Guadalajara City Guide

by Jose Marc Castro on August 19, 2008

mexicoIMAGE200Guadalajara is the capital city of the state of Jalisco. It is located at the central region in the western-Pacific area of Mexico. It serves as the capital of the state and the seat of the municipality of Guadalajara.  It is the core of Guadalajara Metropolitan Area, which is a conurbation of the municipalities of Tlaquepaque, Zapopan, Tlajomulco de Zuñiga, Salto, El Tonalá, Ixtlahuacán del Río, and Juanacatlán.  The metropolitan area had a total population of 4,112,332 in 2005, making it the second most populous metropolitan area, after Greater Mexico City.  

Guadalajara is one of Mexico’s centers for culture, history, economy, industry, and tourism.  It is the birthplace of Mariachi music, sombreros, charreadas (rodeos, the Mexican hat dance and the popular Mexican liquor, tequila.  Its historic center is reminiscent of its rich colonial past, with its colonial architecture, old basilicas, and plazas.  The city is also known as the “Mexican Silicon Valley”, as it is the country’s leading producer of software applications as well as electronic and digital components.  It is also regarded as the industrial capital of western Mexico for its industries in textile and clothing, leather goods, metal works, processed food, and pharmaceuticals. The city’s proximity to beaches, lakes, and other tourist destinations makes it an attractive spot for visitors.

Guadalajara took its name from a town in Spain, given by its founder, the Spanish explorer Cristóbal de Oñate.  The settlement was founded in 1531, and was first established in other areas, before settling it in its present location. Guadalajara became one of colonial Mexico’s important cities, serving as the capital of the province of Nueva Galicia in 1560.  The city had its share of battles during Mexico’s fight for independence and the Cristero War.  After the tumulus events in its history, Guadalajara continued to expand and develop.  Its growth and development came to a halt in 1992 when the city experienced several explosions cause by Gasoline-laced sewers.  The tragedy took many lives and damaged numerous infrastructures. This event, and the economic crisis of 1994, caused Guadalajara its industrial power.   These events prompted Guadalajara to search for other venues of development.  This led to a stronger and better service sector to enliven Mexico’s economy once again.

Residential Places in Guadalajara

Guadalajara has been in fluxed by expatriates who are either there to relocate as retirees or work as corporate professionals.  There are several upscale gated communities in Guadalajara that are seemed to be preferred by the corporate expatriates, and one of these is the Santa Anita Golf Club situated in the municipality of Tlajomulco de Zuñiga.  Its residential homes are built around an 18-hole golf course, which is surrounded by wide-open spaces and scenic vistas.  Access to this upscale residential community of Guadalajara is controlled.  It sits in the southwest suburb of Guadalajara and is 35 minutes away from the American school.  It is also a 5-minute drive from a Wal-Mart and a 15-minute drive from a variety of other shops.

Ciudad Bugambilias is another gated community located in the southeastern suburb of metropolitan Guadalajara.  It features a small mall in the subdivision and a sports club with a panoramic view.  It is also a 35-minute drive from the American school.  Two other gated communities in Guadalajara are the adjacent gated communities of Colinas de San Javier and Lomas Del Valle.  They are centrally located within the city and sits 15 minutes away from the American School and the area’s shopping centers.

Other prestigious gated communities in Guadalajara are las Cañadas, el Palomar, Valle Real, and Country Club.  Many of these residential developments are found in one of the wealthiest districts of the metropolitan, such as Puerta de Hierro.

Some expats though do not share the same idea of idyllic life in Guadalajara, as shared in a post on the Mexico Expat Forum last January 19, 2009:

Guadalajara is great for visiting or spending a night, however as pointed out by RVGRINGO, Chapala and environnement is a much better place to live. We got all the conveniences here, cultural and otherwise, even got a new Wal-Mart, Internet service is great, you like charity you got it, you like joining whatever group fancies you, we got it. And the very best is the climate, they call it paradise and I agree it is.

