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A torta ahogada drowned in sauce, with shrimp and octopus peeking out the sides
Torta ahogada at Ponte Trucha Negro
Bernardo Figueroa

The 30 Essential Guadalajara Restaurants

Where to find pork belly confit tortas, clam birria, roast suckling pig with mole, and tepache-tequila Old Fashioneds in Jalisco’s capital

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Torta ahogada at Ponte Trucha Negro
| Bernardo Figueroa

Guadalajara, La Perla Tapatía, is the archetypal Mexican city — the birthplace of son jalisciense music (the root form of mariachi), the center of tequila country, the historic home of charrería (Mexican rodeo), and the reason many types of Mexican food are well known outside of Mexico. The capital of Jalisco is the proud home of birria, tortas ahogadas, pozole, menudo, frijoles charros, and time-honored antojitos (enchiladas, tacos dorados, tostadas), which came to the U.S. with waves of Tapatío immigrants long before Oaxacan, Mexico City, and Pueblan food became common in the States. Its flavors, spicy salsas, variety of cheeses, and breads like the birote salado (crunchy roll) are synonymous with Mexican cuisine.

A few decades ago, much of the city’s high-end dining consisted of French, Italian, and Argentine restaurants. You could run through the city’s entire stock of Mexican fine dining at Las 9 Esquinas, El Parián, and El Sacromonte — until young chefs like Francisco Ruano began to showcase modern Mexican cuisine with regional focuses, inspiring a new generation of chefs and encouraging traditional restaurateurs from Guadalajara institutions to grow. It helped that there was plenty of money for dining out with Mexico’s thriving tech economy.

Today, Guadalajara’s third-wave coffee shops, craft breweries, outstanding taquerias, legendary torta stands, and modern Mexican restaurants rival those in Mexico City. At the same time, the Jaliscan capital tops CDMX in seafood, with restaurants, bars, and stands serving fresh catch and provincial dishes from the coast. (Some of Mexico City’s most popular seafood restaurants in recent years are chains from Guadalajara.) And while there are far more mezcalerias in Mexico City (mostly serving Oaxacan mezcal), only in Jalisco can you taste the breadth of Mexican agave spirits: raicilla, mezcal, and a wide variety of tequila. Best of all, you’ll see plenty of Mexico’s second-largest city as you work your way through restaurants in such hot dining neighborhoods as La Americana, La Moderna, Santa Tere, and Lafayette.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

Prices per person, excluding alcohol:

$ = Less than 200 pesos (Less than $10 USD)
$$ = 200 - 700 pesos ($10 - $33 USD)
$$$ = 701 - 1,500 pesos ($33 - $71 USD)

Bill Esparza is a James Beard award-winning freelance food and travel writer whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Roads & Kingdoms, Food & Wine, Los Angeles Magazine, CNN Parts Unknown, and GQ Mexico. He is a regular contributor to Eater and Eater LA.

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Mariscos Mora

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In the Benito Juárez neighborhood, look for the mariscos flag next to a stainless steel cart under a blue pop-up canopy. That’s where you’ll find delicious shrimp cocktails, shrimp and fish ceviches, and aguachiles (spicy shrimp) both green and black (the latter made with charred chiles). But if you’re going to go out of your way for this seafood stand, don’t miss the excellent shrimp tortas ahogadas covered in a creamy, spicy salsa and the ice-cold micheladas topped with house aguachile verde. This celebration of Jalisco’s fresh beach cuisine is open Saturday and Sunday mornings only. [$]

A michelada in a decorative clay glass, with fresh shrimp balanced along the rim, tamarind candy stick. and lime wedge
Shrimp-adorned michelada.
Mariscos Mora/Facebook

Lonches Leo

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Similar to tortas ahogadas, a lonche bañado consists of a birote filled with pork leg, covered in a creamy, chipotle salsa, and topped with swirls of a cream, mayo, and mustard sauce. The recipe was created by Lonches Gemma, but stop by Lonches Leo for one of the city’s classic versions. For something completely different, order a hamburger bañado or any of the many burgers submerged in savory salsas. [$]

A lonche covered in thick drizzles of creamy sauce, sitting in a pool of salsa
Lonche bañado.
Liliana Espinoza

Fonda Doña Gabina Escolástica

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Pozole is one of Mexico’s most famous dishes, and outside of Guerrero, Jalisco is a top destination for this hominy soup with pork head stock and meat. At Zapopan’s popular house of antojitos, delicious red pozole is the main dish, served with shredded lettuce, halved limes, chopped onions, thin-cut radishes, and tostadas. Complete your supper with red enchiladas — made with chile ancho and dressed with salty, aged cheese — and a tostada of deboned pickled pigs’ feet blanched in cream. There’s vegetarian pozole here, too, made with mushrooms. [$]

