MÉRIDA, YUCATÁN – Bar El Bufete (“The Firm” – as in law firm) was founded in 1932, and for over 80 years stood on the corner of Calle 62 and Calle 65 in the center of Mérida, a silent witness to history. It opened during the golden age of cantinas in the city, under its original owner, Antonio Vera Lixa. Ownership passed to Antonio Mezquita Valencia, known to all as “el Calvo” (the “bald one”), who became the most famous proprietor of the bar, owning it for almost 50 years until his death in 2007, when his son, also Antonio, took the helm.
Throughout its long history, El Bufete remained a traditional cantina; a unique place in the center of the Yucatán capital, a place where the customers were friends, and where at any time of the day, you could find someone you knew; all the more remarkable given the fact it was only a block from the Plaza Grande. Its location near banks, government offices, newspapers and other businesses gave it a varied clientele, who appreciated the ice cold beer, mixed drinks, botanas, and friendly service. It was visited by celebrities such as actor Pedro Infante Torrentera, and well known reporters David Dominguez and Manuel Escalante, but remained a place for the people.
It held a place in my own affections, since coincidentally it was the first cantina I visited during one of my early sojourns in Mérida. A number of years later, as a resident of the white city, I became a ‘regular’, spending many enjoyable hours in its unique ‘classic’ atmosphere.
On February 4, 2015, it all came to an end, when, following a dispute between the old owners and new owners of the building, it was unexpectedly forced to close, and itself became part of history. It was a special place, and its many loyal customers will miss it. Hasta luego, Bar El Bufete.
Bar El Bufete was one of the cantinas featured in our September article “The Ultimate Guide to Mérida’s Cantinas”.