Guadalajara: A Food Lover's Guide

Travel advisor Hannah Breckner stands on a beach in a green dress carrying a straw hat
Curated By

Hannah Breckner

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  • City Travel

  • Food & Wine

  • Mexico

  • Architecture

  • Local culture

  • Foodie

A delicious selection of salsas and tacos.
Curator’s statement

It's no surprise that Guadalajara has become a digital nomad and foodie hotspot in recent years thanks to its vibey art, culture and food scene. Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city and compared to its much larger counterpart, Mexico City, it is way more affordable, easier to navigate and has one of the best all-year-round sunny climates in Mexico. Guadalajara is a city of fascinating contrasts: it's the birthplace of mariachi and tequila and has a rich and traditional folkloric culture with impressive colonial architecture; but this is all juxtaposed with cosmopolitan, ultra modern high rises, a cool tech startup scene and trendy and upmarket shopping malls, not forgetting some of the best restaurants and chefs in Mexico. Take a day trip through the blue agave fields to the distilleries of the nearby town of Tequila or combine your city break with a short trip to the surfer beach towns on the Pacific coast like Sayulita or San Pancho.

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Where to stay in Guadalajara

Casa Habita

Chic property in the neighborhood of Lafayette with trendy rooms and suites.

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Hotel Demetria, Mexico

An avant-garde architectural masterpiece offering an exquisite blend of art, design, and luxury hospitality in the heart of Guadalajara, Mexico.

Hyatt Regency Andares Guadalajara

A luxurious and contemporary retreat offering refined hospitality in the pulsating heart of Guadalajara's Andares shopping district.

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Things to do in Guadalajara

A fountain in front of a huge historic building.

Explore the picturesque Centro Historico

Kick off your Guadalajara visit in the beautiful historic downtown with its emblematic 16th-century cathedral, traditional tree-lined plazas, museums and markets. I recommend starting at the main cathedral and strolling slowly down the Paseo Hospicio towards the San Juan de Dios (or Libertad) market. There is a lot to see in the area, but my top picks are the Instituto Cultural Cabañas, a UNESCO world heritage site and home to the muralist Diego Rivera's famous ‘Man on Fire’ mural, a quick peek inside the majestic Teatro Degollado, some souvenir shopping at the San Juan de Dios or Libertad market (Latin America’s largest indoor market), and an obligatory refreshment stop at the no frills La Fuente cantina (one of the oldest and most traditional in Guadalajara for a cold beer, typical snacks or a caballito of tequila with mixer).

Artisan Crafts, Ceramics, and Cantaritos in San Pedro, Tlaquepaque

This artsy district famous for its ceramics and crafts is located to the south of the city and an absolute must stop when visiting Guadalajara. I recommend planning at least a few hours to wander down the main pedestrian street to browse the many boutiques, galleries, crafts and ceramics stores, ending at the main plaza where you will find street food vendors and performers. Next, head for lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in the city, Casa Luna. If you have time at 3pm, stop by El Patio restaurant to watch the all-female mariachi band play - what a show! An off-the-beaten-path tip is to go to the ceramics workshop of the renowned potter Paco Padilla, his work is amazing and I always end up buying way too much.

Sip, Eat and Drink Your Way Around Colonia Americana

Voted the coolest neighborhood in the world by Time Out in 2022, this is my favorite part of the city and where you will find many of the best cafes, bars, breweries and mezcalerias. Avenida Chapultepec is a good starting point, a famous wide avenue popular among students that comes alive at night with many bars, restaurants, street vendors, live music, performers and if you are lucky, street salsa dancing.

Set off down Calle LIbertad, one of the prettiest tree-lined avenues in the city and admire the majestic colonial mansions (like Casa de los Abanicos), stopping off for refreshments at the cafes along the way. My favorites are La Cafeteria, Membrillo, Neretta and Gabinete. You can also check out Mercado Juarez, and the cute cafes around it. If you happen to be in the area on a Sunday, the Via Recreativa is a weekly tradition where surrounding streets are closed off so that locals can cycle, walk and skate down some of the main avenues of the city.

Chant and Cheer the Night Away at Lucha Libre

Lucha Libre (aka Mexican wrestling) is a really popular and unique night out if you are looking to experience some of the local culture (even if you aren’t much of a wrestling fan). Tuesday nights are time to go and the colorful masks, crazy costumes and extremely excitable crowd make it a really fun night out with lots of chanting, booing, singing and swearing.

