El Cantinero

Posted on May 1, 2011


El Cantinero Bar (“El Canti”) is the Union Square Dive Bar.  I am in no way reflecting the downstairs restaurant –which is delicious—but the upstairs area after you walk through the restaurant and up the stairs.  The first time I walked into El Canti, I experienced a club atmosphere at 6:30pm on a Friday.  I have been to El Canti a million times since then, and never feel it has disappointed me.

It is by far the place you bring a group of friends with two missions… 1) Good Music and 2) Cheap Drinks.  Their happy hour is $4 from a selection of 10 choices… all which by drink number three, you will be asking for medical assistance to get home since they are strong.  I have spent many ‘a nights with hazy recollection after hanging out at El Canti for a couple hours.  It’s a place to have fun, and be fun.  On some nights you can even experience a fog machine, and like last Friday, even glow-necklaces.  The bar tender knowing we were regulars (meaning 2days in a row), gave us a free shot.  I cannot say it was the smoothest version of tequila, but it kept the party going, and kept the tab cheap.

A must worthy note about El Canti is their superb security. I’m not joking!  I even got their names… because in the event you need help you better know who your security is.  Ricky and Vargas (from my experience) are great at what they do.  I’ve seen Vargas take out a few incomprehensible individuals.  It was never anything violent, usually late in the night and time to skidaddle.

The food is awesome. As a Mexicana, I just love it.  They are never empty, even on a blizzard day.  The Enchiladas are my favorite, but if you don’t want a full platter they sometimes offer free buffet in the bar, which is also delicious.  Whatever you order, I’m sure you’ll love it.

El Canti, is where we celebrated my sister’s birthday, where I cried about my break-up, where Luz and I got the idea for our business and our blog, where I met countless friends.  This is where you go when you just don’t care about what you look like, or you’re not interested in all the letters after someone’s name.  This is where all worlds (not only Latino) come to enjoy a fun environment.  Above all, El Canti is kind of like the Cheers for Latinos in NYC.  The problem is not everyone knows your name, because those margaritas are no joke.  But you can definitely recognize the regulars, cause you’ve seen them before… so maybe it’s more of Cheers in the sense that ‘everyone know your face’.

I hope you give this cute, delicious, affordable, bar a shot because chances are you might run into me!  So Salud to you and your experience with El Canti!