It is with great sadness and a quixotic sense of optimism that I am updating the best Guadalajara restaurants list to reflect the toll the pandemic has taken on our beloved culinary arts scene. Many iconic restaurants have had to close. Restaurateurs have adapted their business models to accommodate a new reality. Others simply left town or left the industry altogether. It is estimated that in the State of Jalisco more than 4,500 restaurants have ceased to operate. In Mexico City, the number is well above 13,000 and is still growing. I humbly ask you to do whatever you can to support your favorite restaurants. Tip well, buy gift certificates, and be kind. A vibrant restaurant scene is a part of what makes Guadalajara such a wonderful place to live and visit.
Table of Contents: The Best Guadalajara Restaurants for Every Ocassion
- The Best Restaurants in Guadalajara
- Mexican Food
- Best Breakfasts in Guadalajara
- Seafood Restaurants
- Haute Cuisine
- Mid-Range International Restaurants
- The Best Street Food in Guadalajara
- Food Courts
- The Best Dessert Restaurants in Guadalajara
- About the Author
Introduction: The Best Guadalajara Restaurants
Guadalajara is a world-class foodie destination. The traditional Guadalajara restaurants were established long ago but the modern Guadalajara restaurant scene only started to flourish in the last decade.
What makes Guadalajara such a cool place to hang out is the balance of modern and traditional schools of thought, that you encounter every day. You see it in the architecture, how people think, but most importantly, you see it in the food. Some of the best food I have ever tasted comes from a family that has spent 3 generations preparing one, single dish. Then, for your next meal, you eat with a chef that has worked in the top kitchens in Europe and applies those techniques to rare Mexican ingredients.
Guadalajara has spellbinding traditional foods, restaurants representing most of Mexico, and a booming international scene. All of a sudden there is world-class sushi, lots of Korean BBQ, home-style Lebanese, French-Vietnamese, a surplus of Argentine grills, Venezuelan, Indian, and a uniquely Mexican natural food movement, among many more.
The pandemic hit the restaurant industry hard everywhere and Guadalajara was no exception. We have lost a lot of great restaurants. Ofelia Bistro and Lula Bistro were two of the highest-rated restaurants in Guadalajara. Atomic Thai had barely opened its doors when the rug was pulled out from underneath. Il Diavolo Terranova was an integral part of the Providencia community for over a decade and one of the first restaurants to serve pizzas in a wood-fired oven. Even the humble juice bar in Mercado de Abastos went out of business. All of these great restaurants will be greatly missed. However, there were others who threw caution to the wind and opened new restaurants in the middle of a global pandemic!
I want to help you find your next great meal and I am trying to throw dozens of options at the wall to see if anything sticks. These are my favorite Guadalajara restaurants to eat and be entertained, and I hope you find one or two that you absolutely love.
The Top 5 Best Restaurants in Guadalajara
When considering all of the dining options available, these are the top Guadalajara restaurant experiences that travelers should consider. There is an element of cultural identity in each of them and the food is guaranteed to be spectacular.
Mexican markets are amazing. Under one roof you have a large concentration of small vendors that represent local recipes and traditions. Whenever you get to a new town you should check out the markets. In Guadalajara, the most important markets are Abastos (wholesale market), Alcalde (old school downtown market), Santa Tere (neighborhood-style), and the Mercado del Mar in Zapopan (seafood). For those of us not accustomed to eating in a market the experience is visceral. The food is exceptional but the experience could be life-changing.
I am not much of a fan of the torta ahogada. Not really my thing. When it comes to the traditional foods of Guadalajara, I am all about the birria. Jalisco-style roasted goat stew is one of the great culinary traditions of Mexico. You can find excellent birria in the markets, in the Plaza de las 9 Esquinas or in the Chololo Hacienda. Do not miss out on this one.
Highly regarded as the best coffee in town, palReal has become one of the most celebrated kitchens as well. The weekend breakfast is packed, always. The lonche de pancita is one of the most instagramed dishes in Guadalajara, the encacahuatadas are my personal favorite, and everything goes down better with specialty coffee. Make sure to buy a few bags of coffee and learn about all the parts of Mexico that grow excellent coffee.
I like to think about the Guadalajara food scene before Alcalde and after Alcalde. Chef Paco Ruano put Guadalajara on the map as a destination for Haute Mexican cuisine. He has convinced the locals to try new things and paved the way for a modern foods movement. I love sitting at the kitchen bar to watch all the action. Make sure to try the frijoles puercos appetizer and the arroz con leche dessert which are both world-class.
Xokol Tortillería, Molino y Antojería
There is a building movement of traditional foods and ingredients in Mexico. Small farmers and heirloom ingredients are fighting back against industrialized farming. Xokol prepares heirloom varietal corn tortillas in the morning and operates a boutique restaurant in the evening. There are waiters but the chef comes out to explain the cultural significance of the ingredients and recipes. Both chefs have been lauded as some of the best young chefs in Latin America by the San Pellegrino Young Chef Award.
