Cabarete ’s surfers and youthful visitors have given the small town a laid-back nightlife. But don’t mistake laid-back for dead. Many of the restaurants lining the shore transform into spirited bars after dinner hours, where music and drinks flow, but they close fairly early (around 1 or 2 a.m. on the weekend).
LAX (Playa Cabarete, www.lax-cabarete.com , 9 a.m.–1 a.m. daily) is certainly the hot spot and favorite happy hour (4–6 p.m.) restaurant that also serves a wide variety of items for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but it is the popular starter venue mainly because of its re-LAX-ed atmosphere. Cash only.
Two dueling hot spots right next to one another are Bambú (Playa Cabarete, tel. 809/982-4549, 6 p.m.–1 a.m. daily), a large club with comfy sofas, and Onno’s (tel. 809/571-0461, 9 a.m.–1 a.m. daily), which gets crazy-packed at night. Both offer outrageous drink specials and hours of music-pumping zaniness.
If you can’t help but crave a little American bar food, José Oshay’s Irish Beach Pub (Playa Cabarete, tel. 809/571-0775, 8 a.m.–11 p.m. daily) is the place for you. The owners are an Irish-American father and son team who opened this bar back in 2002. Since then they have been serving fish and chips, bangers and mash, and shepherd’s pie right on the beach in Cabarete.
An annual St. Patrick’s Day bash complete with bagpipes and Irish dancers sends this stretch of beach into a frenzy with upwards of 2,000 in attendance. Other popular dishes are a plate of nachos big enough to feed four, freshly caught seafood, cocktails, and tropical frozen drinks. A live rock band plays five nights a week.
A Baílar Cafe (Calle Principal, tel. 809/916-4551, 10 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, www.a-bailar.net ) is both a restaurant and a Latin dance school located in the center of Cabarete . The casual restaurant serves sandwiches, empanadas, hamburgers, and pastas. But taking a dance lesson is another way to spend your evening. Tony Vargas, the charming el professor de baile, will set your merengue into motion, put the spice in your salsa, and make your bachata blush. The dance floor is in the back of the restaurant and is sufficient for a small party. Lessons are US$14 per person or US$45 for three one-hour lessons. Classes are available seven days a week 11 a.m.–6 p.m. All levels are available. There is no better way to discover the culture of the Dominican Republic  than to get dancing! This is our celebration of life. ¡Eso!