The Best Bars In San Miguel de Allende
If you gave us each one word to describe our favorite spot to enjoy a drink it would be super easy to do so. Spencer = dive. Erin = rooftop. Luckily, San Miguel de Allende has plenty of both, plus lots of non-dive, non-rooftop bars. With such an huge selection of watering holes to choose from, it's important to know the best options before heading out. You can thank us later for drinking every place in town so you wouldn't have to.
In a town with scores of rooftop bars, it's tough for one to stand out. And indeed, they're all good. But for our money, El Palomar is the best. Not only is the view truly 360 degrees, but the photo opportunities are unparalleled with the sun setting behind Centro (at many other rooftops they are in opposing directions). If it's 6 pm in San Miguel de Allende and you want to find us, chances are that we'll be here drinking margaritas watching the sun sink below the Guanajuato Mountains.
El Gato Negro
Another bar that was a Kerouac and Cassady haunt. This is our local watering hole, so we spend a lot of time on the second floor drinking cheap beer, playing chess, and just enjoying life. Expect to find the odd alcoholic expat, locals smoking weed, and an occasional lady of the night sharing bar space with you, sipping Victorias. Another must-stop for lovers of dive bars.
Billar Bola 8
There's a lot to love bout Bola. It's a pool hall with free pool all the time. There are almost always friendly locals who are willing to take you on (or you can show up with your own crew). They've got a good selection of tequila and cheap beer. Our only complaint is that this place is pretty over-lit at night. But in the middle of a heated game of 8-ball, you'll quickly forget about that. The place is a bit tricky to find. It's at 82 Hidalgo, just south of the intersection with Del Pubelito (some online maps get it wrong, though the one below is good).
With a rooftop bar practically on top of the Centro, this is a fantastic spot to watch any of the goings-on in the square. Their drinks, prices, and service are all really quite good as well. Though underrated, this is one of the best rooftop stops in town.
The grandaddy of all dive bars. If you like it sleazy, this is your jam. This is the same bar that Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady wasted long, hot Mexican afternoons drinking cheap beer more than 50 years ago and little (besides the location) has changed since: cockroaches literally skitter all over the bar and on Thursdays this fine establishment offers free dinner to all patrons. Though the dinner is admittedly two varieties of slop ladled out of plastic buckets. For Spencer (and you, if you love dive bars), this is the happiest place on earth. Hours vary--some nights, La Cuca doesn't open until after 10.
If watery Coronas and Victorias have you down, swing by this tiny place for a proper (local!) Scotch ale, IPA, or dunkelweizen. The staff is super friendly and there's a small menu if you're hungry. Tripel (get it?) bonus points for their Karaoke at 7:00 every Friday. Though, it's actually more of a group sing-along to the best hits of the 1970s than a traditional karaoke. But (as you can see above) we're okay with that!
A San Miguel staple for nearly 100 years, this is absolutely our favorite bar in town. The cousin of Sirena Gorda in Centro, the vibe of this spot is decidedly more laid-back with a crowd that's largely hip locals and funky old expats, rather than loud tourists. We're big fans of the (fairly cheap) tamarind margaritas, tostadas, fiery salsa, and fresh ceviches. But the reason we really like El Manantial is that this spot is one of the few in town that's neither cheesy-trendy and overpriced nor dive-ee and sleezy. It's just pleasant and comfortable. A total crowd-pleaser for any group of people.
Any Swinging-Door Bar In Town
We love these places. There are many spots that still sport the old-school swinging doors. They are in general working-class locals bars; the kind of bars from yesteryear with cheap beer, a jukebox, friendly bartender, a clientele of mostly locals, and few frills. You won't find any infused mojitos at these places, but you will find plenty of colorful characters and many of these bars even serve a free meal to patrons one day a week. You can't possibly go wrong!