Updated: May 8, 2020
Heading south of the border for a friend's wedding turned into one heck of an adventure. The wedding was beautiful, the food was what dreams are made of and the experience was one we will not soon forget.
Late in the evening on a Thursday in May, Michal and I boarded a direct flight to Guadalajara, for Michal's first trip abroad. We stayed at the Hotel Riu Plaza; the hotel is gorgeous. The lobby bar was chic, yet inviting and covered in a deep, plush purple.
After we quickly drop our bags, we to head out to one of my favorite places in the city: La Paloma. Flash back about 7 years; I lived in Guadalajara for a summer and made La Paloma my mainstay. The food is excellent, the atmosphere is classy, yet uniquely guadalajara and the staff has never disappointed. In fact, the place is so good, that when we got there, they were packed and they cannot seat us. Making a quick decision we decide to grab a drink and an appetizer next door at Focaccia Trattoria; an incredibly romantic, candle light Italian pizzeria. We are quickly welcomed in where we had the bruschetta and a drink, then pay out and head back over to La Paloma to quench my epic thirst for this place… Well since we lost track of time next door, La Paloma had stopped seating for the evening. This legendary 'dove' (in English) was not in my future, however tacos were.
Turning right out of La Paloma, we walked a couple blocks to reach Cerveceria Chapultepc, a rockin' quick food establishment with plenty of beer, a hip young crowd and quick cheap small plates to share. We ordered a smattering of different tacos and gorged ourselves. Though the place was killer, we’d had a long day and it was time to head back to the hotel. Once we arrived though, I asked Michal for one last stop at the bar to catch the classic rock cover band who was pretty much rattling the bones of the lobby. What an epic first night in Mexico.
The next day I wake up a tad earlier than Michal (as usual) and head down to the local coffee shop to do some work. Only a couple blocks, I stumble (not totally kidding) into our first hidden gem of the trip. Almud Café. I quickly became the obnoxious american coffee house goer and chatted with the lovely baristas inside for at least 10 minutes before taking a seat. Quickly after, I end up meeting a entrepreneur from Sweden, who’d married a Mexican woman and had just relocated to Guadalajara to raise their kids. I was in my element and loving it. Soon enough, the text came from Michal that she was ready to go. Time to meet her back at the room and start exploring one of my favorite towns on the planet.
We start by hailing a taxi and riding down to El Centro Historico.
We started at Plaza de Armas, walking through the Cathedral de Guadalajara and on through Plaza de la Liberacion, around the Teatro Degollado then onward toward Plaza Tapatia. From there, we frantically made friends with the owners of a closed bar who seemed like they looked nice enough to use the restroom… They were and we did. Maybe they could tell we were from out of town? Who knows. The break was much needed.
From there, we turn right and head toward our ultimate destination for the morning: Mercado Libertad - San Juan de Dios (central market in Guadalajara). This oversized market has everything you can imagine: from purses (we returned to get one), to carvings, leather works, clothes, cigarette lighters, adult novelties, toys, etc. This place literally has everything one could need. They also have dozens of different food venders.
The challenge we had not anticipated was how to pick the actual stand to eat. We walked around and around and around until we landed on one that had a decent menu, appeared incredibly clean, had a good crowd, and also had two seats together. We landed at Taqueria Uruapan. Our waiter was awesome; young, cheerful and willing to help translate anything we needed, he really stole the show… until the band showed up. The band was making their way through the rows of shops playing traditional music for tips. It really helped make the experience. The tacos were awesome, as you would expect, and the experience was one we will not soon forget.
After our meal, we walk through the Plaza de Los Mariachi's before we head off to Tlaquepaque and Tonola for more food, more market shopping and of course, a few beers along the way. Stay tuned for part 2. #WKNDR