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Tlaquepaque, Mexico, the artsy city whose historic centre could easily eat up an afternoon (or more) of your time, is also one of the best day trips from Guadalajara, Mexico.
When I lived in Guadalajara, I actually only went to Tlaquepaque twice and both times were to get drunk and watch mariachi, which says a lot both about me and about the levels of ‘traditional Mexico’ you’ll be treated to in this small centro histórico just twenty minutes outside of Mexico’s second city.
The third time I went, I actually did a little more than drink, instead staying for a couple of nights and giving myself some time to really explore the place. So, now that I’ve done both day trips and overnight stays I can confidently say that while both are great options, you should also consider squeezing in an overnight stay to really take advantage of the area.
Anyway, given that I’m rapidly running out of things to say and no one reads introductions anyway, let me hand you over to my full weekend guide to San Pedro Tlaquepaque, Jalisco.
A WEEKEND IN SAN PEDRO TLAQUEPAQUE, JALISCO
HISTORY OF TLAQUEPAQUE
I know what you’re thinking, really I do. How do I even say the name of this place?!
If you’re unfamiliar with Spanish, and even more unfamiliar with the influence of indigenous languages on modern day Mexican Spanish, it’s easy to see why you’d be thrown for a loop with the name of this Jalisco city.
Let’s break it down to the core four syllables: TLA-QUE-PA-QUE, a.k.a., TLA-KEH-PAH-KEH. It’s easy once you know how.
However, Tlaquepaque (taken from the Náhuatl for ‘place above clay land’, according to that omnipotent source of knowledge, Wikipedia) may well be what it’s most commonly known by, but it isn’t its full name. As you might have figured out from the title, this area is actually known as San Pedro Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico.
What you should also know is that Tlaquepaque is huge. Truly massive. It’s a city, after all. But…most people (myself very much included) only know it as a day trip or weekend destination at best because they focus their attentions on nothing more and nothing less than the historic centre. Do I judge them/ me? No, I don’t. The appeal of Tlaquepaque lies not in getting ‘off-the-beaten path’. In fact, it lies in very much sticking to the bloody path.
Is Tlaquepaque safe? If you, as noted, stick to the quiet, heavily pedestrianised Tlaquepaque centro histórico, yes, Tlaquepaque is safe in my opinion. If you branch further out into the surrounding city (which I personally wouldn’t do—there’s nothing much going on), you’re moving in on dodgier territory to be honest. And for no good reason.
I’ve been to Tlaquepaque three times over the years, but not until my last visit did I actually go anywhere other than El Parián, Tlaquepaque (I’ll get to that) and actually buy some food. So, here are a few recommendations for affordable places to eat in Tlaquepaque based on where I actually went…and a few more based on where I wanted to go, just for good measure.
EL JARDÍN | Guillermo Prieto 29, Tlaquepaque
Let me make this clear: El Jardín is not a restaurant, nor is it even a café. It’s just a straight up garden, the central Tlaquepaque garden to be precise, and sometimes known as Jardín Hidalgo, Tlaquepaque. It’s also where I spent most of my time snacking in Tlaquepaque, picking up an elote here and a lonche there from the various street stall stands dotted around.
If you’re looking for affordable, typical Mexican street food snacks in Tlaquepaque, this is the best place to be in my opinion. Pick up a tray of boiled veg (choose from potato, carrot, chayote, broccoli and corn, or combine them all) slathered with cream, cheese and chili sauce. It tastes way better than it sounds and gives the illusion of ~ healthy~ eating to counteract all those tacos you’ve probably been/ are planning on shoving in your face hole while in Mexico too. Win, win.
I also ate a few crispy lonches de pierna (pork sandwiches) from one of the stalls in the square and they were, quite frankly, a bargain at just 25 pesos each. There were also tons of places selling the perennially popular salchipapas/ salchipulpos (a.k.a. hotdog sausages cut up to look like little octopuses, accompanied by chips), and a stall selling crepes for when your sweet tooth gets the best of you.
DOÑA LOLA GORDITAS | Juárez 257-A, Tlaquepaque
Doña Lola Gorditas (or Gorditas Doña Lola) is a true hole-in-the-wall lunch spot, which is essentially the width of a hallway and decorated with all sort of kitsch Mexican objects, like lucha libre masks, action figures and papel picado. I actually found it by accident, but it serves up some classic Jalisco antojitos at very affordable price points too, so it’s a must when you’re in Tlaquepaque and have exhausted the eating options over at El Jardín. I ordered gorditas (please note that Jalisco gorditas are not like the deep fried, stuffed Mexico City gorditas, but are more akin to doughy sopes), but you could also get pellizcadas (also sope-esque) and quesadillas too.
