Land in Guadalajara and it won’t take long before you’re feeling thirsty. Blue agaves decorate the landscape, mariachi music rings in the air, and billboards for tequila pepper the landscape. Good thing we’ve got you covered with the best places in town to enjoy a good tequila, nibble on tasty botanas and meetup with friends, old and new. Here they are, in no particular order:


Cantina La Fuente

Cantina La Fuente, Guadalajara

Feel like laughing, crying, or breaking out in song over a good tequila? Then we have just the place for you in the historic center of Guadalajara. Cantina La Fuente, established in 1921, feels like an old saloon, complete with an oversized wooden bar, old-school tables, and a piano at center stage. But don’t let the classic feel fool you – this bar is brimming with modern-day city life: coworkers gathering for a drink in the late afternoon, blending with university students and foreign tourists.

The staff is friendly and responsive—drinks come quick and relatively cheap. There’s not a lot of choice when it comes to tequila, but they have Siete Leguas, which is about all you need at a good cantina in our opinion, and tasty sangrita as well. As a bonus, nut and snack sellers frequently make the rounds, so you can keep on drinking and singing into the night.

Cantina La Fuente
Calle Pino Suárez 78, Zona Centro, 44100
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico


Cantina La Occidental

La Occidental Cantina

This classic-style cantina situated in the “Las Nueve Esquinas” (nine corners) area of Guadalajara—a historic downtown zone full of local flavors and traditions—is much newer than La Fuente, but it feels like a well-worn original. Cantina La Occidental features beautifully tiled floors, cozy tables, and interesting artwork on the walls.

Don’t be surprised when the free “botanas” arrive at your table. Plates of food, like spicy sausages, marinated boiled potatoes, popcorn, and nuts, will magically appear the more you drink. A legit cantina experience!

The service is excellent and you’ll have more choices when it comes to tequila. The bar includes about 15 different tequila brands, including our favorite products from Calle 23, Cascahuin, Tequileño, and Siete Leguas.

With two floors, there’s usually plenty of room for you and all your friends, even on a busy night. As a bonus, they are open on Sundays, which is rare for a cantina, and often feature live music to sooth you into the workweek, as well as soccer matches on the TVs.

The next time the World Cup comes around, you will no doubt find us there, cheering for Mexico.

Cantina La Occidental
Calle Nueva Galicia 911, Centro, 44100
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico


El Gallo Altanero

El Gallo Altanero

Tucked behind a trendy espresso bar, on the second floor of an old house, the “haughty rooster” is El Gallo Altanero, one of the best places in Guadalajara to order a tequila or mezcal cocktail, or sample local distillates neat with a knowledgeable staff. Owner Nick Reid and his wife Lupita moved from Australia to get into the tequila business (Nick is co-owner of the Tequila Tromba brand). They opened this lively bar, which regularly fills with industry folk and locals alike, with the intention of giving voice to the small tequila brands that are often overlooked.

Along with pouring tasty spirits, El Gallo also serves excellent bar food. (The huitlacoche quesadillas are some of our favorites!)

This is a must-visit place. You never know which tequila personality you’re going to meet, or when the entire bar gets treated to a free shot of Tromba Blanco. Stay there long enough and you’re likely to experience both.

El Gallo Altanero
Calle Marsella 126, Lafayette, 44160
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico


De La O Cantina

De La O Cantina

Another great place to sip and nibble in the historic center is the De La O Cantina (pronounced “D’lao”, short for “to the side” in Spanish, since sits it is next door to Pare de Sufrir Mezcalería). This new spot, opened in December of 2017, has a nice range of Mexican distillates, including Mexican rum, gin, and of course, the best small batch tequilas and mezcals. The menu boasts some delicious cocktails too, but don’t ask for a mezcal cocktail. They want you to drink mezcal the way the people who make it intended—derecho.

And, no matter how much you think you might not like pulque, try the pulque! (The celery flavored version is our favorite.) Trust us – it’s excellent. As is their “tepache”, a fermented beverage made from pineapple. The bar’s owner, and Louisiana native, Braden LaGrone, sometimes mixes the two just for fun, and you get a real treat. The traditional food, such as cecina and panela cheese, is tasty as well.