Hospitals and Universities of Guadalajara

Guadalajara is home to several universities of national and international prestige.  One of these is the state run Universidad de Guadalajara.  Established in 1791, it is Mexico’s second oldest institution for higher learning and among the oldest in the world.  The university also holds a reputation as one of the country’s excellent institutions for learning.  Early on, it had established facilities for international students.   In 1948, the Foreign Student Studies Center was established to provide an opportunity for international students to learn Spanish, as well as to gain knowledge of Mexican and Latin American culture.   The center has around 2,500 international students each year.

Another prestigious university in Guadalajara is ITESO, or the Western Institute of Technology and Higher Education.  ITESO is a Jesuit university located at Tlaquepaque, a nearby municipality in Guadalajara Metropolitan Area.  It has approximately 8,000 students and offers a wide-range of courses.   The Universidad Panamericana, on the other hand, is a Catholic university famed for its law and business schools.  It also has several exchange agreements with other foreign universities, such as the University of Westminster and the Université de Montréal.  It has three campuses, with one located in the city.  Another notable institution for higher learning is the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, which is a private university located in the nearby municipality of Zapopan.  It holds a reputation as one of the best universities in Latin America, attracting students from all over Mexico, South America, Canada, and the United States.  Much of its prestige is due to its medical school, which is the oldest private medical school in the country.

Other notable prominent institutions in Guadalajara are Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Universidad del Valle de Mexico, and Universidad del Valle de Atemajac.

As a major city, Guadalajara is home to several public and private hospitals, which provides affordable, quality healthcare.  Below is a table detailing their location, contact numbers, and service specialties.

Hospitals and Clinics in Guadalajara Metropolitan Area
Hospital/Clinic Services Address Telephone
Guadalajara Civil Hospital Emergency, services, general care, specialized consulting rooms 4420 Calle El Retiro, Guadalajara (52-33) 3614-7629

Hospital del Carmen Emergency services, ambulance, surgical specialties 3435 Calle Tarascos, Fraccionamiento Monraz, Guadalajara (52-33) 3813-0025
Mexican American Hospital Emergency services, general care, specialized units, bilingual staff 2110 Calle Colomos, Ladrón de Guevara, Guadalajara (52-33) 3640-0492
(52-33) 3641-3141
Central Surgery Hospital of Guadalajara Emergency services, internal medicine, ambulatory general surgery 1661 Avenida España, Moderna, Guadalajara (52-33) 3812-4290
San Javier Hospital Nuclear medicine, cardiology, gastroenterology, modern medical technologies, 5-star hotel standard of accommodations, transportation by ambulance or helicopter 640 Avenida Pablo Casals, Providencia, Guadalajara (52-33) 3669-0222
Americas Hospital General care for all specialties, bilingual staff, accepts internal insurance  932 Avinida Americas, Hidalgo, Guadalajara (52-33) 3817-3141
(52-33) 3817-3004
Mariana Clinic Hospital Medical and surgical services on all specialties, child delivery 200 Monte Jura, Independencia, Guadalajara (52-33) 3637-8485
(52-33) 3638-1615
Ferrocarril Medical-Surgical Clinic Childbirth, pediatrics, obesity control  # 1794, Calle 10, Ferrocarril, Guadalajara (52-33) 3812-4521
(52-33) 3811-7363

San Pedro Apostle Clinic General care for all specialties, emergency services 463 Calle Emilio Carranza, Tlaquepaque, Guadalajara (52-33) 3657-7508
(52-33) 3659- 2314
Santa Maria de Guadalupe Clinic General, internal, and mother and child medicine, general surgery 1652 Avinida Colon, Morelos, Guadalajara (52-33) 3812- 5448
(52-33) 3812 5396

Morales Clinic of Guadalajara Pediatrics, internal medicine, general surgery 1652 Avenida Colon, Morelos, Guadalajara (52-33) 3812- 5448
(52-33) 3812- 5396
Macias Clinic of Specialties Emergency services, general care, mother and child medicine 120 José Luis Verdia, Reforma, Guadalajara (52-33) 3617- 2816
(52-33) 3618- 3868

Commercial Establishments in Guadalajara

Guadalajara is a true shopper’s paradise with its variety of shops and shopping centers that sell almost all possible merchandise at much lower prices.  One of the city’s newest and largest shopping center is Plaza Galerías, which sits at the crossing of the Vallarta and Rafael Sanzio avenidas.  It boasts of the city’s biggest multiplex cinema, a multi-level parking, dozens of shops and boutiques that carried top international brands, and a supermarket.  Another large shopping center in Guadalajara is La Gran Plaza Fashion Mall, which sits along Avenida Vallarta.  This upscale 3-storey shopping center features multiplex cinemas, shops and boutiques for shoes, clothes, household items, and, and books, and several restaurants that specializes in international and contemporary cuisine.  Guadalajara is also home to a shopping center dedicated specially for shoes.  The Galeria del Calzado, located along Avenida México and Avenida Yaquis, boasts of 60 shoe stores interspersed with a few clothing boutiques.

