No discussion of Ensenada would be complete without mentioning Hussong's Cantina, Av. Ruíz 113, near Avenida López Mateos (tel. 646/178-3210); just like the line from Casablanca, "everyone goes to Rick's," everyone's been going to Hussong's since the bar opened in 1892. Nothing much has changed in the last century plus -- the place still sports Wild West-style swinging saloon doors, a long bar to slide beers along, and strolling mariachis bellowing above the din of revelers. There's definitely a minimalist appeal to Hussong's, which looks as if it sprang from a south-of-the-border episode of Gunsmoke. Beer and tequilas at astonishingly low prices are the main order of business. Be aware that hygiene and privacy are a low priority in the restrooms.

While the crowd at Hussong's (a pleasant mix of tourists and locals) can really whoop it up, they're amateurs compared to those who frequent Papas & Beer, Avenida Ruíz near Avenida López Mateos (tel. 646/178-4231), across the street. A tiny entrance leads to the upstairs bar and dance club, where the music is loud, and the young crowd is definitely here to party. Happy patrons hang out of the second-story windows calling out to their friends and stop occasionally to eat papas fritas (french fries) accompanied by local beers. Papas & Beer has quite a reputation with the Southern California college crowd and has a branch in Rosarito.

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