La opera

Av. 5 de Mayo #10, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, de la, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX
55 5512 8959

A single gunshot has been what Cantina la Ópera has been mainly known for throughout the years, yet if you actually visit the location you’ll soon realize that it’s much more than that. The gunshot in question is the one fired by Mexican revolutionary, and international icon, Pancho Villa and is still encrusted in the ceiling of the place. Many images can come to mind in regards to the circumstances surrounding such occasion, which involve Pancho Villa inside a Mexican cantina, a raucous drunken gunfight might be thought of. But suffice to say that Pancho Villa was a teetotaler, he never drank a drop of liquor in his life; so as you can see, there may be more to a story than one would imagine. Although in this case, as one of the waiters in the place can quickly point out to you, Villa was just calling for attention that night inside this noisy bar.

Because originally it was called a bar, and it was located where the Torre Latinoamericana now stands, and as a matter of fact it was owned by two french sisters, the sisters Boulangeot. The bar was located next to the Teatro de la Ciudad (City Theatre) where the operas normally took place and that’s where it took its name from. From 1876 to 1900 the bar had its heyday and was then moved at the start of the XX century to its current location on Avenida 5 de Mayo.

Many dignitaries and popular icons have regarded it as their regular hangout to chat and have a drink with friends. President Porfirio Díaz and his wife Doña Carmelita Romero Rubio were regulars, revolutionaries Villa and Zapata were also patrons; later on, keeping in line with downtown’s turn to a more bohemian spirit, left-leaning intellectuals, writers, and artists began to frequent the place, such as Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez, Octavio Paz, Carlos Monsívais and José Luis Cuevas. There are pictures of some of them on the walls next to the yellow old newspaper clippings. Most Mexican presidents, with the exception of Enrique Peña Nieto and Felipe Calderón, have been known to be clients as well.

Yet times change and the new owners of Bar Ópera, as it’s currently called (it went back to being just a bar) want to move a little bit away from the raucous cantina image, and currently have a more developed menu that offers more elaborate Mexican dishes such as lengua a la veracruzana (beef tongue marinated in vegetables and herbs), chamorro (braised beef shank), pulpo a la gallega (octopus prepared with Spanish pepper and potatoes), and more modern mixology. Prices are a little bit higher than your typical meal of tacos, you can expect to spend between $300 to $500 pesos per person at the place. Yet because of its interesting history and delicious menu, Bar la Ópera is a well-recommended dining spot in downtown Mexico City.


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