Go Gay-Club Hopping in Guadalajara

1. Where to Stay

A room at the Hostel Lit.Photo: Courtesy of Hostel Lit

Bunk with a partner at Hostel Lit, a modernist seven-room hostel within walking distance of the Centro gay-nightlife district. The hostel caters exclusively to gay men on a budget ($14 for a shared room), but also offers laundry and a full shared kitchen.

Overlook the historic downtown district from the rooftop garden and bar at La Perla, a spacious, three-room B&B in an old Moorish mansion managed by partners Chris and Lars ($150). The décor is inspired by old-school Mexican movie stars, and each room has a private balcony.

Ask for a city view at Hotel Portobelo ($46), a contemporary 86-room hotel in the cool Chepultepec district (near Angel’s Club), steps from historic downtown.

2. Where to Eat

Choose from a wide selection of sparkling wines at Cocina 88.Photo: Courtesy of Cocina 88

Follow the rainbow flag to Taco’s Gay, an English-speaking, gay-run taco stand that serves as the unofficial welcome station for the Centro gay nightlife district (Corner of Calle Ocampo and Avenida Prisciliano Sánchez). Dress up freshly made carne asado tacos with a range of homemade salsas ($1) and watch the boys cruise by.

Choose from over 200 wines — including a wide range of sparkling varieties — at Cocina 88, which serves simple, well-executed seafood and steaks in a restored mansion strewn with spotlights and palm trees. Fresh snapper or flounder with garlic sauce will run you less than $15.

Squeeze past the narrow stalls of electronics, shoes, and dulces to reach 20,000 square feet of food vendors on the second floor of Mercado Libertad (Avenida Javier Mina at Calle Independencia; 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily), one of Latin America’s largest indoor markets. Sample local specialty tortas ahogadas, a supersize shaved-pork sandwich drowned in chile pepper sauce, or play it safe with fresh, handmade cheese quesadillas for less than $2 each.

3. What to Do

Join the dancing throngs at Angel's Club in the Chapultepec district.Photo: Courtesy of Angel

Kick off a rowdy night out in the Centro at Club Ye*Ye (396 Prisciliano Sánchez), a laid-back, mixed gay-and-lesbian cocktail lounge where funny video montages are projected on the walls. Stick to beer ($2), as the bartenders overcharge for liquor.

Ogle go-go boys and dance to techno at the colorful, bi-level Circus Club (277 Galeana), which is especially hopping on Fridays. Check the club’s calendar—if there’s no special event, there’s no cover.

Dance to D.J. Tronik’s mix of techno, pop, and traditional Mexican music at D’Planet (Belgica 643)—Guadalajara’s first exclusively lesbian nightclub just opened in January. Check the website for events like all-girl pajama parties and table dancing, and be sure to play a round at the bar’s free pool table. (6 p.m. to 3 a.m.; closed Sunday–Tuesday; no cover).

Take a ten-minute cab ride over to the upscale Chapultepec district in time for the midnight drag show at Angel’s Club (López Cotilla 1495-B). Be sure to tip the scantily dressed, blacklight-paint-streaked “ladies” as they lip-synch to pulsating pop remixes. There’s no cover before 11:30 p.m. on Fridays, and the $6 cover on Saturdays includes a beer and a glow bracelet. If you’re still there by 4 a.m. on Sunday, the club transforms into a popular after-hours spot.

4. Insider’s Tip

Be sure to negotiate your cab fare beforehand, as many drivers don't use their meters.Photo: andresmh’s flickr

Guadalajara is a walkable city, but the downtown area empties out after 11 p.m. and safety issues become a concern. After a night of clubbing, flag down an open taxi by looking for the neon horizontal light in the front window. Always make sure there’s a taxi license visible, usually hanging from the rearview mirror; if you don’t see one, wait for the next car. In Guadalajara, you negotiate your fare up front: Though most taxis have working meters, many drivers don’t use them. If you’re staying within the downtown area, it shouldn’t cost more than $5.

5. Oddball Day

Sip a spicy hot chocolate at the Mayordomo Oaxacan Chocolate shop in the pretty suburb of Tlaquepaque. Photo: andie1304/Prendio2

Indulge your sweet tooth with a day in Tlaquepaque, a pedestrian-friendly suburb twenty minutes southeast of downtown Guadalajara known for its handicrafts. Catch the green Tlaquepaque bus in front of the HSBC bank at Avenida Américas No. 1545 ($0.75) and get off at the stop in front of Pollo Chicken at Independencia, where you can stroll the leafy sidewalks of Calle Juárez. Stop into Mayordomo Oaxacan Chocolate shop (247 Calle Juárez) and order an Almendrado Oaxacan hot chocolate ($2 for a small). The baristas churn the spices and chocolate for each drink fresh on-site. Continue on to Nuestros Dulces (154 Calle Juárez), a traditional Mexican dessert shop where you can sample dried fruit treats like mango con chile ($1.40) and jogos de limón ($1). Cap your day with a frozen ice dessert flavored with vanilla and walnuts ($1) at the street stalls near the El Parián, an open-air cantina where you can relax while roving mariachis attempt to lure you into an $8 song.

6. Links

Guadalajara Online advertises all of the can’t-miss upcoming parties, promotions, and events happening at GDL’s many gay nightlife spots.

MarchaGayGDL.com’s extensive (albeit Spanish-only) website has all the information you need to navigate Guadalajara’s enormous Pride Parade in late June.

See ConciergeGDL.com for a rare all-English listing of Guadalaraja’s gay establishments, including addresses and phone numbers for gay-friendly cafés and restaurants.

Urbana, the premier gay magazine of Mexico, previews the hottest parties and special events at GDL’s gay nightclubs. If you don’t find one around town, download a free PDF here.

Go Gay-Club Hopping in Guadalajara