Shrimp Zarandeado at Campomar Guadalajara

Mariscos Campomar: Cocina Nayarita

While Sinaloa may get most of the attention when talking about high-end seafood, I want to recommend thinking about other lesser-known regional cuisines. Even though Nayarit is just south of Sinaloa and was considered part of Jalisco until 1917 the cuisine is different. The sauces taste a little bit sweeter and lemon is used in smaller quantities. I was kind of surprised to see carrot in one form or another in so many different plates. Oh, and the food is SPICY. The house made salsas range from spicy to very spicy to pureed habanero. The quality of the seafood products is really spectacular and the price is hard to beat. All in all, you need to eat more Nayarit style food.

Nayarit, México

The dining room at Mariscos Campomar Guadalajara
The dining room at Mariscos Campomar

The family that owns and operates Mariscos Campomar is from the town of Ixtlán del Rio not far from the Jalisco/Nayarit border along the route that goes from Guadalajara to Tepic and the beach. As the name implies, the food is focused on the country and the sea.

Every table is received with a trio of salsas, cucumber and marlin salad.

Campomar pays a lot of attention to the details without being excessively priced. The place is packed all the time. I don’t remember ever going and not having to wait for a table. But the outdoor waiting area is comfortably shaded and they are handing out free beers. They are the little ones but who cares. That is the difference between somebody waiting an hour for a table or going to something less cool in the Glorieta Chapalita that never has a wait.

As you arrive at your table there is a stack of tostadas and two really simple, unique and delicious salads. Cucumber and onion, and marlin, carrot and onion. Mixed with some local sea salt and some spicy salsa you will be salivating for some appetizers.

The Raw Bar

Scallops at Campomar
Raw sea scallops

Right next to the waiting area there is a display case of the daily specials. I have become a sucker for sea scallops and whenever I see them in the display case I need to get an order. These are not your typical Costco brand frozen sea scallops. I remember selling an order smaller than this for 30+ dollars in La Jolla a while back. These scallops are truly a world class delicacy.

Almeja Reina
Almeja Reina

The enormous reina clams are rather mild while the chocolata clams have a little stronger flavor. Both are exceptional.

Orange Ceviche
Orange Ceviche

There are a lot of recipes that are common but there are also a number of recipes that I have not seen before. The orange aguachile is one of those recipes that I have not come across before but understand completely. Its a mixture of raw shrimp and ‘callo de almeja”. I can’t find out exactly what a callo de almeja is but it looks like a bay scallop, the smaller ones than I have only seen frozen before.

The aguachile is served in a broth of lemon juice and orange juice with all the traditional fixings. Except the little cucumbers. Nobody uses the little cucumbers in a ceviche dish but they should. The lemon juice has enough acidity to “cook” the seafood yet the sweetness of the orange juice kind of hides the acidity of the lemons. Oh yeah, and its spicy. Its that creeper spicy that doesn’t hit you until you are getting into your second helping.

Spectacular Ingredients

Shrimp and Octopus Tostada
Shrimp and Octopus Tostada

One of the ideas that always goes through my mind is how simple everything is. The seafood is the centerpiece and everything else is just complementary. Nothing overpowers those delicate ingredients that are the star of the show. A lot of sauce can sometimes hide less than ideal shrimp but at Campomar all the seafood is about as good as it gets quality wise.

The Tacos

Soft Shell Crab Taco at Campomar Restaurante
Soft Shell Crab Taco

Don’t be afraid to order tacos at a seafood joint. The first couple of times that I came I ate mostly tacos because I was afraid to ask how much the off menu specials were. Not to worry, everything is super affordable.

El Zarandeado

Pescado Zarandeados
Pescado Zarandeados

You need to order something zarandeado at Campomar. It is one of their specialties. The sauce is a mixture chiles, garlic, butter and soy sauce. Since I eat gluten free I ask them to hold off on the soy sauce. My personal favorite is the zarandeado whole fish. I am a huge fan of all the different ways that you can prepare a whole fish, and this has to be one of my favorites. Again, that sauce is spicy but it comes creeping up on you and you don’t notice at first.

Zarandeado Octopus
Zarandeado Octopus

I find it so ironic that for much of my childhood I didn’t like octopus. I had never had it prepared properly. Today, octopus is one of our go-to dishes. It can be hard to decide between a zarandeado fish, octopus or shrimp.

Tamal de Camaron

Shrimp Tamal at Restaurante Campomar
Shrimp Tamal

So this was one of those dishes that means a lot to me. I make tamales around Christmas time and have experimented with a number of different recipes. I am always looking for new flavors and takes on a treasured dish. This was the first time I have tried a really good shrimp tamal and it won’t be the last.

Dessert

Fried Bananas
Fried Bananas

I am sure there is more than one dessert on the menu but I never bother to look anymore. The only one that matter is the fried bananas with sweet and condensed milk, and cinnamon. If nothing else on the menu does, this dish will transport you to the beach. It is amazing how smells and flavors can evoke memories but this is the plate that does that for me. This is the plate that takes me back to the beach. I don’t care how full I already am, I am ALWAYS going to order a plate of fried bananas with sweet and condensed milk because it is one of my favorite things on this earth.

In Summary

I like seafood a lot and I don’t get to eat this well often. I can trace by love of specialty seafood to a stint I did working at Sushi on the Rock in La Jolla. Paul, the owner of Sushi on the Rock, taught me to try new things and how to spot the true delicacies. Mariscos Campomar in one of those true gems that you don’t find in every town. I hope that you get a chance to try this place because I really think that you are going to love it!

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Restaurante SSAM menu

Restaurante SSAM: Korean Food At Its Best

All of the sudden Guadalajara has a solid repertoire of Korean restaurants. I am really starting to rethink my criticisms of the Asian food that is available here. There are casual options in the market, after-work beer swigging and all-you-can-eat joints, and there are sophisticated yet casually elegant options to choose from. Restaurante SSAM fits into that sophisticated yet casually elegant category. Inside and out the experience is absolutely enchanting. A beautiful space on tree-lined Calle Morelos, educated and attentive service, and one hell of a kitchen make Restaurante SSAM a name that you need to know.

SSAM Guadalajara Table
A table at restaurante SSAM in Guadalajara

Long before I got to experience this restaurant I would see the manager in Mercado de Abastos buying produce. I can attest to the fact that they really know food because everything that is served is in awesome condition. There was not a blemish on anything. The herbs, the lettuce, the eggplant were perfect. They start with really good ingredients and know how to prepare them well.

Ginger lemonades at Restaurante SSAM Guadalajara
Ginger lemonades at Restaurante SSAM Guadalajara

Ginger ale, ginger lemonade and ginger passion fruit cocktails were perfect and there is a small yet solid lineup of craft beer.

BBQ at Restaurante SSAM Guadalajara
BBQ at Restaurante SSAM Guadalajara

We decided to share some appetizers and then turn on the grill. I personally love the grill in the middle of the table and the chop sticks made out of metal. I like my meat rare and my wife likes her’s medium-well, and this way we both win.

Bibim Ramen with Shrimp at SSAM Guadalajara
Bibim Ramen with Shrimp

They made this ramen for us with gluten free noodles.

