Most foreigners have heard the term “cantina” but few know the magic of this humble establishment throughout Mexico. There are high-end and hipster variations, but the true cantina is a little-embellished dive bar.
Once upon a time, cantinas held a strict men only admission policy. Inside men drank, enjoyed free food—from peanuts to guisados—and played card games or dominoes. Little has changed in the cantinas of CDMX except that now I don’t need a Y chromosome to enter.
I stopped by La Potosina in El Centro with friends to partake of the cantina culture one afternoon. While the humble appearance betrays nothing, this is no average cantina. Founded in the 1890, it is considered among the oldest cantinas in Mexico. An illustrious list of past clients includes Fidel Castro, el Che Guevara, Pancho Villa, and Emilio Zapata. Today, La Potosina is often packed for soccer matches on TV. The owners, the Solórzano family, are huge fans of the Atlante team, earning the cantina a nickname “Cueva del Potro”, cave of the Potros de Hierro, as the players are called.
The day of my visit, the cantina was relatively quiet with just a few tables of patrons and several obvious regulars at the bar. A shoeshine professional entered from the bustling street, put his portable buffing box on the floor and bellied up to the bar where he was met with salutations as if he had just arrived home for the day. Owner, Roberto Solórzano, stood behind the bar and the young cook sat on the patron side, playing a game of dominos.
The bar is amply stocked with staple spirits and domestic beer. The three of us took two rounds of Negra Modelos while snacking on Spanish peanuts. We shared a plate of the day’s nosh: pork and potatoes stewed in a spicy salsa verde and finished up with a round of mezcal. Grand total: $500 pesos (roughly $25 USD).
If you’re looking for Mixology, head to Fifty Mils in the Four Season, but if you want a classic cantina vibe wherein you’ll be welcomed ANY DAY FROM 10am to 12am (yes, you read that right) and leave satisfied at a better than fair price, you won’t be disappointed by La Potosina.
#cantinasdemexico #cdmxlife #elcentrocdmx #lapotosina #mezcal ...