 77710
Tel: 52 984 873 0374

As the name suggests, this beach bar and restaurant presents everything from fire shows to belly dancing to bossa nova bands. Similar action takes place all along Playa's beaches, but Fusion has a casual, amiable ambience that attracts locals as well as tourists. The music oscillates between reggae, jazz, and blues, but thankfully you can still find quiet spots at the red lantern–lit tables far from the bar. Should hunger strike after one too many margaritas, the cooks make a mean burger.—Maribeth Mellin

Open daily 5 pm to midnight.

2043 Boulevard Francisco Medina Ascencio
Puerto Vallarta
Tel: 52 322 224 4616

On the weekends, live bands score nights of lively dancing at J.B., one of the best clubs in Puerto Vallarta for salsa and tango. The crowd skews slightly local, but everyone is welcome to hit the dance floor. Come early to take lessons, or just grab a beer and watch from the sidelines.—Maribeth Mellin

Jazz Club Roots
26 Calle Tulipanes
El Centro
Tel: 52 998 884 2437

Cancún has long had a healthy jazz scene. Its annual Jazz Fest was a major event for 12 years (between 1991 and 2003), but even though it's since faltered, those who love blues, jazz, and experimental music still have Roots. The club has been around seemingly forever and maintains a smoky, laid-back ambience beloved by local musicians.

Closed Sundays and Mondays.

La Azotea
6 Umarán
San Miguel de Allende
Tel: 52 415 152 8265

The killer rooftop view is almost an afterthought for the young professionals sipping honeydew martinis and air-kissing friends at this stylish lounge above Pueblo Vieja, a Mexican restaurant. The long tapas menu includes skinny fresh asparagus sprinkled with Parmesan, chorizo tacos, and a filling roast beef sandwich that's a hit after a few drinks. The cocktail menu includes several wines and tequilas by the glass. A slatted wood awning and white umbrellas shade tables on the terrace. There's also an indoor lounge with couches and ottomans if it gets too chilly outside.—Maribeth Mellin

Open daily 1 pm to 1 am.

La Bodeguita del Medio
858 Paseo Díaz Ordáz
Puerto Vallarta
Tel: 52 322 223 1586

Salsa fans flock to La Bodeguita del Medio, the Puerto Vallarta offshoot of the legendary Havana club. Live bands keep the dance floor packed, but those lacking in rhythm can grab a spot near the large windows downstairs to catch glimpses of people strolling the malecón. Fill up on mojitos but skip the just so-so food. You're really here to dance and take in the scene.—Maribeth Mellin

La Cava de La Princesa
3 Recreo
San Miguel de Allende
Tel: 52 415 152 1403

You never know what you might get at La Cava de la Princesa—a top musical act from Mexico City, an expat jazz ensemble from New York, or a kitschy local band. But that's part of the fun about this place, one of the city's oldest watering holes and now a Mexican fusion restaurant to boot. Expect a small cover charge for shows; it varies according to who's on stage that night.

Closed Mondays.

La Fragua
3 Cuna de Allende
San Miguel de Allende
Tel: 52 415 152 1144

There's always a party underway at this classy club behind the Parroquia. Tango dancers take to the floor one night, salsa another. Singers bellow out Mexican classics some nights, and you can be assured the crowd will sing along with sentimental favorites. You needn't be young to enjoy the show—sixtysomethings show the young 'uns a move or two on the dance floor.—Maribeth Mellin

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 12 pm to 3 am.

La Santanera
Calle 12 between Avenidas 5 and 10
Playa del Carmen
Tel: 52 984 803 4771

Kitschy lucha-libre posters, calaveras (skeletons) and masks hang from the thatched roof above the second-story bar at this outrageously popular club. Partiers arrive en masse after midnight and dance until dawn beneath spotlights and mirrored disco balls on the main first-story dance floor. Expect a mix of international house music with a Latin bent, and a mixed crowd of locals and in-the-know tourists. However, since this is still the Riviera Maya, you don't have to worry about the interminable lines and grumpy bouncers that usually come with such a club.

