Guadalajara is a dynamic city with a host of nightlife options. There are traditional cantinas, trendy dance clubs, and live music venues, as well as a flourishing craft beer scene, and cultural offerings galore. Chapultepec Avenue and Zapopan are home to especially lively action after dark, but you’ll find bars and clubs throughout the city. If you’re in Jalisco’s capital and looking to spend a great night out on the town, these are some of the best places to enjoy Guadalajara’s fabulous nightlife.
Guadalajara is often thought of as the home of traditional Mexican culture, so it’s no surprise that you’ll find many classic cantinas here, some of which have been around for more than 100 years. These historical bars offer comfortable spaces where friends gather to drink, talk, and snack for hours. The drink of choice here is generally beer or tequila, and some places offer a complimentary snack with each round of drinks. Traditionally these establishments were strictly for men, but nowadays women are welcome (though women who aren’t in the company of men may be subject to unwanted attention).
- Cantina La Fuente: This classic cantina in downtown Guadalajara attracts a friendly, unpretentious crowd of all ages. A bicycle in a niche above the bar is said to have been left by a patron in the 1950s who couldn’t cover his tab; he left his bike as a guarantee of his return but never came back.
- Cantina La Occidental: Also located in the historical center, this cantina has a lively and welcoming atmosphere with the feel of a set from the golden age of Mexican cinema. There are live bands playing Cuban trova and bolero music on Thursday and Sunday nights.
- Cantina La Iberia: Dating back to before the time of the Mexican Revolution, this is said to be the oldest cantina in the city. You can enjoy a spicy shrimp soup or a torta ahogada (drowned sandwich) with your drinks and imagine what Guadalajara would have looked like in those times.
- Cantina Mexicaltzingo: Located in the Chapultepec area, this bar has a laid-back pub atmosphere in the afternoon but after dark, it transforms into a nightclub. There’s occasional live music, and they serve excellent traditional Mexican cuisine.
If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, consider one of these hip speakeasy-type lounges in the Colonia Americana.
- La Oliveria: This bar has an ambiance inspired by Prohibition-era New York City. They serve hand-crafted cocktail combinations with occasional live jazz, folk, and blues performances.
- Pigalle Named after the Paris Quartier that’s home to the red light district, this cocktail bar specializes in bitters-based beverages. With a classic speakeasy feel, it’s a great spot to relax and sip a cocktail prepared by one of the friendly mixologists. On warm nights, arrive early to nab a spot on the tiny terrace.
- Chango Vudú: Located in a windowless basement with fluorescent lighting and graffiti, there’s a low-lit bar along one wall where you can order beer or cocktails. An eclectic range of live music acts perform here, with a focus on jazz and electro, as well as hip-hop.
- Pare de Sufrir: They’ve got an extensive selection of mezcal, and you can also find the lesser-known raicilla and bacanora, other spirits made from agave. The decor features bright murals and string lights, and the music runs the gamut from cumbia to rockabilly.
Mexico’s craft beer scene has flourished, and Guadalajara is one of the cities that’s leading the trend. In the past five years, more than a dozen microbreweries have emerged in the city. Here are a few to check out:
- Laboratorio Cervecero: This indoor beer garden concept offers the best opportunity to sample a variety of craft brews. It’s a huge space with a festival-like atmosphere and several different breweries, each with their own stall. Go around and try as many as you can, and enjoy some snacks with your drinks.
- El Grillo: El Grillo is a relaxed craft beer bar with a wide selection from across Mexico and the U.S. Sit outside so you can enjoy the lively atmosphere on Chapultepec Avenue. Indoors, the low-lit walls are decorated with beer mats from around the world.
- Ambar: This spot is located close to El Grillo and also has a pleasant outside space. They serve bottled beers sourced from all over the globe and pub fare which includes hamburgers, baguettes, sausages and fries, and some vegetarian options.
- Cerveza Minerva: Cerveza Minerva is one of Mexico’s original independent craft breweries. You can sample their regular brews as well as a variety of special editions in the tasting room, and there’s a full food menu to complement what’s on tap. Make a reservation if you’d like to take a tour of the brewery to learn about their production methods.
- Patan Ale House: With 24 types of draft available, and a bowl of complimentary popcorn with every round, you can spend an enjoyable afternoon and evening sampling beer while listening to rock and indie classics. They also have a full food menu with items like poutine, sandwiches, and pizza. Their roof terrace is a lovely spot to enjoy Guadalajara’s warm evenings.
