10 Reasons To Visit Guadalajara, Mexico For The Food And Drink Alone

It's hard to compete with Mexico City for great food and drink, and no one would hazard to say that Guadalajara does. But the second-biggest city in Mexico is not to be overlooked. Not only is it the departure point for tequila country, but Guadalajara has a gritty edge to it that attracts both visitors and displaced creative types from the capital.

It's not uncommon to meet artists and academics who have decamped from the chaos of Distrito Federal (that's Mexico City to the uninitiated) for the comparative calm of Guadalajara. Not that the 1.5-million-person city is exactly sleepy. It buzzes with a rebellious energy, fueled by the desire of the throngs of students and artists here to improve the state of Jalisco and that of the country. And with a still-tangible Aztec influence, it has a rich culinary culture. Here are 10 reasons to eat and drink in Guadalajara now.


This strip just outside the centro is lined with bookshops, bars, coffee shops and restaurants. Students, hipsters and arty types abound, walking or skateboarding the wide promenade. In the evenings, you find them huddling around taco stands, trying to sate late-night munchies, wolfing down meat-filled handmade tortillas the way they were meant to be eaten.

Mexican pizza

The next fusion craze? Maybe not, but the pies at bohemian, alfresco Petra Pizza a la Leña (firewood-cooked) sure make a good argument for the genre. Thin crusts topped with goat cheese and tomato or lamb and fig get served with a dark chile salsa on the side, turning the pizzas instantly Mexican. Especially when paired with an agua fresca or tequila.


This Guadalajara suburb is the place to go for upmarket handicrafts and sidewalk cafes. But just off the tourist-lined main avenue is the mercado, a functional market for locals to shop and eat. Take a tour of the taco stands, juice-and-horchata stalls, and torta vendors. Look for goat-head tacos on the lower level.

These chapulines

It will be pure luck if you get to sample these chapulines or grasshoppers at Mezonte, the small private mezcal tasting room also run by Jiménez.  He doesn't sell them, but might happen to have some stashed behind the bar to share. A Oaxacan staple, these hoppers were fed on apples, then roasted in lime chili and salt. The result is a nutty-apply, crispy, salty, spicy treat. They'll change your mind about eating bugs.

Pare de Sufrir

Tequila isn't the only agave spirit to taste in Guadalajara. There is a blooming mezcal scene that is led in large part by Pedro Jiménez Gurriá, the owner of the mezcal bar Pare de Sufrir. The spirits list offers mezcals from around Mexico, including raicilla, a mezcal from Jalisco. Pare de Sufrir's an arty dive, where you'll get orange slices and salted peanuts with your drink, plus a beer chaser if you like.

La Capilla

If you're headed out to the town of Tequila, about an hour and a half from Guadalajara and the very place for which the spirit is named, make a stop at La Capilla. This iconic watering hole may not have the most high-end selection or the prettiest craft cocktails, but it's consistently named one of the best bars in the world. Owner Don Javier Delgado Corona (pictured) claims to be nearly 90 years old, although it's hard to believe from his baby face and jaunty manner. The specialty of the house is the Batanga: tequila, lime, Coca-Cola and a salt rim, but ask him what he might have lurking behind the bar and you might be treated to a special pour.


Duh. This is the first product most people know from the state of Jalisco. There is plenty of tequila to drink in Guadalajara, with nearly every good restaurant and bar proffering you their lovingly curated list upon arrival. To truly experience the spirit, take a drive outside of the city to see the blue-hued fields of blue Weber agave that will eventually be harvested to make tequila.

These fat gusanos

Usually associated with Oaxaca, gusanos are also consumed in the state of Jalisco. It shouldn't come as a surprise: they are the little larvae that attack and grow in agave, which are the plants from which tequila is made. Admittedly, these gusanos — tossed in garlic, onions and a little tequila, and served at the spirit-themed restaurant La Tequila in central Guadalajara — are some of the most monstrous you're likely to find. With a big taste to match.

Torta Ahogada

Probably the most iconically Guadalajaran food you can find, this gutbuster of a sandwich is typically filled with chopped fried pork and drowned (the literal translation of ahogado) in a chile de arból salsa. It makes use of birote bread (also known as bolillo), a short baguette that is crusty on the outside and soft on the inside with an inimitable sweet-salty taste. The bread is so beloved by locals that there is even a movement to protect it with Denomination of Origin status (like Champagne, cognac or tequila, for that matter).


It's important to really roll your Rs to pronounce this one. This traditional goat stew is a staple of the state of Jalisco. The best part — much like the best part of all Mexican food — is that there are several ways you can eat it. Spoon the rich dried roasted pepper broth with its lumps of goat meat directly into your mouth. Or use the accompanying tortilla shells, chopped onions, cilantro, salsa and a squirt of fresh lime to make your own little birria tacos. Or alternate between the two methods like a pro.