There are few things that all Mexicans can agree upon but the love of tacos is something that brings everyone together. That is until we try to decide who has Guadalajara’s best tacos. I have seen plenty of lists of the “best tacos” in Mexico ripped apart in the comments section by self professed taco experts. Rather than focusing on the best tacos shops, I am trying to compose a list of my favorite styles of tacos, in no particular order. This is a list of tacos that are found around Guadalajara Metropolitan Region and are located in neighborhoods that are centrally located.
A taco can be broken down into three basic areas: tortilla, filling and salsa. So, what makes a good taco? I often compare a good taco to good sushi. Good sushi has good rice and a good taco has a good tortilla. Living in Mexico opened my eyes to the importance of a really good tortilla and how it affects the overall taco experience.
Nixtamal is the prepared corn dough that is used to make tortillas and a plethora of other typical Mexican foods. The process of nixtamalization goes back to well before the Spanish arrived in Americas and is considered an important advance for the peoples of mesoamerica. Nixtamalization kills harmful fungal toxins and breaks down some of the cellular walls so that your body can absorb more of the nutrients. The process ALSO makes the corn tortilla taste awesome!!
In its most simple form a taco can be considered a tortilla with a few grains of salt. We are fortunate enough to have infinite combinations of meat, fish, cheese, fruits, vegetables and salsas that we can use to fill those tortillas.
Tacos de Carne Asada
Carne asada is simply grilled meat. Keep an eye out for plumes of smoke because the natural lump charcoal is the key to that smoky flavor. The grill master may include a number of different meats such as beef, lamb or ostrich but usually choose different cuts of beef. Thinner cuts like flank steak (suadero or vacio) and skirt steak (arrachera) are some of the most popular but the are some fancy taquerias out there using cuts like ribeye and filet mignon.
Menudería & Carnes Asadas Alfonso
Located on the corner of Mercado de Abastos’ retail section, the perpetually full restaurant is a local favorite. Alfonso grew up in the downtown Mercado Corona but has been serving up Menudo and Carne Asada in Abastos for more than 15 years. I am a sucker for the grilled lamb plate with a side of sausage. Tacos de asada, chorizo and arrachera cost between 25 and 45 pesos. Don’t forget to tip the tortilla lady. These are some of the best tortillas in Mexico.
Open from 8AM until 4:30PM daily
Calle 2 and Avenida Manderina, Mercado de Abastos, Guadalajara
Tacos Don José
Tacos Don Jose make great carne asada and birria tacos but everybody knows them for the panela cheese. They have a huge wheel of panela and throw a piece on every taco. The grill and taco stand are in the street and there is always a huge crowd standing around because they have seating for like five people.
Open from 8:30PM to 4:30PM daily
Calle Argentina 527, Americana, 44160 Guadalajara
Tacos de Vacio
You might be surprised to find tacos on the menu at palReal, or that you are going to pair your tacos with a cup of coffee from Finca la Cuarenteño, Nayarit. But this is palReal and they never cease to amaze. The tacos de vacio are served on blue corn tortillas with melted cheese, super tender flank steak, heirloom black beans, a slice of avocado and some bomb green tomatillo (tomate verde) salsa.
Open 8AM to 11:30PM Tuesday to Saturday; 8AM to 2PM Sunday; closed Monday
Calle Lope de Vega 113, Arcos Vallarta, 44130 Guadalajara, Jal.
Tacos de barbacoa
Barbacoa means different things to people in different places. In the State of Hidalgo barbacoa is lamb that is wrapped in agave leaves and cooked in an underground oven. In Guadalajara barbacoa is a stewed beef dish that is usually served in crispy tacos to cure a hangover. No matter which one your choose, they are both great.
Barbacoa Gamero is Hidalgo style lamb barbacoa done right. As you walk in the door you are greeted with a little taco to sample the good. You order by the plate which is stacked with tortillas and get to work making tacos. You can choose from any cuts of the animal that you like. The meat has been slow roasting all night and everything is ridiculously tender. They also make a great blood sausage (moronga). I recommend starting with a bowl of lamb broth with garbanzo beans and spice it up with some chile and onion.
