If you’re looking for more entertainment than watching your bro strike out with the ladies night after night, don’t sleep on McAllen’s music scene. There are a few places with a fan base built on a steady lineup of live music, cheap drinks and laid-back vibes. There’s no need to play it by ear, because I’ve taken the guesswork out and come up with a clear-cut guide to my top three live music bars in McAllen.
Yerberia Cultura – 613 S. 17th Street
Yerberia Cultura is a newcomer to the live music scene, but from the start it’s made its motive clear: offer original live music in a cool, hip venue. Located on the south end of McAllen’s 17th Street Entertainment District, Yerberia (as it’s referred to by its loyal patrons), features a large, open patio with a stage for live performances. Everything about Yerberia is the ideal spot for intimate concert lovers, from its 350-person limit to its up-close-and-personal stage. Yerberia has answered the prayers of local music enthusiasts with its reliable lineup of touring artists, offering the perfect chance to catch those I-saw-them-before-they-blew-up acts.
Simon Sez – 2007 Orchid Avenue
If you read my blog on the Top 5 Dives in McAllen, then you know how I feel about McAllen’s original rock and roll bar, Simon Sez. Playing at Simon Sez is every local rock band’s rite of passage. Everything about the bar screams live music, from the wall-of-music-legends mural painted on its façade to the life-sized Elvis statue that greets you as you enter this shrine to music history. Its museum-like homage to rock and roll’s past merely sets the tone though. Since 1995, Simon Sez has consistently delivered speaker-rattling riot fests to local music enthusiasts, never straying from the formula that’s made it the top spot for live entertainment in McAllen. The drinks are cheap, the atmosphere is nostalgic and night after night, Simon Sez takes it up one extra notch, to eleven.
The Flying Walrus – 204 S. 17th Street
The Flying Walrus is another downtown hot spot that’s made a name for itself in local live music circles, but don’t let its 17th Street address scare you away. This meathead-free venue takes pride in its low-key vibe, so come as you are and enjoy reasonably priced drinks with a laid-back crowd, and leave the overpriced bottle service and sparklers for pretentious birthday girls. Its outdoor patio plays host to local music acts, open mic nights and even karaoke, and with a bar that spans almost the entire length of the place, you won’t have to wait in line for your favorite adult beverage and risk missing a single tune.
Insider Tip: The Flying Walrus makes a killer handmade pizza, and it tastes even better after you’ve downed a few frothy brews with your best buds.
Jamming out to live music is a great way to spend any night on the town, and these three bars hit all the right notes, feeding on a steady diet of high-energy live music to draw crowds near and far. True, you might not have heard of many of the bands that come through these watering holes, but no one else has either (despite what they tell you).
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