Mandu Empanadas at SSAM Guadalajara
Mandu Empanadas

Have you every had empanadas made with a rice flour wrapper?

The BBQ at Restaurante SSAM is the best I have tasted in years

Ribeye Parrillada at SSAM Guadalajara
Ribeye Parrillada

While we were devouring the appetizers the grill was getting warmed up. While I love going to the all-you-can-eat paces there nothing like a great cut of meat. You can get that little bit of fat nice and crispy when its cut into slices.

BBQ Time at SSAM Guadalajara
BBQ Time at SSAM Guadalajara

The onion and garlic help flavor the meat and the meat helps flavor the mushroom. It is a win-win situation.

Banchan Spread at SSAM Guadalajara
Banchan Spread

We ate every last bit of every one of those side dishes. Honesty, I felt like I was back in LA. I easily could have been on Vermont Av or Olympic Blvd the food was so good.

Restaurante SSAM Kimchi
Kimchi at Restaurante SSAM

While I am no expert on kimchi, I know what I like. When the cabbage is fermented yet it still has a crunch to it, I am in heaven. From the flavor of the chiles to the cabbage, this is one of the best kimchis that I have had the pleasure of tasting.

Dessert at  SSAM
Dessert at Restaurante SSAM

Probably the most expensive marshmallow lollipop you are going to taste this year but it is a must. There is like a matcha green tea ice cream inside there. And a toasted marshmallow exterior; come on now.

The dining room  SSAM Guadalajara
The dining room

Come check this place out. Guadalajara is more than just torta ahogadas.

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Fresh juice in Mercado Santa Tere, Guadalajara, Mexico

The Traditional Markets Of Guadalajara

When I first moved to Guadalajara in 2009 I was very lucky to land in a house that was three blocks away from Mercado de Abastos. Back then you could get breakfast for $35 pesos. I was willing to pay $35 pesos just so I didn’t have to wash the dishes. I slowly got the know the different types of food in the market and realize the food stalls that were always packed had the best food. The markets have better produce than the supermarkets and I could get my watch fixed while I was eating, shoes shined, and a guy with a dolly to roll my ridiculous purchases back to the car. What started as a cheap breakfast turned into a masterclass on the food and culture of Mexico.

I was hooked on the traditional markets. Besides Mercado de Abastos, I was travelling all over town to see another specialty market or a cute neighborhood market that somebody had recommended.

I am thinking about this blog entry as a love letter to the traditional markets around Guadalajara. As Pablo Neruda once said, “Mexico is found in her markets”. There is no better place to start learning about the popular cultural of this beautiful country than in her traditional markets.

Mercado de Abastos Or Central de Abastos

This is the big leagues. Mercado de Abastos is the regional wholesale market. There are about 3 or 4 blocks of retail stores but the vast majority of the market is dedicated to the wholesale trade. There are trucks coming in from the provinces 24 hours a day with produce that is straight off the farm. The quality of that produce is consistently superior to the produce you will find in the local supermarkets. In fact, a lot of the supermarkets buy their produce at Mercado de Abastos.

Inside the retail section of the market there is an exceptional food court. You will find some of the best examples of regional cuisine along with some international options. Many of the food stalls are family run businesses that have been in the market since it opened in the 1960’s. Mercado de Abastos is one of the best places to eat in Guadalajara because they have access to the best ingredients in town.

Mercado Libertad or Mercado San Juan de Dios

Mercado San Juan de Dios, Guadalajara
Mercado San Juan de Dios, Guadalajara

This is one of the largest indoor markets in the world and the market every guide book recommends visiting. Personally, I am partial to Mercado de Abastos because the food is better. Mercado San Juan de Dios has a produce section and food court but the largest section is dedicated to retail goods of all sorts. There is a fashion section, hardware section, pirated movies and tv shows. The area that I like the most is the leather goods section. There are still a lot of cowboys in Jalisco and the saddles, boots and belts are authentic and mostly handmade.

Mercado San Juan de Dios sits on the edge of downtown that starts to get rough. The guys selling phones in front of the market can be aggressive and I would recommend keeping your wallet in your front pocket. I have never had a problem here but I don’t want to push my luck.

Av. Javier Mina, San Juan de Dios, Guadalajara

Mercado de las Flores or Mercado Mezquitan

Mercado de las Flores Guadalajara
Mercado de las Flores Guadalajara

While you are able to buy a bunch of flowers at the stoplight on any number of main intersections, there is nothing like strolling the wholesale flower market. Not only are going to to save some money (usually 50% cheaper than a small neighborhood florist) but you get to see what is available in Guadalajara at any given time. The flower market is located across the street from a 19th century cemetery, the Panteón Mezquitán.

Calle Mezquitán 900, Artesanos, Guadalajara

Mercado del Mar

There are a couple of seafood markets but the one that I like the most is in Zapopan on the northern part of the metro area. The traffic has been horrible for the last couple of years as they are building the third line of the light rail but that should be finishing soon.

Guadalajara is close enough to the coast that the seafood can be on your plate the same day it was caught. In some cases the cost of shrimp is lower than it is on the coast. A friend from Boca de Pascuales was blown away to see shrimp from Sinaloa cheaper in Guadalajara than what he pays at the beach in Colima. Make sure to ask around. Many of the best cuts may not be out in the open. As always, there are plenty of restaurants taking advantage of the supply of seafood and serving up regional fare.

Prolongación Pino Suárez 925, El Vigía, Zapopan

Mercado Santa Tere or Mercado General Manuel Avila Camacho

Mercado Santa Tere Guadalajara
Mercado Santa Tere Guadalajara

The community market in Santa Teresita is one of the best examples of the neighborhood markets of Guadalajara. Lot long ago Santa Tere was considered a rough neighborhood. Today it is considered a pueblo (little city or village) within the greater region. It is an excellent neighborhood to walk with all sorts of small businesses. You will find some of the best examples of regional cuisine and many have been there for decades.

I don’t do a lot of shopping in the Santa Tere market but I do eat here regularly. When Guillermo del Toro is in town this is where he comes to eat. Fonda Mariquita and Fonda Amadita are both incredible options. The juices at Las Titas are famous. The matriarch of the Las Titas dynasty is a very well put together older lady who sips chardonnay while working the register, classic!

Calle Andrés Terán 524, Santa Teresita, Guadalajara

Mercado Alcalde

Mercado Alcalde Guadalajara
Mercado Alcalde Guadalajara

Mercado Alcalde is a downtown market that feels like it is a lot older than it is. The current building was built in the 1980’s but I saw a 19th century map that said this block was designated as a market going back at least a hundred years. Most of the customers are a little bit older because the neighborhood is a little bit older.

I started coming here a lot when I was working on visa stuff at the immigration office a couple blocks away. There is a birrieria run by a father and son duo that is worth the trip alone. And if you are going to get a birria you might as well get a cold pressed pineapple juice while you are at it. If you are in the neighborhood it is worth checking out.

Calle Pino Suárez 391, Centro Barranquitas, Guadalajara

Heirloom Varietal Corn at Xokol

Xokol Tortilleria, Molino y Antojería: Go Now!

