Where to Find the Best Bread in Guadalajara

Salados bread

While it may sound odd to some, figuring out where to buy really good bread is one of the first problems I look to solve when moving to a new city. With apologies to the celiac sufferers out there… I heart gluten!

I first got hooked on artisanal bread when I lived in Italy during my junior year of university. There was such an incredible diversity of breads and pastries in the bakeries of Milan… ciabatta, focaccia, Pugliese, filone, pane Toscano, pane rustico, schiacciata, biscotti, cornetti, and on and on.

Fresh-baked Italian breads were pretty cheap back then (unlike hand-made pasta), and for a poor college student like me — life-sustaining. Over the ensuing years, I’ve had the good fortune to live in various U.S. cities with phenomenal bakeries selling European-style bread, including San Francisco (Tartine), Oakland (La Farine, Acme), Portland, Oregon (Little T American Baker), and Denver (Dolce Sicilia).

When my husband and I decided to move to Mexico in 2022, I confess I was a bit worried… I mean, is it possible to satisfy fancy bread cravings in the land of tortillas and arroz?

It turns out I shouldn’t have been so worried. Since moving to Guadalajara, I’ve been amazed at the quality of bread available here. Small, independent bakeries delivering intoxicating smells of freshly baked bread are not hard to find with a little effort.

Before we dive into my favorite local bakeries, let’s take a minute to review some Spanish bread terms that will help you navigate the offerings here in Jalisco.

     

      • Pan de masa madre translates to “sourdough starter” in English and refers to an ancient bread-making method common in Latin America. Using natural yeasts along with water, flour, and salt, the process helps to maximize flavor, texture, aroma, and nutritional value of the bread.

      • Birotes Salados or simply “Salados” refers to a type of sourdough bread found in Guadalajara that’s commonly used in the famous torta ahogada sandwich. Though not salty to taste, the crust is supposedly brushed with salt water prior to baking, which helps it retain a crunchy crust and makes it an excellent foil for the sauces smothered over this local sandwich.

     

    Birotes Salados, the popular local sourdough bread.

       

        • Bolillos are football-shaped crusty rolls sold practically everywhere in Guadalajara, that may be served at breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

        • Panque originating from the word “pound cake” refers to individually sized cakes or cupcakes typically rectangle-shaped. They may use any number of flavors or fillings, including carrot, banana, cinnamon, or red fruits.

        • Conchas are a popular type of Mexican sweet pastry shaped like a sea shell (hence the name) with a history dating back to the pre-colonial era. It features a sweet roll and a crunchy, cookie-like exterior using copious amounts of refined sugar. While not a personal favorite of mine, they’re found almost everywhere as Mexicans love them.

      conchas

       

      Now that we’ve covered some of the popular local breads and pastries, below are my top recommendations to indulge your gluten cravings in the Guadalajara metro area.

       

      KarmeleArcos Vallarta, Av. José María Morelos 2279A

      What can I say? Entering Karmele for the first time about a year ago, we were swept away. Reminiscent of a rustic bakery collective in Berkeley, Karmele is all about the product.

      A glass partition is all that separates salivating customers from a dazzling display of pastries that overwhelms the senses. Trays of scones, cupcakes, panques, fruit tarts, puff pastries, karmelitos (similar to a turnover, with fillings such as blackberries, raspberries and rosemary), Spanish-style cheesecake, chocolate chip cookies, croissants (plain, chocolate, and almond), and more fill every inch of countertop space.

      karmelito with fruit

      And lest we forget — propped up along the side wall like an afterthought are some of the best artisanal breads to be found in Guadalajara.

      Karmele’s ambience is relaxed and bohemian, with hanging ferns and about a dozen wooden tables inside, and a few more seats along a partially covered terrace out front. Large street-facing windows and skylights give it a bright and airy feel. The bakery’s huge kitchen in back somehow manages to satisfy a never-ending parade of students, digital nomads, retirees, families, and the occasional tourist that happens by.

      Factoring in the quality and deliciousness, Karmele’s prices are a great value. Frankly, the only downside to this place is its popularity. On a typical Saturday morning, a line of customers stretches out the door and down the stairs. Many locals order their bounty online and drop in to pick up, hauling away boxes large enough to feed a small village. Patience is required at Karmele, but richly rewarded.

      Our personal favorites here include pan masa madre, with its crunchy crust and dense, chewy interior, and the sweet/savory Karmelitos pastry with rosemary (check the case closest to the cashier).

      Karmele also recently installed a fancy espresso bar in the indoor seating area, so coffee drinkers now have another reason to linger. (it’s also dog-friendly!)

