Mexico City Nightlife | The 11 Best Bars and Clubs in 2020
What’s Mexico City nightlife like, and is it bumping? Where can you find the best rumba in all of CDMX?
For the answers to pressing and prudent questions like these, I reached out to resident expert Dennis Demori for a detailed guest post on the topic.
And let's just say, ole' Dennis seemed to have one hell of a time in enjoying the nightlife in Mexico City. Why? Because he knows his stuff here.
My first night out was near Parque España in Condesa, a popular neighborhood that attracts a mix of young professionals, ex-pats, and digital nomads looking for cheap drinks and a fun party vibe.
I was with a digital nomad who'd been living in Mexico City sporadically for the past 18 months and two of his roommates. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and that’s a good way to frame my experience in CDMX throughout the two months I lived there in early 2018.
Walking down Av. Tamaulipas in Condesa, you’ll see one bar or restaurant after another for about three blocks with more around the corner.
You’re just as likely to see a group of friends grabbing dinner as you are to see another group splitting a bottle of tequila, dancing, and singing along to the Latin music being blasted from the DJ booth.
Two bars, several drinks, and multiple street tacos later, I walked home thinking I “knew” Mexico City.
But I was wrong…
CDMX is a huge city you can probably compare to an all-you-can-eat buffet with a variety of:
- Dive bars
- Rooftop bars
- Wine bars
- Dance clubs
With Mexico City nightlife, there’s something for everyone – no matter your tastes and budget. In some ways, I’d argue Polanco nightlife, Condesa nightlife, and Roma Norte nightlife are better than what you typically find in the U.S.
The nightlife in Mexico City has a certain festive atmosphere that’s hard to explain.
Part of it’s because of the Latin music, but it’s also because of the vibe and the exotic factor you experience as a foreigner. Mexico City is fun – plain and simple.
In this guide, I'll detail things like:
What’s So Great About Nightlife in Mexico City?
Well, a lot of things. Trust me, la rumba in CDMX is damned good. But I'll try to break it down a little further for y'all:
Mexico City Nightlife is limitless
To give you an idea of how big it is, Mexico City has a metro population of over 21+ MILLION people.
Let’s break it down a little because one of the first things visitors realize is that a city of this size can be overwhelming…
Mexico City has 16 major neighborhoods called colonias, but if you’re like me you’re probably only going to hang out in a handful of them:
- Roma Norte
- Centro / Downtown
Try to stay in a hotel or get an apartment in one of these neighborhoods. I made the mistake of staying in Anzures in March, and while it’s a nice residential neighborhood, it’s a little isolated from the action.
Bars and clubs are open as late as 5 am
The last call tends to vary depending on the night of the week and the venue. Sundays through Wednesdays are generally dead, so you’ll find most of the nightlife activity going down on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
If you’ve partied in LA, you know most places are closed by 1 am while NYC and Miami are open almost 24/7. Mexico City isn’t that extreme in my experience, but you can take your time getting ready, head out late, and still have enough time to venue hop and grab some late-night food.
Speaking Spanish gives you a huge advantage
If you think all the young people in Mexico City speak English fluently, you’re going to be in for a surprise. Spanish is spoken everywhere, and the only people you’ll ever hear speaking English in public are Western ex-pats, tourists, and digital nomads.
You’ll find that the working or professional class Mexicans you meet in bars and clubs will speak a little English or maybe none at all, so if you want to improve your interactions and your experience, you need to learn.
Even just mastering the basics will be helpful.
Covers are optional
Most of the places you go out in Mexico City won’t have a cover. If you want to go higher end, though, like some of the nightclubs, you can expect to pay around $10 to $15 bucks.
If you want to enjoy the Polanco (Mexico City’s wealthiest neighborhood) nightlife, you can expect to pay covers more often and close to American prices for drinks, although bottle service will be cheaper.
Great music mix
One of my favorite aspects of Roma Norte nightlife, Condesa nightlife, and the spots I hit in Polanco is the music.
House. Latin Pop. Classic rock. 80s synth-pop. 90s hip hop.
The DJ might go back and forth from Juanes to Depeche Mode to Eminem, and it keeps the party from going stale.
Well, that depends on who you ask. But for the most part, yeah. It's not as bad as you think.
