So much to eat and so little time. The foodie scene in Guadalajara is bustling and there are a ton of traditional foods that you should try while visiting the Perla Tapatía. Some of these dishes are exclusive to Guadalajara while others are found all over the republic. Its worth exploring to find the traditional food of Guadalajara. These are dishes and restaurants that the Tapatíos love and many have been around for a long time.
Birria is Jalisco’s solution to the overpopulation of an invasive species. Goats were introduced to the Americas by the Spanish in the 16th century and the population quickly got out of hand. The solution was a heavily spiced and slow roasted stew. The original recipe calls for goat meat but people make birria out of just about any protein you can imagine.
La Torta Ahogada
Love it or hate it the Torta Ahogada is probably the most emblematic dish in this part of Mexico. There is something about the bread, birote salado, that makes this sandwich really hard to replicate in other parts of the world. I heard a story about a guy in Los Angeles that has a shipment of birotes from Guadalajara sent to Tijuana once a month. He drives down to Tijuana from Los Angeles to pick them up and has a Torta Ahogada party. Given the number of Tapatíos in Los Angeles there is no shortage of demand.
Carne en su Jugo
Beef, bacon and bean soup that’s surprisingly good. There are three of the local favorites all on the same block of Calle Garibaldi in the Santa Teresita neighborhood. Karne Garibaldi has a world record for fast service and feels a little more corporate. Kamilos 333 has a rustic Mexican vibe going on with a huge parking lot out back. De la Torre feels a little more home style. They are all excellent representations of the style.
Calle José Clemente Orozco 333, Santa Teresita, Guadalajara
Calle Garibaldi 1306, Santa Teresita, Guadalajara
De La Torre
Calle Garibaldi 1347, Santa Teresita, Guadalajara
Tacos de Barbacoa
Guadalajara’s taco de barbacoa is unique. Not to be confused with the lamb dish that is typical in Hidalgo and Mexico State, the Guadalajara style barbacoa is made with stewed beef, tomatoes and chiles. These tacos carry a double tortilla. The inner tortilla soaks up the juice from the meat and the outer tortilla is fried crispy on the comal. A lot of the restaurants will serve you a little cup of broth to go with your tacos. Tacos de barbacoa are exclusively served in the morning and early afternoon and I have yet to find a nighttime barbacoa joint.
Av Naciones Unidas 5040, Jardines Universidad, Zapopan
Omar Carlos Restaurant
Av. Manuel Clouthier 1682, Mirador del Sol, Zapopan
Pozole is a favorite traditional soup not just in Guadalajara but all across Mexico. There are a number of regional styles, or colors, but what remains constant is the large grain corn (hominy) and pork. In Guadalajara most of the pozole is while or red depending on the types and quantity of chiles that are used to flavor the broth. The corn is treated with an alkaline solution that breaks down the cellular membrane of the corn and makes it easier to digest and tasty! Acompanied by various cuts of pork, lettuce, onion, lime and a spice chile de arbol sauce. Found in markets, cenadurias (traditional restaurants), street side food stalls and at special occasions, you should be try pozole in a couple different places to find your favorite.
La Morenita del Santuario Centro
Calle Pedro Loza 527, Zona Centro, Guadalajara
La Morenita del Saltuario Chapalita
Av Guadalupe 1263, Chapalita Oriente, Zapopan
Menudo is something that most people in the United States are not accustomed to eating but that you should definitely try. It is a soup that is made out of beef stomach and chiles. Menudo is usaully served with cuts of tripe, honeycomb and trotters. If you are not sure about the cuts of meat than try just a broth and doctor it up with oregano, onion, lime and some spicy chiles. Menudo has a reputation as a hangover cure.
Calle 2 4-202, Comercial Abastos, Guadalajara
Menuderia y Carnes Asadas Alfonso
Calle 2 4, Comercial Abastos, Guadalajara
Menuderia La Familia Doña José
Av. Xochitl 4593, Prados Tepeyac, Zapopan
Tejuino con Nieve de Limón
Tejuino is the bomb. It is a lightly fermented corn drink that is usually served with a scoop of lemon ice. Nixtamal corn masa is mixed with water and piloncillo sugar and left to ferment for about a week. The resulting beverage is not alcoholic but it is not uncommon for people to prepare a tejuino with a beer or even a shot of tequila.
The tejuino carts are seen all over the city especially in the summer months before the rain. Do not hesitate to stop the tejuino man and get a cup of that sweet corn beverage. You won’t be disappointed.
