Grupo Venancia, 1 1/2 blocks south of Iglesia de Guadalupe (tel. 505/2772-3562; www.grupovenancia.org), is an excellent cultural space that was started by a volunteer women's group with the idea of creating a venue for music, dance, and the arts in general. It has a low-key atmosphere with an open-air bar offering live performances and movie screenings. It attracts a good mix of Matagalpa's well-heeled culture vultures and a bohemian crowd, especially on Saturdays. If you have some time on your hands, they are always looking for volunteers to help out, as they also organize workshops, publish books, and have a radio show.
Parque Darío is the venue for festivals called Noches Matagalpinas every last weekend of the month -- expect live music, food stands, and a very festive atmosphere.
In general, locals here are fond of scuffing their cowboy boots to ranchero, merengue, and reggaeton. Saturdays nights are the liveliest, with roadhouse discos like Tequilas, 3km (1 3/4 miles) out on the Managua highway, coming alive with revelers. Madre Tierra goes all week (except Tues) with an open-air bar offering pub grub and hammocks. It is located 1 1/2 blocks west of Texaco Central.
Considering what else is on offer, Artesanos Café Bar (1/2 block east of Banpro, in front of the Social Club; tel. 505/2772-2444) is by far the nicest bar in town, with roomy ambience and a laid-back, hip feel. The building itself is a nicely restored town house, and there's an open-air deck out the back overlooking a small garden. In addition to beer and cocktails, you'll also find smoothies and fruit juices. There's also a short food menu with decent chicken bites and salads. It attracts a healthy mix of old and young, local and foreign. It's open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am to midnight.