Bar La Ópera, Mexico City, Mexico

Physical address: Calle 5 de Mayo 10, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Phone number: +52 55 5512 8959

Business hours: 1pm – 12am Monday to Saturday; 1-6pm Sunday

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DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you buy something after clicking our link to the retailer, we make a small commission on the sale. You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Located in the Centro Histórico of Mexico City, La Ópera Bar is one of the oldest cantinas in the city. First established in 1876 as a tea and chocolate shop, the business moved to its current location in 1895, and commenced selling alcohol. This proved to be a good move, as the establishment’s popularity grew quickly and it was soon the favourite watering hole of Mexico’s politicians and other national heroes.

During the Mexican Revolution, prominent figures such as Emiliano Zapato and General Francesco “Pancho” Villa frequented the bar, with the latter leaving his mark on the place – quite literally. The story goes that one night in 1910, when things were getting a little rowdy, Pancho fired his pistol towards the ceiling, and left a bullet hole in the wood. That hole remains to this very day, and staff are happy to point it out, if you can’t find it for yourself.

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Balazo de Pancho Villa #barlaopera

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Among the many other famous Latin Americans who have held up the bar at La Ópera was a group of celebrated authors known as “La Mafia”, which included Mexican Nobel laureate Octavio Paz, and One Hundred Years of Solitude author Gabriel García Márquez, who spent much of his life in Mexico, due to political tensions in his native Colombia.

Today, Bar La Ópera retains its old world feel, with ornate dark wood furnishings, tiled floors, velvet curtains and glass chandeliers. Uncharacteristic of modern cantinas, it also still contains bar seats for those who imbibe a little too much tequila. Although the bar serves a range of food and beverages, it is best known for its tequila and sangrita, with complimentary botana (snacks, often of a salty variety to encourage more alcohol consumption). The snails in chipotle are also a local favourite. Live mariachi bands regularly serenade patrons, to top off the experience, and who knows what contemporary celebrity might find their way there for an evening out.

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