April 12th, 2011
…that is, except for here. We were recently turned on to the coolest little bar, so cool in fact, we’re not going to tell you its name. This bar, we’ll call it The Cabana, is so amazing that our biggest fear is that some guidebook will find out about it and flood it with tourists. The only gringos we want to see there are ourselves and our guests!
What makes it worth the secrecy you ask? Well for one, two nights a week they feature a live band playing traditional Argentinean and Colombian music. There’s no stage; the six or so members gather around a small table with their glasses of beer and empty shot glasses and play whatever strikes their fancy. It’s more like sitting in on a close group of friends having a jam session than listening to a band play.
Every night the experience is completely different, thanks to the local musicians dropping in to lend their voice, guitar, or harp to the band (yes, I said harp). One night we had Argentineans belting out mournful songs, followed by a local singer/cab driver leading the crowd in a rousing version of Tengo Mil Novias (I have a thousand girlfriends). Another night we witnessed a man playing the wooden spoons and an Andean flutist putting Ron Burgundy to shame. We have no doubt that our next visit will bring an entirely different experience.
The owner keeps the drinks simple: aguardiente, rum, and Heineken beer. However, the accompanying snacks are anything but. Served with your drinks are no fewer than four bowls for the fritos, cheese flavored bread balls, mango, fresh coconut pieces, orange slices, grapes, and tree tomatoes (didn’t know some tomatoes grow in trees, did you?) And if that array of munchies doesn’t cut it for you, the tasty pizza joint across the street will bring you your choice of crispy-crusted pizza. ¡Delicioso!
The thing that brings everything together is the ambiance of The Cabana. The entire bar is perhaps the size of a living room and barely fits 10 small tables, which encourages the intermingling of the patrons. Adorning the walls are a variety of musical instruments, portraits, and vintage advertisements for various Colombian beers featuring pin-up girls. Vinyl records are haphazardly stacked on random shelves and in nooks and crannies between the assortment of antique amplifiers, record players and sound equipment. On nights when the band isn’t playing these records are filling the air with the traditional sounds of tango, and if you’re a music buff, you can make requests for your favorite Colombian or Argentinean song.
Rest assured, if you come visit us in Medellin, we’ll show you a good time at The Cabana. But until then, let’s just keep this secret between us.
More photos of The Cabana can be found here.
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