Playa Del Carmen Bars

…you know where to find me…

Let’s discuss my absolute favorite topic: Playa Del Carmen bars.

There are tequila bars, sports bars, beach bars, bars that you never remember leaving, bars that always have specials, and bars where you’ll find me in a drunken stupor.

I would be lying if I said that bars were the reason why I came to Playa Del Carmen.

But they’re certainly one of the reasons why I’m not leaving.

Playa Del Carmen bars have sometimes been a roller coaster ride.

I’ve lost many things in them – including keys, money, girlfriends, and all semblance of sanity.

But they’re always there for me, regardless of how I feel!

Where Do You Find Playa Del Carmen Bars?

Well…everywhere.

Sometimes you walk through Playa Del Carmen and think, “Is there anywhere without a place to buy alcohol?”

Even on the back streets out of town, you can find some dingy Mexican establishments where everybody chain smokes like demons.

But the biggest concentration of bars are on 5th Avenue, 10th Avenue, and the beach.

Bars on 5th Ave tend to be open all day and then close down by midnight.

Go here first.

Those on the southern end of 10th Ave don’t get lively until around 11pm.

Head down here after 5th Ave and you’ll find a happening party zone.

Of course you’ll also find plenty of bars on the beach that are perfect for pre game cocktails.

These bars are also perfect for dancing until well past sunrise.

Different Styles Of Bars In Playa Del Carmen

Don’t be coming to Playa Del Carmen and spending all your time in the bars that look identical to those back home.

Sure you can find an American-style sports bar where the only difference from home is the name of the beer on offer.

Just go to Endzone or Legends Sports Bar to experience this.

But on any night in Playa Del Carmen, you can really experience different vibes and styles.

So here is my run down of the different types of Playa Del Carmen bars and my favorite choices.

Mexican-Style Playa Del Carmen Bars

You’re in Mexico…so you have to try the authentic Mexican saloons.

There are some great Mexican style bars.

There are also some terrible ones that haven’t been redecorated for 20 years.

But they’re also fun.

The best ones are in and around 10th Ave, particularly some of the streets that lead directly off 10th Ave.

Los Danzantes is a good choice.

Great atmosphere, local drinks, and lots of smoke filling the bar.

Senor Frogs is another good one.

It’s kind of a tourist friendly Mexican / American mix – so it’s perfect if you’re not sure about going too local.

Definitely check out Bar Ranita.

It’s got a fantastic mix of locals and foreigners as well as cheap drinks, a huge courtyard, and live music.

It’s also a fave of expats living here.

Authentic Salsa Bars

This is Mexico, so forget the cheesy 70s and 80s music.

Let’s hear some salsa!

NOTE: Contrary to popular belief, salsa and merengue are NOT Mexican dances. Actually salsa originated in New York with strong influence from Puerto Rican and Cuban dances. Merengue originated in the Dominican Republic. These dances are far too elegant to be Mexican!!!

I think the salsa bars have a bit more sophistication than the classic Mexican bars, particularly when they have live bands playing.

La Bodeguita Del Medio even offers free salsa lessons on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

This is probably the biggest salsa bar and they have both local and imported drinks.

Salon Raices is more intimate and a great choice if you’re on a date and want to get drunk in a cool environment.

Playa Del Carmen Beach Bars

Of course you’ve got the classic beach bars.

These establishments usually start out in an uppity mood, but generally descend into drunken debauchery by the end of the night.

I prefer them during the day as there is little better than sipping a cocktail with your feet in the sand.

Many of them are situated inside big hotels.

However, I prefer the ones that don’t have that exclusive poncey hotel vibe.

Like the infamous Blue Parrot bar.

El Pirata on the beach is just next door.

A bit further down the sand you’ll find La Tarraya and Wah Wah Beach Bar.

Playa Del Carmen Bars And Restaurants

These are often the best place to start an evening.

Steak and beer?

Yes please!

They’re also where a slightly older crowd hangs out, and things are just a little bit more chilled.

For style and character try the La Azotea Lounge Bar.

