The Best Traditional Mexican Restaurants in Guadalajara

Discover the best restaurants serving traditional fare in Guadalajara
Discover the best restaurants serving traditional fare in Guadalajara | Courtesy of La Tequila
Stephen Woodman

As Mexico’s second-largest city and the capital of Jalisco, where mariachi and tequila were born, Guadalajara has famed local dishes that exemplify the spirit of Mexican cuisine.

You’ll find echoes of Spain in the beautifully crafted bread and cheeses, as well as heavy reliance on indigenous ingredients such as corn, tomatoes and chili pepper. Here are the best traditional Mexican eating experiences in Guadalajara.

1. Karne Garibaldi

Restaurant, Mexican

A veritable Guadalajara institution, Karne Garibaldi is the restaurant locals most love to recommend. Famous for having broken the Guinness World Record with their service time of 13.5 seconds, you must try this eatery while holidaying in the capital of Jalisco. Speed is not the only selling point, as the carne en su jugo(a form of meat stew) is a truly delicious traditional dish.

2. La Chata

Cafe, Mexican

This cheery restaurant boasts a menu filled with local treats – from tortas ahogadas (drowned bread rolls) to traditional jericallas (custard dessert). The service is efficient and friendly, while the food is inexpensive. Bear in mind, La Chata is very popular with locals and fills quickly at lunchtime. We recommend popping in early for a typical Mexican breakfast of chilaquiles (fried corn tortillas) with eggs.

3. Birriería las 9 Esquinas

Restaurant, Mexican

Birría (goat stew) is a Jalisco specialty and a popular hangover remedy. The dish fuses goat meat with a rich blend of spices and dried chilies. The broth is garnished with onion and served alongside tortillas and lime. One of the best places to sample the dish is Birriería las 9 Esquinas. You’ll find the restaurant in the famous 9 esquinas (Nine Corners) area of Guadalajara. Soak up the atmosphere and the rich aroma of birría broth.

4. La Tequila

Restaurant, Mexican

Courtesy of La Tequila

This famed establishment boasts a menu of classic Mexican dishes, such as divine chiles en nogada (stuffed chilis bathed in a creamy walnut sauce and topped with pomegranate seeds). As its name implies, the restaurant stocks a vast tequila list, as well as various options for the mezcal and wine drinkers. The place itself is beautifully decorated; there is an elegant terrace bar, and the servers are attentive and welcoming.

5. Santo Coyote

Diner, Restaurant, Mexican

Courtesy of Santo Coyote
Santo Coyote is one of the higher-end dining options on our list, offering classics such as tortilla soup and chicharrón (fried pork rind). The food showcases the beauty of Mexican cuisine, fusing exciting flavors, textures and presentation. The venue is equally impressive; spread over two floors, flooded with ambient mood lighting and dotted with candles, Santo Coyote offers a truly memorable dining experience.

6. Casa Bariachi

Restaurant, Mexican

This vast traditional eatery greets you with a carnival of colors and sounds. Diners sit on leather and wood equipale chairs under a ceiling adorned with Mexican flags, piñatas and multi-colored papel picado (decorative tissue paper). Casa Bariachi offers a range of meat and seafood dishes. Admittedly, you can find cheaper and more exciting dining elsewhere. But the mariachi and folkloric dance performances at 3.30pm and 10pm should earn Casa Bariachi a place on your itinerary.

7. Sacromonte

Restaurant, Mexican

This family-run establishment has developed a loyal local following and is also popular with tourists seeking a traditional Mexican dining experience. The menu boasts a range of local classics, as well as playful variations on familiar favorites, such as quesadillas in rose petal and strawberry aioli. The elegant venue boasts wooden ceiling panels, equipale chairs and countless images of matadors.

