Most visitors to El Paso like to take a trip across the border at some point to Ciudad Juárez, which offers a wide variety of bars and clubs for the over-18s. However, there is plenty of fun north of the Rio Grande as well.

Live music can be found at Viva Villa (410 East San Antonio Ave), which plays all types of Latin rhythms from salsa to flamenco. For dance music, try Club 101, a warehouse catering to the 21-plus, alternative music crowd. There are live shows most Fridays with local and guest bands. Younger guests (18+) can head to the E-9 Club/Area 51 next door, which is part of the Club 101 and offers dance music as well. Suavecito (1201 Airway Boulevard) also has a dance floor and offers salsa lessons on Wednesdays.

Hemingway’s, a local hangout that specializes in microbrews and imported beers, is located at 214 Cincinnati Avenue. There is also La Hacienda (1720 West Paisano Drive), which not only serves the famous Three Bell Margarita, but offers an excellent menu of mesquite-flavored steaks and chili rellenos. The bar is also located on a historically significant site, as it marks the location where Don Juan de Oñate first crossed the Rio Grande.

Guests looking for a gay-friendly club should try the New Old Plantation on Ochoa Street, which has a drag show on Friday and Saturday nights. However, the club is also a good place for heterosexuals, as it is one of the better dance spots in town.

 Other popular hangouts include:

  1. Studio 69 - Downtown, near Union Station.  This club is only open on Saturday, $6.00 cover (or $10/VIP), and is cash-only.  Despite these questionable attributes, Studio 69 is an excellent place to go clubbing.  Don't expect guys to be able to buy you drinks here, even though there tend to be a lot of military enlisted and they will fall all over themselves trying to pick up girls without having to sustain a tab.  It is consistently hot (temperature-wise) in this club, but they play good club/dance music.  There is a central dance floor, a floor with a live salsa band, a smoking patio, and cages on the second-level where unattractive girls tend to dance.
  2. 1914 - Another downtown bar, this is a good sit-down Vegas ultra-lounge type bar.  No dancing.  Good music.  More upscale than Studio 69 or the Sugar Shack.
  3. Aceituna's - Holding down the music/bar scene on the West side is the very, very, popular Aceitunas on Doniphan, next to the Riviera Restaurant.  It is consistently crowded on Thursday nights due to their excellent drink specials ($5/cover).  There is no dancing, but there is a small area where a live band plays.  Out back, there is plenty of seating on the patio, near the bar, and a fake stream filled with koi.  Security will lay into you if you try to feed the koi anything but fish food.  However, in my defense, the fish food machine was broken.  I would have gladly stuffed it full of quarters.  Get there before 10 PM, because parking after about 9 PM is impossible to find.
  4. Stampede - Further down on Doniphan is your good old cowboy bar.  Seating is arranged around an excellent dance floor.  Stampede occsaionally hosts country music concerts.  On Thursdays, they play dance and hip-hop from around 11:30 PM to 1:30 PM.  Tends to be fun, watching guys in cowboy hats sling their dates around with the kids dressed like ballers.  No cover on Thursday for ladies, $5 for men.
  5. Blu - This downtown bar is near the Dome Bar.  The waitresses wear blue wigs. There are a couple VIP areas.  $7 cover on Saturday for guys, no cover for women.  There is a slightly more elaborate stage than Aceituna's or Stampede , with paid dancers on stage and in the crowd.  However, comparatively, the dancing is better at Studio 69.  Blue straws just don't make the experience worthwhile with small, expensive drinks.
  6. Erin's - On N. Mesa, just past Sunland Park/Shadow Mountain, this great little dive is your average, everyday neighborhood bar with shuffleboard, pool tables, a gazebo (?!) and occasionally, kareoke.  Laid back, very casual.  Not really a place to dance, but boy, if you want to, you can.  The bartenders here are terrific.