It has been a little while since I have gotten this excited about a new restaurant. It’s just that Xokol is so much more than just a restaurant. This humble Tortillería and Antojería is a living museum run by world-class chefs who are fighting to preserve ancient ingredients. Corn is the most important ingredient in the national gastronomy, a source of national identity, and yet most people have tasted few varieties. Xokol is one of the most important restaurants in Mexico and I say this after visiting Enrique Olvera’s Molino de Pujol in Mexico City.

Heirloom Varietal Corn at Xokol

Time has stood still at Xokol. They couldn’t care less that a genetically engineered corn will produce more tons per acre planted. The genetically modified version doesn’t taste as good as their heirloom varietals. Chef Oscar Segundo comes from a Mazahua community in Mexico State that is famous for their corn and their kitchen. The mural in their dining room is an homage to his 80 year old grandmother who still actively participates in the farming.

Xokol Antojeria y Molino
Xokol Antojeria y Molino

Traditional Mexican Ingredients

Corn is the base of just about everything in Xokol. You will sample the best tortillas you have ever tasted, and you should take some home. But corn is just the beginning of the story. The menu constantly changes but they are using ingredients that no restaurant in Guadalajara has access to. The quelites are mouth watering. The tomate verde (I know them as tomatillos, but have never tried them like this) are served raw in a green salad and taste like green apples.

Green salad with the best tomatillos you will ever taste! Xokol
Green salad with the best tomatillos you will ever taste!

Chefs Oscar Segundo and Xrysw Ruelas have an amazing vision of what Mexican Food is. They know where to find the best ingredients but they also have worked in some of North America’s best restaurants. The presentation of these treasures is layered with delicate precision. Each plate is meticulously planned thinking of the visual component, different textures and aromas.

Chicken and Mole
Chicken and Mole

While there are competent servers, it is awesome when the chef comes out to tell stories and share the cultural side of his food. There is nothing separating the kitchen from the dining room and the space can get a little hot. There is a small room in the back of the restaurant where they are preparing the corn masa, or nixtamal.

Blue Corn Nixtamal
Blue Corn Nixtamal

I recommend that you share dishes because you will get to try more. Also, don’t be afraid to try new things. There are so many ingredients that most of us have never tasted or even heard of. This is your chance to try some very classical Mexican food.

The Menu In Photos

Heirloom Varietal Corn at Xokol
Heirloom Varietal Corn
Tétela With Haja Santa And Beef Barbacoa
Tétela With Haja Santa And Beef Barbacoa
Corn with Bone Marrow
Corn with Bone Marrow
Quesadilla with quelites at Xokol
Quesadilla with quelites
Corn with Bone Marrow
Corn with Bone Marrow
Green Salad at Xokol
The green salad at Xokol is always changing. Always spectacular!
Mole de Olla With Ox Tail and Chilacayote
Mole de Olla With Ox Tail and Chilacayote
Octopus with Potatoes
Octopus with Potatoes
Grilled sweet potato with ice cream at Xokol
Grilled sweet potato with ice cream
Grilled Banana with Ice Cream and Cheese
Grilled Banana with Ice Cream and Cheese

Calle Ignacio Herrera y Cairo 1392, Santa Teresita, Guadalajara
$$
Restaurant Open From 6pm to 11pm Monday thru Saturday
Closed Sunday

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Pan Gabriel, Guadalajara

Gluten Free Guadalajara Guide

The gluten free options in Guadalajara have grown exponentially in the last ten years. From restaurants to natural food stores, the gluten free movement is even taking root in Walmart. Most people associate Guadalajara with bread because of the birote salado and that emblematic torta ahogada. That’s ok because beneath the surface there is a world of gluten free options that are way better than a sandwich drowned in tomato sauce. This is my guide to a gluten free Guadalajara.

If you haven’t had a chance, have a look at my Gluten Free Mexico article with the gluten free Spanish lesson. There is a bunch of information about how to avoid gluten cross contamination.

Before we go out to eat we need to stock up on the gluten free essentials. I like to keep a bottle of gluten free tamari soy sauce in the car just in case we decide to go for sushi. These are the retailers that stock gluten free products like noodles, soy sauce, bread, tortillas, flours and snacks. We don’t quite have a Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s style selection just yet but the supply has dramatically improved and is getting better everyday.

Abastos Gourmet

Mercado de Abastos is where I do most of my shopping. I like to get a juice and grab breakfast before I start my shopping. Abastos Gourmet is right next to my fruit and vegetable purveyor and has become a staple. They have a good selection of imported products from Italy, Japan, California, Vietnam, Thailand and India. This is where I buy gluten free soy sauce, pasta, rice noodles and paper and endlessly brouse the tiny stall. Mercado de Abastos should be your first stop for food shopping. Skip the Soriana.

Purogánico

I pretty much come here to buy gluten free soy sauce. They carry a brand that I love that I can’t find anywhere else. There is a generous selection of gluten free flours that come from local producers and some tasty cookies and snacks.

Amor Organico

This tiny shop in the heart of Chapalita has a great selection of frozen gluten free breads and a decent selection of gluten free flours. They also have a little deli but the last time I was there they were not serving gluten free bread with their sandwiches. I will check in again the next time I am there.

Liverpool

Found in the mall at Plaza Andares and Plaza Galerias, Liverpool is a luxury department store that also happens to have a decent gourmet food section. Inside that gourmet foods section is a better than average selection of gluten free foods like soy sauce, pasta and bread crumbs. The cool thing about Liverpool is that they have different brands than I see in the organic stores. The prices tend to be a little higher but everything in Liverpool is that way.

Walmart

The gluten free section at my local Walmart continues to grow. I am thrilled to see a gluten free bread made by my favorite local tostada company, Salmas. They have continued to add more gluten free snacks but the best part of Walmart is the selection of Bob’s Red Mill products. These are the same gluten free flours that I have been using for years. Thumbs up on the gluten free pizza dough mix.

Costco

The thing with Costco is that their selection is always changing but they always have something. For a while they had my favorite gluten free crackers. From time to time they have an unreal sweet corn cake that is bomb. I love the gluten free bread they stock but the last time I was there they were out. You will find something but be bummed when you go back and can’t find your favorite brand.

Pan Gabriel

This place if fantastic. This is a legit gluten free bakery that stocks multiple types of bread and pastries. It is a little more expensive than the big box stores but the quality makes up for the price. I always get a donut when I buy a loaf of bread. They are Mexican owned and I believe the headquarters are in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon.

Xokol

The specialty here is heirloom varietal corn grown on family farms. They just moved into a new space in the Santa Teresita neighborhood and mainly prepare corn and masa for local restaurants. They also have limited hours where they serve traditional Mexican City style street food like tlacoyos and tetelas with fresh hoja santa. You will be hard pressed to find better tortillas in Guadalajara. These are the tortillas that I take home to my family in the United States to blow their minds. This place is really special.

