Hot Bars for cold nights
You might have thought a trip to Tallinn would mean quiet, calm, pinewood and northern-European detachment, but it ain’t necessarily so. We’ve found three Hispanic-themed bars within a hundred metres of each other that will help you to spice up your life while showing the international nature of Estonia’s capital.
Müürivahe is one of those Old Town streets which, thanks to Tallinn’s tourist centre being a zoneless mish-mash of chintzy amber and wool shops, modish design shops and strip clubs, you might normally give a miss. However, you would be wrong to do so, because in skipping Müürivahe, you’d never get to Ancho, one of the Old Town’s overlooked gems.
The bar is not trying to offer luxury - it wants to give a straight-up taste of Mexico, with shirts and pictures from Mexican football on the walls, competing for space with Mexican wrestling memorabilia. It’s a place to take your buddies and enjoy a light, hoppy Mexican beer, while forgetting about the fancy people who aren’t having as much fun as you.
Ancho is a frequent stop-off for Tallinn’s large American community, and often hosts the monthly meetings of an informal local chili and spice club, attracted by the wealth of beer snacks and sizzling burritos, which you can enjoy with your beers and your pals.
At a more considered, sedate pace is Self, a quieter, but equally-good, bar around the corner on Väike-Karja street, close to the traditional tourist traps of Nimeta and Shooters, but still far enough away that you don’t have to deal with recurring images of staggering drunk people. Self, as the name implies, is a place where you can contemplate and achieve a state of inner calm.
The wine is good-quality, the bar staff know their spirits, and the whole ambiance is one of pressure-free enjoyment. As this is one of the Old Town’s best-kept secrets, you will find this is one of the few places in this part of town where you can talk to your friends without shouting to be heard.
Originally marketed as a tapas bar, Self now says ”gin bar” on the window, and it’s pretty appropriate, because of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, you’ll want to walk into this one.
After all that calm reflection, you’re ready for a party. There are other nightclubs in Tallinn. There are places that will gladly take your money time after time, as you down deceptively-expensive shots to get over the awful music being played. However, very few Old-Town clubs make you leave with a smile on your face as big as that with which you arrived. Baila does this.
Baila is not trying to be anything it is not. It’s a club wedged into the narrow Sauna street, close to places we have praised before, like Paar Veini and Frank, but this is a Latin party, with sweat, salsa and a sunny disposition coming as standard. Though there is not much room inside, there are seating areas, waitresses who come to tables with your drinks - which are not overpriced – and somehow everyone finds enough space on the dancefloor to be satisfied.
What puts Baila above anywhere else open as late (its doors do not lock until early in the morning) is the simple, but often overlooked, pleasure of not being patronised or looked-down upon. There is no sniffiness, everyone has a good time, and for one night, we are all equal in the finest sweatbox in town.
Click on the link to see the location
TEXT STUART GARLICK