A good place to set out on foot in search of your type of watering hole is around the Monumento a la Restauración . Since it is a busy area, it is a safe area to walk.
Ahi-Bar Café and Grill (Calle Tolentino and Restauraciñn, tel. 809/581-6779, 4 p.m.–3 a.m.) is a good bar to start out the night because it serves food, but it is most popular as a drinking spot, especially on Friday nights. The large patio is good for open-air conversation, and the bar is quite popular with the blue-blooded youth of Santiago . The karaoke on Sundays starts at 8 p.m. Now, at Ahi-Bar Dance you can groove to merengue, bachata and salsa in Ahi’s dance club directly adjacent to the Café and Grill. The club is small but they’ve dressed it with modern furniture and swank lighting. The crowd tends to be younger than that of the Café and Grill crowd. A small stage allows for live music every Friday night starting at 9 p.m.
The contemporary crowd at Francifol (Calle del Sol 127, tel. 809/971-5558) doesn’t even get going until midnight or 1 a.m., but it is a popular place with the youth of Santiago.
While a hotel bar doesn’t exactly scream adventure, if what you’re after is a before dinner or night-starter cocktail with friends, Cosmopolitan (Hodelpa Gran Almirante Hotel, Estrella Sadhalá and Calle 10, tel. 809/580-1992) is a perfectly acceptable place to have it. It is a comfortable and classy-looking place. But have no illusions, it is a hotel bar after all, so the later the hours get, the seedier the clientele becomes. But if you can overlook that, have a nightcap.
La Dolce Lounge (Plaza Zona Rosa, Av. Duarte and Calle La Salle, tel. 809/971-0415) attracts the youth of Santiago in droves. It can be a bumping party with flashing lights and a mad-mixing DJ spinning everything from reggaeton to techno or a live band gigging merengue to salsa. It is a loud party atmosphere not for conversation.
At Tipico Monte Bar (Av. 27 de Febrero, tel. 809/575-0300, www.tipicomontebar.com ) there is plenty going on. If what you’re after is to hear “real” Dominican merengue and see some great dancers, then this is the spot. Live music happens often, so admission varies with these acts (about RD$100–RD$300). Plans are in development to offer dance classes in merengue, bachata, and salsa. Dress is casual. The club is located in the Las Colinas neighborhood, which is north of Santiago . You’ll need to take a taxi, which will run you about US$3 one way.