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Adiós Compadre

On January 2, the oldest cantina in America Latina was shut down by the UNAM (Universidad Autónoma de México). El Nivel (The Level), with its license number 001, has been around since at least 1872.

It has served as a meeting place for writers, artists, the homeless, entertainers and even presidents. Until recently, the cantina was filled with characters with “apodos” (nicknames) like “El Brujo” (The Witch) and “El Colosio” (for his resemblance to the ex-presidential candidate). On any given day you could find “Nivelungos” (El Nivel Barflies) such as “El Tío Monchiváis” (Uncle Monsiváis) and “El Doctor Tatatiú-tatatiú” seated at the bar drinking any one of the joint’s specialty drinks: El Nivelungo, La Patada de Mula (The Mule’s Kick) and La Sangría.

The cantina is often called the last vestige of the “macho mexicano”. It has become a national symbol worthy of detailed ethnography. El Nivel could have possibly been one of the most “Mexican” cantinas still in existence.

Because the UNAM owns the building, they’ve decided to close this chapter of Mexican history to make way for new projects. The newspaper El Universal has a great video short that I highly recommend. You can check it out here: