No chugging on Tequila Express

T Updated

Excursion train promises a good time, not a drunken party

AMATITAN, Mexico - The fun begins as soon as the train pulls out of the station.

A mariachi band strikes up. Drink orders are taken. The host elicits a few cheers and laughs from the guests in his car.

We are heading toward a traditional Mexican fiesta with music, dancing, food and good times. And a tequila factory tour.

In fact, it's the tour that draws most visitors to the Tequila Express, an all-day excursion that departs Guadalajara in the morning and returns the same evening. For many, it's a good way to visit a factory and leave the driving to someone else.

Visitors get a look at the Herradura tequila operation in Amatitan, a small town about 20 miles east of Tequila in the state of Jalisco. But the train ride, done slowly to allow enjoying the views, and the post-tour buffet and entertainment help make this trip popular.

It's a good time, but not a drunken party. Participants include families and seniors.

"This is a tour for having fun and learning Mexican traditions," said Paco Aguilera, a Tequila Express guide. "This is not spring break.

"We let people have as much fun as they want and drink as much as they want, but we want them to know it's a family environment."

It doesn't mean you can't party. Mariachis stroll through each car during the 1 ½ -hour ride, and guests nosh on chips and salsa. Servers bring soft drinks, beer and, for those who can't wait, tequila.

Along the way, riders enjoy a changing landscape: the city, surrounding suburbs, cornfields, then fields of blue agave plants that eventually will be transformed into tequila.

In Amatitan, we're loaded onto buses for a short drive to Hacienda San Jose del Refugio, a Spanish-style farm that dates from 1820 and includes agave fields, a distillery, a large family home and living quarters for many of the workers.

After a walking tour, guests are led to a large covered patio for a buffet that includes chile verde, enchiladas, taquitos, salad, rice and beans.

Costumed dancers from different regions in Mexico sing and dance, and, by the end of the day, many in our group join in.

The Tequila Express (, in its ninth year, is operated by the Guadalajara Chamber of Commerce.

Tours operate Saturdays and some Sundays and holidays. Most tours sell out in advance, but last-minute seats sometimes are available.

The price, about $70, is a worthwhile splurge. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster's Mexico outlet (

By MICHAEL MARTINEZ San Jose Mercury News

User comments

There are no user comments for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account