NIEVES DE GARRAFA CHAPALITA | Juárez 247, Tlaquepaque
I love ice cream, but only when the mood takes me and as soon as I saw the line of locals waiting to get a scoop from Nieves de Garrafa Chapalita, I knew I couldn’t just amble on past. I had a blog post about where to eat in Tlaquepaque to write, damnit!
Long story short, this place sells the best nieve de garrafa I’ve ever tried in Mexico and by far and away offers the most unique flavours I’ve ever seen. I think I ordered a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup scoop, but this place had all your ice cream bases covered, from fruits to nuts, alcohol to chocolate bars. I think there was even a gummy bear option.
Related Post: Where to Eat in Guadalajara, Mexico
Where else should I eat in Tlaquepaque? Well, the places above are the only places I’ve grabbed food and drink during my limited time there, but they’re far from the only spots you should check out. I desperately wanted to get dinner at the upscale Zaguan while I was in the area, while I know other people prefer Casa Luna and Adobe Fonda. I’m zero for three on those spots, unfortunately, so you’ll have to chance your luck and try them out for yourself!
As for more substantial and affordable places to eat, various people recommended the (ever classic) market. Honestly though, I’ve lived in Mexico a while and a market is a market is a market for the most part, so I wasn’t rushing to try what was on offer. If you’re just visiting Mexico and Tlaquepaque though, definitely go take a look around and pick up whatever takes your fancy.
Finally, I really wanted to try the (admittedly pretty bizarre) pulque and sushi combo that TlaquePulque serve up.
Related Post: An Introduction to 35 Traditional Mexican Drinks
In all honesty, Tlaquepaque isn’t particularly a place of attractions and ‘true’ things to do. You shouldn’t go there just to tick off specific activities (well, with the exception of stopping by El Parián, Tlaquepaque); instead, you should go to amble around aimlessly, eat leisurely lunches and enjoy the familial atmosphere. However, if (like me) you need something for your aimlessness to aim towards, here are a few things to do in Tlaquepaque.
VISIT THE CHURCHES | Guillermo Prieto, Tlaquepaque
Now, there aren’t as many churches in Tlaquepaque as there are in Puebla (far from it), but this is a Catholic country, so you can still get your ostentatious, gold-covered fix in Tlaquepaque at the Parroquia de San Pedro Apóstol and the Santuario Nuestra Señora de la Soledad.
STOP BY THE SERGIO BUSTAMANTE GALLERY | Independencia 238, Tlaquepaque
Even though the Galería Sergio Bustamante is thought of as more jewellery store than gallery, it’s actually full of Bustamante artworks too and a surprisingly cool (and free) Tlaquepaque point of interest. If you’re a fan of sculptor Sergio Bustamante’s work you’ll love it and if you’re merely curious to know what all the fuss is about, this place provides a great introduction.
They also had some gorgeous crescent moon pieces of jewellery that I’d have happily bought, had I had the money for them.
TOUR THE MUSEUMS
Moving away from sculpting and jewellery, there are also some traditional museums that are worth adding to any Tlaquepaque schedule and will give you an introduction to Tlaquepaque’s most well-known legacy—pottery. The Museo Regional de la Cerámica (Ceramics Museum) is supposed to be fabulous, while the Museo Pantaleón Panduro which brings together hundreds of pieces of folk art for your viewing pleasure.
GO ART GALLERY HOPPING
You know how all roads lead to Rome? Well, in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco all roads lead to art galleries. Honestly, there are tons of them and you’ll find yourself stumbling across more than you’re even inclined to look at…if you’re anything like me, that is. I only stopped by a few, like the Alba León Galería and Casa de las Bicicletas, but there are far more than just those to be explored.
CATCH A MARIACHI SHOW AT EL PARIÁN | Juárez 68, Tlaquepaque
I mentioned in the intro to this subsection (don’t feel bad if you skipped it, everyone does) that there was perhaps only one activity which was a true Tlaquepaque must-do—visit El Parián, San Pedro Tlaquepaque. And I’m (obviously) correct.
El Parián, which is really a cluster of separate restaurants which all look onto a central bandstand, is perhaps the area’s best-known attraction thanks to the regular mariachi performances and the ginormous clay cazuelas of tequila and citric juice cocktails they serve (skip the food, but definitely order drinks). I recommend heading there on a weekend, aiming to arrive for around 7 or 8pm.
Hey, maybe you’ll even be privy to a ‘be my girlfriend’ serenade like I was the last time I stopped by!
There are plenty of places to shop in Tlaquepaque, especially if you’re looking for the trademark Tlaquepaque artesanías, pottery, pottery and more pottery. However you can also buy jewellery in the aforementioned Galería Sergio Bustamante, and browse for typical Mexican clothing in the many, many stores which line the central Independencia street, as well as in the more informal open air market over towards the Mercado Juárez end of that street. Long story short: the Tlaquepaque, Mexico shopping potential is fantastic.
