Postcards: places we've been
Mexico: Surprising Guadalajara
Dining Tips and Restaurants
|Top Ten Reasons to Visit Guadalajara:
1.) Feels like a small town, with all the convenience of a big city (Pop: 5 to 6
million). Bursting with business opportunities (theres loadsamoney here), plus
cultural perks, Big G is ideal for those who crave a gentle urban idyll and hate mindless
2.) Deep, inspiring, passionate and political art---see Orozoco*******
3.) Excellent massage therapists
4.) Dripping with history and heart, and yummy papaya juice, everywhere
5.) Cactus for breakfast!
6.) Gorgeous folks, who knock themselves out to be lovely to you...the tapatios
7.) Seriously different street architecture, some really clever, some
mind-bogglingly awful: walks are filled with rewards and surprises
8.) Lots of magical little green statues of that moody snake with feathers,
Qyetzalcoatl, the father and creator god---also, he is god of science, agriculture,
education, arts, wind and the morning star, the evening star, and the 9th Lord of Day when
he feels like it. You can even take Qyetzy home in the bookends version, for your OED.
9.) Beautiful bowls, vases, and pottery, silvery and also outer space colours
For more information from the Mexico Newsbureau, click
Dining Tips and Restaurants:Iguana
tequile from maguey tequilero cactus,
Ma Come No Ave. de Americas No. 302 C.P. 44600
Tel. (3) 615-4952 Fax. (3) 616-2738
Ask for Dario Perez Garcia
A wonderful middle-class Italian restaurant with the best service your roving reporter has
ever had in any Italian restaurant ever in the world. Five waiters hovering, and
theres another one, just like it, called Negito, in Tampico,
if youre going that way.
La fonda del San Miquel,
Unfortunately, they didnt xerox the top of the menu, so I havent a clue
where it is, which is too bad (A reader, Marius, tells us the vital info
is Donato Guerra no. 25 tel (3) 6130809). Theres a great selection of shops all round it, or
what its called. I enjoyed the setting, but for a vegetarian it was terribly
disappointing and not up to speed. There are parrots in cages and harps and a lovely band
playing and pretty colours and you sit under a huge skylight in a jungley atrium and the
best red and green hot sauces this reporter ever had. The others had what they said was
good pork in tamarind sauce, chicken sushi towers, nice banana bread, pale pink jalapeno
butter, and meat in the first dish, so back it went. When I found meat in the spinach,
later, I just left it and had the three lovely whole-wheat tortillas stuffed with cheese,
mushroom pate and flower squash, respectively, but it wasnt enough to eat and the
desserts, including the much-extolled Jericalla, though pleasantly wobbly, were bland and
uninspiring. We tried Cafe de Olla, brewed in an earthenware pot, which helped stave off
the hunger pangs.
But we had to admit that though this is a seemingly sophisticado restaurante, most of
Mexico is not yet up to speed in comprehending the needs of people who do not want dead
animals in their breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. The use of animal lard in sauces and
beans, chicken stock, and cooking of eggs in the meat grease is almost universal.
Now, 10% of the population of England is now vegetarian, as are huge parts of India,
and the Buddhists all round the world, and the Muslims who avoid pork, and the Israelis
and New Yorkers who like their food kosher, no mixing meat with cheese. So until Mexico
gets hip to what tourists need ---and need to avoid ---in their Mexican food, its
going to annoy and frighten away the tourist dollars. Nothing is more personal than
Megga, Ave. de las Rosas 420.
Just snacks and baked goods, a friendly, if basic, vegetarian haven.
Prasad, this is a chain of health shops, ask around, there are a few in Guadalajara
Restaurant Acuarius, Ave. Sanchez 416 Tel. (3) 613-6277
Being vegetarian here means never having to say youre sorry. You dont have to
say, "No carne, no pescado!" either! We didnt get to check this one out,
but my friend Onashka, who lives in Guadalajara, says its pretty good.
Cafe Madrid on Juarez 264 Tel. (3) 614-9504
All kinds of excellent cups of hot coffee, including a delicioso Cuban Cafe con
which is surprisingly difficult to get in the traditional Guadalajara spots. Hot cakes,
Best deal: 20 dollars U.S. for 45 minutes in the Club Olympus health spa on the
Eleventh floor of the Presidente. You get to laugh and practice your shocking Spanish
while young and talented massage therapist Lupita works all the kinks out of your
shoulders and soul. Youd better book way in advance, because this talented young
masseuse is extremely popular with the local society ladies and the regular visitors to
the hotel, many of whom are businesswomen who work for Office Depot, Sears, etc. For
someone who only graduated from massage school four years ago, shes really good. Her
hands are strong, and she still loves her work, an inspiring and happy experience.
Virtuoso massage therapist: Alfredo. SFunny thing about massage therapists. The ones
who have been at it for a long time seem to develop a sixth sense, as if they can see
under your skin to where all the horrible little rocks are in your rack o
shamblin bones. Alfredo brings his massage table to where you are, for $40 US. And
he is courteous, dignified and professional. He doesnt brag about who his other
clients are, a practice that makes he extremely nervous because it a) violates client
confidentiality, and b) makes one feel as if the therapist is more interested in
name-dropping than in the healing art. I suspect a lot of Alfredos clients are
really big shots---hey, even the Rolling Stones have been in Guadalajara--- because he is
unquestionably---a superb healer. Id arrived in the Big G at 2 a.m. the night
before, my neck all a-twist from the week before, and at 10 am Alfredo appeared, set up
the table, checked out my neck, said, "Con Permiso?", I said "Si" and
cra-a-a-a-ack! all the pain and stiffness and pretzels were gone outa my neck and back.