La Docena

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Born in Mexico City and trained in Buenos Aires, chef Tomás Bermúdez brought an international flair to his popular seafood concept when he opened in 2012. La Docena — inspired by the brassy oyster bars of New Orleans — showcases oysters from Baja California and Nayarit as well as clams and shrimp from the Gulf of California. Alongside fresh Mexican shellfish, there are Peruvian-inspired ceviches, king crab, grilled oysters Rockefeller, smoky aguachiles tatemados, and shrimp po’boys, all of which go well with local craft beer or a house michelada festooned with cooked shrimp. [$$]

A bowl of crab claws in butter dotted with herbs
Stone crab.
La Docena/Facebook

Tacos Nano

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Head to Belisario Domínguez after drinks (or dinner) for steamed beef head tacos at this busy street cart where locals have gone for decades. In the blanket of white steam and beneath the fluorescent lights, work your way through a plate of tacos of various cuts: beef head, tongue, lips, and shredded meat from the skull (carnaza), dressed simply with diced onions, cilantro, lime, and spicy red salsa. [$]

Three filled meaty tacos on a plate covered with cilantro and chopped onion, with slices of radish and lime beside
Well-dressed tacos from Tacos Nano.
Liliana Espinoza

Birria de Res El Amigazo

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While goat is king in Jalisco, Guadalajara’s great birria scene has room for many other proteins, including beef birria from this stand in Belisario Domínguez. Under a green-and-white-striped canopy, the stainless steel cart churns out tacos made with tortillas blandas (soft corn tortillas) or dorados (crispy tortillas) and served with a side of consomé for an everyday breakfast or lunch. There’s one communal table but plenty of shade from a large, leafy tree and the awning from a convenience store behind the stand. [$]

Tortas Ahogadas El Profe Jimenez

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Miguel Covarrubias Jiménez, a soccer enthusiast and former teacher — which has earned him the nickname “el profe” — has emerged as one of the most respected tortas ahogadas vendors in Guadalajara over the past three decades. His homemade salsa, tender carnitas, and bread sourced from the valley of Jalisco are benchmarks for all competitors. Get a side order of destruido — a plate of shredded tacos dorados drowned in salsa — which is a fun take on the traditional combo. [$]

A chef in branded gear ladles sauce onto a torta ahogada
Miguel Covarrubias Jiménez, aka el profe.
Bill Esparza

Ponte Trucha Negro

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The walls of Ponte Trucha Negro are blue and white (typical marisqueria colors) and covered with photos of customers from across three decades. The stainless steel tables are covered, too, with clay plates of ceviche, grilled shrimp, and seafood tostadas alongside bottles of beer. Start with an order of aguachile tostadas (spicy raw shrimp) plus a chile güero (blonde chile) stuffed with shrimp. Or go for one of the playfully titled botanas (snacks), like la gran chingadera, which comes with a spread of raw and cooked seafood. The specialty of the house is a shrimp and octopus torta ahogada made with local birote and a salsa with as much spice as you can handle. [$$]

A torta with pieces of shrimp and octopus visible inside the bun, being drowned in sauce, on a plate beside slices of avocado and red onion
Torta ahogada with shrimp and house sauce.
Bernardo Figueroa

Tacos Providencia

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An army of taqueros and waiters serve a rapid-fire variety of popular Guadalajara-style roasted meats at this grand, sit-down taqueria. Try the peinecillo (long, thin steak cut from the entire dorsal), al pastor from the spit, carnaza (shredded meat), or bone-in beef ribs dressed with pico de gallo, avocado, and a variety of salsas from mild to hot. There are more than a dozen cuts at this Guadalajara institution, including ears and snout. And, best of all, you can enjoy your tacos with cold beers. [$]

Birrieria la Victoria

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The only question here is whether you want a large or small order of goat birria — but even that isn’t a question since you’ll want to go big on the birria de chivo, which will live in your memory long after you’ve burned off the calories. Goat birria is everywhere in town, but Tapatíos have faithfully come to this humble Ciudad del Sol birrieria since 1958. They come for delicious steaming bowls of well-spiced birria, rich with vaporous, fruity adobo and served with warm corn tortillas. Choose your cuts and add a squeeze of lime, diced onions, and cilantro. Pair with an ice-cold Modelo to experience the preferred hangover cure in Jalisco. [$]

A bowl of birria with a mound of meat emerging from the broth, topped with chopped onions and herbs, with a spoon sticking out
Goat birria.
Liliana Espinoza