CLOTHING + TEXTILES
OPEN-AIR STREET MARKETS
If you’ve ever been to Mexico before, you’ll recognise these street stalls. They’re typically plonked on the edge of the pavement or in the middle of pedestrianised walkways and feature rack on rack of carefully folded, stacked and hanging shirts and dresses, covered in heavy, colourful embroidery. In Tlaquepaque, you’ll find the majority of these stalls down on Calle Independencia, near the Mercado Juárez.
THE LENGTH OF CALLE INDEPENDENCIA
The main pedestrianised street, funnily enough, has plenty of lofty stores selling traditional Mexican clothing and knick-knacks. Just taking some time to wander around and take a look in whichever ones take your fancy is a perfectly pleasant way to pass an afternoon.
Tiles are basically the trademark of Cantú in Tlaquepaque, something that’s obvious from the huge tiled sign over the entrance. While there’s definitely more of a bulk-purchase vibe going on (i.e. I imagine people stop by to pick up hundreds of tiles when they’re redoing their kitchens and bathrooms), just taking a look at the ornate tiled ‘fake’ kitchen set ups they have on display and the piles of cute tiles is super fun. It’s kind of like a Mexican B&Q, if B&Q only sold tiles. Kind of.
TALLER PACO PADILLA | Prisciliano Sánchez 142, Tlaquepaque
Taller Paco Padilla is kind of a courtyard/mini-store/ pottery workshop all in one. In fact, when I wandered in, there was a man at the table doing admin and some women painting plates and they didn’t seem to mind me wandering around and taking a few pictures of the racks of ready-to-be-painted pottery though. If I had luggage space, I would have bought all the cute coffee mugs tbh.
CERÁMICA PADILLA | Medellín 113, Tlaquepaque
I saw Cerámica Padilla place from a distance but didn’t stop in. However, if you’re in the area specifically to browse for pottery, it could be worth stopping by.
GALERÍA IMPERIAL + GALERÍA CEMPASUCHIL | Independencia 195/ 225, Tlaquepaque
Both Galería Imperial and Galería Cempasuchil feel incredibly (over) curated, with a distinct aesthetic that immediately lets you know they’re sister stores (one stocks all-white products that have a definite Alice in Wonderland vibe).
Rather than being places in which to actively shop (unless you’re made of money), they seemed to me like the kind of stores most people just pop into to gawk at all the cute as heck but far from practical products.
And the owners definitely know this, because photos are prohibited. Boo!
NUESTROS DULCES | Juárez 198 A-C, Tlaquepaque
I don’t especially like Mexican sweets (I’ve never got on board with the salty/sour/spicy/sweet combos), but to be honest, I don’t really eat sweets, full stop. However, if you do have a sweet tooth and want to pick up some of the most traditional Mexican sweets in Tlaquepaque, then there’s nowhere more traditional than Nuestros Dulces. They also sell tequila.
My last visit to Tlaquepaque, Jalisco as I’ve mentioned above, also marked the first time I’d stayed for two days to really soak it all in, wander around and, of course, eat, instead of just taxiing in and out for an evening of tequila and mariachi at El Parián. Naturally, that means I have a top Tlaquepaque hotels recommendation for you.
QUINTA DON JOSÉ | Reforma 139, Tlaquepaque
Quinta Don José Boutique Hotel, a cute hotel I’d seen doing the rounds on Instagram for months if not years prior, thanks to the colourful and totally Instagrammable décor, kindly comped me a two-night complementary stay in a double room with an en suite bathroom and light breakfast of fruit, coffee and pan dulce thrown in.
First things first, this is a way bigger hotel than I expected and it’s packed to the rafters with all kinds of wider Mexican and regional Tlaquepaque artesanías, from sugar skulls to Trees of Life and traditional pottery from the area. So, if you’re into minimalist décor and design this isn’t going to be the place for you; luckily, I live for that artesanía life though, so I loved it!
My room itself also had some gorgeous tile details and I particularly took advantage of the sink/ dressing table area in the niche between the bathroom and the bedroom, although the furniture itself did lean towards the dated and dark end of the spectrum, which made the room feel a touch gloomy, unfortunately.
The most unexpected thing that I enjoyed the most about the room though? The presence of a giant, backlit magnifying mirror. Holy hell, my pores and chin hairs have never been more thoroughly examined than they were that weekend. It’s a wonder I ever dragged myself away from it to be honest.
While I can’t see myself returning to Quinta Don José alone, it’s a hotel I’d go back to with my family (if they ever saw fit to visit me in Mexico, that is) and I recommend it for older travellers or those with children. Why? I think there’s a very familial, almost old-school vibe at Quinta Don José—which I’m not sure you’ll find at other hotels in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco—and that will probably suit those demographics down to the ground, plus there’s a pool which will help if you want to keep the kids occupied one day!
Have you been to San Pedro Tlaquepaque, Jalisco? Is there anything that you think should be added to this guide? Let me know in the comments!