Mexican Restaurants in Guadalajara
When my family is visiting from other parts of the world I want to show them the depth and diversity of the local cuisine. I want to take my mom out of her comfort zone and have her try the best goat birria in town. All of a sudden my stepdad is a fan of crispy tripe tacos and asking what the next adventure is going to be. These are the best Mexican restaurants that I rely on to impress family and friends.
Cenadurias and Fondas
Cenadurias and Fondas are usually humble eating establishments that serve traditional foods. A fonda is oftentimes found inside of a traditional market that sells breakfast and lunch. the Cenadurias, as the name suggests, serves cena or dinner. You can expect pozole, enchiladas, flautas, and other regional variations. In many neighborhoods, you will find cenadurias in the driveway or even the living room of people’s houses.
Chef Fabian Delgado of palReal fame opened Los Yunaites in the Centenario Market just blocks from where he grew up. A close personal friend and business partner is from the town of San José de Gracia on the far side of Lake Chapala right where the State of Michoacan begins. The area is famous for cheeses and migrant farmworkers who would seasonally travel to the United States. They are affectionately called Los Yunaites.
The name of the restaurant roughly translates to concoctions from the villages. They are looking for unique, gourmet experiences.
Eating at Los Yunaites is like taking a trip to the pueblos without leaving the city. There are country-style, artisanal ingredients, and recipes that people in the city don’t see very often. The cumin-flavored mole is a family recipe from Tequila, Jalisco. The tortillas come from a Mazahua community that grows heirloom varietals. The encotijada with huitlacoche is like an enchilada but with a salty and creamy Cotija cheese sauce rather than a chile sauce. It is typical of the pueblos around, you guessed it, Cotija, Michoacán, the place that’s famous for cheese.
Los Yuntaites is an absolutely quintessential Mexican culinary experience that you have to check out while in the area.
Cenaduria Doña Guille
Let’s get past the absolutely fabulous retro decor with pink walls and wavy recessed mood lighting. This place is an absolute classic and the food just happens to be some of the best in the city.
I’m kind of a nut about enchiladas and these are like the ones you get in the pueblos. You can watch the ladies frying them up to order. They aren’t made in advance and reheated. The chicken ones are good but I absolutely love the cheese with chopped onion enchiladas. They also happen to serve the best pozole that I know in Guadalajara. I like eating green pozole in Mexico City or white pozole in San Ysidro. The Guadalajara red pozole is a close third.
You can’t leave without getting a tostada with pickled pig’s foot. Ask them to take it off the bone if you are new to eating patita. The aguas frescas are excellent and you will want the liter. Order the big one.
Fonda Amadita is one of the best restaurants in a neighborhood famous for great food. Santa Tere is a neighborhood that is quickly gentrifying but still has a blue-collar essence. There is a lot of good, cheap food to be found around every corner. Fonda Amadita is located inside the Santa Tere Market on the Calle Juan Alvarez side.
La Morenita del Santuario
This classic cenaduria is located next to Santuario de Nuestra Señora church in downtown Guadalajara. This church is where they have been selling buñuelos for centuries. Besides the pozole, flautas, and enchiladas, make sure to save room for dessert and order a buñuelo to see what old-time Guadalajara tastes like.
This a simple chain of restaurants serving flautas and soups. The crispy rolled tacos are great but the real specialty is the pozolillo soup. Everyone knows pozole but the Jalisco style green pozolillo is not as well known. Everything is absolutely delicious and super affordable.
High-End Mexican Food
There isn’t a big difference between the food at high-end Mexican restaurants and the food served on the street. The biggest differences are going to be the setting, the service, and the price tag. While I love eating on the street, nothing compares to eating at palReal. The community of servers, purveyors, and customers makes the experience really special. I trust their recommendations and value what they teach me about Mexico. Plus, all the different settings are really enjoyable: the coffee bar, the cold line bar, and the patios all have charm.
It would be a shame to only eat at palReal once. The breakfasts get all the hype but dinner is just as delectable. The real treats are the special events that Chef Fabian Delgado plans with his friends who also happen to be celebrity chefs. It is a chance for people who really love hospitality to get together to throw parties with spectacular food.
There is so much to taste at palReal it is going to take you a few visits to wrap your head around the whole menu. Most people start with breakfast, come back later in the week for lunch and if they are lucky, can reserve an event while they are in town.
palReal is a wonderful place to learn about Mexico and rare Mexican ingredients. You will have to learn to pronounce the names of ingredients that are not in Spanish but in the languages of the native peoples like xoconostle, chilacayota, and encacahuatadas. I particularly enjoy the different mole sauces that are prepared as specials. Many of them are made gluten-free. Recently, I have been ordering the ceviche specials because I am always delightfully surprised by new flavors of a dish I thought I knew really well.