In Santa Tere, chefs Xrysw Ruelas Díaz and Óscar Segundo are celebrating Mexico’s pre-Hispanic culture and Indigenous practice of nixtamalization, re-creating traditional corn dishes through a mod culinary lens. There are tempura-battered fish tacos with chlorophyll mayo, tacos filled with quelites (foraged greens), cured trout tostadas spiced with smoky, aromatic chile meco salsa, and petite heirloom blue corn tlacoyos filled with broad beans and topped with salt-cured cactus strips and fried chicken crackling. [$$]

A tetela decorated with swirls, topped with a large slice of roasted pork, and a clump of flowers
Tetela and pork.
Xokol/Facebook

Kamilos 333

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Since 1975, Santa Tere’s specialist in carne en su jugo, or beef cooked in its own juices, has set the standard among Tapatíos. The beef is stewed with bacon, onions, and beans, then dressed with fresh diced onions, cilantro, and salsa roja and eaten with corn tortillas. Kamilos’s charming old country ranch interiors makes it great for family outings and tourists looking for an old-fashioned, kitschy restaurant to try this regional, hearty Guadalajara dish. [$$]

A heaping plate of carne en su jugo, on a decorative plate adorned with the name of the restaurant, beside other dishes on a wooden table
Carne en su jugo.
Kamilos 333

Restaurante Alcalde

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Francisco “Paco” Ruano — regarded as one of the most important food figures of the current generation by such seminal Mexican chefs as Enrique Olvera and Guillermo González Beristáin — has led Guadalajara into the modern Mexican era since opening Alcalde in 2013. Ruano uses local product like duck from Tapalpa cooked in adobo; roast suckling pig paired with a variety of moles; garlicky acociles (crayfish); and a fatty dish of frijoles puercos — refried beans strewn with pork neck, pulverized crackling and chorizo, and a pour-over of bean stock. Book early and request a seat at the chef’s table directly in front of the open kitchen, where the tasting menu is paired with Mexican wines, artisanal tequila, and local mezcal made in Jalisco. [$$$]

Cantina La Fuente

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While the polish has worn away since the founding of this traditional Mexican cantina, the pulse of Guadalajara still beats in the pale-yellow walls, well-worn bar, and battered tables covered in bottles of Victoria and shots of Tequila Herradura in tall caballitos. The botanas (snacks) are simple: pickled pigs’ feet, tacos dorados, petite tortas ahogadas, or potato chips with lime and hot sauce. But the mariachis are the best in town, and the room is packed with locals and tourists wandering in from a hike through the historic center. Two-ingredient cocktails — rum and Coke, palomas — are served do-it-yourself style; you get a shot, a glass with ice, and a mixer. In this real Mexican cantina, all that mixology stuff won’t get in the way of the drinking. [$]

Lonches Amparito

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The original Tapatío destination for lonches (regional tortas) opened in 1957 a block away from the Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara’s historic center. The place is known for its large, crusty, artisanal birotes loaded with pork lunch meats, which are made to order on cutting boards while you wait. Grab a lonche de lomo (pork loin), pierna (pork leg), creamy panela cheese, or adobera (pork in adobo) with avocado, pickled chiles, mayo, cream, and sliced tomatoes. Then go look for a bench to relax and enjoy an iconic sandwich. [$]

Tacos de Barbacoa Arturo (Los de Antaño)

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Founded in 1967 and located just a few blocks away from Parque Revolución, Tacos de Barbacoa Arthuro is a regional breakfast tradition in La Perla Tapatía known for its barbacoa de res, or beef stewed with adobo. The corn tortilla is dipped in adobo with a little lard, filled with barbacoa, and toasted on the comal until blanco (soft) or doradito (crispy), and you can add melted cheese and refried beans (highly recommended). Get yours bien doradito, extra crispy; that’s the Tapatío way. [$]

Tikuun Comedor Local

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Located in Colonia Americana, this warm, intimate space seats only 40 guests, who get to enjoy a seasonal menu by chef Carlos Espinosa. The Guadalajara native uses modern Mexican techniques that draw on regional traditions. The delicate aguachile of fish and dried shrimp sits in a citrus bath of Thai curry, accented by thin slices of green apple and cucumber; the huarache de requeson in a mushroom mole is balanced by microgreens and salty Cotija cheese; and rabbit empanadas come in a recado negro, a thick Yucatán-style stew made from a paste of charred chiles. The extensive international wine list is sure to have options to pair with whatever you fancy. [$$$]

Pare de Sufrir Mezcalería

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This mezcaleria serves enough antojitos to fuel an evening of agave spirits. That means fun, clever bites like a beef cheeks lonche, beef tongue en su jugo (in its juices), mini tortas ahogadas, and al pastor sweetbread tacos. Chat up owner Pedro Jiménez and go deep on raicillas from his own brand, Mezonte, a nongovernmental organization that supports famed master distillers like Lorenzo and Tomás Virgen and Jorge Pérez, as well as small-batch mezcal producers like Rodolfo Ramos, Moises Esparza, and Jesus Peña. [$$]

