If you are looking for a truly authentic Mexican experience there is no better place to go and find it than in a traditional Cantina. Historically these were bars which were designed to feed and fill the Mexican working class, much like a British pub. Over the years however these are places where just about everyone goes to enjoy themselves and if you are spending some time in Mexico, it is a great place to get an authentic experience.
My friend Rose Burillo introduced me to a Cantina many years ago, and I have been visiting them ever since, each time I go down to Mexico City. This is something which I would urge every tourist to do, and here is why you will love it.
How It Works
These are drinking establishments but they also deliver a range of food items as you drink. The system works by offering free food with your drinks, which are often more expensive than normal as a result. What they like you to do here is to buy a bottle for the table, perhaps gin or whisky, and then they will give you a number of items off the menu and free mixers. The price may seem a lot at first, but if you arrive hungry you will be able to get the best value out of the deal.
The food options on the menu are very traditional and very Mexican, and most you will not find anywhere else in the country. Items such as ant eggs, snails and many more unique and delicious dishes are served here, with each Cantina having its own speciality that it prepares. This is one of the best reasons to enjoy a night here, because you will be able to fill yourself up on real Mexican classics.
As you can imagine, the music here is very traditional and that is something that Mexicans love about these places. At any given moment a folk classic will come on and you will hear everyone singing along at the tops of their voices. Additionally most Cantinas have an in-house mariachi band which will play at your table. Very often you will see big groups of Mexicans who love to pay for three or four songs by the band, and everyone is able to enjoy it.
One of the reasons that these places are so good for tourists is that they are filled with Mexicans who are out for a good time. This is a great place for tourists but they are by no means tourist locations or traps. This is what will ensure that you have a great time and most importantly, that you will see an authentic side to Mexican life.
Why not check out a Cantina when you go to Mexico, and see exactly why everyone loves this experience so much? This is a trip which you will not regret!