If you like affogato, you have to try one made with the Cafe Estelar specialy coffee. It is the best I have ever had. Do yourself a favor and make dinner reservations as you finish breakfast, and ask for the special events. You won’t regret it.
I used to think about Xokol as the place with the heirloom corn tortillas and that does them a disservice. Xokol is one of the world’s great restaurants that will introduce you to a number of ingredients you thought you knew but taste way different in the heirloom varietal form. Chef Oscar Segundo was a runner-up to the San Pellegrino Best Young Chef in Latin America contest in 2018. In 2019, his partner Xrysw Ruelas won the contest and was poised to compete against the winners of the Asian and European contests before the pandemic canceled the events.
Xokol is kind of a cult favorite in Guadalajara that isn’t in many tourist guides. The restaurant seats less than 25 people in the open space. The kitchen is right in front of you. You will feel the heat from the comal. You will also be talking about the meal for weeks to come.
Tikuun Comedor Local
It is refreshing to see young chefs looking at Mexico for their inspiration. Carlos Espinosa is one of Mexico’s most exciting young chefs who just happens to be working in Guadalajara. Tikuun is the sort of place that the chefs love to eat. The food is exciting and adventurous. Expect lots of exotic meats, sauces, and ingredients. The presentation is an Instagrammer’s dream as every last leaf and pedal has been placed exactly where it needs to be. This is independent Mexico. No Corona, no Cuervo, just recipes that may be skipped a generation and got a fancy new presentation. This needs to be on your list of restaurants to visit soon!
El Sacromonte is a nostalgic trip through old Mexico. The early 20th-century house that has been converted into a restaurant, and launched a very successful restaurant group, is a time capsule of a foregone era. A piano player in the entrance is the first clue that you are in for something special. The menu reads like a greatest hits album of Mexico’s most famous and historic personalities: Salads named after Dolores del Rio and María Felix, and entrees names after my favorite neighborhoods in Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City. Service is impeccable and much of the waitstaff have been there for decades. During chile enogada season this is my go-to restaurant. Full bar available.
La Tequila Cocina Mexicana
May be considered a touristy restaurant but that shouldn’t affect your ability to enjoy this place. Besides the vast collection of rare tequilas, the menu includes exotic dishes from across the country. The tlayudas are excellent. On the weekends they sell lamb barbacoa out of a shack behind the restaurant that is top notch.
The owner of Rio Viejo is the patriarch of one of Guadalajara’s premier restaurant families. He knows the business inside and out and the service and food will delight even the most discerning guests. These people know how to eat well and treat their customers right. I have driven to random corners of Mexico to eat in local restaurants they recommended. I believe in their vision and love taking my mom to dine at Rio Viejo for special occasions.
Mochomos is a high-end Mexican steak house from the northern state of Sonora. The restaurant opened in the ultra-luxurious Landmark shopping mall to huge crowds and long waits even though the place is huge. Besides a great steak, this is the place to be seen by the social elite on the weekends. There is a lot of social capital inside the beautifully decorated restaurant.
Jalisco Style Country and Campestre Restaurants
It is important to remember how important the State of Jalisco is to the national identity. Much of what Mexico is known for in the world originates in this region. The countryside is full of pueblos with beautiful people who enjoy life. There is a lot of art, culture, and tradition to be explored.
Maru Toledo’s Rancho El Teuchiteco
Maru Toledo is a cultural anthropologist and author who travels Mexico documenting oral traditions related to culinary history. She has events at her ranch, El Teuchiteco, where she prepares food with a specific theme and gives a talk about the history and cultural significance of the recipes they are serving.
THIS IS NOT A RESTAURANT. Do not drive out here unless you have RSVP’d and paid for the event in advance. You can find more information on her events on the Facebook Page.
One of Guadalajara’s most treasured restaurants. The original brick-and-mortar location is in Tlaquepaque and the Hacienda is just past the airport on the highway to Chapala. All goat meat, nothing modern. It is awesome to see those huge clay ovens still churning out my favorite local food. Here is a list of some other great birria restaurants.
Spending a Sunday in Tlaquepaque, dining at El Abajeño, and listening to mariachi is a uniquely Jaliscan experience. The outdoor patio is lush, the tequila flows and all is right in the world. The name Abajeño comes from the people who inhabit the lowlands, as opposed to the highlands of Los Altos de Jalisco.
Plaza de Las 9 Esquinas
The Plaza de las Nueva Esquinas is not a restaurant but plaza surrounded by a number of traditional restaurants and cantinas. The plaza is famous for excellent birria and pitayas (cactus fruit). Before there was a fountain in the plaza, there was a watering hole for mules and cantinas for mule drivers. This is where they would both come to drink before and after traveling.
