Mérida, Yucatán — The bohemian cantina La Negrita has been a spot to unwind for 100 years.
But the historic bar came close to missing its century mark back in 2011 when it closed down.
Once destined to become a parking lot, the cantina was rescued by Patricia Martín Briceño, who grew up near the corner bar, and her French partner Erik Samson. Freshened up with a vaguely 1950s Cuban theme, La Negrita was the first of many downtown bars to infuse a hipster vibe into the Centro Historico.
Reopened in 2013, now it’s a busy hangout favored by locals, expats and — after being recommended by many travel guides — adventurous tourists. It has even been featured in a contemporary music video.
Craft beer and mezcal was served at the bar long before it was trendy. Some of the original furniture and fixtures remain, as well, some of it salvaged from the dumpster. What has changed is the crowd. It’s more mixed. And women are today allowed, of course, to enter through the front door. That was a no-no back in 1917.
When the original proprietors, Don Chino and Don Bizco Escalante, opened the original La Negrita, the back dining room was for the women, and the bar up front was for the men.