Archive for the Jalisco State Category

Mexico – Jalisco State – Guadalajara – Zona Centro – Places to eat

Posted in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico on January 29, 2017 by gannet39

All the places mentioned below, and quite a few more, can be found on my Google map. Please see my previous post for things to see and stuff to do.

La Fuente (Elementary A) Calle Pino Suárez 78, www.cantinalafuente.com.mx

My favourite watering hole in Guadalajara in terms of atmosphere, this is an old (since 1921) Mexican bar just around the corner from the Hotel de Mendoza.

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The ambience is very down-to-earth, with the odd quirky decorative item on the wall. It reminds me of certain spit-and-sawdust pubs in Liverpool in my student days (such as the Yates’s on Old Haymarket for those who can remember).

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The authenticity extends to customers spontaneously bursting into song on a regular basis. On one occasion there was an old guy bashing out tunes on the piano to a very appreciative audience.

The clientele are predominantly older blokes but I have seen younger women drinking together there. If you hang out by the bar you’ll most likely be engaged in conversation and offered snacks, it’s that kind of friendly place.

Modelo is my favourite Mexican lager, so I decided to give their dark beer a whirl, which is fine (B).

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I also tried a couple of reposados here. The Cabrito (B)…

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… and the Antiguo (B-).

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In terms of good food, this was the best place I found…

Birrieria las 9 Esquinas (Intermediate B+), Avenida Cristóbal Colón 384, www.las9esquinas.com

Service: B
Atmosphere: B
Food: A
Value for money: B

This is a place where you can eat Birria (a traditional Jalisco goat or mutton stew), located in Plaza de las 9 Esquinas, a pretty little square to the south of the Centro Historico.

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It was recommended by my friend Hamish who is a food writer and former chef living in Mexico.

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I began with the usual starter of salsas, tortilla chips, pickled onion and the best refried beans I’ve ever eaten (A).

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Then I had the Birria de Chivo Tatemada a Fuego Lento (slow-cooked goat stew) which was really good (B+).

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Another speciality of the house is the Barbacoa de Borrego en Pencas de Maguey (lamb barbecued in the leaves of a type of agave).

Video recipe in Spanish here.

Another safe bet for good food is…

La Chata (Intermediate B+), 120 Corona (at Juarez and Lopez Cotilla), www.lachata.com.mx

Service: B+
Atmosphere: C
Food: B+
Value for money: B+

This place serves decent grub and has a good reputation for cleanliness, which means it’s very popular. You’ll have to queue outside even during non-peak periods, but it’s worth a bit of a wait.

I can’t remember what I had in 2007 but it was certainly okay. Lonely Planet suggests you try their specialty, the Platillo Jaliscense (fried chicken with five sides). They also mention that Pozole (hominy soup) is popular, but I wasn’t too keen on it at their other branch (see my Puerto Vallarta post on food).

In terms of atmosphere, but not food, I really like this place…

La Fonda de San Miguel (Intermediate B), 25 Calle Donato Guerra, www.fondasanmiguelarcangel.com

Service: A
Atmosphere: A
Food: C-
Value for money: B

A beautiful interior that feels a bit faded a bit since I first came here in 2007. If the literary term ‘magical realism’ (cf Gabriel García Márquez) can be applied to interior design then they have achieved it here.

Tables surround a fountain in the centre of a large interior courtyard.

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Parrot motifs decorate the chairs and there is an actual parrot and some budgies in large cages.

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Modern art decorates the walls and the place seems to double as a gallery/art shop in the daytime.

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Candles and paper stars with fairy lights inside give the walls and ceiling a warm glow.

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In 2007 they had live music and dancing on stage, but the stage is no longer there so perhaps things have changed in that respect. On both occasions the service was efficient and friendly but on the second visit the staff seemed to outnumber the customers by about two to one on the Thursday night in August that I went. It might be because it’s expensive for locals and the food isn’t very good.

The starter was a smaller version of Torta de Abogada, not an actual tart but in fact a ‘drowned’ sandwich, (typical in Jalisco and particularly famous in Guadalajara) made with French bread and grilled pork. The whole sandwich is dipped or ‘drowned’ in a hot sweet sauce made primarily of Chile de Arbol and served with raw onion.

It was okay (B) but for the real thing you might want to go to Tortas Ahogadas César at Calle López Cotilla 1449 or Tortas Ahogadas las Famosas at Avenida Patria 2546 (see Google map). I wanted to but didn’t get the chance.