Birrieria de las 9 Esquinas
Birrieria de las 9 Esquinas is probably the most photogenic of the restaurants with an art deco exterior and open kitchen with Talavera tiles on the inside.
Pilón de los Arrieros
Next to the Birrieria de la 9 Esquinas is the Pilon de los Arrieros Restaurant. The name is a reference to the hostory of the plaza. The food at the Pilón de los Arrieros is excellent and the atmosphere is beautifully decorated with local artwork that looks like it was taken from Tlaquepaque.
Birrieria El Paisano
On the other side of the plaza are El Comprade and El Paisano. They are the old school options that have good food and are decorated with old time memorabia.
La Occidental Cantina
If you like classic cantinas it is worth a stop in La Occidental to try a pitaya cocktail. In the hot spring months the pitaya vendors sell their fruit in the plaza below the cantina. The pitaya cocktails are excellent.
Carne en su Jugo
Carne en su jugo is a simple dish that is oftentimes included in the travel guides as a must-see. I think it is a little overrated because of the Guinness book of world records thing. It is satisfying but not life-changing.
The dish is a beef soup with thinly sliced beefsteak that is cooked to retain the braising liquid. The liquid is mixed with a tomatillo (tomate verde) to make the broth. They add bacon, beans, cilantro, and onion just before it is served. The bacon is usually crispy when it hits the table. It is a heavy soup. People from other parts of Mexico joke that Jalisco loves sauce. They drown everything in sauce. Carne en su jugo is more carne than soup. It is heavy. It is like meat drowned in sauce.
In The Santa Teresita neighborhood, there is a street called Calle Garibaldi. On Garibaldi Street, there are three or four of the best carne en su jugo restaurants all on the same block. One is a little more corporate, one is a little more country, and the third is humble. They all serve tasty meals but be careful not to eat too much.
Menudo is a dish that I did not eat often in the United States because I didn’t know where to buy it. A friend would make homemade menudo for special occasions like birthdays and baptisms but every time I would order it in a restaurant I was left feeling unsatisfied. Now that I have been living in Mexico for a significant period of time, I know the difference between a spectacular bowl of menudo and an average one.
The dish may be difficult for many people to try because of preconceived notions about ingredients they have never tasted. It is made with the intestinal tract of the animal and the texture is soft. I think that one of the defining characteristics of Mexican food is the ability to take what many ‘developed countries’ consider to be less than desirable ingredients and make something absolutely delicious.
If you are a little hesitant to eat intestine, try ordering just a broth and fixing it up with onion, chile, and lime. There is a good chance you will fall in love and order it again and again.
The sign reads, “Traveler who came to Guadalajara and didn’t come to Chela, didn’t come to Guadalajara”. This humble restaurant hidden inside Mercado de Abastos is iconic and has served some of Mexico’s most famous people. It is decorated with pictures of the matriarch with presidents, musicians, and pillars of industry. And not just your average run of the mill musicians. I’m talking about the one and only Don Vicente Fernandez. Not only is that man one of Mexico’s most treasured recording artists but he knows how to eat. Then there is Emilio Azcárraga, owner of Televisa and backer of one of San Diego’s favorite restaurant groups. These people, pillars of society, know good food and Doña Chela is the godmother of menudo in Guadalajara.
Best Breakfast in Guadalajara
Finding a great breakfast in Guadalajara is not that hard. The city has a great mix of classic Mexican fair as well as some excellent international options. Just be aware that finding that first meal of the day in Guadalajara can be chaotic. If you get up late on the weekend you will find yourself waiting for hours at most of the hottest restaurants. Try to get an early start or send someone to put your name on the list and see what the wait is like. These restaurants are hot and serve some of the best breakfasts in Guadalajara.
RinTinTin is a cult favorite that is kind of under the radar. The owner has one of the best social media presences in Guadalajara and I constantly run into publications of major celebrities like Gael Garcia Bernal and Alan Estrada (Alan X El Mundo) raving about the place. Besides the design and marketing, the food is designed for foodies. Everything is delicious and there is a level of nostalgia in the homemade pop-tarts. The cinnamon rolls are some of the best in the city and the chilaquiles are one of my staples. Oh yeah, and there is seriously good coffee.
PalReal is the pinnacle of the Guadalajara coffee experience but Chef Fabian Delgado has also built one of Guadalajara’s favorite kitchens. The partnership between roaster, barista, designer and chef has turned a bunch of talented kids into local celebrities. What started out as a breakfast only endeavor has grown into an exciting lunch and dinner.
Expect well educated baristas, carefully sourced ingredients, a national champion bartender; it is a well balanced experience. There are a few things that you absolutely have to try: the lonche de pancita it arguably the best sandwich in town. The encacahuatadas breakfast dish is to die for, and tacos de vacio are EXCELLENT! Make sure to go a couple of times and buy a couple bags of coffee to take home.