       

      Masa Madre La Boutique del Trigo – Providencia, Calle Ottawa 1301

      This little gem of a bakery is tucked into a residential area about a block back from the behemoth Punto Sao Paolo dining/hotel/shopping complex on Av. Americas.

      MMLBT sells delicious ‘pan masa madre’, seeded loaves, baguettes, fresh chocolate chip cookies, flaky croissants, and more. They also serve espresso and maintain a tiny seating area out front overlooking a tranquil, tree-lined stretch of Calle Ottawa. Like Karmele, it can get pretty jammed on weekends, so be prepared to jockey for space.

      At the moment things are also a bit disheveled as MMLBT converts the garage next door into additional bakery space. Ambiance is lacking as construction work is ongoing, but don’t let that deter you. The fresh-baked breads here are phenomenal — and the chocolate chip cookies are some of the best we’ve tasted in Mexico. We’re excited for additional baking (and seating) capacity sometime soon.

       

      Lope de Ó – Providencia, Av Ruben Dario 1543

      Located on a busy block across from Silvano Barba Park in Providencia, this tiny, almost closet-sized bakery has room for about two guests at a time, and no seating.

      Lope de O

      Though low on space there’s a nice selection of pan masa madre, baguettes, mini-ciabattas, croutons, cookies, and a few pastries made fresh daily. The baguettes here are decent, but for my money the mini-ciabatta is the way to go. A delicious salty, chewy concoction– it’s the perfect sponge for soaking up good olive oil. I have yet to taste their focaccia, so I’ll definitely be going back.

      Closing at 7 pm on weeknights, Lope de Ó stays open later than most independent bakeries in Guadalajara. Given its limited capacity, I recommend visiting early in the day for the best selection.

       

      Pangea Sabores Místicos  – Estancia, Av. Ludwig Van Beethoven 5550

      Another tiny bakery not far from Parque Metropolitano in Colonia Estancia in Zapopan is Pangea Sabores Místicos. Though a bit out of the way, its high ratings had me curious enough to make a detour and check it out. The shop is no bigger than a walk-in closet, with shelves of bread and pastries on three sides and a small counter in the back. A covered patio with three tables welcomes patrons out front.

      Pangea bakery

      Upon entering I’m struck by yeasty aromas comingled with burnt sugar. The shelves are filled with plain croissants, pain du chocolate, and assorted pastries with almonds, black fruits, and brown butter toppings, along with baskets of baguettes, and fresh baked pan integral (wheat) near the back counter.

      On a series of visits I’ve sampled both sweet and savory items, and found their pastries truly spectacular. The pain du chocolate is flaky and densely filled with premium dark chocolate. Another delicious option is a savory, chewy roll filled with goat cheese and flecks of spicy green peppers. The more I try this place, the more I like it.

      Other Guadalajara bakers worth an honorable mention are:

         

          • Panadería La Salteña This is a small bakery chain with locations in Providencia and Zapopan near Arboledas and Parque Metropolitano. They put more emphasis on sweet than savory baking.

          • Bread & Butter (Providencia, Av Ruben Dario 1255). This little shop has great cookies, but I find their bread too soft, and lacking in density and crustiness. It’s also somewhat pricey, as befitting the neighborhood.

         

        More venues for good bread

        Mexico’s tiny, independent neighborhood bakeries are a real treasure but are increasingly threatened by myriad supermarket bakeries cranking out large quantities of inferior baked goods. For those of us who truly LOVE great bread, we owe it to the small independents to keep them busy… Supermarkets are no place to shop for quality bread!

        If you have the misfortune to live in a neighborhood with no quality bakeries, you may also find quality bread in your local tianguis (street markets). We have a vendor at our Tuesday market in Colonia Seattle that sells excellent fresh Salados and Bolillos.

        Notwithstanding my supermarket sentiments above, I’ve also been pleasantly surprised to find artisanal breads and French pastries like pain du chocolat, almond croissants, and palmiers in the City Market bakery at Plaza Patria.

        While it doesn’t rival Karmele or Masa Madre Boutique el Trigo, everything coming out of the CM bakery is super tasty and quite affordable. If you’ve run out of bread and this is your nearest option, there’s no shame in re-stocking here.

        What great bakeries have we missed? If you have a favorite not included here, please share it in the comments below.

        ¡Buen provecho!

         

        Sources: Breadtopia, Bakerpedia

        About Live Well Mexico

        My name is Dawn Stoner. In 2022, my family sold our house and half of our possessions, then relocated to Guadalajara, Mexico. We now live here full-time.

        Since then, we’ve learned how to navigate the real estate market, deal with the Mexican bureaucracy, and manage our finances as expats… all while having a pretty fine time!

        I created this blog to help newcomers solve the everyday challenges of living in Mexico, because it isn’t easy figuring all this out for yourself.

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