8. Saloon del Bosque

Restaurant, Mexican

One of Guadalajara’s most highly reputed cantinas, Saloon del Bosque has not removed anything from its menu for the past two decades. Its most popular dishes are chipotle meatballs, shrimp cakes with nopales and the lengua (beef tongue) tacos. With its tiled floors, well-appointed wooden bar and smartly dressed waiting staff, Saloon del Bosque sets the bar for timeless dining in Guadalajara.

9. Fonda Doña Gabina Escolástica

Restaurant, Mexican

For traditional Mexican food in the Zapopan suburb of Guadalajara, head to Fonda Doña Gabina Escolástica. With its bright yellow exterior, the building is not hard to miss. Step inside to find a beautifully decorated restaurant serving artful Mexican cuisine: think rich red pozole, delightful tostadas and unforgettable enchiladas. The recipes can be traced back to the mother of the current owners: the Doña Gabina from whom the restaurant takes its name.

10. Rio Viejo

Restaurant, Mexican

Courtesy of Rio Viejo Restaurante

For a rustic estate-style dining experience in the heart of Guadalajara, this is the destination. With its oak beams, ranch decor and pre-Hispanic chairs, Rio Viejo is a stunning retreat from the surrounding city. The restaurant boasts of offering ‘all of Mexico in one place,’ and the menu certainly tries to live up to the calling. You’ll find a range of iconic dishes associated with Guadalajara, but also culinary treats from more distant places such as Puebla and Mérida.

11. Mariscos Puerto San Pedro

Restaurant, Mexican

You would be forgiven for thinking inland Guadalajara would be lacking in seafood options. However, as the capital of Jalisco state, which flanks the Pacific Ocean, the vibrant metropolis has a wealth of classy seafood restaurants. Mariscos Puerto San Pedro is at the top of the pile. You’ll find the colorful eatery in the picturesque Guadalajara suburb of Tlaquepaque. Everything on the menu is delicious, but we particularly recommend the tacos de camarón capeado, or tempura shrimp tacos.

12. El Patio

Restaurant, Mexican

Another excellent Tlaquepaque eatery, El Patio has notched up close to four decades of high-quality service. The restaurant cooks Mexican classics such as birría and chile relleno (stuffed pepper). Situated in an elegant villa, you can enjoy breakfast in the breezy courtyard, with the gentle sound of a trickling fountain in the background. Bear in mind that this calm oasis transforms into a musical extravaganza from 3pm onward, when a female mariachi trope or folkloric dancers perform for afternoon diners.

13. Pachuco

Restaurant, Mexican

Courtesy of Pachuco

If you’re looking for a restaurant that blends traditional recipes with experimental flair, Pachuco is the place. The trendy but laid-back eatery has a street-side patio, packed with plants. Take a table, enjoy a craft beer and a top-quality but affordable lunch. We suggest starting with guacamole garnished with chapulines (grasshoppers fried in garlic, chili and lime). For the main course, we recommend cochinita pibil (roasted pork marinated in ground achiote seeds and orange juice).

14. Tikuun Comedor Local

Restaurant, Mexican

Tikuun. Comedor local
Courtesy of Tikuun Comedor Local

This fine-dining hotspot emphasizes pre-Hispanic techniques and ingredients. The dining room is elegant yet understated, with mosaic floors and dark wooden furniture. The menu is constantly changing. However, the chef’s plan is to always push boundaries while staying grounded in tradition. The culinary team are experts in the interplay of flavors, so each of the fresh, aromatic ingredients plays a specific role.

15. Xokol Tortilleria, Molino and Antojeria

Restaurant, Mexican

Xokol Tortilleria, Molino and Antojeria
Courtesy of Xokol Tortilleria, Molino and Antojeria

Chef Xrysw Ruelas has raised Guadalajara cuisine to new heights with Xokol, a ground-breaking restaurant found in the Santa Tere neighborhood. The menu is constantly changing and is as much an anthropological project as a simple list of dishes. Ruelas draws inspiration from the culinary techniques of her ancestors to offer innovative takes on recipes developed in past centuries. At just 25, she became the only female finalist in the S. Pellegrino Young Chef competition.

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