La Santa Wine Bar
Obregón at Hidalgo
San José del Cabo
Tel: 52 624 142 6767

Sophisticates sample flights of top wines and tequilas in a renovated home amid San José art galleries and ethnic restaurants. Guest DJs and live bands play an electro-lounge mix that provides a soundtrack for the mingling crowd without overwhelming conversation. Tapas and charcuterie plates suit the wine cellar's international selection, with at least 27 wines by the glass and several high-end sipping tequilas.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 6 pm to 2 am.

Hotel Photo
La Zebra
Carretera Tulum–Boca Paila, Km 8.2
Mexico 77780
Tel: 52 984 115 4726

There's no need to be intimidated about hitting the dance floor for the Sunday night salsa fiestas at La Zebra. Free lessons are offered at 6 pm, giving you two hours to practice before the real party starts. If you still need some help, the tequila flows freely at the bar while the Cuban salsa band plays a sultry beat. The scene at the restaurant at this eco-hip cabaña hotel is fun every night, but it gets downright wild when locals from Playa del Carmen and Tulum come by to wrap up their weekend breaks.—Maribeth Mellin

Open daily 6 pm to midnight.

Liverpool 100
100 Liverpool
Zona Rosa
Mexico City
Tel: 52 55 5208 4507

Several blocks away from most of the bars in the Zona Rosa, Liverpool 100 isn't the kind of place that you find by accident. Even if you walked past, you might mistake this lovely old house for a private club. Don't be daunted by the velvet rope outside—the handsome bouncers pull it back as you approach, treating you like a rock star. Inside are several floors wrapping around a former courtyard that now serves as a long and narrow dance floor. Everywhere you turn is another small room, some with their own DJs, others with go-go boys on the bars. The place draws a mostly straight crowd in the early evening but gets gayer as the night goes on.

Open Fridays through Sundays 10 pm to 4 am.

483 Paseo de la Reforma
Mexico City
Mexico 05900
Tel: 52 55 5286 0069

Unlike many of the city's cramped clubs, Living has a dance floor that could easily accommodate a soccer match (assuming the place wasn't packed with its usual crowds). The thumping techno and electronic music means the patrons—mostly gay men, but plenty of other dance-aholics as well—strip down to as little as possible. Stick around for one of the extravagant drag shows on the elevated catwalk, or retreat to one of the second-floor lounge areas where cheesy Mexican pop music prevails.

Open Fridays and Saturdays at 10 pm.

Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar
11 Nemesio Diez
San Miguel de Allende , Mexico
Tel: 52 415 152 9700

Sure, downtown's roof bars have great views of the Parroquia, but the aptly name Luna atop the Rosewood hotel sits high above its neighbors, offering endless views of glittering lights, sparkling stars, and, on special nights, a full moon. A glass of Veuve Clicquot fits right in here, although most patrons are happy with the bartender's tamarind and pomegranate Margaritas. Wrought-iron chairs are arranged around tables at the roof's edge, but the booths set back a bit are more comfortable. Tasty tidbits from the tapas menu include artisan cheeses, a deconstructed shrimp cocktail, beef tacos, and for a nightcap, wonderful miniature churros with warm dulce de leche for dipping. If you can't find a table, head downstairs to the clubby Tequila Bar for a snifter of silky Casa Dragones tequila.—Maribeth Mellin

Open daily 5 pm to midnight.

Mama Mia's
8 Umarán
San Miguel de Allende
Tel: 52 415 152 2063

With its cheap cover charges, music ranging from salsa to Latin jazz, and terrific drinks—including an impressive wine list—Mama Mia's draws all kinds. Its restaurant serves everything from a bountiful breakfast buffet to dinner with both local and Italian touches. Meanwhile, its three bars—Mama's, Leonardos, and La Terraza—are late-night scenes. Look for a crowd of artsy tourists and upper-class chilangos (Mexico City residents) in town for the weekend. Note that La Terraza, with its gorgeous city views, is only open on weekends.

Avenida Rafael E. Melgar at Calle 11 Sur
San Miguel , Cozumel
Mexico 77600
Tel: 52 987 872 1537

Neptuno is roundly considered Cozumel's only "real" disco, with a large dance floor and antiquated special effects (yes, disco balls do still exist). Some nights are devoted to Latin rhythms, reggae, or techno DJs. Otherwise the music rambles through several genres with a consistent, irresistible dance beat. The club is usually open Tuesday through Sunday nights, depending on the number of tourists around.