Open 8AM to 4PM daily
Av Rafael Sanzio 405-2, La Estancia, 45030 Zapopan, Jal.
Tacos Omar Carlos
Tesistán is a little pueblo about 45 minutes northwest of Guadalajara and they apparently have their own style of barbacoa tacos that people around here love. Omar Carlos seats like 400 people and if you come on the weekend the place is going to be packed. Tacos de barbacoa from this part of Jalisco means stewed beef and crispy tacos with double tortilla. The juices from the beef fat kind of soak into the first tortilla while they are getting crispy making for a decadent experience. Make sure to get a little cup of beef broth to dip your tacos in.
Open 8:30AM to 4PM daily
Av Manuel Clouthier 1682, Mirador del Sol, Zapopan
Tacos Juan is another excellent option for Jalisco style tacos de barbacoa. The taco carts are parked in the street but they have some indoor seating.
Open 8AM to 2:45PM daily
Calle José Clemente Orozco, Santa Teresita, Guadalajara
Tacos de Carnitas
Carnitas is essentially fried pork. Just about every part of the animal is fried at low temperature in a large copper pot to get the meat tender and flavorful. Good carnitas are hard to find in Guadalajara. The best style of carnitas comes from the state of Michoacan. The Jalisco style carnitas are a little dried out, have a pinkish hue and can be found anywhere that serves torta ahogada. Look for the taco shops that advertise as Michoacan style. The best way to appreciate a carnitas taco is with several different cuts of meat that provide distinct textures: macisa, cuerito and chicharon, or just ask for a mixed taco (surtido).
Tacos de Carnitas chapalita
On a quiet corner of Chapalita this taco stand epitomizes what street food is all about. They are working out of a truck hauling the taco cart to and from everyday but they really know how to make great carnitas. This is Michoacan style and the taqueros are from the heart of carnitas country. The tacos are well served with the meat of your choice: loin, ribs, leg or tongue, among others. They always have great looking veggies and salsas. Make sure to get some crispy pieces chicharon to put on top of the taco for some added depth.
Open 9AM to 3PM Tuesday to Saturday
Corner of Av. Tepeyac and Fray Juan de Zumarraga, Chapalita, Guadalajara
Tacos de Pastor
We can thank the Ottoman Empire for this one. At the beginning 20th century Mexico saw a fair amount of immigration from what is today known as Lebanon. One enterprising foodie was smart enough to bring their Shawarma style rotisserie and adapt the recipe to the ingredients easily available in Mexico. Today tacos de pastor are some of the most popular tacos in Mexico. Lamb has been replaced by pork marinated in a sweet chile and achiote rub, and the vertical style rotisserie was topped with a piece of pineapple and onion. As the taquero spins the rotisserie and shave off pieces of of meat for each taco, the shape of the meat on the rotisserie would start to look like a spinning top, or el trompo.
Tacos los Alteños
Tacos los Alteños is one of Guadalajara’s favorite taco shops. If you come on the weekends you will see why they are affectionately called Los Parados because there is standing room only. The tacos del pastor are their most popular tacos and they will easily sell over 100 lbs of pastor meat on a busy weekend.
To order your tacos head to the cashier and ask for a ticket and tell him how many people are in your party. You take the ticket to the taquero and tell him how many tacos you want and if you want onion and cilantro on your tacos. You can go back as many times as you would like but remember how many tacos you ate because it is on the honor system. When you finish, head back up to the cashier and tell him how many tacos you ate and what you ordered to drink. They serve all the usual sodas and the aguas frescas especially tasty. When you are done, there is a fantastic ice cream shop right next door called Nieves de Garrafa Chapalita.
Open from 10AM until 1AM, and 10AM until 2AM Friday and Saturday. Closed most holidays.
Av. Tepeyac y Av. Cubilete, Chapalita Sur, Zapopan
Tacos de lengua, cachete y carnaza
One of the things that I love about Mexico is the diversity of meats that you see in traditional. Not only the different types of animals but the different cuts from those animals. Nothing is wasted. There is so much great meat in the head the is incredibly tender and has a good fat content. Don’t be afraid to try something new because you are probably going to love it!