Gluten Free Guadalajara Restaurant Guide

Guadalajara is a great place to eat gluten free. There are lots of traditional foods that are naturally gluten free and the natural foods movement is blowing up. People are asking for more gluten free options and the top restaurants are coming through with great responses. These restaurants are not dedicated gluten free facilities but the wait staff and the kitchen staff all know what’s up. These are the restaurants where I have had the best experiences eating gluten free in terms of excitement and not getting sick.

El Sacromonte

The three best waiters at El Sacromonte have each been there for over 20 years. They know that menu inside and out and take real pride in excellent service. The menu is old school Mexican with dishes names after Golden Age movie stars, heroes of the fight for independence and famous geography. They have some of the best examples of regional cuisine that I have found in Mexico. This place is pure class.

Chile Enogada at Sacromonte Restaurant, Guadalajara, Mexico
Chile Enogada at Sacromonte Restaurant

Calle Pedro Moreno 1398, Americana, Guadalajara
$$$

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Alcalde

Chef Paco Ruano is my favorite chef in Guadalajara. He is a local boy who went off to see the world, worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens on the planet and came home to shake things up. He marries a lot of high end European techniques with artisanal local ingredients. The menu is constantly changing but there are always plenty of gluten free options and knowledgeable servers to help you with the menu.

Duck Breast at Restaurante Alcalde, Guadalajara, Mexico
Duck Breast at Restaurante Alcalde

Av. México 2903, Vallarta Norte, Guadalajara
$$$$

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Tikuun Comedor Local

Another local chef that is making his name on the national stage is Carlos Espinosa. What I love about Tikuun is that there was more than one gluten free mole on the menu the nights that I have been there. I love mole but it usually has a wheat flour component. The moles that I tried were unusual, from other parts of Mexico and mixed with fruits. He has an adventurous menu that will delight the gluten free foodies. Make sure to check this place out.

Tikuun Comedor Local, Guadalajara, Mexico
Tikuun Comedor Local

Calle Robles Gil 50, Americana, Guadalajara
$$$

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Allium

Chef Adolfo Galnares is originally from Mexico City but he studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York City. He has brought the farm to table movement with him to Guadalajara, growing herbs that nobody else can get on a rooftop garden. They have done an excellent job training his staff on all things gluten free. The menu changes with the seasons so call ahead to see what the current gluten free options include, and make a reservation.

Duck breast with cherry at Allium
Duck breast with cherry at Allium

Calle López Cotilla 1752, Lafayette, Guadalajara
$$$

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Campomar

Campomar is the hottest thing in seafood these days. The restaurant is ample but there is always a wait. The concept hails from Ixtlán del Río, Nayarit, just outside the State of Jalisco. The manager scoffed when I asked if they use Jugo Maggi or Salad Inglesa in the ceviche responding that their ceviche is all natural. The seafood options range from classic to exotic. The orange ceviche with shrimp and Bay scallops exceptional. Another test I have of seafood restaurants is the quality of their bean tacos. I want to see the ingredients and how well they prepare simple food. Campomar is excellent but beware that many of their salsas are professional level spicy.

Tostada de Callo de Hacha at Campomar, Guadalajara
Tostada de Callo de Hacha at Campomar, Guadalajara

Calle López Cotilla 1752, Lafayette, Guadalajara
$$$

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Pasteria Chapalita

The Pasteria Chapalita is rather new but becoming one of the favorite restaurants in Chapalita. The place is hopping in the weekends and the service is consistently good. What I like about the Pasteria is that they have gluten free pasta and know how to make it without making me sick. The pasta takes 20 minutes because they boil fresh water but it is worth the wait. The salmon is white wine, butter and capers is also an all time favorite.

Pasteria Chapalita, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Mickey at the Pasteria Chapalita

Av de Las Rosas 730, Chapalita Oriente, Guadalajara
$$

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Mercado de Abastos

There are a number of great places to eat here but you no matter what you choose you are guaranteed a great meal (except for the sushi). Carne Asadas Alfonso, Birrieria Aceves or Menuderia Chela are all best in class. Plus you can pick up some great tortillas and gluten free products at Abastos Gourmet.

Menudo in Doña Chela, Mercado de Abastos, Guadalajara
Menudo in Doña Chela, Mercado de Abastos

Calle 4, Comercial Abastos, Guadalajara
$

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Birria

Naturally gluten free and my favorite traditional Mexican food. Here is a link to another article exclusively about Guadalajara style birria.

Birriería David, Mercado Alcalde, Guadalajara
Birriería David, Mercado Alcalde, Guadalajara


P.F. Chang’s

Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s a corporate chain from Arizona but they have a gluten free menu that has never made me sick and it’s comfort food that that is satisfying. There are two; one in Plaza Galerías and the other in Plaza Andares.

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Suehiro

Old school, Japanese owned eatery that is the real deal. Its part sushi bar, part teppanyaki and part museum. The place is enormous and will be full on a Sunday afternoon. They have gluten free soy sauce and if you know your way around a Japanese food menu you will be able to find some great options. Suehiro has excellent service and is one of Guadalajara’s favorite restaurants.

Suehiro Restaurant, Guadalajara, Mexico
Suehiro Miso Soup

Av. de la Paz 1701, Americana, Guadalajara
$$$

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Hato Ramen

Hato Ramen Guadalajara
Hato Ramen Gluten Free Guadalajara

I am pretty excited to say that my first ramen was in Guadalajara of all places. Ramen is usually not gluten free so you can imagine how stoked I was to find out that Hato has one, and it’s excellent. The space is beautiful, the servers know what gluten is and I did not get sick. There is not much more that I can ask for. I did think the price was a little high. There is an upcharge for the gluten free version that is almost as much as the original bowl of ramen. It is going to be over $300 pesos for that bowl. It is a great bowl of ramen but now something that I am going to splurge on once a week.

Gluten Free Ramen at Hato Ramen Guadalajara
Gluten Free Ramen at Hato Ramen Guadalajara

Calle Efraín González Luna 2079, Americana, Guadalajara
$$$$

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Gluten Free Mexico

Eating Gluten Free in Mexico Guide

In my opinion, Mexico is the premiere gluten free foodie travel destination. The combination of a riveting traditional food culture – that is often gluten free – and a booming natural foods movement offers celiacs a wide range of choices. Mexico is a big country with many regional cuisines; with everything from humble, street side taco stands to haute cuisine, a celiac with have no problem scoring an epic meal. With a little research and a few Spanish phrases you will be enjoying some of the best gluten free food on the planet. This is my gluten free Mexico guide. I hope you enjoy!

I learned about my gluten intolerance living in Mexico. Ten years ago I inadvertently detoxed from gluten because I was eating all tortillas and no bread. When I went back to the United States my stomach problems returned with a vengeance. That was when I started paying attention to the foods I was putting into my body. Since then I have studied my DNA, worked with a nutritionist and thoroughly researched the gluten free options in Mexico. I work in the restaurant industry and have trained numerous chefs in the preparation of gluten free foods in non-gluten-free kitchen. I want to help avoid cross contamination and keep people from getting sick.

