Cantinas have been around Mexico for over 100 years.
The cantina started when an astute liquor store owner decided to
install a crude bar with tables and chairs in a space next to his
store. It provide a refuge for men to meet in the afternoon or evening
to meet to drink tequila, socialize and gamble. Away from
their wives and girlfriends a man could loosen up his belt, lift
up his voice in song and share intimate secrets with his friends.
The shop owner later connected the two establishments by opening
a hatch in the common wall. The architectural term, in Spanish,
for an opening between two rooms is "cantina".
And as more of these men only bars sprang up, this is what they
too were called. Cantinas soon became inextricably associated with
bullfighting. It was here that the Matador went after every
week's spectacle to mingle with the common fans, politicians and
movie stars who swarmed the place. In the early 1980's cantinas
opened their doors for the first time to women. Their presence
brought about a toning down of the interior action along with the
expansion of the menu from only drinking snacks "botanas"
to offerings of complete meals.
Inside Cancun's modern day cantinas you will find
great food and drink with a charming ambiance that make these bar-restaurants
so popular among the local Cancunites. Their menus are full
of traditional Mexican dishes and the bars are stocked with numerous
varieties of tequila. Most of Cancun's cantinas are scattered
around the bullring in downtown Cancun. During the daytime
they receive an array of local businessmen stopping in for afternoon
of delicious botanas (bar snacks) and beer. In the evening
you can expect a hip younger crowd who come to listen to many local
bands that play in these quaint bars. On Wednesday afternoons
when Cancun has its weekly bull fights you can expect these bars
to be packed and very lively just like in traditional times.