Las Americas Tacos
Perpetual late night favorite and post nightclub hangout, Las Americas Tacos is set up in front of a eye glasses store. They don’t even start serving food until 9pm but they are there until 5am! If you are interested in trying one of the best lengua taco plates in the city this is the place to get started. Make sure to get a little cup of the beef broth and deck it out with onion, cilantro and chile sauce. They also have some great Oaxacan tamales on wednesdays.
Open 9PM to 5AM Sunday to Thursay and 9AM to 6PM Friday & Saturday
Av. de las Américas 451, Ladrón de Guevara, Guadalajara
Tacos de Birria
Birria is quite possibly the greatest culinary tradition in the State of Jalisco. Back in the 17th century there were a lot of goats and not a whole lot of demand for goat meat. That is until someone started making birria. Birria is a twice roasted meat stew that is usually made out of goat meat but can also be done with veal or beef. I know some folks making seafood birria. Roasting the meat for long periods of time at a low temperature makes the meat tender and briefly searing it at a high temperature just before serving gives it texture. The roasting juices are saved and mixed with a tomato broth to create the sauce. An order of birria is served in a bowl of broth while others prefer to order by the taco and get a little cup of broth on the side. Any way you serve it birria is a winner.
Birrieria La Victoria
One of Guadalajara’s iconic restaurants and a favorite of the local epicurean set. Birrieria La Victoria has been serving up gout soup since 1948 in front of the Santa Teresita market. As you walk in you tell the guy working the oven what kind of cuts your like; leg, loin, ribs, tripe, liver, they have it all. The best way to do this is to get an order of birria and a plate of beans. You spread some beans on a tortilla and then add the meat that you like. Add a little salt, cilantro and onion, and you are ready to go.
Open from 8AM to 5PM daily
Calle Manuel Acuña 1511-A, Santa Teresita, Guadalajara
Tacos de lechon
Lechón is oven roasted suckling pig.
Doroteo is a longtime favorite in the neighborhood of Providencia in Guadalajara. They have a few more locations around the Guadalajara Metro Region in Chapalita and by Santa Margarita.
Open 9AM to 5PM daily
Avenida Manuel Acuña 3056A, Providencia, Guadalajara
Taco de Papada de Puerco y frijoles puercos
Restaurante Alcalde is not your typical taco shop. In fact it is one of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in Latin America but they also happen to have one of the best tacos in the Guadalajara. The frijoles puercos appetizer is an absolute gem. The beans are cooked with pork neck and served with chorizo powder and burnt chile powder. It has been on the menu since they opened and is one of their best selling dishes.
Open 1:30pm to 11PM Monday to Saturday, 1:30pm to 5:30pm Sundays
Av. México 2903, Vallarta Norte, Guadalajara
$$$$ Reservations recommended
Chancho cooks whole pigs in a Chinese style caja china and makes wonderful pork belly tacos with korean gochujong spice rub, a homemade fruit vinager and avocado.
Open 6PM to 12AM Tuesday to Thursday, 1:30PM to 12AM Friday & Saturday,
12:30PM to 5PM Sunday, Closed Monday
Av. México 2207, Ladrón de Guevara, Guadalajara
The taco dorado is a staple sold by every shop that sells the torta ahogada. They are usually filled with beans or potato, and occasionally include some kind of meat. They are prepared ahead of time, traditionally with last night’s leftovers, and then taken to work the next day. The torta ahogada stands will top the tacos with Jalisco style carnitas, some cabbage, onion and tomato sauce. The new way to serve tacos dorados is with ceviche on top instead of carnitas.
A great play on the traditional taco dorado, Puerco Espada lets you pick your taco and then pick the style of ceviche you want to put on top. Options like traditional fish ceviche, green shrimp ceviche and smoked marlin are all excellent.