Discover the Birthplace of Tequila

Tequila is under an hour’s drive from Guadalajara, and is definitely worth a day trip. The more commercial, larger distilleries are the ones you will often see advertising their tours in Tequila, such as Jose Cuervo and Herradura, but I recommend some of the lesser known, more artisan distilleries for a more personalized and authentic experience. You can usually turn up on the day (but I prefer calling in advance), and some of my favorites are La Fortaleza, La Cofradia and el Tequileño.

On the way, you can make a really fun pitstop at the lively Cantaritos el Güero along the side of the highway for a giant cantarito (ceramic pot filled with tequila and fresh citric juices), and after your distillery tour and tasting, head to downtown Tequila for lunch at one of the many restaurants around the main plaza. If you still have more energy, you can check out Los Gallos Garden, an outdoor boho bar and party space, inspired by festivals like Coachella, overlooking the agave fields where locals go to hang out, drink and dance.

Places to Eat and Drink in Guadalajara

Delicious tacos being served on a tray at a restaurant

La Docena

La Docena is an institution in Guadalajara and a longstanding favorite hangout and seafood spot among locals. Consistently listed on the Top 50 Best Restaurants in Latin America, the founder was originally inspired by the oyster bars and cajun kitchens of New Orleans and Louisiana and combined the concept with Mexican seafood flavors and Argentine grill style to create an amazing menu and concept. The specialty is oysters, which are probably the freshest you will find in Guadalajara with lots of different types and preparation styles. But if you aren’t a huge fan of oysters (like me), there are tons of other meat and vegetarian options on the menu. My favorites are the aguachile tatemado, the shrimp po-boy, tuna tataki and the crab tostada. One tip is to always ask for the specials or recommendations from the servers, as they really know what they are talking about and are super passionate about the menu. It is also well-known for its pingüino drinks, a mix of red or white wine with vodka and lime soda served in a huge penguin-shaped ceramic cup. Oh, and you cannot miss the cajeta lava cake for dessert. You can thank me later! Fun lively vibes, reasonable prices, perfect for groups of friends (for lunch, dinner, or just drinks) and the food is consistently delicious. There are two locations in Guadalajara, one in Mexico City, and a newer branch on the Puerto Vallarta boardwalk (a great spot to watch the sun setting over the bay).

Casa Luna

Casa Luna is also a favorite among locals and visitors. It is located on the main pedestrian street in Tlaquepaque, the neighborhood famous for its crafts and ceramics to the south of the city. I always take first-time visitors there because of its beautifully unique interiors with a stunning large tree as a centerpiece hung with beautiful colored decorations It really is something special! The food is also top notch with a modern Mexican fusion concept, offering something for everyone (meat, fish, pasta, salads). The mezcal and tequila cocktails are delicious, as are the typical cazuelitas (the traditional clay cup served with tequila, lime, orange and soda). There is often live music on weekends, perfect for groups. A must when visiting Tlaquepaque!

PalReal

At a first glance, some may think it is a typical ‘hipster’ brunch place, but it is oh SO much more than that. The chef is one of the most well-known chefs in Guadalajara and he mixes traditional Mexican dishes with seasonal regional ingredients with outstanding results. Some staples and favorites on the menu are the iconic lonche de pancita (one of the tastiest pork belly sandwiches you will ever eat with beans, avocado and salsa verde), the encacahuatadas (a unique take on enchiladas filled with requeson and covered in a peanut salsa),the roast beef bisquet, and the chilaquiles topped with pork belly. And it isn't just the food that puts it on the map. Many claim that it serves the best coffee in Guadalajara (it has actually won national coffee roasting awards). I suggest trying it midweek when it is quieter (although it is totally worth waiting in line for if you have to). One last tip: even though it has made a name of itself for its breakfasts and coffee, the lunch menu is just as tasty with a selection of meat and vegetarian tacos and some seafood specials.

Xokol

Xokol is a truly unique experience. Tucked away on a quiet street in the Santa Tere neighborhood, when you walk in you will be blown away by the ceiling of hanging corn, the beautiful mural, and dark simple space with one long communal table and open kitchen. The menu focuses on pre-hispanic, indigenous and ancestral ingredients and cooking methods with heirloom corn that you won’t find elsewhere in the city. Even though I have been living in Mexico for nearly 17 years, I was excited and surprised when I didn’'t recognize most of the ingredients on the menu. The young chefs Xrysw Ruelas and Oscar Segundo are gaining well-deserved international recognition, winning several awards including the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2019 for Latin America award. Don’t miss the natural fermented drinks menu with local favorites like tequino. Book in advance as there are a limited number of spaces.

