On the last weekend of June, I ventured off to Guadalajara and Tequila in the states of Jalisco in Mexico. Guadalajara is the main city in Jalisco and Tequila is a short one hour drive outside, and yes this is where Tequila the liquor is made.
The fun thing about traveling during this time was in light of South Korea’s loss allowing Mexico to advance in the FIFA World Cup 2018, was that everyone in Mexico immediately asked if I was Korean, sometimes I said yes, sometimes I was honest. When I did say yes, the locals went wild and declared me their “Hermano” (brother).
Guadalajara is very similar to Mexico City, but less congested, less sprawled out, less crowded and more laid back. There is a bus system but not quite a metro yet (under construction), the way to get around is by Uber (super cheap) or renting a car, especially if you want to head out to Tequila. The main airport in the region is Guadalajara, and serves domestic and many U.S. cities.
Tequila is a lovely quaint valley town. You can drive here, take a bus or hop on the Tequila train from Guadalajara and start getting drunk along the way. This is the only place where Tequila can be produced as Tequila must be made from blue agave and in Tequila. Mezcal on the other hand can be made from a variety of agave plants. Unfortunately we were unable to taste tequila at the distillery of Jose Cuervo because of the law, Presidential Elections were happening the next morning and to ensure people arent drunk at polls they restrict alcohol sales, even though restaurants and bars in both Tequila and Guadalajara were still serving plenty of drinks. Thank God, as I would have been so sad to not have had any sip of Tequila in Tequila.
As with Mexico City, it is cheap to travel here, even what is locally considered expensive food is relatively cheap in comparison to the states. Tequila flows here so dont worry about that.
We stayed with a friend on this trip, but there are plenty of hotel or AirBnB options in Guadalajara and some 4 star options are all under $100 per night.
My recommendation though, for a weekend trip, is to stay overnight in Tequila and enjoy the quaintness of the small town, and the good food and the variety of high quality tequila you can sample and all agave related products, including spa products!
- We arrived nonstop from the United States in the early afternoon at Guadalajara International Airport.
- Our friend picked us up and we were off on our way for the 1-1.5 hour drive through Guadalajara and country roads towards Tequila.
- Once parked (50 Peso parking for the whole day), we walked towards the town center where the Jose Cuervo Distillery and Museum is. We signed up for a 3PM tour. Like I mentioned, only the general tour was offered on this day, and no tours could offer any forms of tasting, which was such a tease when we stopped at parts where they normally let people taste some tequila!
- The tour itself was very cool. Nice insights into how tequila is made and where Tequila comes from and how it is a vital part of Mexican identity. The tour itself lasts about an hour. One cool thing that we did get to taste was agave, super sweet and chewy.
- To reconcile for the fact that we could not taste a single drop of tequila on the tour, they opened up the Reserva de Familia chamber (featured image on left) that is normally reserved for private tastings or events. This was neat as we saw where they store the oldest of Jose Curevos from the family’s reserve.
- After the tour we were starving and really wanted to try some Tequila. We stopped by the restaurant across the street, Restaurante de Cholula, yes, the hot sauce brand. While touristy and pricey for the region, it was actually quite tasty and they served Reserva de Familia Jose Cuervo. Definitely go straight for the Anejo one, a.k.a the most expensive pour, it tastes nothing like Tequila and is more like a whisky or cognac due to the aging process. Incredible. We had some guacamole and I ordered steak with agave nectar sauce and guac, it was delicious. I also tried some locally brewed Mexican chocolate stout beer, which was great too.
- Afterwards we spent some time wandering the main square and Church of Santiago Apostol. I stopped by a street stall to grab some Tequila Ice Cream, which tasted like agave. We also stumbled upon a wedding as well as Danza de los Voladores ritual, a Meso-American ancient ceremony to wish for rain and good crops.
- At around 5pm we started the drive back to Guadalajara.
- After a quick evening break to recharge, we headed out to Guadalajara in the late evening.
- First stop was a popular Taco joint in Guadalajara, Tacos Provedencia, for some incredibly delicious street tacos. We had Asada, al pastor, lengua, camaza, cachete, and Macizo tacos, the best for me was Al Pastor. Dinner ended with Mexican flan for dessert.
- We then took a short uber to Templo Expiatorio del Santismo the main church in the city center. It is a beautiful church.
- A short walk from the Templo is La Chukirruki where they serve Pulque, a white liquor that comes from the fermenting agave before it becomes tequila. I had some guava infused Pulque which was delicious and refreshing.
- From there we walked to Peter Brown Bar, this bar is popular and packed. We could not get a seat but nonetheless stood in a corner and ordered some drinks. Mezcal shots as well as Tomate Clamato (tomato clam juice cocktail with beer), a local favorite that is delicious.
- From here we walked along the main avenue in Guadalajara, Ave. Chapultepec. We ended the night at Cantina Mexicaltzingo bar/club where more shots of tequila were poured and we danced the night away.
- Upon waking up with a hangover our crew needed a hangover breakfast cure. In Guadalajara, the popular dish for any occasion is Torta Ahogada, we had it at Tortas Ahogadas Charlie Lucky. It means drowning sandwich and is essentially a meat sandwich that you top with onions and lettuce and drown with a broth and a touch of chili sauce. Delicious, comforting and soothing. Just dont go ham on the hot sauce because its usually really hot.
- After being fed and awoken, we headed off to the airport for an early afternoon departure back to the United States.
I would return to Tequila and stay overnight there in the future. Not only because I really like the vibes of the town but because I want to visit the distilleries the right way and sample a variety of tequilas, including some rare ones that you cant find outside of Tequila. Over all I do recommend visiting this area of Mexico though, but just remember that getting drunk in any way shape or form is highly likely.