The bar closes at midnight (last call is 11:30) and the kitchen ends service at 11pm, so go early and hope you get swept up in an after-party once the doors close.

De La O Cantina
Calle Argentina 70, Americana, 44160
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico


Guilty

Guilty GDL

Grover and I often talk about wanting to go back to pre-boom San Francisco, when you could “discover” a cool bar with down-to-earth staff and excellent cocktails, that’s not crowded with hipsters. (Before Yelp had unearthed absolutely every hidden jewel, leaving nothing unknown!)

Well, you have the chance here in Guadalajara (for now) with Guilty, an elegant bar with great cocktails, craft beer, and a serious spirits list that will have you sampling all night. Come for a dinner as well—the food is fresh, inventive and delicious.

This is also a great place for a date night since there’s plenty of room to have an intimate conversation, away from the other patrons. The bar has a romantic Art Deco vibe, and your date will no doubt be impressed that you invited them to this hidden jewel.

Guilty
Calle Gral Coronado 75-A, Zona Centro, 44600
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico


Salón Monterrey

Salon Monterrey in the Parian

We spend so much time at this tequila-focused bar in Tlaquepaque’s historic Parian that we’ve dubbed it “La Oficina” of Tequila Matchmaker. If you love all things classically Mexican, as we do, you can’t miss this famous 140-year building (made up of connected bar/restaurants), where groups of mariachi roam 7 nights a week, and traditional dancers take center stage for free evening performances. There are a lot of places to chose from here, but Salon Monterrey remains our favorite for its extensive tequila selection, curated by bar manager Augustín, who has worked there for decades!

Come, sit down for tequila and guacamole, while you enjoy the liveliness of the town, and the music in the air.

Pro tip #1- If you want to do serious tequila business, like we do, sit on the outside of the square where the mariachi aren’t as loud, perhaps at our “La Oficina” table.

Pro tip #2- Take a photo of yourself at our table and share it online, and we’ll share it too! If you’re a member of the Tequila Matchmaker community, we’ll even award you a “La Oficina” badge on your profile.

Pro tip #3- While you’re in the neighborhood, be sure to walk 1 block away and visit the 2 best tequila stores in Mexico: El Buho and Nuestros Dulces.

Salón Monterrey
Calle Progreso 21, Centro, 45500
San Pedro Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico


Quinta Don Jose Tequila Bar

Quinta Don Jose Tequila Bar

Tucked away in a beautiful boutique hotel in Tlaquepaque is a restaurant bar that boasts a selection of great tequilas you will rarely find in Mexico. Sample flights, and gorgeous expressions of both the Los Altos and Tequila Valley regions of tequila country.

Full disclosure—we’ve been visiting the Quinta Don Jose for years and are highly biased, but for good reason. Their hospitality, friendly staff, and charming property make it feel like our second home, so they asked us to help curate their tequila selection. Selfishly, we packed the place with all of our favorites. Saddle up to the bar and ask Charlie (pictured, above) to pour you something special.

Of course, they also have a full restaurant menu of Italian and Mexican fare, so enjoy a delicious meal and live music most nights.

If you are a tequila lover, this is a great place to stay. Not just because of the tequila selection, but also because of its central location to both the Los Altos and Tequila Valley regions.

Quinta Don Jose Tequila Bar
Reforma 139, Centro, 45500
San Pedro Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico


Conclusion

Tequila Matchmaker mobile app

These are our picks—if you’ve been to tequila country, where do you like to drink? Thankfully, new places are popping up pretty often, so we will update our list as needed.

And here’s one more pro tip: Be sure to install the Tequila Matchmaker app, which contains a database full of tequila-friendly bars, restaurants, and retail stores in cities around the world, including Guadalajara.

It can map you to all of the places on this list (and more) with ease. Just tap on the “nearby” button on the bottom navigation and start exploring. Then, tell us which are your favorite places in the comments below. (If your favorite tequila places aren’t listed yet, let us know so we can add them!)

Salud!