Fitzroy Espresso Bar
A big part of a great breakfast is great coffee. Fitzroy has taken the neighborhood by storm serving ‘chingon’ coffee and adding more and more breakfast items. They have the best pancakes in the Colonia Americana, a quinoa salad that I will travel for, and chilaquiles so loaded with extras you have to look for the chilaquiles.
As the name would suggest, Boulangerie Central is a French-style bistro with excellent wheat flour bread and french sauces. The French toast is exceptional, there are a couple of exciting hollandaise dishes and your staple Mexican breakfasts. Make sure to come early on the weekends because this place is busy.
What I love about Los Chilaquiles is the emphasis that they put on ranch-style food. They buy most of their ingredients from small producers in the ranches surrounding Guadalajara. The family that owns and operates Los Chilaquiles comes from a small town called San Miguel de Cuyutlan and many of their recipes are from that part of Jalisco. Make sure to try the nata (milk fat), some gorditas, and an order of the birria. This birria is a mixture of beef and pork so it is a little different than most of the birria you will find in Guadalajara.
Mercado de Abastos
Birria, menudo, carne asadas; under one roof you have a concentration of small vendors that represent local ingredients and recipes. The decor may be a little rough around the edges but the food is exceptional and there is always something new to try.
Guadalajara Restaurants for Seafood
Guadalajara is not coastal but it is close enough that people know what good seafood is and where to find it. There is an incredibly diverse amount of seafood to be found in Mexico: Baja California to Sinaloa to Oaxaca and Yucatan. Sinaloa style seafood is by far the most popular, and while I love Los Arcos and Save, I chose some restaurants that I like even more.
Mexicans love seafood but La Docena is taking that love to a whole new level. Chef Tomas Bermudez is well traveled and has fused his travels into a new type of Mexican seafood restaurant. With a little bit of Baja California, a little bit of Louisiana and a touch of molecular gastronomy, La Docena has broken the mold of traditional Mexican seafood joints. Recently listed as one of the best restaurants in Latin America, La Docena has expanded into Mexico City and opened a high end sushi bar that is unlike anything else in the city. Make sure to try the grilled oysters in clarified butter, grilled young octopus and something from their live seafood bar. Full bar available with some special wines from Baja California.
The hottest thing in seafood these days is Nayarit style cooking. Campomar Restaurant is ample but there is always a wait. The concept hails from Ixtlán del Río, Nayarit, just outside the State of Jalisco. Our server scoffed when I asked if they use Jugo Maggi or Salad Inglesa in the ceviche responding that their ceviche is all natural. The seafood options range from classic to exotic. The orange ceviche with shrimp and Bay scallops exceptional. Another test I have of seafood restaurants is the quality of their bean tacos. I want to see the ingredients and how well they prepare simple food. Campomar is excellent but beware that many of their salsas are professional level spicy.
La Panga del Impostor
This is where the cool kids and the foodies in the know like to hang out. La Panga del Impostor is one part nostalgic trip to a sleepy fishing village and one part chef-driven menu. Chef Antonio De Livier is one of Mexico’s most beloved TV personalities, leading the show Cocineros Mexicanos. He has been all over the country and combines regional cooking with innovative recipes. The birria de almejas is a seafood lovers take on a classic Tapatio dish. The dried shrimp aguachile with cecina is one of the best dishes that tried in 2017. And the taco de chicharron prensado with octopus is reason enough to get to know the Panga. The selection of popsicles they have for dessert is a gourmet version of a Mexican childhood.
Mariscos Don Vergas
I have never actually eaten in the restaurant but got in the habit of ordering food to go. The name may be vulgar but the seafood is spectacular. The owner and chef is a protege of famed Pujol chef Enrique Olvera.
While most of the attention goes to Taco Fish La Paz, and I agree they have a good taco, the award for the BEST fish taco goes to The Happy Fish. The Happy Fish has a little bigger menu and I always seem to order those tacos/tostadas that they don’t have at Fish Taco La Paz. The other difference is the salsa bar. At both restaurants the tacos are served try and you decide how you want to dress them. The salsa bar at The Happy Fish has more options and is in better condition. Both Taco Fish La Paz and The Happy Fish are great options that have been around forever, but I recommend The Happy Fish just a little bit more.
The Best Guadalajara Restaurants For Haute Cuisine
It is a shame that Guadalajara lost a number of high-end restaurants during the pandemic. Ofelia Bistro was consistently ranked the number one restaurant in Guadalajara on TripAdvisor for years. It is highly unlikely that Ofelia Bistro will return in any shape of form of what she looked like in her heyday. Lula Bistro on the other hand could easily return. Darren Walsh is a darling of the San Pellegrino list of the best restaurants in the world because he has worked in so many Michelin-starred restaurants. He transitioned to a casual business model during the pandemic but could open another super high-end whenever the market conditions return.
