Guadalajara has a marvelous food culture. The combination of contemporary and traditional options means there is something for everyone. One of the best reasons for eating in a food court is the ability to taste a number of different styles of food. Before buying anything, make it a point to cruise the entire market to see what is available. Then, everyone can decide what they want to order. I like to look for the food stall with the longest line and see why it is so busy. The locals in Guadalajara know where to find excellent food and you should follow their lead. This is a local guide to finding the best food courts in Guadalajara, Mexico.
There is a trend that has been taking off in Mexico to replicate the Singapore-style food courts with upscale food options in a cool space. It is important to remember that the traditional markets also have a food court section with excellent and affordable cuisine.
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. Pannarama Social Club, Mercado Mexico, and Mercado Andares are great places to spend an afternoon tasting food from a number of different vendors.
Pannarama Social Hub
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 so there is going to be a lot of traffic all week. It is a place to see and be seen.
Veneno Restaurant by Nacho Cadena has upscale and imaginative Mexican cuisine and some of the coolest design in North America. SSAM is a local favorite for Korean fare. Café del Palma sells imaginative cocktails. Moresca is one of Guadalajara’s favorite restaurants for high-end Italian food. Pig’s Pearls does craft hamburgers and beer. Romea is Guadalajara’s favorite wine bar and that just barely scratches the surface. There is a lot to choose from.
Technically, this is an outdoor space which means that cigarette smoking is allowed on the patio but not inside the restaurants. In the evening the music gets turned up, the lights turned down, and the vibe feels more like a nightclub rather than a food court.
Mercado de Abastos
Mercado de Abastos has one of the best food courts in Mexico. Truckers from all over Mexico relish the opportunity to eat Jalisco-style birria in this market. The morning rush will see chefs and restauranteurs picking up product and getting breakfast. This is where you are going to find the best quality produce at the absolute lowest prices.
This is my favorite place to eat in Guadalajara. The food court has access to the best quality products in Western Mexico and there are excellent regional recipes to transform those ingredients. The best place to witness the seasonal changes in Mexico is in a market. As mangos, pitayas, tangerines, pumpkins, and many other products come into season you the market is the first to know. The decor may be a little rough around the edges but the food is exceptional and there is always something new to try.
Birriería Aceves has some of the best birria in Mexico. Carne Asadas and Menudería Alfonso is a large corner food stall with classic Mexican food. The lamb arrachera carne asada is one of my favorite dishes. This is where I developed a love of menudo.
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 safe parking and a very nice neighborhood. The per capita income in this part of town is higher than in 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. La Moresca Restaurant Group has a pizza concept called Napoli, SSAM is selling Korean food, Jolly Molly sells doughnuts, and Trip’s Burgers does a great California-style lettuce wrap bacon burger. There are tacos, BBQ, sushi, poke, among many more.
What I like the most about the concept is getting a couple of items at several different restaurants. The 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 Burgers. 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.
Mercado Santa Teresita
The Santa Teresita neighborhood is famous and the market food court has some of the best examples of local, Jalisco-style food. This is not a tourist market but a blue-collar and quickly gentrifying neighborhood that values home-style cooking. The place will be packed at lunchtime.
Fonda Amadita is one of the best restaurants in a neighborhood famous for its great food. 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.
I may be on team Fonda Amadita but Fonda Mariquita, across the hall from Amadita, also has a loyal following. Both restaurants have a wide variety of recipes. It can be hard to try new things when you want to repeat a great meal from the week before. The food around here quickly becomes comfort food.
Don’t forget to pick up a green juice from Las Titas juice bar.
Traditional Market Food Courts in Guadalajara
In addition to Mercado de Abastos and Mercado Santa Tere, there are dozens of local markets with excellent cuisine. I recommend visiting the local market wherever you travel. For those of us not accustomed to eating in a market, the experience could be life-changing.
In Guadalajara, I really enjoy eating at Mercado Alcalde (old school downtown market), the Mercado del Mar in Zapopan (seafood), Mercado Centenario in Downtown, Mercado Hidalgo, and the Tianguis del Sol. These are just a few of the many excellent food courts in Guadalajara.