It’s pricey, but you’ll be taking photos of the wonderful interior.

Carlos & Charlies is a Mexican bar and grill with an authentic atmosphere.

I’ve spent many many evenings getting drunk here.

Most restaurants tend to have lively bars, so you can just extend your dinner by a few hours.

Remember to ask for the restaurant’s special cocktail.

This is usually a very cheap chef’s special that gets you wasted.

Live Music At The Playa Del Carmen Bars

You can find live music all across Playa Del Carmen, and what you might like really depends on what tantalizes your ear buds.

These places are where you’ll usually find many good looking women.

For old school funk and house try the DJs at Diablito Cha Cha Cha.

If you’re into serious house music, then check out my suggestions on the Playa Del Carmen club page.

Also try Bliss on Calle 4.

It’s has live rock music on the weekends.

Large All-Night Party Bars In Playa Del Carmen

So now the one you’ve been waiting for.

I’m sure most of you are looking for a list of the biggest bars with the most people and best parties.

Tequila Barrel on 5th Ave is very famous.

Happy hour starts at 11am, there are dance competitions, lots of mischief, and it’s pumping almost all day, every day.

In fact there are many bars on 5th Ave that fulfill the party vibe.

Pretty much everyone who visits Playa Del Carmen ends up having one night in The Beer Bucket on 10th Ave.

Tequila Barrel, to Beer Bucket, to La Ranita, is a famous bar crawl here.

Between Beer Bucket and Blue Parrot, you’ll find the Playa Del Carmen party zone, where every bar seems to offer neon lights, drink specials, and drunken chaos.

Anything Else About Playa Del Carmen Bars

It’s good to have a general idea about the bars in Playa Del Carmen.

But I find that the best nights are when you leave the hotel and randomly stumble around and into any doorway offering booze.

Everything is within walking distance, and you won’t get lost.

Just remember to give me one of your 2 for 1 cocktails if you’ve enjoyed this advice!

Lots of love,

Rufus

Rufus signature

It’s your turn. You have any tips or suggestions about the bars here? Please leave them in the comments section below!

3 comments on “Playa Del Carmen Bars

  1. Dear Valiant Visitors,

    I have endorsed this city and told you that this is an excellent place to visit. Consequently, I feel somewhat responsible if you are not treated well (and even more so if you are not treated well by the places I recommend). Thus, I found it my responsibility to report the following when I recently visited La Ranita Bar on 10th Avenue.

    I hope that my own experience serves you, and that YOU don’t have the same encounter as I did.

    Because of the way I was treated at La Ranita Bar, I wrote the following letter to the owners/management:

    ———–

    Dear Pia, Thed, and Jorge:

    On Saturday evening/Sunday morning, my friend and I were returning home from Wings Army. We decided to get a drink at Bar Ranita before going home. It was my first time visiting the bar. The date was May 29, 2016 at ~1:AM.

    There were two bartenders working. Both of them had dark hair. One of them was slightly taller than the other. The taller one is who served us.

    When I asked what kind of beer the bar stocked, she seemed quite impatient that I did not already know. After several moments of telling me what kind of beer your bar stocked, I ordered. My friend, who was just returning from the restroom, also sat down and ordered the same as me.

    Immediately after serving us our beers, she sat a plastic jar down in front of me. It was not placed to the side of me. It was directly in front of me – exactly where a plate would have been set if I had ordered food. There was a rectangular hole on the top of the jar to insert money. There was also some writing on the side. I don’t remember what it said, but it was obvious:

    It was a tip jar.

    I was surprised. “You ask customers for tips?” I inquired.

    “You know what, I don’t need any more tonight,” she said, taking the tip jar away.

    It was the first time I had ever seen a bartender ask for tips – other than in a cheap strip club several years ago. How rude can a bartender get? The first drink I ordered, and this bartender is demanding a tip? Needless to say, tipping standards are different around the world. Ironically, I had planned on tipping around 10% (as is the custom in Mexico), but refused to tip at all after a tip jar was thrust in my face.

