On the Trail

On the Trail in Guadalajara

David Driscoll
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I’ve landed and stayed over in Guadalajara numerous times over the years, but not until this trip to Jalisco while on the hunt for Tequila did I have the chance to get to know the sprawling city of over four million. The Highlands of Los Altos, where most of our favorite distilleries are located, are about a two hour drive from the city center and most of my time is usually spent out there tasting potential new brands and visiting with producers. I’m usually only in Guadalajara to touch base with my transportation or to sleep, but during this most recent visit I managed to venture out into the Jalisco capital and explore a bit of the urban scene, starting with a stroll through the municipality of Tlaquepaque where a number of fine retail stores and restaurants are located.

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Towards the end of Calle Independencia is a beautifully-decorated spot called Casa Luna with an eclectic menu of traditional Mexican dishes from all over the country with small twists and alterations. The food was outstanding, but I think I spent most of my time gawking at the various diorama-like installation pieces spaced around the main dining room. If you’re looking for atmosphere, this place has it in spades.

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They also have an incredible appetizer based off what is perhaps my favorite Mexican dish: cochinita pibil, a slow roasted pork with achiote that’s a specialty of the Yucatan and generally comes with picked red onions. The chef at Casa Luna decided to stuff all that delicious flavor into a fried dumpling, sort of like a samosa or pot sticker, with Siracha and habanero salsa on the side. My tongue learned the hard way just how authentic that salsa was. Highly recommended!

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If you’re looking for a more modern culinary experience, I can’t recommend Hueso enough located in the Obrera barrio on Calle Efraín González Luna. Not only was it one of the most visually stunning restaurants I’ve ever visited, the drinks, food, and service are absolutely top notch as well. Hueso means “bone” in Spanish, so they’ve taken the name literally with the decor. 

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You can start off with a fancy Paloma—Tequila with freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice, topped with pink peppercorns. I had three. Don’t tell anyone though.

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While everything I ate at Hueso was awe-inspiring, the steak with a peanut cream sauce was to die for and they paired it with a Mexican cabernet-merlot blend. Who needs Bordeaux?

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As a life-long professional wrestling fan, no visit to Guadalajara would be complete without a trip to the legendary Arena Coliseo, home of CMLL lucha libre and the early starting grounds for many a Mexican legend. As a guest of Tequila Tapatío, I was able to pre-party in the arena’s private bar area where photos of Andre the Giant’s original visit to CMLL still hang on the chamber’s walls. It's truly a historic coliseum. 

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But I did not expect such a rowdy crowd! While the banter was never mean-spirited or angry in nature, I’ve become an expert over the years on Mexican street slang and these folks were chanting out every nasty four-letter word in the book. It was both hilarious and shocking listening to the old woman next to me call one of the wrestlers “hijo de puta” as he walked by our seats.

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We got up close and personal, as you can see here. The arena vendors are fantastic, bringing endless trays of Michelada beers with fresh celery, fruit with spicy salsa, peanuts, and various other Mexican delights along with them each time they passed through. I’m definitely making more time for Guadalajara in the future. 

-David Driscoll