We always think we “never go out when we travel,” but let’s face it - going out to bars is a great way to learn about a city, see its nightlife and meet up with friends. We like bars, if they’re not loud, smoky, intensely crowded or super expensive.

Even if you are not into intense nightlife, Mexico City is a good place to try Mexican beer, mezcal, pulque and craft cocktails. We have to admit - Mexico City has awesome bars and nightlife. Most of Mexico City’s nightlife is found in Condesa, Roma and Hipodromo, three neighborhoods that all are located next to each other, south of Bosque de Chapultepec. We spent a month in Mexico City exploring, together, and came up with a list of our favorite places for going out.

Cicatriz Cafe

One third brunch spot, one third coffeeshop and one third mezcal bar, you could spend all day long at Cicatriz Cafe. Located in Juarez in a plaza with a tiny park out front, Cicatriz is very much a part of a neighborhood that is very Mexican. At Cicatriz, the menus are in English, the owners are from the US (and really know their stuff when it comes to mezcals) and you can get an affogato or cold brew by daytime and a beer or cocktail by nighttime.

Aperol spritz at Cicatriz Mexico City trendy bar and cafe Food and drinks menu at Cicatriz Mexico City trendy bar and cafe Mezcal cocktail at Cicatriz Mexico City trendy bar and cafe

You can come here with a laptop, a friend to catch up with, or a date, and the atmosphere at Cicatriz will cater to all these types of occasions. The drinks are pretty and the place is perfectly Instagrammable with all the natural light that comes in the front.

Cafe baked goods and wall coffee menu at Cicatriz Mexico City trendy bar Breakfast baked goods at Cicatriz Mexico City trendy bar and cafe

Craft Society

Craft Society is a cool beer bar on the Plaza Luis Cabrera square in Roma Norte. A favorite among beer-lovers, they have a big beer menu and fridges of beer bottles for purchase or consuming at the tables outside, the bar or the high-top tables near the bar, which are great for socializing.

On weekends, the place turns up the volume a dab past 11 pm if there are big groups who want more of a party scene, and it can get pretty lively. For food, there’s burgers and more.

Terraza Catedral Rooftop

In every city, you have to have your favorite rooftop bar. In Mexico City, ours is Terraza Catedral, which is located on top of the Catedral Hostel.

The location is nearly directly across from the Zocalo square and giant cathedral of the city, on Calle Guatemala. You don’t need a reservation, but if you show up on a weekday at 5 pm (not sure about Fridays), you will probably get a seat of your choice facing the sunset.

Mexico City skyline at sunset from rooftop bar La Terraza Happy hour beer and mojito at La Terraza Catedral Rooftop bar Mexico City CDMX Man taking photo of Mexico City skyline at sunset from La Terraza Catedral Rooftop bar

What we like about Terraza Catedral is that because it’s a hostel bar, there are no pretentious prices or pretentious people, but the view is pretty top-notch! We tried to figure out how the view off this roof is so un-obscured, and it’s because this rooftop is a dab higher than the other buildings in the area, and you get a view straight to the tallest buildings, tops of churches and mountains that surround CMDX.

Beers are in the 30-50 Peso range, and cocktails start at 100 Pesos. Pick a beautiful day and go for that view! Tip: be sure to check their opening times, which vary by day of the week and don’t make all too much sense. We even arrived on a weekday at 5 pm and got told by staff that the rooftop was ‘under construction,’ so we had to wait until 6 to go up.

Cantina Tio Pepe

Cantina Tio Pepeis a can’t-miss original Mexico City cantina. It’s so old that its waiters estimate when the cantina was founded, and they usually go with somewhere between 1850 and 1890. Cantina Tio Pepe is located downtown in Centro and is close to the main Chinatown (Barrio Chino) corridor.

Its history starts in the late 1800s when women were not allowed, and when you (as a man) could relieve yourself in the trough under its old bar (is this really true?). The menu is rather simple and comes on one page like a two-column spreadsheet. Your choices are beer or a selection of cocktails, and you’ll get a free basket of chicharron-flavored chips for your table.

The staff is friendly and seasoned, and it seems most of them have been working there for decades at least. This cantina keeps the cantina tradition alive, and we’re always happy to come here with friends for a no-frills Mexican experience.