Campomar

A Guadalajara Classic for seafood (Nayarit style) that has been consistently expanding and now has four branches in Guadalajara (and more in other cities). I would go as far to say that this might be some of the best seafood you will ever try! There are the more classic restaurants in the Chapalita and Providencia neighborhoods, and in recent years, they have opened some more upmarket, glamorous versions in the Andares and Punto Sur malls. Whichever branch you go to, the food quality is a guarantee. Some of my favorite dishes are the famous soft shell crab taco, the grilled shrimp prepared zarandeado style (a delicious chile marinade), shrimp aguachile and even the simple bean tacos are delicious. The menu is extensive with a huge selection of oysters, scallops, shrimp, octopus, fish in any style you can think of and there are also sharing platters if you feel too overwhelmed to decide. The only downside is the wait for a table. It is almost always packed and at lunchtime on the weekend, it is almost impossible to get a table. I recommend going as early as 1pm on a weekend to put your name down on the list, or a weekday to avoid having to wait as long.

Bruna

The thing that most stands out about Bruna is its gorgeous setting and ambience. It is located in an elegant restored colonial house with black and white checkered floor tiles that also houses an art gallery and a beautiful oasis of a garden filled with bonsai trees and lush vegetation. Try the mole sample platter, the elaborate mixology, and the black truffle ice cream. I definitely recommend requesting a table in the garden. Next door, the recently opened sister restaurant, Octo from the same chef, is also a fantastic option, with its stunningly designed interiors and a very interesting menu. The salmon wellington and fish and chips are my favorites!

Salon Candela

When you are in the mood to dance (or watch people dancing) and listen to live music, Salon Candela is a great option. I love it because it is an unpretentious outdoor space with tropical vibes in the heart of Zapopan center and people just come to have a good time. You never really know what type of music you are going to get; it ranges from live bands playing cumbia, old covers and traditional boleros, to Djs playing hits from all genres and decades. It ticks all the boxes for a fun night out with friends: good food (the taco de lechon, the “lyn mei” pork belly taco and the roca shrimp are my favorite), a very good selection of tequila and mezcal cocktails mostly local brands, including the famous ‘chejuino’ (a mix of beer, lime and the local fermented corn drink tequino) and an electric atmosphere. Tuesday nights are the most popular (get there early or book in advance!), and it is also open in the afternoons on Saturdays and Sundays.

Tacos Providencia

A hugely popular and classic sit-down taqueria spot in the pretty Provdiencia neighborhood that has been around for decades. Come here for the real deal! You may have to wait in line, but once your ticket is called, the army of servers work at the speed of light and you will have your tacos in minutes of sitting down. It’s a loud, bustling place, popular with families, and you won’t find many tourists there. I recommend the tacos de pastor or tacos de lengua (tongue). My mouth is watering just thinking about them! Wash your taco feast down with agua de horchata or a cold beer.

Yunaites Menjurjes Pueblerinos

A more recent newcomer on the Guadalajara breakfast/brunch scene, but a guaranteed hit since it is another creation of the famous local chef Fabian Delgado of Palreal and other popular spots. Reminiscent of a traditional ‘fonda’ style restaurant within a market, there is an open kitchen where you can watch the skilled cooks make handmade blue corn tortillas and fresh salsas and a single communal table surrounded by lush plants. It is a simple concept with a small but extremely flavorful and colorful menu using artisanal ingredients and recipes that originate from surrounding rural towns. Great vegetarian options! One of the cool things about the location is that it is inside the Mercado IV Centenario, a market built in 1942 to celebrate the city's 400th anniversary and full of fresh produce and other food stands to walk around while you wait for a table. A must for all foodies!

Juniko

The last one on my list comes with a caveat. In recent years, the prices have consistently increased and the set menu (omakase) prices are very expensive for Mexico; they are more comparable to what you would find in the US or Europe. However, if you are looking for a truly authentic omakase sushi experience comparable to Japan, then this is the place. Mexican-style sushi is amazing, but often comes with cream cheese, salsas and all kinds of combinations you don’t find elsewhere. But this is a more stripped back, traditional, and sophisticated experience in a small intimate space that fits 20 people, with two set dinner times. A real treat for a special occasion (and if you are craving good sushi during your visit)!

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration on Guadalajara? Check out my guide, The Best Bar Hopping Route in Guadalajara: The land of Tequila, Mezcal & Pulque. This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Mexico.

Travel advisor Hannah Breckner stands on a beach in a green dress carrying a straw hat

Travel Advisor

Hannah Breckner

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Mexico.