Distilled Agave Spirits
Just about everyone is familiar with tequila and the blue agave but what most people don’t realize is that this is just a tiny sample of the agaves that are used to make distilled spirits. Jalisco is famous for agave fields but most people only try one kind of agave that usually goes through an industrial process of fermentation and distillation. The communities around Mascota, San Sebastián del Oeste and El Tuito have been making raicilla for centuries. A blend of wild agaves is harvested from the mountains, and using an ancestral process, is turned into a distilled spirit. If you are interested in learning more about the cultural significance of the agave plant and all of its distilled products, I highly recommed visiting Pedro Jimenez in Mezonte. Pedro gives guided tours and classes about the culture of distilled agave spirits. He is one of the foremost experts in this part of Mexico.
Mezonte. Destilados Mexicanos de Agave
Calle Argentina 299, Americana, Guadalajara
De La O
Calle Argentina 70, Americana, Guadalajara
Cantaritos and Cazuelas
Wherever you find distilled agave spirits you are going to find cantaritos and cazuelas. These are iconic mixed drinks from Jalisco that usually use tequila but can easily substitute a raicilla or a mezcal depending on where you are. The recipe calls for fresh lime, orange and grapefruit juice mixed with Squirt and a little bit of salt. A cantaro is a clay jar that was commonly used to hold the water in a kitchen. In the old days the water had to be boiled to make it safe for human consumption. A cantarito is a play on that clay water jug, but this one is filled with a cocktail. Feel free to order one without alcohol. They are great no matter what!
Cantaritos el Guero
Carretera Amatitan-Tequila, Amatitan, Jalisco
It’s a Mexican creme brulee. There is a cool story about a nun from Jerica, Spain what would make this dessert for the orphans in the Hospicio Cabañas in the 19th century. Don’t worry about the burnt top, that is exactly how they are supposed to look. In fact, the more burnt the better.
Nieves de Garrafa
There is a ton of great ice cream in Guadalajara but one particular place stands out. Nieves de Garrafa Chapalita has a little different style than the rest. They serve both milk and water based nieves but they are using an old fashioned production style that employs rock salt and blocks of ice. The temperature of the ice cream is not as cold as if it were held in a freezer which makes the texture a lot softer. This place is a local favorite!
Nieves de Garafa Chapalita
Tepeyac 1207, Chapalita, Zapopan
Churros and Hot Chocolate
Churros are another Guadalajara favorite that can be found all over Latin America and Spain. There is something special about restaurants that have been around for years, spanning generations. Churros La Bombilla is one of those special restaurants and if yo don’t believe me, you should believe Guillermo Del Toro. Churros La Bombilla are always on his list
Churros La Bombilla
Calle López Cotilla 751, Moderna, Guadalajara
The buñuelo is a tradition that dates back to the Spanish era. In fact you can still find buñuelos in the South of Spain. In Guadalajara buñuelos have been sold in front of the Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe for centuries. Essentially the buñuelo is a fried wheet flour dough with an orange or guava glaze. Some of them are hand stretched and some are cut into intricate shapes before being fried. Look for the street vendors selling buñuelos around Christmas time. They can tell you some awesome stories about the old days.
This is the Mexican version of shaved ice. Sugary sweet fruit syrups are mixed with ice that is shaved off of a huge block.
Av. Manuel Acuña, Providencia, Guadalajara
Calz. Independencia 137, Zona Centro, Guadalajara
Atole and Champurrado
Atole is the nixtamal corn masa that is mixed with water and turned into a beverage. It is served think and piping hot. Champurrado takes atole as a base and flavors it with chocolate, spices or fruit. We love guava champurrado during Christmas time.
Rompope is like a Mexican eggnog that is a favorite around Christmas time. It is an alcoholic beverage made out of emulsified egg yolks and cream. The most common flavor is vanilla but you can find a variety of different flavors. The best rompopes are found in the pueblos surrounding Guadalajara where they have the best ingredients.
Roll de Guayaba
The Guava Roll is my favorite candy typical of the region. It is a super sweet Mexican fruit roll-up that is stuffed with a coconut cream. Not all of the guava rolls have the coconut cream filling but you should ask for the ones that do. There are guava trees all over Guadalajara and when the fruit is in season the entire town smells like guava candy.
Dulce de Leche: Cajeta Quemada
The regional version of Dulce de Leche is made in Sayula, Jalisco with unpasteurized cow’s milk and lots of sugar. The dessert is sold in a distinct wooden package that you break apart to use as a spoon.