De La O Cantina

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Take traditional antojitos, add tiki drinks and walls covered in old photos, and, voilà, you have Guadalajara’s only Guadalatiki bar. Tamales, red and green enchiladas covered in cream, and plates of sliced panela cheese with crumbled chicharrón prensado make excellent pairings for tropical beverages. The Pulque Tropical, for instance, blends cured strawberry pulque, pineapple syrup, and lemon with your choice of Cuban rum or aguardiente. Much of the crowd will be enjoying the simple, stimulating Margarita De La O or digging through selections of mezcal and raicilla from top local producers. [$$]

A drinker holds up a bright pink highball cocktail garnished with a pineapple leaf
Pulque tropical.
De La O Cantina/Facebook

El Gallo Altanero

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Recently, a wave of artisanal and ancestral tequila brands have been rediscovering the spirit’s roots: roasting pits, crushing agave with stone tahonas, and even embracing radical flavors created by open-air fermentation. The best products glow radiantly on the illuminated back bar of this Americana-Lafayette watering hole. Flautas, blue corn quesadillas de chicharrón prensado (pressed pork rinds), and creamy elotes accompany tequila blancos from Cascahuín 48, an overproof bottling from Fortaleza, and other high-proof tequilas. The cocktail menu changes monthly, but it usually features outstanding palomas and takes on American classics, such as a tequila Old Fashioned spiked with tepache. [$$]

A bartender pours a bottle into a jigger, behind glasses lined up for drinks
Dispensing precious agave spirits.
El Gallo Altanero/Facebook

Restaurante Allium

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In the trendy Americana neighborhood, chef partners Adolfo Galnares and Maria Ortega offer a farm-to-table dining experience in a contemporary space complete with white walls accented by thin, horizontal wooden slats and a rooftop garden. Start with an escamoles toast — spread with avocado and earthy ant eggs cooked in garlic and hoja santa — and the crowd favorite, a creamy risotto de huitlacoche enriched with artisanal butter from Atotonilco and shiitake mushrooms. Then enjoy the local catch of the day prepared using Mexican techniques, such as the tuna with sikil pak, a spicy pumpkin seed salsa from the Yucatán. Pair it with a house gin tonic made with prickly pear. [$$$]

A piece of cooked fish in a pool of bright green sauce dotted with vegetables
Fish is a highlight at Allium.
Restaurante Allium

Café palReal

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Start with a cup of Café Estelar from Nayarit at chef Fabian Delgado’s sunny, inviting space located in Arcos Vallarta, where the trendy brunch scene reflects a young, upwardly mobile crowd. “Pimp out” your red or green chilaquiles with eggs, pork belly, or flank steak, or order an omelet filled with Chihuahua cheese wrapped in pungent hoja santa. The star of the menu, though, is the lonche de pancita, a pork belly confit torta with black beans, avocado, and salsa verde. Consider a shaken carajillo (coffee with Licor 43) before heading out to explore. [$$]

La Panga del Impostor

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Guadalajara is second only to Ensenada as a destination for seafood in Mexico, and chef Antonio de Livier, a Mexicali native, offers some of the best at this retro blue-and-white cevicheria. It’s the ideal lunch spot for seafood cocktails, clam birria, and signature tostadas like tuna with blackened habanero, washed down with Loba Blanka, a witbier from a local craft brewery. [$$]

The ivory walls of chef Alfonso “Poncho” Cadena’s thematic modern Mexican restaurant are decorated with bones and anatomical patterns. The design, by his brother, Ignacio “Nacho” Cadena, acknowledges the foundations of flavor: bones, nerves, and connective tissue. The decor echoes the food: modern, rustic plates of braised duck, sous vide cabreria (tenderloin on the bone), and grilled octopus in a spicy adobo of burnt chiles, loosely stacked over grilled vegetables, and plated with swirls and dots of vegetable puree. The menu changes with the availability of seasonal items, as does the cocktail menu based on Jaliscan fruits sold in local markets. [$$$]

A long wooden table with bones as centerpieces, with whitewashed decorations in the background
Inside Hueso.
Hueso

El Terrible Juan Café

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When he opened El Terrible Juan Café in 2015, Juan Carlos Yerenas had one simple mission: make a great cup of coffee for his friends and family using the best coffee beans in Mexico. Working to build relationships with coffee plantations in the highlands of Chiapas and Cosautlán de Carvajal, Veracruz, this expresso specialist has grown along with his customer’s thirst for fine coffee. A lonche filled with chilaquiles or a mollete (open-face bean toast) with four cheeses pairs nicely with a shot of Chiapan espresso in Yerenas’s welcoming garage cafe in Zapopan, the perfect pick-me-up before heading to the Plaza del Sol or the Mercado de Abastos. [$$]