The city’s other notable shopping centers are Plaza del Sol along Avenida López Mateos Sur, Plaza Patria that is enclosed by the Patria, Ávila Camacho and Américas avenidas, Plaza Mexico along Avenida México, Gran Plaza, and Centro Magno y Plaza located between Avenida Vallarta and Avenida López Cotilla.  All these establishments feature cinemas, various shops and boutiques, department   stores, and several cafes and restaurants.  Also notable are the Libertad Market, or San Juan de Dios Market, which is one of Latin America’s largest enclosed markets, and Tlaquepaque, which is a famed venue for shopping for home furnishings.

Shopping in Guadalajara was described in a post at the Mexico Expat Forum last February 23, 2009:

Every neighborhood will have small, economical markets and weekly ‘tianquis’ where you may shop. There are also ‘mercados publicos’ in every town and city of any size and in ‘barios’ in major cities like Guadalajara. “Safely?” Much of the produce that you are eating in the USA came from here and there is no ‘magic treatment’ at the border. You are about to enjoy the freshest, naturally ripened fruits and vegetables you can imagine.


The state of Jalisco has been blessed with a climate and geographical location well suited for agriculture and livestock.  As a result, a myriad of fresh produce is readily available in developing the region’s cuisine.  Jalisco   cuisine is a fusion of pre-Hispanic and European cuisines, as a result of the colonial era.  This fusion of flavors has influenced the country’s cuisine and is reflected in the many dining establishments found in Guadalajara.  Some notable dining establishments in the city are the gourmet restaurant El Sacromonte at Pedro Moreno, the tequila museum/restaurant La Destilería on Avenida México, Birriería Cocula at Federalismo Norte, Café Madrid at Juárez, Casa Fuerteat Independencia, Casco Viejo along Avenida México, El Abajeño on Avenida Vallarta, El Gusto Mexicano at Plaza del Sol, La Chata on Avenida Corona, La Fonda de San Miguel at Donato Guerra, and La Hacienda at the Hotel Fiesta Americana.

Guadalajara also has restaurants that serve international and other ethnic cuisine.  Some international restaurants in Guadalajara are Belvedere along Avenida De las Rosas, El Anfitrión on Carlos Dickens, Sanborn’s at Juarez, Jacarandas at the Hotel Crown Plaza, and Aquellos Tiempos along Avenida Vallarta.

Japanese restaurants in the city include Akita along Avenida López Mateos Sur, Biwon along Avenida López Mateos, Bonsai along Avenida Guadalupe, Daiichiro at Río Tuito, and Sushi Nori on Avenida México.  Meanwhile, the Dragón de Oro along Avenida Las Américas, Formosa Gardens on Avenida Unión, and Men-Hong on Avenida Las Américas are some of the Chinese restaurants in Guadalajara.

The Chez Pierre along Avenida España, Círculo Francés along Avenida López Cotilla, El Cuervo Sabio on Homero Boulevard, La Noche on Avenida López Mateos, and Le Grand Bordeaux at López Cotilla are some of the city’s French restaurants, while Da Napoli along Avenida López Mateos, and El Italiano on Avenida México are some of its Italian restaurants.

Also found in Guadalajara are Argentinean restaurants, such as Barrio de Tango along Avenida Hidalgo, El Tango on Avenida Guadalupe, and La Estancia Gaucha on Avenida Niños Héroes, as well as the Brazilian restaurants Amazonia along Avenida Niño Obrero and Espeto on Avenida Chapultepec.