Open 12:00pm to 6:00pm Monday to Friday and 11:00am to 6:00pm Saturday & Sunday
Calderón de la Barca 109, Arcos Vallarta, Guadalajara
Clement’s Tortas Ahogadas
As traditional as it comes. Crispy tacos dorados with carnitas bathed (drowned) in tomato sauce, cabbage, onion and topped with a super spicy chile de arbol sauce.
Open 8:30am to 4:00pm daily
Aurora 145, Chapalita Oriente, Zapopan
Tacos de vapor
Tacos de vapor come in a lot of different styles but what they all have in common is the steam table. The steam lets the filling and the tortilla fuse together.
Tacos de vapor don dany
These are spectacular breakfast tacos! Carne, chicharon, picadillo, papa o frijol.
Open 9:00am to 4:30pm daily
Aurora No.180, Chapalita Oriente, Zapopan
Tacos Moy are tacos de vapor but with a wider range of fillings. They use a lot of stewed meats called guisados as well as some excellent vegetarian options like poblano peppers and cheese. The highlight of Tacos Moy is the salsa bar. They have a collection of salsas that few tacos shops have like the peanut sauce.
Open 9:00am to 4:00pm Monday to Saturday, 9:00am to 3:00pm Sunday
Av. de los Arcos 930, Jardines del Bosque, Guadalajara
TAcos de tripas
Fried crispy they taste like bacon. When in Rome…try the tripe
Tacos el Rojo tripas
The street cart taco stand is emblematic of Mexico. Humble yet delicious food at a fair price. If you are cruising around Santa Teresita it is worth a visit to Tacos Rojo.
Open from 6:00am to 11:00pm daily
Calle Juan Álvarez 1600, Santa Teresita, Guadalajara
Tacos de Higado
Your grandparents ate liver and onions and you should too.
On game day there are dozens of food vendors outside of the Estadio Jalisco. One of the specialties that you don’t see everywhere is liver and onion tacos. There are games most weekends and the same vendors are also at the Bull Fights across the street during that short season.
Open on game days
Calle Monte Carmelo just outside of the Estadio Jalisco
Taco Fish La Paz
Taco Fish La Paz is a Guadalajara institution running for more than 25 years. The original shop is on Av. de la Paz in Mexicaltzingo but the newer locations on Av. Vallarta and Av. Rafael Sanzio are also consistently packed full at lunch time. The tacos are served simply because the salsa bar is packed with dozens of salsas and accompaniments. The combination of smoked marlin and chipotle mayonnaise is divine!
Open 9AM to 4:30PM Monday to Saturday, Closed Sunday
Av. de la Paz 494, Mexicaltzingo, Guadalajara
Open 9:30 to 4:30 Monday to Saturday, Closed Sunday
Calle Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra 50 (esquina Vallarta), Lafayette, Guadalajara
The taco gobernador (registered trademark) is a shrimp and poblano chile quesadilla that is cooked on the grill. The story goes that Francisco Labastida Ochoa was getting ready to run for governorship of Sinaloa. He was a regular customer of Los Arcos and while eating at the Los Arcos restaurant in Mazatlan, would constantly tell the owner, Eduardo Armando Angulo Salomón, about a taco that his wife would make at home. Francisco goes on to win the governorship of Sinaloa and the taco became famous. There are restaurants all over Mexico that serve the Taco Gobernador but nobody does it as well as Los Arcos!
Open 11AM to 11PM Tuesday to Saturday and 11AM to 6PM Sunday & Monday
Calzada Lázaro Cárdenas 3549, Jardín de San Ignacio, Zapopan
Tacos de Pulpo
Corn tortilla with melted cheese, octopus, fried leeks and sweet chiles!
Open 12PM to 8:30 daily
Av Guadalupe 721, Chapalita, Guadalajara
La Panga del impostor
Fantastic modern Mexican seafood with excellent salsas. The taco de pulpo y chicharon is a modern interpretation of a classic Mexican dish.
Open 1PM to 6PM Monday to Friday and 1PM to 7PM Saturday & Sunday
Calle Miguel Lerdo de Tejada 2189, Americana, Guadalajara