The Best Restaurants & Bars in Guadalajara

Although Mexico City gets much of the credit for its country’s booming culinary scene, Guadalajara also features an incredible variety of flavors. The city has something for everyone, from classic street food like spicy tortas and stews, to fine-dining restaurants offering a sophisticated take on regional dishes, to a burgeoning craft beer and cocktail culture.

2903 Av México
Chefs Paco Ruano and Luis González Rodriguez opened Alcalde in Guadalajara after working at some of the world’s top-ranked restaurants, including Noma and Mugaritz. Though they bring international sensibilities and techniques to their open kitchen, they’re committed to working primarily with hyper-local ingredients, most sourced from the state of Jalisco. Seasonal menus may be the norm these days, but many of Alcalde’s dishes are likely to be unfamiliar even to aficionados of Mexican cuisine, ensuring an especially memorable culinary experience.
Calle Leandro Valle 895, Zona Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
Like the torta ahogada, birria is a culinary specialty in Guadalajara, served everywhere from street-food stalls to sit-down restaurants. To leave the Pearl of the West without sampling it would be a loss, as it offers a quintessential taste of the city. Though there are plenty of places in Guadalajara where you can order birria, Birriería las 9 Esquinas is a favorite for its spicy, slow-cooked meat stew, typically made with lamb or goat. Local lore has it that this restaurant was the first ever to serve the dish.
Calle Efraín González Luna 2061, Obrera, 44140 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
Around 10,000 animal bones and skulls, cast from aluminum, line the whitewashed walls of Hueso, a restaurant named after the Spanish word for “bone.” Chef Alfonso Cadena sourced the bones, which include a whale spine and a puma skull, over the course of a nine-month trip all over Mexico, then turned to his brother, Ignacio Cadena of Cadena + Asociados Concept Design, to execute the macabre décor. Perhaps even more impressive than the restaurant’s interior, however, is its menu, which features produce, poultry, and seafood from Jalisco and beef from Cadena’s home state of Sonora. Can’t-miss dishes include the short rib with bone marrow, and the mussels with beef stock.
3128 Avenida Inglaterra
A trendy restaurant that draws both local and international diners, i Latina offers funky décor, inventive cocktails, and eclectic cuisine with Mexican, Asian, and Mediterranean flavors. Opened in 1999, the restaurant was a pioneer of contemporary cuisine in Guadalajara. Snag a table on the terrace for a great view of the city.
Av Ramón Corona 126, Zona Centro, 44100 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
For comida típica (home-style food) in Guadalajara, you can’t beat La Chata, an old-school, diner-style restaurant that’s been around since 1942. Generations-old recipes for enchiladas, flautas, and the platillo jalisciense (fried chicken and five sides) along with hefty portions and low prices keep locals lined up around the block. However, the line moves fast and the food comes out faster, so you won’t be waiting for long.
San Gabriel 3030, Jardines del Bosque, 44500 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
Chef Darren Walsh has come a long way since the 2001 New York Times review in which food critic William Grimes wrote that his Manhattan restaurant, Papillon, served “two-star food in a no-star setting”—all the way, in fact, to Guadalajara. The Irish chef, who trained in France and headed restaurants in New York, brings all these cultural and culinary influences—and many more—to Lula Bistro, where his food and presentation finally achieve parity. Diners can look forward to a seasonal, modern European tasting menu, complete with French-meets-Mexican dishes like beef filet, duck confit, and octopus, as well as a sophisticated wine list with several Mexican vintages.
146 Calle Gabriel Ramos Millán
A recently opened beer garden, Casa Trapiche serves Cerveza Colima’s delicious craft brews in a beautiful white house with a spacious terrace. Gourmet takes on local classics like seafood tacos and esquites with chicarrón from chef Nico Mejía pair perfectly with the extensive beer selection.
Periferico Sur 4250 Interior A3, Pirámides, 45078 Zapopan, Jal., Mexico
Founded in 2004, Cerveza Minerva is one of Mexico’s original—and biggest—independent craft breweries. Sample the spot’s regular brews along with a variety of special editions in its tasting room, where a glass wall offers views into the factory where the beer is produced. There’s also a full food menu to complement what’s on tap.
Although the craft cocktail movement is relatively new to Guadalajara, Fat Charlie has quickly made a name for itself as a place to get a really decent drink—that is, if you can get in. The bar bills itself as a speakeasy and requires a password to enter; find it by scouring Fat Charlie’s social media accounts. Once inside, guests can look forward to a laid-back atmosphere and globally inspired cocktails that will make your password search worth the time.
Calle Argentina 66, Americana, 44160 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico
One of Guadalajara’s hippest bars stocks an awesome collection of agave-based spirits, with a focus on mezcal. In fact, its full name, Pare de Sufrir Tome Mezcal, means “to end suffering, drink mezcal.” Although it’s tucked away on a quiet street in Colonia Americana, the bar bursts with bright murals, string lights, and the sound of live bands or DJs playing everything from cumbia to rockabilly. Owner Pedro Jiménez Gurría also runs a local nonprofit called Mezonte, which promotes small producers making agave-based spirits in the traditional style.
AFAR Journeys
More From AFAR