How to Avoid Being Glutened in Mexico

The most important thing that you can do to avoid being glutened is to communicate your condition to the people serving your food. Restaurants everywhere have good servers and bad servers. You can not expect that everyone knows what gluten is and what foods are gluten free. I have found that natural foods have a lower probability of containing hidden gluten. Foods that are made with an industrial process have a higher probability of using wheat protein as a stabilizing or thickening agent because it is cheap. Tell your server what you can and cannot have, and be specific.

At the end of this article I have included a short Spanish lesson about gluten dietary restrictions. It will allow you to explain gluten intolerance and tell your server what you are not able to eat, and what will happen if they cook your gluten free pasta in the regular pasta water!

Gluten Free Caution in Mexico

As in most parts of the world, fried foods are difficult for celiacs. The shared fryer has given me more problems than I want to admit. French fries that are fried in the same oil as breaded chicken will make us sick. I recommend looking at the menu to see what the restaurant serves. If they have chile rellenos or milanesas you are probably going to avoid the fried foods. I have a pozole restaurant that I love but the flautas are fried in a shared fryer and always destroy my stomach. It took me 3 or 4 visits to realize it was the shared fryer and not the spicy chile that was wreaking havoc on my digestive system. The shared fryer also affects sopes, tacos dorados, and flautas. If in doubt, ask your server.

Avoid Jugo Maggi and Salsa INglesa

The next big gluten bomb is going to be hidden in the form of three sauces that come up again and again: Jugo Maggi, worcestershire sauce and soy sauce. These little bastards are usually the ‘secret’ ingredients that restaurants use to make something salty and meaty. Watch out for ceviche, zarandeado, cocktails, chiles toreados, sangrita, micheladas, tostilocos, marinades and just about anything ‘prepared’. Not all ceviche will have the black sauces but you need to ask before you order. The zarandeado whole fish might have soy sauce in their secret recipe and you need to ask before they prepare and serve you a two pound fresh fish that you won’t be able to eat. You have to mention that these sauces will make you sick to avoid wasting a big plate of food.

Salsa Inglesa and Jugo Maggi are NOT gluten free
Salsa Inglesa and Jugo Maggi are NOT gluten free

Avoid Knorr Consume de Pollo

This one is a little harder to avoid because nobody wants to admit to using it, waiters have no concept of it and it is very hard to detect in the final product.

Caldo de Pollo Has Gluten
Caldo de Pollo Has Gluten

Salad dressings: Aderezo vs vinagreta

Aderezo is usually creamy style of dressing that many times will contain one of the salsa negras (salsa inglesa or Jugo Maggi) that you will try to avoid or ask lots of questions. The caesar salad from my beloved Avenida Revolución restaurant and hotel contains salsa inglesa. Again, some brands of salsa inglesa are gluten free and others are not. Vinagreta on the other hand is usually just a mixture of some form of a vinager, an oil and something to help bind it. Natural, home made styles of vinagretas will usually be gluten free but the more commercial or industrially processed product may contain gluten as a binding agent.

Gluten Free Mole??

I absolutely love mole in all of its beautiful forms. It seems that just about every corner of this country has a thick chile sauce that they call mole. Celiacs will have to avoid the industrial processed moles that come in the supermarket and take a lot of care when trying other forms of mole. The States of Oaxaca and Puebla are the two areas most associated with mole. The traditional recipes call for wheat flour bread or bread crumbs. However, at least in Guadalajara, I am seeing more high-end restaurants making obscure mole recipes that do not include bread. Tikuun Comedor Local serves a spectacular tamarindo mole that does not use any gluten products, and the staff was well educated on all things gluten.

Gluten Free Mole Negro Oaxaqueño
Gluten Free Mole Negro Oaxaqueño

In Guanajuato and Sinaloa I found gluten free moles, and most green moles are also going to be gluten free. Error on the side of caution when it comes to mole or make your own. The best mole I ever tasted was homemade with rare chiles and gluten free bread. It is a chore to make but well worth the cost! I now grow those rare chile chilhuacles because I love this mole so much.

Gluten Free Ingredients

In the last ten years there has been a huge increase in the availability of gluten free products. Most of these products are going to be available in the cities more than the rural communities. I get gluten free bread at Costco, Walmart and a little bakery called Pan Gabriel. There are a growing number of organic specialty stores that usually stock a small section of gluten free products.

One of the great things about living in Mexico is the selection of gluten substitutes. I have fallen in love with coconut flour and we regularly use locally grown garbanzo flour, tapioca flour, corn starch, rice flour among others to bake cookies, cakes and bread. There are lots of options available if you are willing to do the research and the baking.

Mexican Corn is a Gluten Free Treasure

Of all of the ingredients native to Mexico, a celiac treasures corn above all else. There is no comparison between the corn commercially sold in the United States and that which is readily available in Mexico. My celiac sister goes crazy for the tortillas I bring her because she can’t get them in San Francisco. There are a lot of heirloom tomatoes in California and a lot of heirloom corn in Mexico. Strains of corn that have been grown for centuries without crossbreeding them for higher yields. Or worse, genetically modifying them to be resistant to Roundup pesticide. In Mexico, corn is a gift from the gods and treasured as cultural heritage. Each region has their own species that are endemic and prepared in the local culinary traditions.

Mexican corn masa goes through a process called Nixtamalización. The dried corn is first cooked in an alkaline solution to break down the cellular membrane before it is ground. The alkaline solution increases the nutritional value of the corn and makes it taste even better. After the corn is cooked and ground, the masa is transformed into a plethora of shapes including, but not limited to, tortillas, sopes, gorditas, tlacoyos, tlayudas, chorreadas, tamales, corundas, uchepos, panuchos, tetelas and many more. While a great tortilla sprinkled with a few grains of salt can be considered a meal on it’s own, the corn nixtamal is usually just the beginning.

Tortillas at Alfonso's
Tortillas at Alfonso’s

Finding a good tortilla shop should be easy. I recommend looking for someone that is using heirloom corn and avoid Maseca products. In the rural parts of the country excellent corn is the norm. In the cities it is more likely to find agro-industrial products that don’t taste as good. While it is rare, make sure that your tortillas are made with 100% corn.

What to Eat in Mexico

I eat a lot of meat and vegetables. I love the taco stands culture in Mexico and I rarely get glutened eating street food. Most of my gluten incidents happen at casual restaurants. My Mexican family is baffled that I can eat in so many street carts without getting sick but when we go to a hotel restaurant I end up spending all afternoon in the bathroom.

Check out my taco guide. It is almost 100% gluten free and even at the fish taco place you can find some great gluten free options.

Birria

Birriería David, Mercado Alcalde, Guadalajara
Birriería David, Mercado Alcalde, Guadalajara

This is probably my favorite Mexican food. It is a roasted goat meat served with a tomato and chile broth. This is the best traditional, gluten free dish in Guadalajara, considering the other one is a sandwich.

Barbacoa de Borrego

Lamb cooked in agave leaves and an underground oven. Very traditional from the States of Hidalgo and Mexico. It is usually served with a bowl of broth called consumé. I usually see it served with artisanal blue corn tortillas and the option for an order of blood sausage.