Cocktail at traditional Mexico City CDMX cantina in centro historico

Entre Perros y Lobos

Entre Perros y Lobos is an uber-trendy spot on the Alvaro Obregon strip in Roma. The interior makes you think you might be at a new bar in the East Village - the lights are low, the bar is lit up, the lighting is dim and the bartenders are cool guys. We first walked by and noticed the outdoor bench-style seating, and later wound up meeting a friend there. The menu, “Bebidas,” consists of mezcal drinks and cocktails, along with a beer selection.

Margarita with salt on the rim dark bar Entre Perros y Lobos Mexico City CDMX

The top qualities of this place are its good drinks (margaritas!) and good music (we were lucky enough to see a live jazz band play, behind the bar, among the bartenders!). Before and after the band played some jazz favorites, the music selection was mostly loud-ish DJ lounge tracks. You could say the noise level is mid-to-high here on weekend nights.

Mercado Roma

Mercado Roma is a big conglomerate of food vendors all in a market hall with a biergarten on top and long wooden picnic tables in the back.

Here, you’ll find taco vendors, pizza vendors, mezcal vendors, craft beer vendors, and Becca’s favorite, the gluten-free specialty goods vendor La Otilia. La Otilia sells gluten-free baked goods and, wait for it - Mexico’s only certified gluten-free beer (it was delicious).

La Otilia Mercado Roma Gluten free beer cerveza sin gluten in Mexico City CDMX Mezcal cocktail drink at Mercado Roma Mexico City CDMX

Come in through the front, and you’ll see specialty Mexican food, followed by a host of vendors selling Italian food, and get toward the back, where mezcal vendors will offer you a free tasting and essentially make you want to buy a bottle to bring home. Try the tamarind margarita.

As you sit down with your food, vendors will come around and offer samples of popcorn from various shops, and you’ll notice even more things you hadn’t seen before - the body product kiosks on the second floor up the stairs, the stall that sells spices… and more. Mercado Roma is open until 8 pm Sunday through Wednesday, and til 1 AM Thursday through Saturday.

La Clandestina

When you walk into La Clandestina, you think, “Ah, so this is where the cool people go.” The clientele of La Clandestina is mid 20s to mid 30s hip Mexicans and expats, all enjoying mezcal or trying new types of mezcal.

On the menu, you can get house craft mezcal cocktails, or order mezcal to sip on from a traditional glass mezcal cup. If you order a single small cup (shot glass-sized), it comes with orange slices sprinkled with chili.

La Clandestina is one of those bars where you feel like you keep walking into more rooms, and you can sit in a cozy square table in a semi-private room with all your friends. Or, you can hang out near the bar, on the sidewalk outside or at various other tables and sip on your mezcal.

Drinks include mezcal mixed with local juices to create cocktails like the Pepino, Ponche, Habanero and Aguacate.

Fifty Mils at the Four Seasons

You don’t have to really try to fight that Fifty Mils is among the top bars in Mexico City. Its cocktail menu comes in a small pamphlet, but if you want your drinks illustrated with beautiful photography, you can look at the same selection of drinks in what’s more like a coffee table book of photos and descriptions.

Fifty Mils transports you to another time, another place and … out of Mexico? You can forget which continent you’re on while at Fifty Mils, and that’s because of the Four Seasons hospitality and charm. Becca had the Union (pineapple and rum) and Dan had a martini.

Shaken fancy cocktail at Fifty Mils at the Four Seasons Mexico City CDMX hotel Cocktail in stem glass at Fifty Mils at the Four Seasons Mexico City CDMX hotel

The drinks come at prices closer to what a drink in New York City costs, but for the quality, you cannot complain. The service is superb (you get a welcome drink when you sit down), the bar snacks are unique (nopal straw chips) and the cocktails are one-of-a-kind. Yes, they take reservations.

Gin Gin

Gin Gin is for when you want to ball out and celebrate. We suggest dressing up, or acting like you dressed up. Gin Gin is fancy-pants, and there’s lots of wait staff to attend to you and your table, a double-sided menu with a long list of cocktails and liquor choices, and beautiful decor that’s hard to miss (skeletons?).

