MEXICO CITY — Mexico City's most famous bar boasts French decor, Spanish food and mint juleps said to be better than anything served in New Orleans.
Yet for all these imports, Bar La Opera is somehow very Mexican. Maybe it's because of the bullet hole in the ceiling, the result, it is said, of a visit from Pancho Villa.
Or maybe it's the intrigue of Mexican politicians and businessmen cutting their deals during endless lunches. Or a bartender called La Carioca who sings tunes from Veracruz and reminisces about the visits of past Mexican presidents to La Opera.
"This place thrives on folklore," says manager Moises Argote. "Politicians, actors, gangsters. They all come here."
La Opera is named for its location near the Palace of Fine Arts a block away. The decor recalls Mexico City's 19th-Century flirtation with belle epoque design. Gold leaf swirls adorn the ceiling, giant mirrors dominate the walls, and the rows of booths feature red velvet and leather seats and ornate wood carvings.