Cochinita Pibil

This is Yucatan style pork rubbed in a chile and axiote rub. Traditionally the pig is cooked in an underground oven and served with pickled onion. There are a ton of variations of this dish. My favorite is using turkey instead of pork and cooking in the oven rather than the underground oven (I don’t have a traditional underground oven in my house).

Lengua en Salsa Verde

Gluten Free Lengua en Salsa Verde, Mercado de Abastos, Guadalajara, Mexico
Gluten Free Lengua en Salsa Verde

Cow’s tongue in tomatillo sauce. I have never been served a tomatillo sauce that contains gluten. The cow’s tongue is cooked in a pressure cooker and comes out super tender.

Chile en Nogada

Chile Enogada at Sacromonte Restaurant, Guadalajara, Mexico
Chile Enogada at Sacromonte Restaurant

This is a very traditional recipe served when pomegranate comes into season around September, just in time for Mexican Independence Day. A poblano chile is stuffed with a ground beef filling and topped with a walnut sauce. Traditionally this recipe has no gluten. I have never been given one that has gluten, but I can imagine that a cheap recipe would use wheat flour to thicken the sauce if they were going light on the walnuts and cheese. Ask your server.

Pato en Salsa de Pétalos de Rosa

Pato en Salsa de Pétalos de Rosa, El Sacromonte, Guadalajara
Pato en Salsa de Pétalos de Rosa

This recipe is from one of my favorite restaurants in Guadalajara called El Sacromonte. The duck in sweet and sour sauce is lightly perfumed with rose petals and tamarindo. There is a similar dish that is typical of the Purépecha communities around Lake Patzcuaro that uses a chile guajillo sauce and is equally exceptional.

Aguachile de Camarón

Cuchupetas Ceviche
Cuchupetas Ceviche

The folks in Sinaloa know what is up when it comes to shrimp. Restaurante El Cuchupetas un Villa Unión, just outside of Mazatlán has the best aguachile de Camarón I have ever tried. The shrimp is so fresh that it doesn’t smell like shrimp. It slowly cooks in lime juice at the table and only includes some tomato, cucumber and chile. You can tell the server how spicy you would like your order. If you are not in El Cuchupetas make sure to clarify that your aguachile does not use Jugo Maggi or Salsa Inglesa.

Callo de Hacha

The best scallops in Mazatlán
Scallops at El Toro Pesado

The sea scallops in Mexico are epic. Huge, fresh scallops for a fraction of the price you will find them anywhere else. The best way to enjoy them is raw with a little lime juice, some ground chiltepin chile and some red onion. Mind blowing! The best scallops come from the State of Sonora.

Chamorros

Slow cooked pork shank in a mild chile rub. This is usually cooked in banana leaves and served with rice.

Gluten Free Chamorro Pork Shank
Gluten Free Chamorro

Crispy Fried Tripe

Tacos Rojo Tripas, Santa Teresita, Guadalajara, Mexico
Tacos Rojo Tripas, Santa Teresita, Guadalajara

Tripe is something that Americans are not usually accustomed to consuming but you should really give it a try. Most of the tripe restaurants that I know prepare tripe and little else. Ask if they use a shared fryer but in most circumstances you should be ok. Here in Jalisco you get a bowl of crispy fried tripe in a bowl with tomato broth. It’s better than bacon!

Enfrijoladas

Imagine an enchilada. Now switch the enchilada sauce for runny refried beans and finish with some soft queso fresco. I like them stuffed with carne asada but you fill them with whatever protein you would like.

Carne En Su Jugo

A Jalisco Style soup of bacon, beef and beans that is served with onion and cilantro.

 

Gluten Free Spanish Translations

Gluten = Gluten

Wheat = Trigo

Barley = Cebada

Rye = Centeno

Worcestershire Sauce = Salsa Inglesa

Jugo Maggi is a brand name and has no translation.

Soy Sauce =  Salsa Soya

Jugo Maggi and Worcestershire Sauce are collectively known as Salsas Negras

Breaded or Battered = Empanizado o Capeado

Wheat Flour = Harina de Trigo

I can’t eat anything with gluten. It makes me ill.
No puedo comer gluten, me cae muy mal.

I have a gluten allergy (or intolerance).
Tengo un alergia (intolerancia) al gluten.

Wheat, barley and rye have gluten.
Trigo, cebada y centeno tienen gluten.

I cannot eat bread.
No puedo comer pan.

I cannot eat Jugo Maggi, worcestershire sauce or soy sauce.
No puedo comer Jugo Maggi, salsa Inglesa ni salsa soya.

…it doesn’t have wheat flour to thicken it?
…no tiene harina de trigo como espesante?

Corn is ok, rice is ok.
Maíz está bien, arroz está bien.

 

La Romería de la Virgen de Zapopan, Guadalajara, Jalisco

La Romería de la Virgen de Zapopan

One of the largest pilgrimages in Mexico will be officially recognized by UNESCO as world heritage

The Romería de la Virgen de Zapopan is a big deal in the State of Jalisco. In 2017 nearly 2 million people made their way to the Basilica de Zapopan on October 12th. As an immigrant who has made his home in Mexico for the better part of a decade I am fascinated with the centuries old traditions of my adoptive home; particularly the ones that I don’t quite understand yet. This article is about my experience following the Virgin of Zapopan on her pilgrimage from Downtown Guadalajara to Downtown Zapopan.

I had been talking to people about the pilgrimage all week and was excited to witness it for myself. However, I was perplexed by the polemic responses I was getting to my questions. There was a broad range of disdain or apathy, to humble pride and excitement. I was surprised at how many people that were born and raised in Guadalajara had never been to such a massive and treasured celebration.

The Catholic Church evokes strong emotions in Mexico. Jalisco was a stronghold of the Cristero Rebellion during the 1920’s. Atheist President Plutarco Elias Calles’ attempt to enforce draconian, anti-clerical laws and suppress popular religious celebrations was met with fierce resistance by the rural population. The violent conflict between church and state is long over but the memory lingers. Today the Mexican government works with the Catholic Church to organize the event and is even seeking UNESCO recognition of the cultural value. It is my feeling that the historic government oppression of the religious celebrations only served to strengthen the will of the people and build these events into the immense celebrations that they are today.

La Virgen de Zapopan leaving the Guadalajara Metropolitan Cathedral
La Virgen de Zapopan leaving the Guadalajara Metropolitan Cathedral

What is the Romería de la Virgen de Zapopan

Much like the Virgen de Guadalupe, the Virgen de Zapopan is the image of Holy Mary Mother of God. She is the patroness of the Archdiocese of Guadalajara and the original image was brought to Guadalajara in 1530 from Pátzcuaro (today Michoacán). The Virgen de Zapopan has dark hair and dark skin which established a connection with the native peoples of this area and aided in evangelization.

Basilica de Zapopan
Waiting to receive the Virgin at the Basilica de Zapopan

In 1695 the Virgen de Zapopan is credited with saving the population from a streak of natural disasters. When the the storms and sickness came back in the early 1700’s the population pleaded with the ecclesiastical authorities to take the image of the virgin to the surrounding villages to protect them. The tradition has continues for almost 300 years. This year marks the 284th anniversary of the Virgin’s pilgrimage. She has spent the last 5 months traveling to the churches around Guadalajara and on the 12th of October she will be joined by nearly 2 million people as they make their way from the Guadalajara Metropolitan Cathedral to the Basilica of Zapopan.