Mexico overall gets a bad rap from the mainstream media, but you need to keep in mind that the media thrives on stories of crime, narcos, and murders. The fact is that Mexico City is just like any other major U.S. city with good and bad neighborhoods.
I’ve walked alone in Roma Norte at 2 am and Polanco at 5 am and never felt unsafe – although I wouldn’t recommend doing that if you’re a female. Just being honest here.
Stay in the neighborhoods I’ve listed in this article and out of bad areas, like Guerrero, and you should be fine. Of course, getting stupid drunk is just asking for trouble, so make sure aware of your surroundings wherever you go.
It’s easy to hit multiple venues a night
Although Mexico City is spread out, the nightlife tends to be clustered in certain areas:
- Roma Norte near Av. Álvaro Obregón
- La Condesa (or just “Condesa) on Av. Tamaulipas near Parque México and Parque España
- Cuauhtémoc near Calle Rio Lerma
- Polanco near Av. Maseryk
I didn’t spend a lot of time downtown in Centro, but that’s another option. That means you can walk or take a short and inexpensive Uber ride to wherever you’re going. If you get an apartment near those spots I just listed, you can expect to pay around $3-$5 for Uber as long as you’re not going across several neighborhoods.
How to Survive and Thrive the Nightlife in Mexico City
With so much rumba around the city to savor, it's crucial you get a little strategic in your party approach. Without proper preparation, you're gonna have a bad time in CDMX.
Errrr, you're gonna spend way to much time in an Uber.
So make sure to…
Focus On One Area
Sure, you could spend your evening bouncing between drinking holes in Polanco and Cuauhtémoc. But then you'd spend half your night in a taxi stuck in traffic. Or worse, you could get robbed moving around during the wee hours of the night.
Mexico City party veterans know to concentrate their efforts on one particular zona. That way, you've got more time and money to focus on what really counts: Mezcal!
While honest, hard-working people drive most taxis in Mexico City, there are sadly a few criminals out there too. And when they spot a (presumably) wealthy gringo, some may see it as a perfect chance to drive you someplace secluded and rob you blind.
Taking Uber is your best bet. Otherwise, call a taxi from a trusted company rather than grabbing a random one off the street.
Remember all those killer hangovers you used to get from one too many tequila shots? Well, they won't be any better in Mexico, so you better give the sacred drink the respect it deserves. Mexicans are seriously skilled at guzzling back endless shots of the stuff, so don't feel the urge to keep up. You have been warned.
Opt For A Bottle
Bottle service is all the rage in Mexico and works out much cheaper than ordering individual drinks from the bar.
Furthermore, it's a load of fun to polish one off together with your chums. Just remember what I said about respecting Tequila…
Load Up On Food
It's always wise to line the stomach before a big night out, and in Mexico City, eating is a pleasure to savor.
From fine dining restaurants to roadside taco stalls, you'll find an endless array of tasty cuisine to munch on at any hour of the night.
Where to Stay in Mexico City?
The best barrio in CDMX? Well, that's a tough one. The truth is there isn't really a ‘best' neighborhood–it depends what you're into.
Students and the young at heart might want to base themselves in San Angel or Metro Copilco. These vibrant neighborhoods are packed full of youngsters, especially around the UNAM. And where there are students, there are excessive quantities of incredibly cheap booze.
Fancy pants would prefer Polanco or Santa Fe, the city's two upper-class barrios. You'll need to dress well here and expect to drop huge pesos on a night out.
On the other end of the spectrum, Centro has a bit of a gritty vibe that's perfect for scruffy drinkers who aren't too concerned with exterior aesthetics. Just be mindful which alleyways you wander down after dark.
But for most people, myself included, there's nowhere better than Roma Norte or Condesa.
Most of Mexico City's best bars are located in these two bustling neighborhoods, both of which are easy enough to navigate on foot. Specifically, aim for a place within walking distance of Parque Mexico or Parque España. That way, you'll have all the rumba you could hope for within easy reach.
If you're looking to stay in this area, for anything under 7-10+ days, I recommend opting for a hotel.
My favorite hotel in the area offers modern boutique decor, stunning park views, gourmet breakfast included, bar on site, and so much more.
I cannot recommend staying here enough…
The best hotel I've found in Mexico City is Hotel Parque Mexico Boutique.