Steakhouses also abound in the city, such as those of Arthur’s at Chapultepec, Café Martinique at López Cotilla, Carnes Asadas Tolsa along Avenida Enrique Díaz de León, El Ganadero on Avenida Las Américas, and Hacienda Azteca on Avenida López Mateos.

Night Spots

As the home of the Mariachi music, Guadalajara is certainly a city of music lovers.  There are countless nightspots all over the city that can cater to anyone’s music preference.  There are restaurants and bubs with live music, jazz and piano bars, discos, salsa clubs, and other dance clubs found anywhere in the city.  Some of the Mariachi bars in Guadalajara are Bariachi on Avenida Vallarta, Guadalbar on Avenida Guadalupe, and Cantina de los Remedios on Avenida Las Américas.   The Caballo Negroat at the Hotel Fiesta Americana, Copacabana at López Mateos, and El Cubilete at Río Seco are some of the city’s Salsa bars, while Charros & Charros at Colón, El Mito at the Centro Magno, La Cebolla Roja and Vinci at López Mateos are some of Guadalajara’s dicos.  Some notable jazz and piano bars found in the city are Copenhagen 77 at Marcos Castellanos, El Piano at Fernando de Celada, and Chez Pierre on Avenida España.

Service Establishments of Guadalajara

Teléfonos de México, or Telmex, is a major Mexican telecom company that provides telecommunication products and services in Mexico, as well as in other parts of Latin and North America.  It offers traditional fixed telephony, mobile services with its brand Telcel., as well as Internet access through its brands Telmex Internet Directo Personal and Prodigy Infinitum.  A direct  competitor and an alternative to Telmex is Axtel.  However, this telecom company mainly provides telecommunication services in Mexico and  only offers fixed telephony and Internet services.  It has a branch office along Avenida de la Paz.

Other mobile companies that services Guadalajara are Iusacell  and Unefón.  The former caters to the upper market, while the latter targets the middleclass subscribers.  Other Internet service providers in Guadalajara are Terra, [email protected] [email protected] that offers ADSL and Wi-Fi, and, Avantel, which offers dial-up access and voice over IP services.  Avantel has a branch office at Avenida Americas.

The main power company servicing Guadalajara is Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFD).  Listed below are its branch offices in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area.

Zone Address Telephone
Americas Eulogio Parra 1760 3826-1254
Arboledas Plaza Arboledas 21-24 3811-2100
Beatriz Hernandez Federación & B. Harnadez 3617-2895
El Sauz Avenida Colón 3591
Industrial López de Legaspi 1657 3645-7225
Ixtlahuacan Delicias 5, Ixtl. Del Rio 01-3734-5260
Juárez Felipe Ruvalcaba 5550 3678-8518
Libertad Periférico Nte. 110 3674-7214
Margarita Sta. Esther & Sta. Cecilia 3633-0935
Minerva Avenida Vallarta 3233 (Plaza Exhimodo) 3121-3369
Norte Avenida Tabachines 1181 3660-8072
Oblatos Sto. Tomás and Ventura Anaya 3643-0404
Paradero Marcelino Garcia 1714 3650-2734
Revolución Plan de San Luis 3220 3659-7136
Sur Plaza Pal. 5, Toluquilla 3601-0663
Tesistan Puebla 121 3897-0267
Tlaquepaque Reforma 42 3635-6977
Tonalá Periférico Norte 301 3683-0088
Tránsito Félix Palavicini 1881 3824-3349
Venezuela Washington and Venezuela 3812-6599

Embassies in Guadalajara

Mexico city has the bulk of the foreign embassies in the country.  Only a handful of consulates are located in Guadalajara.  Thses include the Consulate General of the United States at Progreso, Honorary British Consulate  on Jesus de Rojas  at Colonia Los Pinos in Zapopan, Consular Office of Canada  located along Avenida Mariano Otero in Col. Rinconada del Bosque, Consulate of the Netherlands located along Avenida Vallarta, Royal Norwegian Consulate at Antigua Carretera a Chapala, and the Consulate of the Philippines on Calle Justo Sierra at Col. Ladron de Guevara.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

barrabeth November 6, 2009 at 7:10 am

Thanks for all the useful info on Guadalajara. Does anyone have information or comments about reputable plastic surgeons in the area?


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