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For the main I had one of the house specials; Filete de Res Oro Negro, a filet of beef with Huitlacoche (aka ‘corn smut’, a kind of fungus that grows on maize), topped with grilled cheese. I’ve heard Huitlacoche described by a top chef as having a taste somewhere between a mushroom and a truffle, which is why I tried it, but sadly I found it quite unpleasant and ended up scraping it off to one side with the cheese (D). The white rice it came with was overcooked and over salted and I couldn’t finish that either (C-).

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By contrast, on my first visit in 2007 I had their other speciality, Molcajete; a spicy Oaxacan dish served in a sizzling hot stone mortar (molcajete), served with fajitas, which was much better. I even went as far to say that it was the best food that I had on the entire trip (B+).

So mixed results, but to summarise, I think you should definitely come here to experience the ambience but be careful what you order. The Molcajete would seem a good bet.

La Estancia Gaucha (High Intermediate B), 2860 Avenida Ninos Heroes (near Lopez Mateos), www.laestanciagaucha.com.mx

Service: B+
Atmosphere: A
Food: B+
Value for money: B+

I went in 2007 but it was still open in 2015. This place is a bit of a trek as it’s not really in the centre but the nice building and the good quality Argentine food make it worth the walk (or taxi?) should you want a change. You should come here if you feel the need for a steak with chimichurri and a glass of good red.

Mexico – Jalisco State – Guadalajara – Zona Centro – Stuff to see and do

Posted in Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico, Zona Centro on January 28, 2017 by gannet39

This was my second time in Guadalajara. On both occasions (in 2006 and 2015) I stayed in the Hotel de Mendoza www.demendoza.com.mx at Calle Venustiano Carranza 16, which is well located for the Zona Centro. It’s not as opulent as it would seem and the wi-fi was problematic on my second visit, but the breakfast was okay.

My favourite place to go in Guadalajara is the Mercado Libertad (aka Mercado San Juan de Dios). With around 3000 vendors, it’s the biggest covered market in South America and the largest multi-product market in the world. Photo ops are plentiful.

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One whole floor is dedicated to small cafes and food stalls.

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I would have loved to eat here but the dubious hygiene and having to work meant I couldn’t take the risk (in 2007 the colleague who preceded me was struck down with stomach problems). Still I enjoyed walking around watching all the food being prepared.

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I was particularly impressed by the goat skulls with whole limes in their eye sockets and chillis for horns! Goat is a very popular meat in Guadalajara and one of the local football teams, Club Deportivo Guadalajara, are known as the Chivas (baby female goats).

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In the fruit and veg section there are mountains of avocados, a plant which originally comes from Mexico. The oldest evidence of avocado use was found in a cave located in Coxcatlán, Puebla, that dates to around 10,000 BC. The etymological origin of the name can be traced back to the proto-Aztecan word for ‘testicle’.

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Chillis also originate from Mexico and research shows they were first domesticated 6,000 years ago, again in the regions around Puebla. There are stalls in the market that sell nothing else and have huge displays of them piled high.

The Mirasol (also known as Guajillo when dried) and Arbol varieties were very common.

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Also popular are the Mulato and Ancho (a dried Poblano) which are very similar. I read that Ancho and Mirasol/Guajillo are the most commonly used dried chillis in Mexico.

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Other foodstuffs can be found on other floors. The market is seemingly endless.

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Most of the important civic buildings are also in the Zona Centro, in particular the area known as the Centro Histórico.

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La Catedral Nueva, an unlovely (in my opinion) mix of Gothic, Baroque, Moorish and Neoclassical architecture, was consecrated in 1618.

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The two towers were rebuilt in the 19th century after an earthquake. The building experienced further structural damage as a result of more earthquakes in 1932, 1957, 1979, 1985, 1995 and 2003.

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Right next door is El Sagrario Metropolitano

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…the forebear of which was the original parish church before the cathedral existed.

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A close neighbour on the Plaza de Armas is the imposing Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Jalisco (Jalisco state government building), now a museum. It’s worth popping in to see the murals by Orozco on the main staircase.

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There’s a beautiful old bandstand in front of the palace, in Plaza de Armas.

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Another venerable building is the neoclassical Teatro Degollado located in Plaza de la Liberación, behind the cathedral.

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All these places are a stone’s throw from the Hotel de Mendoza. You can find many of the places mentioned on my Google map.

There are a few nice old residential buildings dotted about as well.

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In terms of things to do, a good day out might be a ride on the Tequila Express. Operated by Ferrocarril Mexicano, it involves a train ride to the nearby town of Tequila and a guided tour around one of the factories. Food is provided and all the tequila you can drink! (not that you have to).