Described as a ‘hotspot’ and ‘very trendy,’ you’ll see why, especially if you arrive past 10 pm on weekends (it gets busy). Gin Gin closes at 2 am. The bar’s Instagram has some previews of what to expect. Yes, they serve food!

Pulqueria Los Insurgentes

Have you heard of pulque? If you haven’t, we will tell you a little bit about it - pulque is the cousin of mezcal, but it’s fermented instead of distilled. It’s made of the sap of the maguey plant, the type of agave used for making the drinks we know and love, and it comes in various flavors. Mexicans love it, and foreigners, well…. don’t have the same feelings about it.

Pulque is a thick semi-alcoholic opaque drink that may come in flavors like guava or may come in its more classic and natural state, making it taste like - well, we’re not sure. You’ll have to try it for yourself, but make sure to order the smallest cup possible in order to see if you fall in love with it like a local.

Pulqueria Los Insurgentes is a massive four-story bar complex where pulque is king and dancing comes shortly after. If you want to see Mexican nightlife with four stories all playing different music and staircases between them, this is your place.

On the rooftop terrace, you can sit with friends and see big agave plants, and on the bottom floor, you can get sweaty while dancing til late with the live band. It’s up to you.

Hotel Condesa DF

We love the Terraza at Hotel Condesa DF. When you enter through the hotel’s lobby, you’ll notice mod and thoughtful design that’ll follow you up til the roof (take a peek into the ground floor restaurant - it’s so pretty!). Take the elevator to the top floor, and ta-da… is this Miami?

The rooftop of Hotel Condesa DF is like a posh paradise in a pretty already-posh neighborhood. Drinks are on the more expensive side (for Mexico), but the wine is nice, the cocktails are attractive and they do have a beer list for those who don’t dabble in either of the other two categories. For food, there’s sushi, and they make it really nicely, too.

Reflection in white wine glass at Hotel Condesa DF rooftop bar Mexico City at sunset

If you come for sunset, don’t be too fooled - there’s no epic view, but the view of Condesa building rooftops and the treetops of the leafy neighborhood feel like a brief respite from city streets. You can stay past sunset into the night, where groups of friends gather around larger tables with small stools. The waiters are very nice and attentive, too.

La Xampa

La Xampa is best for its location. You can start OR end your night at La Xampa, and that’s because you can start out with the post-work crowd, including both travelers looking for a local place to begin the evening and suited-up regulars and businessmen going for an after-work get-together.

La Xampa is a wine bar, tapas bar and cocktail bar, and the theme is old-timey yet classy. Go here for atmosphere and trying hard-to-beat original cocktails. Later in the evenings, most nights of the week, this place can get loud as well.

Casa Franca Club Jazz

Speakeasy alert! Casa Franca is located on a side street off of Avenida Alvaro Obregon, and you could probably walk by it, never knowing it was a second-floor classy place with live music.

It’s hard to not like this bar, as you’ll either be sitting on a stool admiring the beautiful dimly-lit bottles along the walls or sitting in a private room that looks like a living room from a movie set of years past.

Most live jazz musicians will start their shows at 10 pm, so check their Facebook page for what’s coming up. Otherwise, show up and enjoy the splendid cocktail list, the food and the wines.

Wine and cocktails at jazz bar Casa Franca Club Jazz Mexico City cmdx

Terraza del Catador

This bar is nothing to write home about, except that you can get two mojitos for 70 pesos (US$3.66) most days of the week. Yes, folks, that comes out to US$1.83 per mojito. Are they good mojitos? That’s debatable, but they’re more mojito than not, according to the quantity of mint leaves in them.

You can sit on the street (the street being Tamaulipas, which is a great street to be on) and watch people, or other people at the bar enjoying the same type of 35-peso mojito you’re sipping.

Salon Malafama

Salon Malafama is a good place to go if you want to catch a sports game from home (read: American football). We met a group of friends here for drinks to watch a much-anticipated football game in the weeks that led up to the Super Bowl.

You can get basically anything at Malafama, and they even have hard cider (somehow hard to find in Mexico City). The best feature of Salon Malafama is the large number of pool tables in the back, which is a fun addition to any night out. Note: Salon Malafama is cash only!