Costs of Mexico City Nightlife
People seem to have the perception that Mexico is incredibly cheap – 50% of what you’d pay in the U.S.
You can spend less money in Mexico, but you can also pay close to what you’d pay in the U.S., U.K., or Australia if you hang out at the high-end bars, clubs, and restaurants.
Here’s a rough idea of what you can expect to pay:
- Cover charge: $5-$15 USD
- Beer: $1-$7 USD
- Whiskey and Cocktails: $4-$15 USD
- Shot of Mezcal: $3 and up USD
- Bottle of Stoli vodka at the club: $80-150 USD
- Bottle of Wine at a bar: $20-75 USD
You could easily have a big night out for $30+ bucks, but you could also drop a couple hundred buying bottles in Polanco with ease.
It all depends on the scene you're looking for in CDMX. And make no mistake about it, you can find whatever scene you're looking for in Mexico City.
Where To Party In Mexico City
Just like LA, CDMX is spread out, and the traffic is terrible, so it takes time to explore. But once you get the gist of it, you'll be fine.
Until then, here are a few pointers on making the most out of Mexico City nightlife:
– Cuauhtémoc Nightlife –
Solid spot for a date night or to grab drinks after work. Live music on certain nights too. Overall, a decent place.
– Condesa Nightlife –
The Condesa location is more of a party spot than the Cuauhtémoc location. Go here if you’re bar hopping around Condesa. Typically a good time to be had here.
Wallace has two floors that have several rooms, and it’s one of the better spots in Condesa, in my opinion. I wouldn’t spend the whole night here, but it’s an excellent place to grab a drink or two.
– Polanco Nightlife –
Arguably the top club in Mexico City right now. They recently moved to a new location, and if it’s anything like the old venue I visited, it’ll be a good place to party late into the night.
High-end bar and lounge. A little hard to find (you need to go down an alley and through a back entrance), but it’s an excellent spot to start the night.
– Roma Norte Nightlife –
One of my favorite places in Mexico City and one of the most beautiful bars I’ve ever been to. Tends to attract groups and an attractive, well-dressed crowd.
Janis and Cafe Paraiso are two of the top clubs right now and like a block apart. I had a good time at both, but I don’t have a favorite. Much of a muchness, you could say.
Aurora is a high-end restaurant with a small bar area. Cool looking restaurant. Good to pre-game with friends or for a date.
Mezcalerias in Mexico City
And let's not forget the mezcalerias in Mexico City. Seriously, checking out one of these spots is a must while in CDMX:
So, the last three spots on my list are all mezcalerias. And that's for a good reason. They're awesome!
Mezcal is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the agave plant – kind of like a smoother, high-end tequila. The stuff is usually served as shots, or sometimes cocktails.
La Clandestina and Mano Santa are both chill spots where you can have drinks and appetizers. La Mil Amores is a party bar with lots of dancing, and they’re open late too–until 5 am I think. And La Nacional is a casual beer bar and mezcaleria with one of the most extensive drink lists I’ve ever seen…anywhere.
How To Pick The Best Nightlife Spots In Mexico City
With so many options, how do you decide where to go out?
Here are some tips:
- If you like high-end spots, you’ll enjoy Polanco nightlife
- If you’re on a budget, go with Condesa nightlife (around Av. Tamaulipas mainly)
- If you like the bohemian, hipster, and foodie scenes, go with Roma Norte nightlife
- And if you want to enjoy dinner and drinks, but don’t want to go too crazy and stay out all night, you’ll like the nightlife in Cuauhtémoc.
Of course, these are generalizations, but it should give you an idea of which neighborhood will be the best fit.
The Verdict? | Nightlife in Mexico City
I’m not big on clubs, but I loved the Mexico City mezcalerias, especially Mano Santa, and some of the higher-end spots like Gin Gin.
Mano Santa just opened a new spot called Mezcal México in Roma Sur, which I’m going to check out when I return to CDMX this summer.
Of course, I’ve just barely scratched the surface.
To get a proper feel for Mexico City, I suggest staying AT LEAST two months because otherwise, you’re just not going to have enough time to explore.
Oh, and if you have any questions or comments about nightlife in Mexico City, feel free to sound off in the comments.