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You can buy tickets in the basement of one of the department stores (ask the hotel reception which one) but you should book as far ahead as you can. They had sold out two days before when I went to enquire, so I never got to go, but perhaps it was for the best!

A detail from the cathedral door…

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Please see my next post for places to eat in Guadalajara.

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Mexico – Jalisco State – Lagos de Moreno

Posted in Jalisco State, Lagos de Moreno, Mexico on January 27, 2017 by gannet39

Lagos de Moreno is a pretty little colonial town with a relaxed atmosphere.

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There’s a nice Spanish cathedral in the centre and a small square with a bandstand opposite, and not much else of note.

Google map here.

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I was here for just two nights, staying at the Lagos Inn (at Juarez 350, www.lagosinn.com) next to the cathedral, which was comfortable and friendly. The rooms are spacious, with free Wi-Fi, and the breakfast (fresh fruit and omelettes) is okay.

I ate at two good places:

Terres Calli (Intermediate A-), Don Manuel de La Vega 267, terrescalli.com

About a twenty minute walk from the hotel, this is a cultural centre with a bar and restaurant, perched up on a hill with a great view of the town and the hills around. The interior is modern and there’s some nice art on the walls. The young staff are friendly and efficient.

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You can take in the vista sitting inside in front of the big windows, or outside on the pleasant terrace. The latter is quite a popular spot for romantic couples.

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When I arrived, I could see thunderstorms sweeping across the lowlands many miles away.

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‘Stormy Weather’, closely followed by ‘Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone’, were playing over the hifi, which set the scene perfectly.

A frozen margarita added to the mood (B).

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My first course was Sopa Azteca, aka, Tortilla Soup (made with chicken broth, onions, tomatoes and served with avocado, pork scratchings, lime and cheese) which was pretty good (B+).

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The Pacholas; minced beef patties spiced with ancho chilli, cumin, bread, oil, and fried or grilled, were okay (B), and quite filling.

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I tried three tequila reposados here. My favourite was the Don Julio which had a deeper flavour than the others (A).

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The Tradiconal (B+) and Herradura (A) were pretty good too.

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Herradura tends to be the most commonly available brand in my experience.

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Another good place is…

La Rinconada (Intermediate B+), Constituyentes 425

I like the old world, slightly trad atmosphere of this place. The staff are friendly and the bartender speaks good American English.

I like the fact you can get a beer in a chilled glass here. Everywhere should do this.

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I had the Sopa de Fideo which was hearty and warming (B+).

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For the main, Borrego al Horno con Salsa de Xoconostle, pork baked in the local style, in a wrapped parcel and shredded and served with a sauce made from a local prickly pear. Once more the meat and the sauce were interesting but nothing special in terms of flavour (B). The beans that came with it weren’t up to much either (C), but the tortillas were good (B+).

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I tried a few more reposados here; Centenela (B+), Tapatio (B), Tesoro (B) and Siete Leguas (B), but none were better than what I’d had previously at Terres Calli above (they had them here as well, I was just trying different ones).

It was interesting to discover that an English sauce is very popular here. The Mexicans use Worcester sauce, aka Salsa Inglesa, to spice up Micheladas (see previous post), burritos and even pizza!

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A taxi from Leon Airport to Lagos cost 1040 pesos in 2015 and 750 pesos for the return journey. The airport doesn’t seem to have free internet and there are no easily accessible recharge points except in the booths of the Las Limas restaurant on the second floor, before you go through security.

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Mexico – Jalisco State – Puerto Vallarta – Places to eat

Posted in Jalisco State, Mexico, Puerto Vallarta on January 26, 2017 by gannet39

Most of the restaurants on my map are in the Centro Colonia which is the historic old town. Here’s another map from the tourist board. You’ll know when you’re there because all the streets are cobbled.

 

La Chata (Intermediate), 708 Paseo Diaz Ordaz, www.lachatacomidamexicana.com

Service: A
Atmosphere: B
Food: B
Value for money: A

This is the Vallarta branch of a famous Guadalajara restaurant that usually has long queues outside. This location is easier to get into and has more ambience as it overlooks the Malecón. They have a rep for serving good food in a very clean environment, which is important in a hot country like Mexico.

I came here twice. The first time I had Pozole Blanco con Pollo. Pozole is a local soup stew made with hominy (treated maize) and shredded chicken (or pork, but not this time) and served with a cabbage and radish salad which you can add to the bowl. It was unusual and interesting, but not mind-blowing (B).

