This city’s vibrant nightlife scene ranges from chic rooftop bars to cool underground jazz clubs, all of which stay open very, very late.
Mexico City by day is fascinating enough, but by night, an entirely different side of the capital shows itself. It’s a 24-hour city, perhaps even more so than New York, which claims that title. And it’s at night when some of Mexico City’s most pleasant surprises reveal themselves.
There are rooftop bars, for one thing, which offer sweeping views of the sparkling skyline and—on the not-so-distant horizon—the mountains that serve as the city’s unofficial limits. And then there are the underground jazz clubs, where local and internationally renowned musicians (heard of Wynton Marsalis? Paquito D’Rivera?) play to enthusiastic, cultured crowds.
There are all the nocturnal diversions you’d expect of any big city, too: dance clubs and bars that range from dives to swanky joints and everything in between. So the difficulty isn’t deciding if you’re going to go out … it’s deciding where!
There’s no shortage of scene-bars to impress even the most traveled of patrons, but two of Mexico City’s rooftop bars vie for top distinction in this category. La Terraza, the bar on the top of the Condesa df hotel, is an ideal place to stop and sip early on your visit to the city; from your rooftop perch atop comfortable, private loungers warmed by heat lamps, you’ll be able to take in a panoramic view of the city’s skyline. The drinks are good and generously sized, and a Japanese-inspired menu offers tapas-sized snacks for hungry clients. This is a bar best enjoyed with others, as solo seating is limited.
Condesa df, Avenida Veracruz N. 102, Colonia Condesa. Tel. +52-55-5241-2600. Hours: 8 a.m. to midnight. www.condesadf.com
Area, another rooftop bar, located atop the Hotel Habita, actually consists of two levels. The first has a pool, while the upper level lets guests gather around its outdoor fireplace, but both allow a generous glimpse of the capital city, including a view of the massive national flag that flutters majestically from a tall pole in the distance. As at La Terraza, the drinks are generously sized, if a bit pricey.
Hotel Habita, Avenida Presidente Masaryk 201, Colonia Polanco. Tel. +52-55-5282-3100. Hours: Mon. to Sat., 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. www.hotelhabita.com
Say “Mexico” and “music”—the first association that comes to mind is likely to be “mariachi.” No doubt: Mariachi is alive and well in modern-day Mexico, but the country is so vast, and its people are such music aficionados, that most genres flourish here. Jazz has enjoyed a particularly warm reception, and in the past decade jazz clubs have popped up around the city. Two of the best—most frequented and well respected by locals and travelers alike—are PapaBeto and Zinco Jazz Club. Both are worth a visit if you have the time, as they cater to different clientele.
PapaBeto Jazz Bistro, the older of the two clubs, was founded and run by a Japanese woman who has lived in Mexico City for years. It’s a no-frills club in terms of its décor and drink menu, but add a little smoke (which would be illegal—Mexico City passed an indoor smoking ban in 2008) and it would be an ideal jazz joint. The space is intimate, and the music’s good. After all, isn’t that what really counts?
Manuel Villalongín 196-H. Colonia Cuauhtémoc. Tel. +52-55-5592-1638. Hours: 8:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. www.papabeto.com
Zinco may be the jazz club newcomer, but its star is ascending quickly. It was given the nod by Conde Nast as one of the world’s 25 best nightlife spots in 2006, and it’s not hard to see why. The interior of this underground jazz club, located in what was once a bank, is just as an upscale jazz club should be—dim, yet warm and inviting, with velvet curtains, dark wood and drinks inspired by the music that accompanies them as they go down smooth. Like PapaBeto, this space is intimate, though it tends to get crowded quickly, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. Get there early to get a table; otherwise, you’ll be standing around or trying to edge your way to a bar stool.
Motolinia 20, Esq. 5 de Mayo. Centro Histórico. Tel. +52-55-5512-3369. Hours: Mon. to Sat., 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. www.zincojazz.com
Casa Lamm is another Mexico City nightspot that’s earned its share of world’s best superlatives, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Casa Lamm is equal parts cultural center, art gallery, upscale gift shop, bar and restaurant, and regardless of what you experience here, you’re unlikely to be disappointed. The bar and restaurant are enclosed by glass walls, which are retractable and turn the space into a charming alfresco experience during mild weather. The drinks here are divine—try the lychee, kiwi or starfruit martinis—and the food—contemporary Mexican with an upscale flair (try the Portobello ceviche for starters; the rib eye as an entrée)—is equally noteworthy. There’s live music—usually jazz or Cuban son—on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which makes Casa Lamm an ideal early/mid-week stop.
Álvaro Obregón 99, Colonia Roma. Tel. +52-55-5514-8501. Hours: Mon. to Fri., 8 to 3 a.m.; Sat., 9 to 3 a.m.; Sun., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. www.lamm.com.mx
Destinations: Mexico City
Themes: Urban Endeavors