Tortas Ahogadas Don José El de la Bicicleta

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The legendary Don José “el de la bicicleta” began his journey as a tortero at the legendary El Güerito stand — credited with creating tortas ahogadas back in 1960 — before going out on his own to sell the dish from a bicycle laden with birotes, tomato sauce, and carnitas. Today, the bicycle serves as a prop at his brick-and-mortar fonda, where his trademark item is a raw tomato sauce poured over a birote packed with carnitas, tongue, hog maw, or kidneys, plus as much of his fiercely spicy salsa de chile de árbol as you can handle, all served in a plastic bag. Trust us on this one: Go lighter on the spice here than you do elsewhere. [$]

A half-eaten torta ahogada, served in a plastic bag with a pool of sauce at the bottom, its contents spilling out the top
Torta ahogada.
Liliana Espinoza

Menuderia Chela

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A warm bowl of menudo filled with a selection of cuts chosen by the late Graciela “Chela” Quino Ruíz is essential eating in the Mercado de Abastos. For more than 50 years, this family recipe — a sacculated, jellied combo of callo de res (beef stomach), libro (book tripe), casitas (honeycomb tripe), cuajo (cow rennet), ranilla (hoof), lengua (tongue), and other cuts — has warmed the bellies of Mexican politicians, celebrities, and generations of Tapatíos. Save room for the enticing enfrijoladas: rolled corn tortillas filled with beef chorizo and drowned in a pale bean sauce, Mexican cheese, and cream. [$]

An enfrijolada filled with chorizo in a pool of pale sauce, topped with a few beans and grated cheese
Enfrijolada.
Liliana Espinoza

Las Originales Hermanas Coraje "Chicago"

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Since 1956, diners have been plopping down on stainless steel benches here to enjoy carne asada cooked over charcoal with fatty refried beans, accompanied by generous sides of cactus salad, dry crumbled cheese, charred corn tortillas, and salsa martajada, a spicy salsa of blackened tomatoes and chile serranos ground in a molcajete. The menu on the wall has an impressive list of guisados (stews), but the colita de res (oxtail) and crunchy chilaquiles con chicharrón warrant return visits. [$]

A plate of brightly colored chicharron and lengua in various sauces
Chicharron and lengua.
Hermanas Coraje

Tacos al Vapor Oscar

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Steamed tacos al vapor filled with guisados — known as tacos de canasta (basket tacos), tacos mañaneros (morning tacos), or tacos sudados (sweaty tacos) in other parts of Mexico — come with seven fillings at this breakfast stand, which sets up on Friday and Saturday mornings in Zapopan. Carnaza (shredded beef), mashed potatoes, refried beans, or stewed chicharrón are top choices from the array of large stainless steel pots. Pile pickled jalapenos, potatoes, carrots, and cactus on your plastic taquero plate, too. [$]

Cenaduría Los Merequetengues

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After browsing for furniture and curios in Tlaquepaque, end your evening in Guadalajara’s shopping village with a supper of crispy antojitos bathed in tomato sauce at the cenaduría founded by Silvestra Durán 70 years ago. The pozole, red enchiladas, and tacos dorados are fantastic, but dig a bit deeper into the tastes of Guadalajara with the cafiaspirins — mini fried sopes covered with pork, shredded cabbage, onions, dry cheese, and that tangy house tomato sauce — and the caldereta, a large clay cup of pozole stock with a little hominy, pork, broken tostadas, and fixings. [$]

A plate filled with various items, all beneath heavy dustings of cheese and chopped pickled vegetables
Pollo frito, enchiladas, and other delights.
Cenaduría Los Merequetengues/Facebook

Mariscos Mora

In the Benito Juárez neighborhood, look for the mariscos flag next to a stainless steel cart under a blue pop-up canopy. That’s where you’ll find delicious shrimp cocktails, shrimp and fish ceviches, and aguachiles (spicy shrimp) both green and black (the latter made with charred chiles). But if you’re going to go out of your way for this seafood stand, don’t miss the excellent shrimp tortas ahogadas covered in a creamy, spicy salsa and the ice-cold micheladas topped with house aguachile verde. This celebration of Jalisco’s fresh beach cuisine is open Saturday and Sunday mornings only. [$]

A michelada in a decorative clay glass, with fresh shrimp balanced along the rim, tamarind candy stick. and lime wedge
Shrimp-adorned michelada.
Mariscos Mora/Facebook