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It’s much improved when fired up with some chilli sauces and oregano.

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The second time I had the Chicken Enchiladas which were pretty decent too (B). With a couple of Modellos the bill came to €250.

La Palapa (High Intermediate B*), www.lapalapa.com

Service: A
Atmosphere: A
Food: A-
Value for money: C

This is a very nice location, right on the beach (only two blocks from my hotel) with a great view of the sea. Definitely a good spot for a date with the sunset.

The food is pretty good; I had the Pulpo Asado (A-) and the Risotto con Mariscos (A). The only downside is that it’s a bit pricey, for instance a Margarita or a Herradura Reposado costs around €100 which is a bit much. Still, it is a lovely spot…

El Patio de Mi Casa (Intermediate), 111 Calle Guerrero

Service: A
Atmosphere: A
Food: C
Value for money: B

A restaurant and music bar that I stumbled across when walking the backstreets after walking out of Café des Artistes below. I was drawn in by the sounds of live jazz and stayed for drinks which were great, and a pizza, which wasn’t. Lovely service though, and the band played all my requests.

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Unfortunately I didn’t find many other good places to eat and drink; although there are a few I didn’t have time to try (check my map). The following are more places to avoid, or take a chance on…

Cafe Des Artistes (Advanced), Calle Guadalupe Sánchez 740, www.cafedesartistes.com

Service: A
Atmosphere: A
Food: C
Value for money: C

According to Lonely Planet this is considered by many to be Vallarta’s best restaurant. I absolutely hated it, primarily because they kept we waiting indefinitely for a table in the bar area despite me having a reservation. I was told I had to wait until there was a table free but in the UK table hoggers would be asked to vacate for the next customers. A culture clash perhaps but I walked out after an hour. The kind waiter did run out after me to apologise to me for the management though.

While I was there I had a Taco de Lechon Confit which wasn’t particularly good and quite expensive at €140 (C).

The Tan cocktail made with Mezcal Amores, orange, lemon, agave syrup, orange liqueur and a Sal de Gusano (worm salt) halo was interesting though (B).

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Café de Olla (Intermediate), 168A Calle Basilo Badillo

Service: A
Atmosphere: B
Food: C
Value for money: B

This is place is near the hotel and open on a Sunday which are its only selling points. I wanted to eat nearby at Pancho’s Takos at 162 Calle Basilio Badillo but it was closed on the Sabbath, so I went to this next place instead. The food isn’t great but it’s convenient and the service is very efficient.

Please see my previous post for info on stuff to do and see.

Mexico – Jalisco State – Puerto Vallarta – Stuff to do

Posted in Jalisco State, Mexico, Puerto Vallarta on January 25, 2017 by gannet39

Puerto Vallarta is Mexico’s premier west coast beach resort. I read that it has more charm and culture than Cancun, which is more of a party destination, but I haven’t been myself. This was my second time in Vallarta and it felt a bit more developed than it was in 2006. Please see my next post on what to eat and where.

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I stayed for three nights at Hotel Los Arcos at 380 Calle Olas Altas www.playalosarcos.com My room had some great views of the beach which was just a stone’s throw away. There’s also a big pool in the hotel. Here’s a video to give you more of an idea.

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It was the Mexican holiday season when I went so there were lots of families. In the afternoons there was quite a party atmosphere with Mexican pop music blaring out poolside and two-for-one Margaritas during the happy hours. I had a great time! On the downside the breakfast buffet costs €180 which is a bit pricey when you only want some fruit, cereal and a coffee.

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As you can see on my Google map, the walkway along the beachfront is called the Malecón.

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It’s a great place for a stroll or a jog.

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There are lots of quirky statues along the Malecón.

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The most famous is ‘El Caballito’, or ‘The Boy on a Seahorse’, which is a symbol of the city.

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I had a day off while I was here so I took the opportunity to get a bit of beach time. Passing vendors kept me well fed and watered. I started with some fresh oysters which were twice the price of what I paid in Coatzacoalcos but still really cheap by European standards, and really good.

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The grilled prawns slathered in hot sauce were pretty decent too, especially with a frozen Margarita.

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Many other tempting tidbits are available.

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Click on this link to see some excellent beach entertainment.

Puerto Vallarta would be a nice place to come if you wanted to study Spanish. A good place to do it might be Proulex www.proulex.com, the language school of the University of Guadalajara which has a branch at 105 Calle Libertad in the Centro Colonia.

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