Tasty local fare— including the torta ahogada, a beloved pork-and-bean sandwich often kicked up with picante sauce—can be found at one of the city’s many street carts or lunch counters, which are almost always just a few steps away. The choicest spot is Las Originales Hermanas Coraje, located near downtown.
Guadalajaran history comes alive during a dinner at La Fonda de San Miguel. If this building, another former convent, could talk, it would regale you with the legends of various occupants, including nuns, soldiers and students. Go with regional specialties such as the molcajete, a rich stew of fried chicken and vegetables served in a stone bowl.
On the recommendation of Ochoa, I also dined at El Abajeño, just off the circle at the Minerva statue. This casual courtyard restaurant is a gathering place for young people and features an excellent in-house mariachi band. Traditional Mexican fare, savored with tequila or sangria, is the order of the day.
The cutting edge of Guadalajara’s culinary scene can be found at I Latina, where the combined Asian and Mediterranean influences attract an eclectic clientele of hip locals and savvy travelers.
The Tequila Trail
You can’t leave without learning about the region’s most renowned export. Hire a driver or hop on the Tequila Express train and travel an hour and a half northwest to the agave-studded hillsides of the Tequila volcano. The town itself, a short bus ride from the end of the train line, was settled in the fifteenth century, and a frontier feel remains. For the most comprehensive look into the mystical appellation, visit Casa Herradura, with its courtyards, gardens and gleaming copper stills, and Mundo Cuervo, headquarters of José Cuervo. The adobe Cuervo distillery has graced the village square since 1795, and the tour of its works is a fascinating journey from field to bottle.
Guadalajara’s international airport is one of Mexico’s busiest transportation hubs. It’s served by numerous U.S. carriers.