The Virgin leaves the Guadalajara Metropolitan Cathedral at 6:30 in the morning and arrives at the Basilica de Zapopan around noon. The procession heads down Avenida Vallarta, turns right at Avenida Americas and follows that all the way up to the Arches of Zapopan where they enter the Basilica for another mass.

Los Danzantes

Danzante in the Romería de la Virgen de Zapopan
Danzante in the Romería de la Virgen de Zapopan

In the 20th century the date of the Romería was moved to October 12th. In the United States this is Columbus Day. In Mexico it is known as Día de la Raza or Day of the Race, referring to the mestizo race. The evangelical nature of the Roman Catholic Church played an integral role in the blending of the Spanish European and Indigenous American cultures, and the Romería would not be complete without the danzantes.

Nearly 35 thousand danzantes representing native dance troupes will lead the procession to Zapopan. Honestly, this is the part of the Romería that I found most interesting. These dance troupes spend months rehearsing choreography, music and stamina. They represent the native peoples of many of the surrounding states and put a lot of effort into their performance and traditional dress. Dancing for five and half miles is no joke.

Danzante in the Romería de la Virgen de Zapopan
Danzantes in the Romería de la Virgen de Zapopan

Watching father and son danzantes being interviewed by a Catholic priest about what the Romería and Virgin mean to them is one of the most vivid memories I have of this event. They identify both with the Roman Catholic faith and their Native American ancestry in a way that is distinctly Mexican. The Romería de la Virgen de Zapopan is a really beautiful mestizo event. If you are looking to learn more about Mexico I would highly recommend waking up early and witnessing it for yourself.

Danzante in the Romería de la Virgen de Zapopan
Danzante in the Romería de la Virgen de Zapopan

El Sacromonte

Mandatory Mexican Restaurants in Guadalajara, Jalisco

Where to find the Best Mexican food in Guadalajara and what to order

Guadalajara is Mexico’s second City and has a world of international cuisine to be explored. However, when my family is visiting from other parts of the world I want to show them the depth and diversity of the local Mexican restaurants. I want to take my mom out of her comfort zone and have her try the best goat birria in town. All the sudden my stepdad is a fan of crispy tripe tacos and asking what the next adventure is going to be. These are the Mexican restaurants that I rely on to impress family and friends.

Travel is all about stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things. Each of these Mexican restaurants are authentic. Some represent Guadalajara and the State of Jalisco while others are meticulously researched recipes from another moment in time. Some are humble, others haut but each restaurant deals in experience and not just food.

Mercado de Abastos

This is my favorite place to eat in Guadalajara. So much culinary culture flows through this particular market. It is immense and has a number of the best examples of regional Jalisciense dishes. Birrieria Aceves, Menuderia Chela and Carne Asadas Alfonso need to be on your list.

Menudo in Doña Chela, Mercado de Abastos, Guadalajara
Menudo in Doña Chela, Mercado de Abastos

Calle 4, Comercial Abastos, Guadalajara
$

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Birriería Chololo

One of Guadalajara’s most treasured restaurants. The original brick and mortar location is in Tlaquepaque and the Hacienda is just past the airport on the highway to Chapala. All goat meat, nothing modern. It is awesome to see those huge clay ovens still churning out my favorite local food. Here is a list of some other great birria restaurants.

Birriería Chololo, Tlaquepaque, Jalisco
Birriería Chololo, Tlaquepaque, Jalisco

Carretera Chapala Km 17, El Capulín
$$

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Gamero Barbacoa de Borrego

This is Hidalgo style lamb wrapped in agave leaves and slow roasted in an underground oven. Not to be confused with Guadalajara style barbacoa tacos. Make sure to get a soup and an order of blood sausage. This place is legit but get there early because they have been running out around noon from time to time.

Gamero Tacos de Barbacoa Hidalgo style
Hidalgo Style Lamb Barbacoa and Blood Sausage

Av Rafael Sanzio 405, La Estancia, Zapopan
$$

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Las Flautas

This a simple chain of restaurants serving flautas and soups. The crispy rolled tacos are great but the real specialty is the pozolillo soup. Everyone knows pozole but the Jalisco style green pozolillo is not as well known. Everything is absolutely delicious and super affordable.

Av Guadalupe 1571A, Chapalita Oriente, Zapopan
$

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La Morenita del Santuario

This classic cenaduria is located next to Santuario de Nuestra Señora church in downtown Guadalajara. This church is where they have been selling buñuelos for centuries. Besides the pozole, flautas and enchiladas, make sure to save room for dessert and order a buñuelo to see what old-time Guadalajara tastes like.

Pozole at La Morenita del Santuario, Guadalajara
Pozole at La Morenita del Santuario

Calle Pedro Loza 527B, Zona Centro, Guadalajara
$$

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El Sacromonte

Sacromonte is all class. From the piano player, to the classic menu, to the wait staff that has been there for 25 years; the experience is refined. This is where I head for chile en nogada season but I also love the duck in rose petals sauce.

Piano Player in El Sacromonte, Guadalajara, Mexico
Piano Player in El Sacromonte

Calle Pedro Moreno 1398, Colonia Americana, Guadalajara
$$$

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Tikuun Comedor Local

This is kind of a hidden treasure. The young chef garnered national attention while finishing school and he is doing all he can to stay in the spotlight. Expect lots of regional moles paired with exotic proteins: quail, rabbit, pork belly and ribs. They also have a well curated wine list with hard to find Mexican labels.

Tikuun Comedor Local, Guadalajara, Mexico
Rabbit Flautas in Tamarindo Mole, Tikuun Comedor Local

Calle Emeterio Robles Gil 50, Colonia Americana, Guadalajara
$$$

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Trasfonda

Paco Ruano is my favorite local chef precisely because he opened this restaurant. Alcalde Restaurante is spectacular, recognized as one of Latin America’s best, but the techniques tend to be modern European. Trasfonda is a love letter written to Mexico by a hometown hero. Lots of specialty ingredients and recipes from across the country.

Trasfonda Ceviche
Trasfonda Ceviche Acapulco

Calle Miguel Lerdo de Tejada 2031, Lafayette, Guadalajara
$$$

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palReal

palReal has more than just Mexican food but there are a couple of dishes that you absolutely have to try. The lonche de pancita is famous in these parts and the encacahuatadas are divine. Plus they are the experts on Mexican coffee. You will try coffees from regions you didn’t know produce world class coffee.

Encacahuatadas and Lonche de Pancita at PalReal
Encacahuatadas and Lonche de Pancita at PalReal

Calle Lope de Vega 113, Arcos Vallarta, Guadalajara
$$$

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La Tequila Cocina Mexicana

May be considered a touristy restaurant but that shouldn’t affect your ability to enjoy this place. Besides the vast collection of rare tequilas, the menu includes exotic dishes from across the country. The tlayudas are excellent. On the weekends they sell lamb barbacoa out of a shack behind the restaurant that is top notch.