Allium is a little ahead of the times in Guadalajara. Chef Adolfo Galnares is originally from Mexico City but he studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York City and has brought the farm-to-table movement with him to Guadalajara. He is sourcing and growing ingredients that nobody else has, and you can taste the difference.
You can’t find heirloom tomatoes in Mercado de Abastos but Chef Adolfo has friends that are growing the best tomatoes in Jalisco. The cheese platter is a treasure trove of high-end goat, sheep, and cow’s milk cheeses that I have never seen before. The salads change with the season and are worth the trip alone.
I highly recommend the pork belly in chile poblano sauce and the duck breast in two types of cherry sauce. We also loved the flan de elote dessert. Full bar with a creative cocktail menu.
Chef Francisco Ruano has been making the world take notice of Guadalajara since opening Alcalde in 2013. After training in Puerto Vallarta with Thierry Blouet and later in Denmark with renowned NOMA chef René Redzepi he is back in his hometown winning awards and blowing minds.
Ruano describes his food as simple but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The guy is methodical and each dish has multiple layers; visually stunning, multiple textures, and lingering subtle nuances. Alcalde is a must-see when in Guadalajara. The frijoles puercos appetizer, the duck entree, and the rice pudding dessert are especially decadent. Full bar and reservations are highly recommended.
Mid-Range International Guadalajara Restaurant Options
A lot of these restaurants are a fusion of a couple of different styles of cooking. You might find a taco plate listed on a menu next to a green Thai curry dish, or a capellini pasta dish with sesame and soy. These are some of Guadalajara’s favorite casual restaurants.
Grupo Loló, Anita Li, and I-Latina
Stretching back to 1999, Grupo Loló is one of Guadalajra’s most treasured institutions. Even their collaborators go on to open great restaurants. The I Latina, the Anita Li (palindromes), and Loló are some of the most enjoyable restaurants in Guadalajara, and they happen to have great food too! It can be hard to tell Anita Li and I Latina apart because they are right next to each other but the Anita Li is for lunch and the I Latina is for dinner. Loló took the concept to San Francisco and the fancy Andares Mall. They are even branching out to Barcelona but I don’t have the specifics on that project just yet.
From the time you walk in the door, you realize how important the music is to these people. Whether it is live music or a carefully crafted playlist you will catch yourself grooving all night long. You can tell the owners are well traveled and love to bring back the tackiest treasures from abroad. The ceramic pigs lining the bar, the throw rugs hung on the wall and the stuffed animals (fake?) playfully adorning different rooms makes the restaurant one of a kind.
When it comes to the kitchen, the chef is no-nonsense. These guys were some of the first people in Guadalajara to start using sous-vide and the consistency in their food is tireless. The food is nouveau Mexican with some international flair. The shrimp in green curry is very good, the beef short rib entree is out of this world and I am still trying to find out who makes their desserts because the coconut and choco banana ice creams keep me up at night. Full bar and reservations are highly recommended because everyone knows that these are some of the best Guadalajara restaurants.
Italian Restaurants in Guadalajara
Guadalajara absolutely loves Italian food. Many of these restaurants have been around for many years and are recognized by the Italian government as ambassadors of Italian cuisine.
La Pasteria Terranova
The Pasteria Terranovais a local favorite and a great place to start exploring the Providencia neighborhood. Avenida Terranova is the heart of Providencia where the tree-lined streets smell of roses and orange blossoms. The kitchen puts out some of the best pastas and pizzas in the city and the chocolate and hazelnut cake is to die for. The place is packed on the weekends so come early or be prepared to wait for a table. There is a cocktail bar and a nice selection of wines.
Napoles Pizza and Moresca Restaurant Group
Guadalajara’s Best Burgers and Arepas
Growing up in San Diego we are spoiled with great burgers. Finding a good hamburger in Guadalajara can be a challenge. Thankfully there’s Pig’s Pearls. The burgers are on the smaller side but that lets you order a salad and a bone marrow appetizer. I am partial to the lamb burger and the bacon maple syrup burger and can never decide which to order. Beer and wine only but they have a great selection of local microbreweries.
Casa Morenos GDL
If you don’t know about Venezuelan-style arepas, you don’t know living. Just look at the reviews that this restaurant has on Google Maps. Casa Morenos has quickly grown into hub of the Venezuelan community in Guadalajara. A Reina Pepiada is the classic chicken salad sandwich with avocado. My favorite is called the Influencer which has shredded beef, plantain, white cheese, and avocado. Make sure to order a passion fruit juice to go with it.
Guadalajara Restaurants for Sushi
The sushi scene in Guadalajara has really grown up. I used to constantly tell my wife, “That isn’t sushi” but we have a solid rotation of good to excellent options nowadays. I have to admit that I have developed a relationship with the chipotle mayonnaise.