Open Thursdays through Sundays 10 pm to 4 am.

O Ultra Club
Blvd Kukulcán, Km 9.5
Zona Hotelera
Tel: 52 998 883 3333

Sophisticates take note: There's more to Cancún's nightlife scene than just rowdy party bars. Ultra is the perfect spot to show off your tan against a slinky black dress—though you'll still see more than enough belly rings. Martinis, Champagne, and Bellinis are the drinks of choice here. House music throbs ever more intensely as the hours pass, urging patrons toward the dance floor next door at Dady'O, the granddaddy of Mexican discos.

Carretera Escénica
Tel: 52 744 446 5490

Devotees of ear-blasting techno head for the huge, high-energy dance floor at this glass-walled venue, where big-name DJs spin into the wee hours. The hefty cover charges (which start at around $30) include an open bar to keep the drinks flowing all night; hand over a handsome tip at the beginning for conscientious service. Better yet, do like the Mexico City crowd and reserve a table in advance with bottle service.—Maribeth Mellin

Open daily 10 pm to 6 am.

Passion Club
ME Cabo
Playa el Médano
Cabo San Lucas
Tel: 52 624 145 7800

Slinky hipsters preen and pose while sipping mojitos around blazing fire pits at the sexiest club in Los Cabos. Located beneath the ME hotel lobby, the indoor/outdoor club has beds draped in white gauze and DJs spinning global dance and house music on Thursdays through Saturdays from 10 pm to 4 am. Locals tend to dress up, though hotel guests sport everything from club wear to shorts and flip flops. Lines can get long when tourism is high, especially around holidays, but you can usually get in easily if you arrive before midnight. However, expect to pay a hefty cover, sometimes as high as $70-100 for some DJs. VIP club access runs around $250 (including one comped bottle of liquor). Also at the hotel, the Nikki Beach club grooves day and night with DJs spinning music-to-tan-by as guests lounge poolside.

Passion Club open Thurdays through Saturdays 10 pm to 4 am; Passion Club Lounge open daily 9 pm to 2 am.

Salon Q
3117 Costera Miguel Alemán
Tel: 52 744 481 0114

It's not called "the cathedral of salsa" for nothing. Dancers with Latin rhythm in their souls perform Acapulco-style cumbia in this enormous dance hall. The spins and dips get more dramatic as the night progresses, with dancers pausing only for a few mojitos. You can pick out the pros, who adapt their moves to suit salsa, merengue, and mambo beats—but the dance floor is usually so crowded that you can dance along even if you haven't a clue what you're supposed to do.—Maribeth Mellin

Open daily 10 pm to 5 am.

Sancho Panza Wine Bistro
Boulevard Marina
Cabo San Lucas
Tel: 52 624 143 3212

Singers and bands warm up with cool jazz as diners savor Spanish-Latin seafood amid Dali-esque murals, hanging glass globes, and stacked wine bottles at this cozy restaurant/club. Musicians from Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, and San Francisco take center stage around 10, filling the room with Latin jazz, blues, salsa, and more. Wine tastings, winery dinners, and holiday celebrations keep loyal regulars and visitors entertained throughout the year.

Open daily from 4 pm.

T Gallery
39 Saltillo
La Condesa
Mexico City
Tel: 52 55 5211 1222

This bar, just off the main drag in La Condesa, is where many locals begin a night on the town. The main room is filled with overstuffed couches, so there is always a place to chat with a few friends and knock back a mezcal (like tequila, but with a sharper edge). Later in the evening, conversation is all but impossible when bands start playing jazz and blues.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 5 pm to 2 am.

Zinco Jazz Club
20 Motolinía
Centro Histórico
Mexico City
Tel: 52 55 5518 6369

Jazz aficionados can get their fix in Mexico City—although some of the instruments they are likely to encounter, such as the marimba, will give it a different sound than anywhere else. In the basement of what was once a bank building in the Centro Histórico, Zinco still has the huge steel vaults that once held people's fortunes. Now they gladly give up a little of their loot to hear national and international performers take to the tiny stage. The nearly nonexistent lighting and the haze of cigar smoke that hangs in the air give this place a feeling of authenticity.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.