    No matter where you go in North America, asking for tips is simply impolite. I don’t know if this is something that your bartender consistently does, but it’s very bad manners. If she is not experienced enough to know this, someone might want to fill her in on the “news.”

    Moreover, what your bartender doesn’t realize is that tourists are harassed by salespeople EVERYWHERE THEY GO IN PLAYA DEL CARMEN (hammocks for sale, jewelry for sale, t-shirts for sale, PASALE, PASALE, PASALE, etc…) These practices not only annoy tourists, but give the city a bad name.

    I often hear, “My vacation was great, and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE PLAYA DEL CARMEN but the salespeople on Fifth Avenue were SO ANNOYING. I understand they need to earn a living, but they’re always trying to sell you something you don’t need or want!!!”

    I felt that way on Saturday night. A bartender EARNING a tip is respectable. A bartender ASKING for a tip (by placing a tip jar in front of a customer) is rude. Tips are (and always have been) voluntary based on the level of service a customer receives.

    The service was not great. However, I could have lived with it – all the way up to the point where the bartender demanded a tip by boldly placing a tip jar directly in front of me.

    At that point, it became offensive. UNBELIEVABLE! Really, unbelievable.

    Could you please let your bartender know that demanding tips by shoving a tip jar in a customer’s face is not acceptable?

    Rufus

    P.S. I run the website, https://www.playadelcarmen.org. I write up reviews and recommendations about restaurants, bars, clubs, activities, etc. around the city. I’ve included this correspondence in the comments section of the following page: https://www.playadelcarmen.org/playa-del-carmen-bars/.

  2. Dear Rufus

    Please let me start by apologizing on behalf of Pia , Thed and I for the bad experience you had in Bar Ranita and let me assure you that we do NOT by any means whatsoever approve of that kind of behavior in our bar from our bartenders. I will personally deal with our employee so this kind of thing wont happen again . please let me change that bad experience you had to a positive one. Ill be happy to buy you a drink and sit down to explain in what way this was handheld, so you can feel confident that this wont happen again . Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

    Jorge Dorantes Chaires
    General Mannager
    Hotel La Rana Cansada / Bar Ranita

    • UPDATE: On June 8, 2016
      I went to see Jorge after receiving the response above. Wow! This guy means business! I have yet to see this kind of customer service in Playa Del Carmen (or anywhere in Mexico). In addition to a meeting with all of his bar staff, Jorge suspended the bartender for two weeks. Moreover, he gave me a “Beer Card” for 6 free beers, his personal cell phone number, and his business card.

      Jorge is not only the master of customer service, but is one heck of a nice guy as well. I can tell you this: if I ever opened a hotel, bar, tourist business, or any other customer service-oriented business, I would STEAL THIS GUY AWAY FROM BAR RANITA!!!

      Also, I found out that Bar Ranita has a pretty damn amazing offer–BEER CARDS!

      I have never seen the concept anywhere else, but this is how it works:

      1. Stop at Bar Ranita and have a drink.
      2. Buy a beer card. 280 Pesos gets you a Beer Card good for 11 beers. That’s only 25.5 pesos each!!! Believe me, that is VERY CHEAP FOR THIS AREA!!!
      3. Use it as often as you like until you’ve drank all 11 beers.

      It’s really that easy, and if you’re going to be drinking in this area of 10th Street (the hottest area for bars), you can’t go wrong.

      And while you’re there, stop in and say “hi” to Jorge. You won’t regret it.

      JORGE’S BUSINESS CARD AND 1/2 “BEER CARD” Picture

      Jorge's business card and half beer card from Bar Ranita in Playa Del Carmen

      —————————————-

      RESPONSE TO JORGE

      Jorge,

      It was nice to finally meet you today. Thank you for your kindness, understanding, and lightning-fast response times. Also, thank you for taking the necessary action to remedy the situation and assure it doesn’t happen again.

      I have added your response to the comment I sent and look forward to seeing you again at Bar Ranita.

      I will definitely return, and I hope anyone reading this visits as well.

      Sincerely,

      Rufus

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