Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara, is fast becoming a sophisticated and modern city. It’s been undergoing a sort of food revolution where traditional chefs are embracing more modern dishes and flavors. Foodies are flocking here to eat at some of Mexico’s top restaurants, while Top Chef chose the city for one of its recent semi-final episodes.
The birthplace of iconic Mexican heritage including tequila and mariachi, this city in the state of Jalisco has embraced this new modernity while keeping its traditions at the core. With nearly 2 million people, a vibrant cultural scene, plenty of historic sites, amazing regional cuisine and, of course, barrels of ample tequila, Guadalajara is a great, urban destination.
From tasty street food like the torta ahogada (“drowned sandwich”) and tacos al pastor to higher-end tasting menus at one of Latin America’s top restaurants, there is a more here beyond tequila and mariachis.
Where to Eat in Guadalajara
Lula Bistro is one of Guadalajara’s most celebrated restaurants. The menu is a modern Mexican fusion known for its 12-course tasting menu. And now its award-winning, French-trained chef, Darren Walsh (who had stints at Daniel in New York and was a private chef in Chicago), is about to open the project “of his lifetime,” a three-restaurant concept within a mansion in the heart of the city.
The name means “Bone” in Spanish. Step one foot inside the door and you will see why. Thousands of bones of every shape and size line the walls here adding texture to the nearly all white- décor. Owned by chef Alfonso Cadena, the concept is based on sharing, with big, wood communal tables and large platters of prettified meats, fish, and veg.
For fun, modern Mexican cuisine, look no further. The name is I Latina (their other restaurant) spelled backwards. The décor is fun and kitschy giving it an energetic, young vibe. The food kind of reminded me of modern restaurants in Chicago – tacos with fresh tuna tartare, grilled octopus and with a little bit of Asian fusion.
You know it’s a charming spot when you witness a marriage proposal during your lunch. This airy, courtyard spot with glass-orbs hanging on trees is in the town of Tlaquepaque, just next door to Guadalajara. They serve up some of the most inventive food I ate. From scallops served in a sort of metal planter to shrimp served up in a fish bowl, the meal was exciting as it was tasty.
Looking for something sweet? Four-year-old, La Postreria has become a dessert destination. Since some of our desserts have short lives, we can play with temperature and texture,” says owner, Fernanda Covarrubias. Not only does this cute spot offer beautiful and delicious desserts, you can also learn how to make your own.
Disclosure: During my time in Guadalajara, I was a guest of Visit Guadalajara. As always, all opinions are my own.