A longtime go-to, Revolución Café (Av. 20 de Noviembre at 1 de Marzo, tel. 967/678-6664, www.myspace.com/cafebarrevolucion , noon–midnight Mon.–Sat.) still pulls in crowds, mostly for the live rock music that plays in a windowsill-turned-bandstand every night around 9:30 p.m. Mixed drinks tend to be weak—order beer or shots—and if you’re hungry, stick to the baguettes. To get a table on weekends, arrive around 8:30 p.m., otherwise enjoy the revelry from the bar or the 2nd floor.
A microbrewery and bar, Iskra (Real de Guadalupe 53, www.iskracafe.blogspot.com , 2 p.m.–midnight daily) has the relaxed feel of a dive bar without the graffiti on the walls. It’s a good spot for just about anyone, offering a drink menu that ranges from homemade brews and stiff drinks to spiked coffee concoctions. Live bands play every night at 9 p.m.—there’s a small dance floor but most people just groove between the tables.
A cozy wine bar in the heart of the Real de Guadalupe strip, La Viña de Bacco (Real de Guadalupe 7, 2 p.m.–midnight Mon.–Sat.) offers an impressive wine menu featuring labels from Mexico, Italy, France, Chile, and the United States. There are local faves too, including Chamulan posh (cane sugar liquor) and warm red wine, which both work wonders to warm you up fast on chilly nights. Tasty tapas are served with each round of drinks—they range from cheese plates to small finger sandwiches—a great deal considering drinks cost US$1–4.50.
Perfidia (Calle María Adelina Flores at Cristóbal Colón, tel. 967/678-1209, www.perfidia.com.mx , noon–midnight Mon.–Sat.) is an artsy bar-gallery-café set in a leafy courtyard in the colonial center. It hosts live bands Thursday through Saturday and has drink specials almost every night of the week from 7 to 9 p.m. (with the exception of Thursday, when there is a one-minute tequila special from 9:59 p.m. to 10 p.m.—move fast!).
After most of the other nightclubs have closed, stagger to El Zirko (Av. 20 de Noviembre at 1 de Marzo, 8 p.m.–3 a.m. Tues.–Sat., free–US$3), where live music, drum and dance shows, and general late-night partying don’t pick up until 11 p.m. Drink specials are offered almost nightly—guys hand out coupons in front of the bar or you can pick one up at the tourist office (a coupon, not a guy).