This closet turned sushi bar is one of the hottest tickets in the Guadalajara restaurant scene right now. This is not your typical Mexican sushi but the real deal, high-end Japanese style sushi like you would find in Los Angeles or Mexico City. Nobody in Guadalajara has a selection of exquisite fish that Chef Daisuke Maeda has brought in specifically for this sushi bar. I tend to judge a sushi bar on the quality of their sea urchin and I can say, without a doubt, that is the best sea urchin I have tasted three hours away from the beach. There are only 15 seats at the sushi bar and reservations for more than two people can be hard to get. It is expensive but that is to be expected for the quality and selection.
Old school, Japanese owned Guadalajara restaurant that is the real deal. Its part sushi bar, part teppanyaki and part museum. The place is enormous and will be full on a Sunday afternoon. They have gluten free soy sauce and if you know your way around a Japanese food menu you will be able to find some great options. Suehiro has excellent service and is one of Guadalajara’s favorite restaurants.
Nigiri SAN Cocina Económica
While this is not your traditional restaurant the sushi is excellent and cheap. Nigiri SAN mostly does take-out food but they have three small tables that are almost always taken. This casual Guadalajara restaurant has an excellent selection of mostly local fish and very good rice. Make sure to check out their Facebook page to see what the daily specials are.
Asian Food Guadalajara Restaurants
I am really starting to rethink my criticisms of the Asian food that is available in Guadalajara restaurants. There are casual options in the market, after-work beer swigging and all-you-can-eat joints, and there are sophisticated yet casually elegant options to choose from.
All of a sudden Guadalajara has a solid repertoire of Korean restaurants. I am really starting to rethink my criticisms of the Asian food that is available in Guadalajara restaurants. There are casual options in the market, after-work beer swigging and all-you-can-eat joints, and there are sophisticated yet casually elegant options to choose from. Restaurante SSAM fits into that sophisticated yet casually elegant category. Inside and out the experience is absolutely enchanting. A beautiful space on tree-lined Calle Morelos, educated and attentive service, and one hell of a kitchen make Restaurante SSAM a name that you need to know.
There are not a lot of Guadalajara restaurants that can do good Asian food. Hato is one of the exceptions. Their specialty is ramen and they do it very, very well. There is a gluten-free option!
Siam Thai Kitchen
Argentine Restaurants in Guadalajara
It probably has something to do with soccer but there are lots of Argentinians in Guadalajara. The Guadalajara restaurant scene is saturated with Italian/Argentine steak and pasta places of no consequence. There are also a number of great places to get a steak. These are my favorites.
Cortázar Parilla de Autor
Someone here really likes to read and has a vivid imagination. The place is named after one of Argentina’s most treasured writers and is designed as a surrealist fantasy. And the food is bomb too!
My wife and I love to knock on La Res Publica. The service is horrible but the food is great. There is this Leon Larregui looking waiter who is always just chilling when you need something but you can’t get his attention. They have done a great job affecting the Argentine ‘me vale madre’ attitude. The one thing that really bothers me is the spicy sauce. We are in Mexico for Christ’s sake. Spicy food or sauce is expected. When I ask for something spicy to put on my french fries the waiter rolls his eyes at you and says that they don’t do that there.
But the food is very, very good. It is like a pop-up restaurant that had so much success that they decided to just keep it indefinitely. There is a huge wood-fired grill and a solid grill master. This is where I came to love the beef cheeks (mollejas). The steaks are thick cut and we like to get a big one to share. If you can handle the attitude, this is a place to check out.
La Matera and Kin Kin
I really enjoy the Matera and have gotten some great steaks here. I also understand why my wife doesn’t like to go there. The crowd is an older (she says elderly), wealthy demographic that is there to eat and drink heavily. Their unwanted advances can be persistent if you get stuck at the wrong table.
The steaks, in my opinion, are excellent. The guy at the next table over recommended that we order the table-side grill to keep our steak warm while we were eating it. I love ordering a steak medium-rare or rare and letting the grill keep the steak warm and the edges crispy. The rib-eye (bife de chorizo) is exactly what I want in a thick-cut steak.
And…there is one of the best night clubs in the city underneath the restaurant. Kin Kin is an upper-class nightclub that plays electronic and top-40 hits. Its
Baires is our neighborhood Argentine restaurant and they have the best beef cheeks that I have eaten in Guadalajara. The steaks are very good, the wine selection is chosen by wine drinkers and the prices are very affordable when compared with other Guadalajara restaurants.
The Best Street Good in Guadalajara
There is so much great street food it is hard to choose the best. I think that these experiences will leave you full and content.
