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Thursday, January 26, 2023

Bonampak: Mérida’s newest hot spot is a feast for the eyes

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
We can all use a drink from time to time, but if you are heading out don’t forget to bring your facemask. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Mérida’s most Instagram-worthy restaurant has opened its doors. 

Bonampak, which opened just last week one block south of Santa Ana park, offers patrons plenty of choices of beers, cocktails, and botanas — much like any other bar in Mérida.

(Editor’s note: On Sunday, three days after this story was posted, state authorities closed Bonampak after finding they violated crowd capacity rules. We don’t know when they will re-open.)

Where Bonampak really shines is in its decor. Large murals featuring several of Mexico’s most beloved icons cover every square inch of the space.

Mural of Mexican actress María Félix and one of her most famous quotes which translate to “It is better to arrive late than to show up looking ugly.” Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Yucatecan actors, comedians, and musicians are of course also well represented and include the likes of Armando Manzanero and Héctor Herrera Álvarez, better known as Cholo.

Cholo was well known and much loved in Yucatán for his irreverent comedy, which often poked fun at social mores. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

All chairs and stools are variations on brightly colored Acapulco style décor, which fits great with Bonampak’s fun and upbeat aesthetic.

Acapulco-style stools in front of a mural of Pedro Infante, the most famous of Mexicos golden-age of cinema performers. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Also getting a nod is Mexico’s most famous rock and roll export, the guitar virtuoso Carlos Santana.

All of the murals at Bonampak are painted in bright colors and often stretch from floor to ceiling. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

But it’s not all about celebrities, as several walls are dedicated to scenes of everyday life in Yucatán, as well as wildlife and myths.

In Yucatán’s folklore, the Xtabay is a supernatural femme fatale who preys upon men, using her mystically enhanced beauty. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Though Bonampak is fairly large, seating is limited as tables are spread out under health protocols.

Outside seating areas are available towards the back of the bar and on the second-floor patio. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Though the murals share a similar aesthetic, they are in fact the work of 30 different artists working together in the Bonampak urban art collective.

Mural of Vicente Fernández, arguably Mexico’s most famous rancheras musician of all time. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The name of the artist collective and the bar itself is inspired by the famous murals found at the Mayan archaeological site of the same name, Bonampak.

Prices at Bonampak are comparable to similar bars like La Negrita or El Cardenal. Domestic beers start at 35 pesos while artisanal and microbrews cost around 75 pesos. Cocktails start at 80 pesos. They also have a fairly good selection of mezcal and tequila.

I was told by my lovely girlfriend Yesica that the cocktails were quite nice, I may have to go back to make sure for myself. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Complimentary snacks include small plates of beans, tamales, tostadas, and dzikilpak (squash seed dip).

As per usual, the more rounds of drinks you order, the more botanas you can expect to show up at your table. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

If the free-for-the-customer botanas are not enough to fill you up, they also have a la carte options including Yucatecan staples like panuchos, salbutes, and sopa de lima. Hamburgers, chicken wings, French fries, empanadas, and pizzas are also available. The chicken tenders were particularly good.

Bonampak also offers pub fare platters starting at around 250 pesos which are easy enough for 2 to 3 people. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Bonampak is in Mérida’s Centro, on the corner of Calle 60 and 49, in the space previously occupied by Café Chocolate, Avocado vegetarian restaurant, and Alma Calma.

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