Lonches Leo

Similar to tortas ahogadas, a lonche bañado consists of a birote filled with pork leg, covered in a creamy, chipotle salsa, and topped with swirls of a cream, mayo, and mustard sauce. The recipe was created by Lonches Gemma, but stop by Lonches Leo for one of the city’s classic versions. For something completely different, order a hamburger bañado or any of the many burgers submerged in savory salsas. [$]

A lonche covered in thick drizzles of creamy sauce, sitting in a pool of salsa
Lonche bañado.
Liliana Espinoza

Fonda Doña Gabina Escolástica

Pozole is one of Mexico’s most famous dishes, and outside of Guerrero, Jalisco is a top destination for this hominy soup with pork head stock and meat. At Zapopan’s popular house of antojitos, delicious red pozole is the main dish, served with shredded lettuce, halved limes, chopped onions, thin-cut radishes, and tostadas. Complete your supper with red enchiladas — made with chile ancho and dressed with salty, aged cheese — and a tostada of deboned pickled pigs’ feet blanched in cream. There’s vegetarian pozole here, too, made with mushrooms. [$]

La Docena

Born in Mexico City and trained in Buenos Aires, chef Tomás Bermúdez brought an international flair to his popular seafood concept when he opened in 2012. La Docena — inspired by the brassy oyster bars of New Orleans — showcases oysters from Baja California and Nayarit as well as clams and shrimp from the Gulf of California. Alongside fresh Mexican shellfish, there are Peruvian-inspired ceviches, king crab, grilled oysters Rockefeller, smoky aguachiles tatemados, and shrimp po’boys, all of which go well with local craft beer or a house michelada festooned with cooked shrimp. [$$]

A bowl of crab claws in butter dotted with herbs
Stone crab.
La Docena/Facebook

Tacos Nano

Head to Belisario Domínguez after drinks (or dinner) for steamed beef head tacos at this busy street cart where locals have gone for decades. In the blanket of white steam and beneath the fluorescent lights, work your way through a plate of tacos of various cuts: beef head, tongue, lips, and shredded meat from the skull (carnaza), dressed simply with diced onions, cilantro, lime, and spicy red salsa. [$]

Three filled meaty tacos on a plate covered with cilantro and chopped onion, with slices of radish and lime beside
Well-dressed tacos from Tacos Nano.
Liliana Espinoza

Birria de Res El Amigazo

While goat is king in Jalisco, Guadalajara’s great birria scene has room for many other proteins, including beef birria from this stand in Belisario Domínguez. Under a green-and-white-striped canopy, the stainless steel cart churns out tacos made with tortillas blandas (soft corn tortillas) or dorados (crispy tortillas) and served with a side of consomé for an everyday breakfast or lunch. There’s one communal table but plenty of shade from a large, leafy tree and the awning from a convenience store behind the stand. [$]

Tortas Ahogadas El Profe Jimenez

Miguel Covarrubias Jiménez, a soccer enthusiast and former teacher — which has earned him the nickname “el profe” — has emerged as one of the most respected tortas ahogadas vendors in Guadalajara over the past three decades. His homemade salsa, tender carnitas, and bread sourced from the valley of Jalisco are benchmarks for all competitors. Get a side order of destruido — a plate of shredded tacos dorados drowned in salsa — which is a fun take on the traditional combo. [$]

A chef in branded gear ladles sauce onto a torta ahogada
Miguel Covarrubias Jiménez, aka el profe.
Bill Esparza

Ponte Trucha Negro

The walls of Ponte Trucha Negro are blue and white (typical marisqueria colors) and covered with photos of customers from across three decades. The stainless steel tables are covered, too, with clay plates of ceviche, grilled shrimp, and seafood tostadas alongside bottles of beer. Start with an order of aguachile tostadas (spicy raw shrimp) plus a chile güero (blonde chile) stuffed with shrimp. Or go for one of the playfully titled botanas (snacks), like la gran chingadera, which comes with a spread of raw and cooked seafood. The specialty of the house is a shrimp and octopus torta ahogada made with local birote and a salsa with as much spice as you can handle. [$$]

A torta with pieces of shrimp and octopus visible inside the bun, being drowned in sauce, on a plate beside slices of avocado and red onion
Torta ahogada with shrimp and house sauce.
Bernardo Figueroa

Tacos Providencia

An army of taqueros and waiters serve a rapid-fire variety of popular Guadalajara-style roasted meats at this grand, sit-down taqueria. Try the peinecillo (long, thin steak cut from the entire dorsal), al pastor from the spit, carnaza (shredded meat), or bone-in beef ribs dressed with pico de gallo, avocado, and a variety of salsas from mild to hot. There are more than a dozen cuts at this Guadalajara institution, including ears and snout. And, best of all, you can enjoy your tacos with cold beers. [$]