La Tequila Cocina Mexicana, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
La Tequila Cocina Mexicana

Av México 2830, Terranova, Guadalajara
$$$

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El Abajeño

Spending a Sunday in Tlaquepaque, dining at El Abajeño and listening to mariachi is uniquely Jaliscan experience. The outdoor patio is lush, the tequila flows and all is right in the world. The name Abajeño come from the people who inhabit the lowlands, as opposed to the highlands or Los Altos de Jalisco.

Lamb Barbacoa in El Abajeño, Tlaquepaque
Lamb Barbacoa in El Abajeño, Tlaquepaque

Calle Juárez 231, Centro, San Pedro Tlaquepaque
$$$

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Kamilos 333

You can choose Carne Garibaldi, De La Torre or Kamilos 333, they are all great. But make sure to head down to Calle Garibaldi in the Santa Teresita Neighborhood where these three carne en su jugo restaurants are all located on the same block. My personal favorite is Kamilos but you should decide for yourself.

Carne en Su Jugo, Kamilo's 333, Guadalajara, Jalisco
Carne en Su Jugo, Kamilo’s 333

Calle José Clemente Orozco 333, Santa Teresita, Guadalajara
$$

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Let me know what your thought of my list of Mexican Restaurants in Guadalajara. If you think that I missed anything let me know in the comments below.

Tacos at the Estadio Jalisco, Guadalajara
If you liked my Mexican Restaurant list check out my Taco List!

Gluten Free Mole Negro Oaxaqueño

Mole Negro Oaxaqueño

Mole is one of my favorite foods. I love learning about the regional differences in style, flavor and ingredients. Unfortunately, I am gluten intolerant and many of my favorite moles include wheat flour bread crumbs which destroy my stomach. Luckily, I have a lot of friends that are chef’s and have been studying different types of moles for years. Chef Fernando Ramos and Professor Leonardo Rivera helped me re-create a Oaxaca style mole negro that was gluten free. We substituted a gluten free bread for the traditional wheat flour bread. They let me do a lot of the work but came in to rescue me when they saw that I was messing up. Honestly, it was a great first try that I am proud to share, yet continue to improve.

Chile Chilhuacle

Chiles: Chilhuacle, Mulato, Pasilla and Guajillo
Chilhuacle, Pasilla, Mulato and Guajillo

I fell in love with Oaxaca a few years ago and was set on starting this culinary adventure with a Oaxaca mole negro. As I started researching recipes I read that the principle ingredient in a Oaxacan mole negro is an expensive and hard to come by chile called a Chilhuacle. In Oaxacan cooking the chile chilhuacle is considered an aristocratic ingredient. They are commercially grown in an area of Northern Oaxaca and are incredibly expensive.

Roasting Chilhuacles
Roasting Chilhuacles

Mercado de Abastos is the wholesale market in Guadalajara where I do most of my grocery shopping and where I started the search. Most of the retailers had never heard of a chile chilhuacle and recommended substituting a chile guajillo. Luckily, my favorite purveyor is from Oaxaca and know of the chile but did not carry it at that time. She recommended looking for them online. On my next visit to the market Heidi told me that he had found some chilhuacles just for me. The price was $80 pesos for 60 grams of chiles. That’s about 10 pesos per chile or USD$0.50 per chile!

Chile chilhuacle plants
Baby Chilhuacle Plants

Since these chiles are so expensive I decided to save a number of seeds to see if I can grow them here in Guadalajara in my garden. So far they are doing great. Most of the seeds have germinated and are about an inch tall. I will update the blog when I get some Chile’s to ripen.

Mole Negro Oaxaqueño Recipes

My research started with a book by one of my favorite cookbook authors, Diana Kennedy. I highly recommend her book, Oaxaca Al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy. She has been studying Mexican culinary traditions for over 50 years and fighting to preserve the cultural heritage being lost to convenience foods. She emphasizes the importance of hard to find ingredients and balks at inferior substitutions.

I also referenced an article in Mexico Desconocido that has over 30 ingredients and looks like it came from a cookbook printed a hundred years ago.

Chef Fernando Ramos
Chef Fernando Ramos

Chef Fernando Ramos and Professor Leonardo Rivera tell me that the quantities of each ingredient are subjective. We started out using the recipe just as Diana Kennedy wrote but then decided to put more fruit and nuts in it. You can easily make a half or a quarter recipe. We ended up with almost a gallon of mole and were putting it on EVERYTHING!. Mole and chicken, mole on quesadillas, mole salmon (not the best combination) and then froze another half gallon so that it didn’t go bad.

A couple of things to consider when making your mole that I didn’t find obvious in the recipe. Blend your mole really well. You are going to strain it through the colander later and if there are big pieces of chile it will take forever. I went quick on this step and had to go back and blend everything again for second time because we couldn’t strain it. Take the time to cook the mole. There is a change when the flavor of the chiles goes from raw to cooked. With such a large batch it took almost an hour for the mole to cook and take on the right flavor but it was a night and day difference. I was kind of disappointed at the taste before that change. This is a time consuming process and you can’t rush it. Great sauces take time.

Chile Chilhuacle, Mercado de Abastos, Guadalajara
Chile Chilhuacle
Las Islitas, San Blas

Stoner’s Point Nayarit

One Of The Longest Waves in Mexico

Stoner’s Point in San Blas has become my new favorite surf spot. The drive in from Guadalajara is really easy. It is all freeway without those mountainous curves that you have to go through to get to Puerto Vallarta. I can usually make it in two and a half hours depending on what the traffic is like getting in and out of Guadalajara.

The community of San Blas has a lot of history. The Huichol (Wixárika) people consider the area a holy place and their origin story takes place on a small island just off the coast. For the Spanish it was one of the most important ports on the Pacific. Gold was sent to the Philippines to buy Chinese silk and spices that were sent back to Spain. Today San Blas is a Naval training center, a fishing town (commercial and sport) and favorite beach town for the population in Tepic.

Playa Borrego is a 3 minute drive south of the town square. It is mostly inconsequential beach break. You are not going to buy a plane ticket to surf this wave. The star of the show is Stoners Point on the northern edge of Matanchén Bay. When it’s on you should cancel your plans and spend a few days posting up in San Blas.

Stoners Point needs a serious swell to wake up. If the open ocean buoy is less than 4ft it is going to be a lake. When you see a serious south-west swell you should cancel your plans a post up in San Blas for a few days. The wave runs down, has a ton of sections and quarter mile long rides are common. The wave starts off mellow with an easy drop and quickly stands up and races down the line.

There is another break on the inside called Las Islitas or Matanchén Bay. There was a time when it was considered the longest wave in the world by the hodads at the Guinness Book of World Records. It’s a gimmick that even the longboarders are going to get board with. Las Islitas is a good place to teach your kid or spouse to surf but not much else.

If you drive in to Las Islitas you need 4×4 or at least a truck with good clearance to make it all the way out to the point. If not, you can park a half mile down the point and walk in. Make sure to visit the old Spanish fort and the abandoned 18th century church on the bluff overlooking the city. The views are awesome and the tour guides have some great stories.