One of my favorite things to do when traveling is immersing myself in the local culture; few things are more representative of a culture than its food and music. Beyond serving as a background, music defines our environment, influences our state of mind, and complements our sensorial experience. Being in a beautiful place with our favorite people, sipping on refreshing drinks, and enjoying a delicious meal is an experience that can only be complemented with the perfect soundtrack. Fortunately, Mérida has a great diversity of musical and culinary options, even for the most demanding ears and palates, and they’re all within walking distance of one another in the Centro Histórico.
If we begin the journey early in the afternoon, Cantinas are a great choice to take a break during the hottest hours of the day. They’re also a good way to get into the Yucatecan lifestyle. La Negrita, on the corner of Calle 62 and 49 offers a fresh and tropical vibe with a natural inclination towards Cuban music and traditional Yucatecan cuisine. Yucatán has important historical ties to Cuba, as observed in the cuisine, the clothes (guayaberas), and, of course, the music. La Negrita has daily shows beginning at 6 pm.
On Calle 47 x 56 and 54, you´ll find Catrín, specialized in contemporary Mexican food. On Tuesdays, they have live music featuring local songwriters playing original compositions and some Latin-American covers. Sample some traditional Mexican dishes with a twist while enjoying original music. The shows are every Tuesday at 7:30 pm and the cover is $150 pesos.
Now, if you´re looking for the perfect date night, Santa Lucía is the place for you. Dinner at any of the restaurants in Parque de Santa Lucía will be even more special on Thursdays, as that’s when the Jueves de Serenatas are held. You’ll get the chance to be serenaded by talented Trovadores (musicians who sing romantic ballads accompanied by guitar) and enjoy the traditional Trova Yucateca, a genre that masterly combines lyric poetry with Caribbean rhythms, usually in a guitar/vocal trio format. A glass of wine with your meal will definitely add to the romance.
Two blocks away, on the corner of 64 and 53, Dzalbay is a sort of hybrid between a Cantina and a jazz club, with a rather eclectic style. This is clearly a place for jazz, with daily shows starting at 7:30 pm. The ever-changing program features some of the best musicians playing (at the moment) on the small rooftop. The obvious pairing would be a classic cocktail, though you could also try their signature cocktails like the Thelonious Monk or the Nina Simone. There’s never a cover but reservations are necessary for the events.
Sometimes we just want to go back to the classics. If you’re feeling like going to an upscale Irish pub, there’s nothing better than Hennessy´s, on Paseo de Montejo. Every weekend you can enjoy some of the best classic rock bands in town with a nice cold beer and some excellent fish & chips to complement the always friendly ambiance of a traditional pub.
These are but a few suggestions in a city teeming with incredible food and enchanting music. Let your ears guide you and you’re sure to discover amazing food and music pairings around every corner!
By Rodrigo Moguel.
Photography by Laura Pasos and La Negrita for its use in Yucatán Today.
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