These days Guadalajara, Mexico’s sometimes overlooked big city, is giving Mexico City and other foodie centers a run for their money. This town, with a sprawling metropolis feeling and cozy hometown vibe, has some of the country’s best eating and most inventive chefs and brewmasters. Here’s your menu.
Restaurant, Mexican, $$$
Established by accomplished chefs Francisco Ruano and Luis González Rodríguez in 2013, Alcalde has rapidly become one of Guadalajara’s hot spots known for sourcing its produce hyper-locally and putting the already amazing Jalisco firmly on the fine-dining map. Their stylish take on classic dishes filled with local ingredients is reflected in the décor of the place as well, which is bright, modern and features a particularly beautiful tiled floor, as well as some colourful light installations.
Run by the affable Chef Poncho Cadena, Hueso has a decadent 8-course menu that will blow your mind and fill you to bursting. The menu combines traditional Mexican fruits and flavors like mole, guayaba and mango with high-end proteins like foie gras and blue fin tuna. The ambiance is set with a gaint family-style table and, accordance with its name, which mean bone in Spanish, the decor is startling white with various bones everywhere you look.
At Lula Bistro, Chef Darren Walsh has implanted in Guadalajara a gourmet and haute cuisine dreamland, with giant-sized plates and bite-sized portions. Mole is squeezed into a sorbet, appetisers are hung on miniature pot plants and coffee is served in mayonnaise jars instead of cups. Distinción Bohemia awarded Walsh the accolade of best chef and best restaurant, with recognition of his risk-taking and contribution to Guadalajaran cuisine. Classic Mexican influences are to be found but hardly recognised in the exciting creations at Lula Bistro.
What could be better than an outdoor barbecue where all you have to do is pick up your fork? This traditional Argentinian grill is a chill hangout on a weeknight with a varied crowd and never-stuffy ambiance. And yet. the steaks are well cut and prepared, the wine is reasonably priced and the service friendly and prompt. If you want a break from Mexican cuisine in Guadalajara, this is a great alternative.
A restaurant that is personified by a young lady who emanates an air of cool can only equate to a hot place to be in Guadalajara. Anita-Li is not only a happening watering hole in this young and vibrant western Mexican city but a destination for fine and colorful dining. With light and airy French touches using local ingredients: the huitlacoche fondue (corn smut fondue, served with small white toasted bites) and roasted brie cross over with modern Mexican to distinctly European. Staying firmly rooted in the kitsch this inviting Guadalajaran venue hosts an array of wonderful creations.
This tiny bar on Guadalajara’s trendy Chapultepec Avenue has friendly staff, great music and a lively pub atmosphere. Its burgundy walls are festooned with beer coasters and witty phrases and it wouldn’t be hard to imagine Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison stopping in for a drink. El Grillo also has an extensive range of local and American craft beers on offer. The bar’s popularity means downstairs can get pretty crowded, but there is a second-floor terrace upstairs.
Sprawling San Juan de Dios is Guadalajara’s largest market, filled to the brim with vendors who’ll happily hawk you anything from fresh produce to live animals, tacky tourist trinkets to some of the most emblematic of Mexican artesanias (leather products and tyre-soled sandals, anyone?). Make sure you stop to sample some of the local fare including Japanese food (there is a large Japanese community in Guadalajara) tortas ahogadas, birote, and birria.
A veritable Guadalajara institution, and one that the locals love to recommend, is Karne Garibaldi. Famous for having broken the Guinness World Record with their service time of 13.5 seconds, this restaurant is one you have to try while in the capital of Jalisco. Speed is not the only selling point here though: the delicious carne en su jugo (a form of meat stew) is a traditional Jalisco dish which comes highly recommended. Make sure to visit in the day and explore Santa Tere (the neighborhood in which it’s located), an up-and-coming area of Guadalajara.