Guadalajara’s dance clubs don’t get started until well after midnight, and the party goes until the early hours of the morning (4 or 5 a.m. on the weekends).
- Bar Américas: This popular night club is a good option for an after-party if you want to keep dancing ‘til dawn. The large underground space has two rooms with several bars, elevated seating areas, and a dance floor where you can dance to electronic beats played by cutting-edge DJs.
- Kin Kin: With red-lit brick walls and disco balls spinning, this underground club exudes a hip party atmosphere. This spot is known for its creative cocktails with gin, vodka, and mezcal. Local and international DJs spin electronic music all night and on weekends the space is packed to the hilt.
Puerto Vallarta may be known as the best gay travel destination in Mexico, but Guadalajara has a large and active gay community and hosts a major pride parade every year in June. Here are a few gay bars that are worth checking out.
- California’s Bar: A Mexican-style cantina located in the Centro Historico, this club is housed in a historical building. California’s Bar draws in a diverse crowd, which is especially dense on the small dance floor.
- Envy: A popular gay club with locations in Puebla and Mexico City, Envy Guadalajara is only open on Saturdays, but the party lasts until the early hours. The vibe is casual, but it gets busy, so it’s a good idea to make a reservation in advance.
- Babel: With three different levels, each with its own style, this club appeals to a variety of tastes. On the first floor, they play pop and reggaeton, on the second, electronic music, and the third floor is where the drag queens perform. There’s also a terrace where you can take a breather from the show inside.
If you’d like to take in some live entertainment, there are some good options in Guadalajara, including the following:
- Barbanegra: This lively rock and roll bar has a pirate-themed decor and bands playing nightly from Wednesday through Saturday. Wednesday is “mermaids night" (i.e. ladies’ night) with free martinis for women.
- Centro Cultural Breton: A bar/cafe with a bohemian vibe, and performances of soul, blues, and rock on Tuesday through Saturday. This casual hangout spot has various lounging areas and a menu with crepes and a good selection of craft beers.
- Gran Salón Corona: This live music dance hall is the place to be if you’re looking for Latin rhythms. Thursdays are salsa and bachata night, and on weekends it’s a tropical fiesta theme. The cabaret-inspired decor features a large dance floor surrounded by stadium-style elevated seating areas with tables and booths. If you didn’t bring a dance partner, not to worry: there are resident dancers, and dance classes are offered on Thursdays and Fridays before opening time.
Events or Activities
If you’d prefer to join an organized nighttime activity, there are many events and excursions you can enjoy in Guadalajara after the sun goes down.
- Taking a Guadalajara Pub Crawl is a good idea for solo travelers or couples who would rather go out in a group accompanied by a local who can show them the ropes. You’ll visit a few different bars, and drinks are included.
- The Teatro Degollado hosts concerts and performances throughout the year. Ask at the ticket booth for a list of events. You may be able to catch a concert by the Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra, or a folk dance performance by the University of Guadalajara’s Ballet Folclórico troupe.
- Tianguis de Chapultepec is held on Saturday evenings throughout the year. From 6 p.m. until midnight, there’s a lively atmosphere with stalls set up along Avenida Chapultepec selling a variety of goods, and you’ll see some street performers as well.
Tips for going out in Guadalajara
Drinking Age: The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18.
Dress Code: If you’re going to a cantina or a craft beer bar, casual dress is perfectly fine, but for nightclubs and upscale establishments, you should try to take it up a notch and avoid wearing sportswear and flip flops.
Open Containers: It’s illegal to drink alcoholic beverages in public spaces, but the authorities rarely interfere with discrete public drinkers who don’t create a disturbance.
Cover Charge and Tips: Many clubs only implement a cover charge on weekends and holidays. Going early may help you to avoid the cover charge. Women may be offered free admission not only on Ladies’ Nights but also early in the evening or during slow periods.
Keep Tabs on Your Tab: Check food and drink prices before ordering and keep track of your tab. It’s a good idea to close out your drinking tab after every two rounds to keep things simple and ensure no extra charges are added. It’s best to carry and pay in cash rather than with a card.
Transportation: City buses stop running by 10 p.m. or earlier. Taxis and Uber are available. Taxis are generally safe, but as an extra precaution (particularly if you’re taking a cab alone at night), take a photo of the taxi number on the side of the car and send it to your friends.