Guadalajara on a plate
The city’s cool cafes and bars are great for freshly made coffee, margaritas, beer, glasses of Mexican red wine and tragos (shots) of tequila. Some are located in refurbished colonial houses and art galleries with inventive décor and they are a great place to watch the artier side of city life. There are a number of excellent spots not far from the city’s main drag, Avenue Chapultepec. La Teteria (Calle Libertad between Calles Robles Gil and Venezuela; 52-1-33-3632-6779) specializes in teas, has outdoor seating and has a great photo gallery at the back. Boccadirosa (Calle Pedro Moreno at the corner of Calle Gregorio Davila; no phone) is an Italian wine/tapas bar with photos, art and sculpture on the walls and free music most weeknights. La Cafeteria serves dinner and drinks in an old house with a wonderful outdoor patio under old, over-hanging trees. Darjeeling Tea Rooms (Calle Morelos between Calles Colonias and Progreso; 52-1-33-301512) is set in a modestly refurbished old house with art on display, located off a tree-filled courtyard. And Chai is a chain of tea and coffee shops with a few locations in the city. The branch on Avenida Vallarta at Chapultepec is housed in an all-white, sofa-filled former colonial house. Most cafes use Mexican coffee from Chiapas or Veracruz and also sell the beans, which vary by strength and are often organic.
The state of Jalisco is the only place in the world that can legally produce the world famous tequila, and the town of Tequila is an easy day trip from Guadalajara, Jalisco’s capital. The main distilleries in Tequila are Jose Cuervo and Casa Herradura. Both offer tours, tastings and the chance to smell the sweet nectar of the blue agave plants -- the source of tequila -- as they are slowly cooked in huge ovens. Whether travel to Tequila is by local bus or the “tequila train” there is still a stunning view of miles of agave in various stages of harvest.
Tipple on any number of Mexican beers -- Pacifico, Tecate, Bohemia (dark or light), Indio or Corona -- but while in Guadalajara try its locally-brewed beer, Minerva, which produces a pale ale and a stout in addition to the more common lagers. Mexican wine is not widely known but there are a range of reds and whites, mainly grown in the north of Baja California. Its red wine, in particular, can stand up to any good equivalent from Chile or Argentina, and most of the big supermarkets (Soriana, Chedraui, Mega) carry a range. Drinking outdoors is allowed if you want to bring a bottle on your picnic.
Tlaquepaque, a prosperous, arty suburb, 30 minutes away by bus from Guadalajara sells pottery, silver, paintings and furniture on its cobbled streets. There are numerous restaurants to choose among, from high end Mexican cuisine to simple home-cooked tortas. The block-long El Parian (52-1-33-3858-0464), located just off the main plaza, professes to be the world’s biggest cantina, with one big courtyard and more than 10 bars all competing for business with nightly live mariachi music.
About 20 minutes down the road from Tlaquepaque, another suburb, Tonala, is an up and coming artistic neighbourhood known mainly for ceramics. The popular Sunday market takes over most of the town’s main streets and browsing is recommended with a refreshing michelada (beer with ice and a mix of hot sauce, lime, clam and tomato juice) in hand. Salud!