Archive for the Guadalajara 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,

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.


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).


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).


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


… and the Antiguo (B-).


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

Birrieria las 9 Esquinas (Intermediate B+), Avenida Cristóbal Colón 384,

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.



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



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


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


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),

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,

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.


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


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


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


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.


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-).


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),

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 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.


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


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.




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).




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’.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.


Right next door is El Sagrario Metropolitano


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


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.



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


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


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.


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).


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…


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


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