History Coming Back to Life: Casa Dominga Merida’s Newest Hot Spot
One of Merida’s newest hot spots for dining, mixology, artisan beers, live music and socializing is Casa Dominga “Barrio Gourmet”. Located on Calle 47 between 52 and 54, just a few blocks away from where Paseo de Montejo Avenue begins in the heart of the Centro, is this modern market eatery whose interior patio consists of 15 different culinary stalls with a covered and ventilated outdoor eating area, a central bar, an open green space with swinging chairs, an upscale indoor lounge called 1906 Bar, and a fine dining restaurant, La Morena Cantina de Antojos. It’s the talk of the town and so far it has received rave reviews from both locals and foreigners alike. Upon arriving, you can feel the essence of the rich, historic city blend with modern, trendy Merida. Near the entrance to the left is the sumptuous 1906 Bar, a retro-style lounge with high back, cushiony velvet benches, dark gray walls, gold satin stools and floor length curtains. It’s a new concept of bar here in Merida reminiscent of bars from major urban centers such as NYC, Mexico City and Paris. The place emanates a feeling of class and elegance, yet appeals to a crowd with a taste for the latest in DJ house music heard in trendy nightclubs. As I sat in 1906 Bar, sipping a mezcal cocktail of lime, cucumber, agave syrup and mint, owner Daniel Trejo explains to me how he fell in love with the Centro and its timeless architecture and why he was inspired to restore what is now Casa Dominga. This building, of which its spectacular façade takes up almost half of the block, was built in 1906 and is one of many iconic Merida edifices erected in the neoclassic French style that was all the craze in elite circles of the Yucatecan society during the Porfiriato era (1876 to 1910). Initially it was a decadent private residence, but sadly, as the years passed by, it was abandoned and left to deteriorate at times being used as a warehouse and a pharmacy. Trejo together with renowned architect Henry Ponce, decided to rescue and restore this site, bringing the space back to life showcasing its original splendor. It’s designed to offer green areas, which the original house did not have, and to illuminate the city block as it once did at the turn of the 20th Century. The name Casa Dominga, meaning Sunday House, was chosen by Trejo in hopes that those who visit feel as they do on a Sunday afternoon: relaxed, enjoying free time, doing what they choose and being completely themselves without the pressures of their job and weekday obligations. It’s a complex where the customer can take advantage of the casual outdoor eating area choosing from a variety of culinary options, relax with a book and a beer in the green area, or dance to the live music from the outdoor stage. They can dine inside La Morena Cantina de Antojos where the chic interior design maintains the porfiriata style and Chef Juan Miguel Rodriquez from Guadalajara features meals and antojitos from all over Mexico. Or they can sip on a cocktail in the intimate 1906 Bar prepared by an experienced mixologist. Whatever the customer chooses to do, they will enjoy a new experience at Merida’s newest “barrio gourmet”. Casa Dominga is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 5pm to 2am1906 Bar from Tuesday to Sunday 7pm to 2am.La Morena Cantina de Antojos from 1pm to 2am.
The Yucatecan Ibiza - Beach Nightlife July and August
In keeping with the true spirit of having the fortune of living a mere 20 minutes’ drive to the sea, most Meridians leave town during the month of July and into the first two weeks of August installing themselves at the beach. They either own a house, rent a house, couch surf at their friend’s house—however they make it happen, they are chillin’ in their hammocks under the sun and over that sand. Some people make it back to the heat of the cement jungle during the week, but mostly the weekends are de playa. When I first arrived in Merida, eight years ago, I remember that during this time the town would completely empty out. It was a ghost town. Everyone was beach life-ing. However now, if you aren’t paying too close attention you might not notice that most Meridians are gone because Merida has grown into such a metropolis and there are so many visitors that it is just as busy in town as it is at the beach. Nevertheless, it is fascinating to note this cultural migration. One of the best parts of this phenomenon is that not only the people move out to the beach, but nearly all nightclubs, big restaurants and cafes set up in their temporary beach residences too. So besides the classic beach restaurants where you can get fried fish and ceviche, there are some of Merida’s favorite fine dining places as well. This happens in Chicxulub Puerto, located eight km east of the Progreso, and 65 km north-northeast of Merida. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. This quiet fishing town turns into little Ibiza making it a great place for fun, great food and an attractive ambiance. For those of you who may be interested in dancing your way through the night, there are numerous places to go and different types of music to hear. For those who like a festive atmosphere, but are not keen on the all-night outing with Merida’s finest, you can still partake in this uniquely Yucatecan summer season and dine at one of your favorite Merida restaurants such as La Recova Beach, La Gloria, La Parrilla or Esvedra, just to name a few. Last Friday I went out with photographer Luis Morales Machado to check out the scene and we ended up at 4 different places. I started the evening at 7:30pm and ended it at almost 4am. All four were recommended to me and I now recommend them to you. First stop was La Recova. This family owned and operated Merida favorite is always a perfect choice for dinner. The beach location opens at 7pm till 1am Tuesday through Sunday. We showed up pretty early by Yucatecan standards so there were only a few diners, which was just fine for us! Victor Campos, whose family owns this establishment, and his fiancé Diego Ceron were our gracious hosts and dinner buddies for the evening. If you want to try out an elegant dinner experience at the beach, this is your place. We tried the grilled octopus, abalone carpaccio and Argentinian empanadas: two words—Damn Good. It has an A/C indoor dining area as well as an outside area as well. Be sure to make a reservation if you are planning on going after 8pm, though, because the place gets packed! Located on the corner of Calle 19 and 50 Chicxulub.
Nacion Gourmet is a new gourmet marketplace in the north end of town that is a great place to hang out, listen to live music, eat gourmet food and have a cocktail from the bar. It´s a fun venue to chill with a group of friends or your family on any day of the week. I happened to go there last week for the Alanis Morissette tribute by local musical talent Gina Osorno. It brought me right back to my university days holding a pencil in my hand, pretending it was a microphone, and yell singing “You Oughta Know” at the top of my lungs. The service is fast and the staff is friendly. Definitely a place to check out. Address: Av. Andres García Lavín (Calle 30 x 37a y 37b)