La Viuda Negra was opened in June by the brothers Javier and Luis Villalva, who run El Come Taco. I knew the bar and taqueria were neighbors, but my friend refused to believe it.
“That’s just a bridal shop,” he said, pointing at the storefront. True: the window read “Bridal Boutique” and was home to a wedding-day-ready mannequin.
My friend was still skeptical after I pointed out the bar’s logo, projected on the floor inside, but there was no mistake once I opened the door. The speakeasy-style space was low lit and jampacked, with a DJ in one corner and foliage spilling from the ceiling. A birthday party, bolstered by pizza brought from nearby ZaLat, took up most of the room. There were no spots at the bar, so we studied the menu and discussed how clever it is to have a bridal shop as the storefront for a bar whose name means “black widow.”
At last a place cleared and a guy drinking a Dos Equis motioned for me to sit. Behind the bar, shelves of mezcal, tequila, gin, and whiskey glowed under blue lights; from atop a fridge, a statue of La Catrina looked out over the bar; a projector played black-and-white movies. All told, there were at least 25 people squeezed into the narrow space.
To my right, a skinny dude ordered a beer and a shot of mezcal, which he savored slowly. To my left, a tattooed man drinking a 32-ounce Corona studied two bottles of mezcal, meticulously uncorking and sniffing each.
While my friend and I downed drinks and watched the bustle, the guy next to me was a permanent fixture, sipping a stream of Dos Equis. He knew people, but also seemed alone. Finally, he told me his brother works at the bar—but that’s not why he comes in.
“It’s small,” he explained, “but it’s perfect.”
“Draw Me Your Favorite Funk,” by Psychic Mirrors, started overhead, and almost everyone in the room bobbed to the music. The guy next to me smiled at the scene, then turned to the bartender and ordered another beer.