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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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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