Tortas Ahogadas El Profe Jimenez
There is a good chance that this is the best street food in Guadalajara. The torta ahogada is classic Guadalajara street food but El Profe Jimenez just does it better than everyone else. Besides tortas there are also soft tacos and crispy tacos. One of the reasons that El Profe Jimenez is so good is their selection of meats. The pork belly and the chicharon prensado are excellent. The other difference is the cilantro and cabbage that everything is garnished with. The aeromatics of the cilantro and the crunch of the cabbage complement the tomato sauce well.
Tacos El Chino at the Estadio Jalisco
I think the experience of eating tacos at the Estadio Jalisco is one of the best street food experiences in Guadalajara. This is where I developed a love of liver and onion tacos. These guys have been to every soccer game and every bullfight going back decades. And the tacos are top-notch. I usually get tacos before and after the game. If you are looking for the best street food in Guadalajara you need to go see an event in the Estadio Jalisco.
Tacos Alvarez Ciudad del Sol
I have a couple of places that I go to for crispy tripe tacos and Tacos Alvarez has become my favorite. You need to make sure to get there early because the tripe tacos are some of the local favorites and they sell out early. They also make a mean bistek, adobada, and lengua taco but the tripe tacos are the best.
Las Chorreadas or El Palomar de Santa Rita
This place is hidden behind the Soriana in Chapalita. They are grilling up meat to put on Sinaloa-style chorreadas (big sopes or little corn masa pizzas) and tacos. The cabreria but of beef is the best by far. You are going to love their salsa bar. I love that every time they fill up the salsas they put a little bit of cilantro in the middle as a garnish.
Churches have some of the Best Guadalajara Street Food
The most famous church food market is the San Nicolas de Bari night market but my favorite is the smaller Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe on Av Tepeyac just before Av de las Rosas. The guy doing corn esquites is awesome, the tamale lady is the mother-in-law of the churros guy. This place is classic Guadalajara. Once after mass, I waited in a one-hour-long tamale line. They are that good.
The Best Food Courts in Guadalajara
There is a trend that has been taking off in Mexico to replicate the Singapore-style food courts with upscale Mexican food. In Mexico City, Mercado Roma has been a huge hit with live entertainment and really good examples of local cuisine. In Guadalajara, the first couple of food truck parks never really found their legs. The second round of food courts is off to a great start. Mercado Mexico and Mercado Andares are great places to spend an afternoon tasting food from a number of different vendors.
Pannarama Social Club
Torre Mil 500 has done a wonderful job creating Guadalajara’s high-end food court with an emphasis on design. There are food and drink concepts from some of Guadalajara’s favorite restaurant groups in an Instagram friendly space. As the name of the neighborhood would suggest, Country Club is a well-to-do place straddling the financial district. The building is shared with corporate offices, residential space, and a Marriot Hotel. It is a place to see and be seen.
Mercado Andares is a little late to the game but they have done their homework and improved on a business model where others have failed. This is Plaza Andares so there is save parking and a very nice neighborhood. The percapita income in this part of town is higher than in the Colonia Americana so people are open to spending a little bit more money if the food is good.
And the food is very good. Andares went out and recruited some of the best Guadalajara restaurants to adapt their concepts to the food court model. PalReal is selling great coffee and lonches. La Moresca Restaurant Group has a pizza place, SSAM is selling Korean food, Jolly Molly sells doughnuts, and Trip’s Burgers does a great California-style lettuce wrap bacon burger.
What I like the most about the concept is getting a couple of items at several different restaurants. Last time we went Yara got a pizza from Napoli, we shared a salad from the Lebanese place, and I got a lettuce-wrapped burger from Trip’s. Then we share everything.
Being a part of Plaza Andares everything functions and is kid-friendly. Having a diaper changing station in the men’s room is valuable nowadays.
Vía Libertad (Mercado México)
Mercado Mexico has hung in there. They have a great concept but I think it is in the wrong part of town. The place is packed on the weekends but pretty slow during the week and a lot of the best Guadalajara restaurants have moved on. I still go just to get coffee from PalReal and see what is new.
The Best Desserts in Guadalajara
About the Author
I feel uniquely qualified to write this article because I have been living here for so long. All of the top Google searches are bloggers who parachute in for a long weekend and try to summarize the Guadalajara restaurant scene having eaten at these restaurants only once. I have lived in Guadalajara for ten years of which I have spent five years working in Guadalajara restaurants. The contacts that I have made give me a unique perspective about restaurants that are opening and why others are closing.
Restaurateurs typically know how to eat well because that is their industry and they need to know the market. Their employees have gone on to work in other kitchens and dining rooms, their purveyors supply other restaurants and everybody talks.
This list based on my personal experiences but it is highly influenced by the conversations that I have with people within the local industry as well as national and international guests. My wife and I love to eat out and try everything new. I am using this blog as a way to document the things that I love and think that you might like too. These are my favorite Guadalajara restaurants.