Traditional cantinas are an essential part of the Mexican experience, and Guadalajara has some of the oldest and most legendary examples in the country. Here’s a rundown of the best watering holes in Mexico’s second-largest city.
Bar, Mexican, Cocktails, Wine, Beer
Courtesy of Chupitería La Favorita
Step inside to find a bar exactly as foreigners would hope to discover in Mexico: rough tiled floors, spindly stools and sticky tables. La Fuente is Guadalajara’s most iconic cantina, attracting a diverse crowd of all ages, from hipster students to old men who have been knocking back tequila in the joint for decades.
A typically Mexican bar founded in 1921, La Fuente is located in the heart of the city’s historic center, making it great place to stop after a tiring day of sightseeing.
The bike mounted above the bar was allegedly left by a drunken patron who couldn’t pay his tab. To prove his good faith, the man left the bike and promised to pay when he returned. Yet he failed to return and the bike has been there ever since, awaiting his arrival.
Founded sometime in the 1870s, La Iberia is the oldest cantina in Guadalajara, and the one most steeped in legend. The bar was reportedly won from its original owner in a game of poker in 1904 and is even rumored to be haunted by a former employee. Counted among its numerous former patrons are several bandits, including the Mexican revolutionary icon Pancho Villa. The cantina’s signature drink, La Batanga de Doña Chela is both refreshing and highly potent: it mixes vodka, tequila, aguardiente rum, Coca-Cola, lime and mint.
Both soccer fans and tequila enthusiasts will find what they’re looking for in this charming cantina in Guadalajara’s historic center. The stars of Chivas of Guadalajara, Mexico’s most popular soccer team, used to drink regularly in Celebrity Equipales.
Senior waiter Cuco is one of the city’s true characters and will happily regale patrons with stories about the soccer stars who would down a few shots as a pre-game ritual. The cantina’s most popular beverage is still the house cocktail, the “Happy Buttocks.” Invented in the 1970s, it consists of rum, gin, red wine, orange soda and lime juice.
This traditional and lively cantina has got it all: a solid menu, a sizeable drinks collection and a jukebox with classics from Mexico and beyond. Its white walls are covered with bullfighting and sports memorabilia, with a clear bias for Atlas soccer club, the hometown rivals of Guadalajara Chivas. Mascusia República is so authentic that it still has a gutter-like urinal beneath the bar, although thankfully today no one uses it.
One of the city’s most eccentric bars, what the tiny Morelias Bar lacks in size it makes up for in attitude. The most unusual feature of the venue is the bar festooned with a huge collection of underwear donated by patrons from far and wide. Part dive bar, part traditional cantina, Morelias has the liveliest and most inebriated clientele on this list. A great choice if you’re out to make friends.
Another bar that first opened in the late nineteenth century, La Sin Rival ticks all the boxes as a traditional cantina: saloon doors, worn tile floors and an antique wooden bar. As befits the cantina’s name, the food is unrivaled, with shrimp broth the specialty. The legendary Mexican actor and singer Pedro Infante reportedly once drank here.
Restaurant, Bar, Mexican, Vegetarian, Vegan, Fast Food, Cocktails
Step into this spacious cantina, pull up a pre-Hispanic chair and order from the extensive drinks list and menu. This traditional cantina is a popular venue for post-work drinks, and has a loyal base of regulars. The bar can get pretty crowded on weekends, especially if one of Guadalajara’s two major soccer teams, Chivas or Atlas, are playing.
The first thing you see as you enter is the huge antique model ship that sits high above the wooden bar. Much-loved by local writers and journalists, on Saturdays El Bar Martín offers some of the city’s best birria, a traditional dish that mixes lamb or goat with tomatoes and spice. The cantina also has yerba buena cocktails on its drink list – a must-try fusion of vodka, lemon, syrup, peppermint and ice.
Undoubtedly one of Guadalajara’s classiest cantinas, Saloon del Bosque is one of the best places in the city to try Mexican cuisine. For 25 years, this venue has had the same owner and head chef. Its waiting staff also wear classic black and white uniforms and the interior has a chic yet traditional feel. Unlike most venues to eat and drink in Guadalajara, the cantina plays no background music, so is an excellent option if you’re looking for laid-back conversation.
The exterior to La Cava has been questionably decorated with wooden barrels that have been sliced into two and attached to its façade. Once inside however, you soon realize that you’ve discovered a hidden gem. A clean, well-kept bar with classic Mexican films playing on the TV screen, La Cava specializes in tequila, which is served at accessible prices alongside tasty snacks.