The Best Bar Hopping Route in Guadalajara: The land of Tequila, Mezcal & Pulque
Food & Wine
Arts & Culture
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Guadalajara is not only known for its rich history and cultural heritage, but also for being the birthplace of some of the world's most beloved spirits: tequila, mezcal and pulque. Surrounded by an abundance of agave fields, don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore the many bars and cantinas of Guadalajara to sample the true essence of these iconic beverages. Whether you are looking for a quiet corner in a traditional cantina to sip on your mezcal or a lively bar to dance the night away, there is something for all tastes and budgets.
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Where to stay in Mexico
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Hotel Demetria, Mexico
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Things to do in Mexico
What is the difference between tequila and mezcal? And what is pulque?
Tequila, mezcal and pulque are all Mexican spirits made from the agave plant, but they have distinct production methods, personalities and flavors.
Tequila, Mexico's national drink and an iconic symbol, is exclusively produced from the Blue Agave variety (Agave Tequilana Weber) grown in the volcanic soils near Guadalajara, Jalisco. The type of tequila—Blanco, Reposado or Anejo—is determined by the processing of the agave hearts, distillation and aging in wood barrels.
Mezcal is distilled similarly to tequila but has its own unique blend of tastes and nuances. It is primarily made from the espadin variety of agave. Mezcal has a distinctively smoky flavor and can be enjoyed neat or used in cocktails. It pairs exceptionally well with passionfruit or hibiscus flavors.
Pulque, on the other hand, is an ancient beverage dating back to Mesoamerican times. Unlike tequila and mezcal, pulque is not baked and distilled. Instead, the sap of the agave plant is fermented, resulting in a milky-colored, viscous drink that forms a slight foam when poured. Pulque offers a tangy punch. It can be consumed straight or blended with various fruits, pulps, nuts, spices, or sweeteners. Pulque is a low-alcohol beverage compared to tequila.
Check out some of the pulquerias in Guadalajara that specialize in this drink.
Where to go out in Guadalajara?
The bar hopping route below focuses exclusively on the Americana neighborhood in Guadalajara, which is home to a large part of Guadalajara’s nightlife scene. However, I couldn't leave out some of the other neighborhoods in the city that also offer great nightlife options:
Combine a trip to see the majestic Basilica de Zapopan and colorful plaza with a fun afternoon or evening at Salon Candela, a popular bar with tropical vibes, live music, tasty food and a great selection of local tequilas and mezcals. A block away, you will also find newcomer Axno, which is a beautifully designed rooftop bar with a great selection of cocktails.
Providencia and Country Club
More residential and upmarket neighborhoods in Guadalajara that also include the business district. Try Shelter for a quiet, romantic wine bar that also has a great selection of cocktails and dishes (This might be my all-time favorite date night spot in the city and a true hidden gem!) There is also Troquet for a French-style wine bar. Or you can’t go wrong with the lively Punto Sao Paulo area with a plethora of restaurants and bars lining the cobblestoned street like local favorite— La Docena. Finally, Pannarama is a chic entertainment and social hub with bars (like Sala Blanca,) restaurants and a nightclub.
Guadalajara Centro (Downtown)
If you are looking for more of an authentic and classic experience, check out some of the traditional cantinas in downtown Guadalajara that have been around for decades. One of the oldest and most well-known is La Fuente (1921), which is a great place to soak up the atmosphere where locals often sing the night away to live music. Other spots to check out are La Cava, Los Famosos Equipales and Escarabajo Scratch.
Andares and the Landmark
The fanciest part of Guadalajara home to many of the modern high-rises and luxury shopping options. Andares and the Landmark are two high-end malls with a ton of food and drink options if you are staying nearby or looking to dress up and enjoy some people watching. Some of the most popular spots are La Docena, Campomar, Cuerno, Mochomos, La Tequila and L’Osteria. For more casual options, head to Mercado Andares, a two-story trendy food court concept with over 24 restaurant options.
Places to eat & drink in Mexico
Phew, and there is still so much more! This bar hopping route is based in the Americana neighborhood, which is my favorite place to go out and where most of the best bars, cafes, breweries and mezcalerias are. I have ordered the route based on location, but some of the bars may get better and more lively as the night goes on, so feel free to mix up the order. Everything is either walkable, cyclable, or a quick Uber ride away.
My Recommended Bar Hopping Route
Start (or end) your evening on Calle Bernardo de Balbuena where you will find a row of stylish spots, including Geisha Gitana (a new intimate sushi bar,) Amaro Records and Jamaica Go Go, which is a chic rooftop speakeasy with a DJ that turns into a party after 11 PM.
Next up, take a quick walk to a mandatory stop at at Guadalajara's most accoladed bar, consistently featured on North America's Top 50 Bars list: El Gallo Altanero. Climb up the stairs and pull up a stool at the bar or along the balcony overlooking the colonial-style courtyard. Put yourself in the hands of some of the most knowledgeable bartenders in the country in this small but inviting space that has one of the best tequila and mezcal selections in the city. As with the other recommendations, the later you go, the livelier things will get. It is also well-known for its all-day parties on Sundays, where a local crowd goes to dance off their hangovers from the night before.
For the next part of the route, you have a choice. Walk for another 10 minutes down past Chapultepec Avenue (or jump in a quick Uber,) and you will find a bunch of options all within a few blocks of each other. There's Pardo Club (a retro bar/club with dance music,) Habanero Negro (a tropical lively cantina serving classic Yucatecan-style bites,) Farmacia Rita Perez (a lively neighborhood bar with a jukebox and great atmosphere,) Patan Ale House (a craft beer hangout with a rooftop terrace) or Romea (a French wine bar on a lovely terrace.) It was impossible to narrow it down!
For the final part of the route (if you are still standing, that is,) head down to De la O Cantina, a hip craft cocktail bar with an old-fashioned feel serving regional small plates and both traditional and sophisticated drinks. And finally, head next door to dance the night away at Pare de Sufrir Mezcaleria, a very simple hole-in-the-wall bar that is a Guadalajara institution and turns into one of the best parties in the city. With over 70 types of tequila and mezcal, this place is a must while in Guadalajara if you are looking to mix with some of the friendliest locals.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Mexico.