By Matthew Link
Guadalajara is barely a blip on the American travelers’ radar, which is strange. Mexico’s second-largest city is cleaner, safer, friendlier, prettier and easier to navigate than the country’s behemoth, Mexico City. Guadalajara also enjoys a temperate Los Angeles-style climate, and fascinating spots like the nearby town of Tequila, where the famous liquor comes from and elegant tastings are a must.
The prosperous city of 1.5 million (often called “The Silicon Valley of Mexico”) is also one of the gayest spots in Latin America. In addition to several gay-owned B&Bs and three gay saunas, Guadalajara is home to well over a dozen gay night spots. Located in the same state of Jalisco is the queer beach resort of Puerto Vallarta, a favorite gay weekend getaway for Guadalajarans. Mexicans will also tell you that the most handsome men in the country come from Guadalajara, with its rich mixture of European and indigenous heritages.
The city’s queer nightlife is focused around the main gay-bar drag of Avenida Prisciliano Sanchez in the Centro downtown area, as well as the adjacent Zona Rosa area. The most popular gay disco is the long-standing Circus, packed on the weekends with go-go boys and a youthful crowd. Circus is owned by the same promoters who run gay-popular Black Cherry and Velvett, two of the most sophisticated clubs in Mexico.
And who says drinking is only for the nighttime in Guadalajara? Foreign and Mexican tourists alike flock to the picturesque town of Tequila, located just outside Guadalajara. You pass an arid landscape of agave farms and rocky mountainsides to arrive in a perfectly painted town of colonial buildings and churches and, yes, tequila factories and tasting rooms. Like Champagne or Burgundy, tequila liquor can only come from this region.
Mexicans sip tequila in large brandy-like snifters — they would never dream of “doing shots.” Tequila is a refined liquor that comes in many variations of age and color and flavor (from blanco to añejo), and is usually drunk alongside a glass of sangrita, a robust Bloody Mary mixer-like chaser not to be confused with the Spanish sangria. After tasting many brands and concoctions, I have to say my favorite hands-down is the exquisite Cazadores, one of the oldest brands around. Admittedly, it was a lot of long and weary work to taste them all, but that’s just one of the joys of a trip to Guadalajara!
Matthew Link is the Editor At Large for The Out Traveler magazine, as well as a contributor to Newsweek. Having been to over 60 countries and all 7 continents doesn’t keep him from getting on the next plane away from his home in New York City.