Birrieria la Victoria

The only question here is whether you want a large or small order of goat birria — but even that isn’t a question since you’ll want to go big on the birria de chivo, which will live in your memory long after you’ve burned off the calories. Goat birria is everywhere in town, but Tapatíos have faithfully come to this humble Ciudad del Sol birrieria since 1958. They come for delicious steaming bowls of well-spiced birria, rich with vaporous, fruity adobo and served with warm corn tortillas. Choose your cuts and add a squeeze of lime, diced onions, and cilantro. Pair with an ice-cold Modelo to experience the preferred hangover cure in Jalisco. [$]

A bowl of birria with a mound of meat emerging from the broth, topped with chopped onions and herbs, with a spoon sticking out
Goat birria.
Liliana Espinoza

Xokol

In Santa Tere, chefs Xrysw Ruelas Díaz and Óscar Segundo are celebrating Mexico’s pre-Hispanic culture and Indigenous practice of nixtamalization, re-creating traditional corn dishes through a mod culinary lens. There are tempura-battered fish tacos with chlorophyll mayo, tacos filled with quelites (foraged greens), cured trout tostadas spiced with smoky, aromatic chile meco salsa, and petite heirloom blue corn tlacoyos filled with broad beans and topped with salt-cured cactus strips and fried chicken crackling. [$$]

A tetela decorated with swirls, topped with a large slice of roasted pork, and a clump of flowers
Tetela and pork.
Xokol/Facebook

Kamilos 333

Since 1975, Santa Tere’s specialist in carne en su jugo, or beef cooked in its own juices, has set the standard among Tapatíos. The beef is stewed with bacon, onions, and beans, then dressed with fresh diced onions, cilantro, and salsa roja and eaten with corn tortillas. Kamilos’s charming old country ranch interiors makes it great for family outings and tourists looking for an old-fashioned, kitschy restaurant to try this regional, hearty Guadalajara dish. [$$]

A heaping plate of carne en su jugo, on a decorative plate adorned with the name of the restaurant, beside other dishes on a wooden table
Carne en su jugo.
Kamilos 333

Restaurante Alcalde

Francisco “Paco” Ruano — regarded as one of the most important food figures of the current generation by such seminal Mexican chefs as Enrique Olvera and Guillermo González Beristáin — has led Guadalajara into the modern Mexican era since opening Alcalde in 2013. Ruano uses local product like duck from Tapalpa cooked in adobo; roast suckling pig paired with a variety of moles; garlicky acociles (crayfish); and a fatty dish of frijoles puercos — refried beans strewn with pork neck, pulverized crackling and chorizo, and a pour-over of bean stock. Book early and request a seat at the chef’s table directly in front of the open kitchen, where the tasting menu is paired with Mexican wines, artisanal tequila, and local mezcal made in Jalisco. [$$$]

Cantina La Fuente

While the polish has worn away since the founding of this traditional Mexican cantina, the pulse of Guadalajara still beats in the pale-yellow walls, well-worn bar, and battered tables covered in bottles of Victoria and shots of Tequila Herradura in tall caballitos. The botanas (snacks) are simple: pickled pigs’ feet, tacos dorados, petite tortas ahogadas, or potato chips with lime and hot sauce. But the mariachis are the best in town, and the room is packed with locals and tourists wandering in from a hike through the historic center. Two-ingredient cocktails — rum and Coke, palomas — are served do-it-yourself style; you get a shot, a glass with ice, and a mixer. In this real Mexican cantina, all that mixology stuff won’t get in the way of the drinking. [$]

Lonches Amparito

The original Tapatío destination for lonches (regional tortas) opened in 1957 a block away from the Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara’s historic center. The place is known for its large, crusty, artisanal birotes loaded with pork lunch meats, which are made to order on cutting boards while you wait. Grab a lonche de lomo (pork loin), pierna (pork leg), creamy panela cheese, or adobera (pork in adobo) with avocado, pickled chiles, mayo, cream, and sliced tomatoes. Then go look for a bench to relax and enjoy an iconic sandwich. [$]

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Tacos de Barbacoa Arturo (Los de Antaño)

Founded in 1967 and located just a few blocks away from Parque Revolución, Tacos de Barbacoa Arthuro is a regional breakfast tradition in La Perla Tapatía known for its barbacoa de res, or beef stewed with adobo. The corn tortilla is dipped in adobo with a little lard, filled with barbacoa, and toasted on the comal until blanco (soft) or doradito (crispy), and you can add melted cheese and refried beans (highly recommended). Get yours bien doradito, extra crispy; that’s the Tapatío way. [$]

