Under the wire


One of the curiosities of my neighborhood, the Colonia Nápoles, is that there are no cantinas. There are fine restaurants with white tablecloths, a couple of decent fondas and some great street food. But nothing even resembling a cantina.


Not long after I moved there, Sergio González Rodríguez, a writer friend who knows the city's watering holes like the back of his hand, took me to a place called the Salon Martell. It is in the neighboring colonia, la Del Valle, on the corner of Mier y Pesado and Romero de Terreros. The bartender, todo un caballero, is named Tomás.


You got to love a cantina with a photograph of Marilyn Monroe above the bar. Particularly that photo.


I am not sure why but the Salon Martell has few customers. (Then again, that is one of the reasons that I like it.) It also has one of those electronic jukeboxes with about a thousand songs. Sometimes on Fridays, the gentleman pictured above, known as "Eddie," plays U.S. oldies on an electric organ, and sings them with Spanish lyrics. The botanas -- free food served with the price of your drinks -- are also quite tasty at the Martell.


Don't get spooked by the monster, who shares space behind the bar with Marilyn. And Santa.