Tikuun Comedor Local

Located in Colonia Americana, this warm, intimate space seats only 40 guests, who get to enjoy a seasonal menu by chef Carlos Espinosa. The Guadalajara native uses modern Mexican techniques that draw on regional traditions. The delicate aguachile of fish and dried shrimp sits in a citrus bath of Thai curry, accented by thin slices of green apple and cucumber; the huarache de requeson in a mushroom mole is balanced by microgreens and salty Cotija cheese; and rabbit empanadas come in a recado negro, a thick Yucatán-style stew made from a paste of charred chiles. The extensive international wine list is sure to have options to pair with whatever you fancy. [$$$]

Pare de Sufrir Mezcalería

This mezcaleria serves enough antojitos to fuel an evening of agave spirits. That means fun, clever bites like a beef cheeks lonche, beef tongue en su jugo (in its juices), mini tortas ahogadas, and al pastor sweetbread tacos. Chat up owner Pedro Jiménez and go deep on raicillas from his own brand, Mezonte, a nongovernmental organization that supports famed master distillers like Lorenzo and Tomás Virgen and Jorge Pérez, as well as small-batch mezcal producers like Rodolfo Ramos, Moises Esparza, and Jesus Peña. [$$]

De La O Cantina

Take traditional antojitos, add tiki drinks and walls covered in old photos, and, voilà, you have Guadalajara’s only Guadalatiki bar. Tamales, red and green enchiladas covered in cream, and plates of sliced panela cheese with crumbled chicharrón prensado make excellent pairings for tropical beverages. The Pulque Tropical, for instance, blends cured strawberry pulque, pineapple syrup, and lemon with your choice of Cuban rum or aguardiente. Much of the crowd will be enjoying the simple, stimulating Margarita De La O or digging through selections of mezcal and raicilla from top local producers. [$$]

A drinker holds up a bright pink highball cocktail garnished with a pineapple leaf
Pulque tropical.
De La O Cantina/Facebook

El Gallo Altanero

Recently, a wave of artisanal and ancestral tequila brands have been rediscovering the spirit’s roots: roasting pits, crushing agave with stone tahonas, and even embracing radical flavors created by open-air fermentation. The best products glow radiantly on the illuminated back bar of this Americana-Lafayette watering hole. Flautas, blue corn quesadillas de chicharrón prensado (pressed pork rinds), and creamy elotes accompany tequila blancos from Cascahuín 48, an overproof bottling from Fortaleza, and other high-proof tequilas. The cocktail menu changes monthly, but it usually features outstanding palomas and takes on American classics, such as a tequila Old Fashioned spiked with tepache. [$$]

A bartender pours a bottle into a jigger, behind glasses lined up for drinks
Dispensing precious agave spirits.
El Gallo Altanero/Facebook

Restaurante Allium

In the trendy Americana neighborhood, chef partners Adolfo Galnares and Maria Ortega offer a farm-to-table dining experience in a contemporary space complete with white walls accented by thin, horizontal wooden slats and a rooftop garden. Start with an escamoles toast — spread with avocado and earthy ant eggs cooked in garlic and hoja santa — and the crowd favorite, a creamy risotto de huitlacoche enriched with artisanal butter from Atotonilco and shiitake mushrooms. Then enjoy the local catch of the day prepared using Mexican techniques, such as the tuna with sikil pak, a spicy pumpkin seed salsa from the Yucatán. Pair it with a house gin tonic made with prickly pear. [$$$]

A piece of cooked fish in a pool of bright green sauce dotted with vegetables
Fish is a highlight at Allium.
Restaurante Allium

Café palReal

Start with a cup of Café Estelar from Nayarit at chef Fabian Delgado’s sunny, inviting space located in Arcos Vallarta, where the trendy brunch scene reflects a young, upwardly mobile crowd. “Pimp out” your red or green chilaquiles with eggs, pork belly, or flank steak, or order an omelet filled with Chihuahua cheese wrapped in pungent hoja santa. The star of the menu, though, is the lonche de pancita, a pork belly confit torta with black beans, avocado, and salsa verde. Consider a shaken carajillo (coffee with Licor 43) before heading out to explore. [$$]

La Panga del Impostor

Guadalajara is second only to Ensenada as a destination for seafood in Mexico, and chef Antonio de Livier, a Mexicali native, offers some of the best at this retro blue-and-white cevicheria. It’s the ideal lunch spot for seafood cocktails, clam birria, and signature tostadas like tuna with blackened habanero, washed down with Loba Blanka, a witbier from a local craft brewery. [$$]

Hueso

The ivory walls of chef Alfonso “Poncho” Cadena’s thematic modern Mexican restaurant are decorated with bones and anatomical patterns. The design, by his brother,