Give this man a nice big tip and tell your friends. Id go back to the Big G just to
get my swan-like neck done once a week by this genuine healing practitioner.
Sightseeing in Guadalajara
About G: Founded around 1542, in the Valley of Atemajac The original people here were
Indian tribes, constantly bashed by attacking Chichimec tribes. Its rich with
volcanic soil, agriculture
Pop: 6 million, but it feels gentle, like a small town, with lovely manners, a highly
conservative populace, which means its safe, calm, and a little dull. No beaches,
Biggest silver mining source in the world, and the leading producer of zinc, mercury and
tequila (tours and samples available, about 36 miles out of town), the Guadalajara area
has two-thirds of the countrys industry, processing mostly food, clothes,
housewares, and la industria maquiladora, the assembling of imported foreign parts for
re-export to other nations, in a word, NAFTA.
Make sure you see:
The Cathedral: Of course.
"The Escorial of the Americas": Cabanas Cultural Institute (Hospicio Cabanas)
The beloved Bishop of Guadalajara, Juan Ruiz de Cabanas y Crespo---the locals just call
him Cabanas, with a an affecting reverence---started a Casa de la Misericordia (House of
Mercy) here. It was, by turns, a convent, an orphanage, even a barracks at times. There is
a lovely old spooky smell here, but comforting, like being in an old church or castle in
England, the old graves and stones filling you with the gentle heaviness of history. I was
just standing, eyes closed, sniffing, when Lorena, the charming diplomat from the
Government of Mexico, gently offered that only a few feet away, under a cross of unmarked
stones, lay the heart of the beloved Cabanas. Other parts of his body are buried in other
sections of town, as "they loved him so much, everyone wanted a piece of him".
and Manual Tolsa designed it at the end of the 1700s. Jose Guitierrez finished building it
in 1845, and until 1983 they still cared for kids here, till a more modern facility was
Whats interesting here architecturally is its one of not many neoclassical
structures in Mexico, but youve got Tuscan columns and orange trees, and good tricks
of seeing down the columns and doorways toward pleasant vistas of space and fountains. How
I wish the young savages who plan town sections in the USA would get a gander at the grace
of Guadalajara...its worth wasting a few extra tiles to get the grandeur
and space and feeling of peace for the people, folks.
In the Chapel, the murals of Jose Clemente Orozco hit you in the eyeballs, then heart,
then, spinningly, the intellect.
I looked up. There, in the cupola, was a Dantesque scene of men amidst the flames, and
when you circled, the men and flames moved! So I sank to the stone floor to get a better
look, took some snaps, and was stopped by the guard. The ability to say "Im
sorry" is one of the essential tool in the travellers box, and after half a
dozen sincere "Lo siento's" I moved quickly and silently out to the
square. But ooh, that Orozco! What a fireball!
Our diplomat, Lorena, promised me more Orozcos at the Government Palace, and said that
the Chapel folks had been shocked to see how politically controversial Orozcos
murals were...but by that time, the scenes were up on the walls, and it was too late:
there they remain.
In the square outside, the Plaza Tapatia, squeals and giggles of delighted,
crawling children and sheepish, smiling old men will lead you to the seriously clever
bronze seated sculptures of Alejuandro Colungas, a contemporary artist who donated his
work to the City of Guadalajara because, according to our diplomat, Lorena, he wanted even
the poorest of the poor not to be deprived of the enjoyment of art.
A young man selling Squirt directed us to the market, where if you have the time and the
feet and fingers, you can buy shoes, boots, guitars, clocks, practical jokes, chess sets,
jewelry, and most importantly, if you know whats good for you, bright green
bookends of Q, the snake god!!!
More Orozcos, at the Palacio de Gobierno, a 1774 building with a baroque facade,
in the (pronounce this)---churrigueresque style---his mind-blowing murals, on the
right, the Carnival of Ideologies or (Contemporary Circus) and on the left, the Ghost of
Religions Alliance with Militarism. See Hidalgo coming at you with the burning
torch! See the Nazis, and Commies and the greedy Capitalistas in one pushing mob, and the
conniving church figures in another, with the poor, hungry, sick, mixed-up, oppressed
people screaming and sobbing under the jackboot of the cruel political elite. Dont
tell the NEA about this! Theyll be begging Kinley Finley to come back and smear
chokkies all over her intelligent naked feminist body---shes gentle stuff, compared
with this. It is marvelous---if painfully affecting---to take in this compassionate
artists work. Unmissable, unforgettable, to see it all in an official government
building with uptight police guards at the gate! But it was here, during the Mexican War
of Independence, that Father Hidalgo proclaimed the abolishment of slavery.
Thank heavens the Delgollado Theatre was shut---we couldnt have taken the O
there, artists and writers in fiery limbo, Doric and Corinthian columns, a horseshoe
shaped theatre, opening nights must be fabulous. In the Plaza de Armes, theres a
huge gazebo-thingie, a 1900s French art deco kiosk, with fairy lights and little
statues on top with women playing instruments. It is all extremely romantic, in a
bottled-up, proper, old-fashioned sort of way. For this is a country where women in their
20s still live with Mama until they marry, but unlike in the USA, there is propriety in
it, not just to save on laundry and rent bills.
Our eyeballs asizzle, bodies fried, they took us to the Regional Museum of G. anyway,
another baroque building with Tuscan style arcardes, and were glad they did, for a
huge complete skeleton of a mammoth there, tusks and all, lives here, among
priceless works of primitive Mexican art and handicrafts. And an exhibit of the satiric
art of ****.
Jalisco state, one of Mexicos 31, famed home of Tequila, childhood home of the
artist Orozco, People and the False Leaders Man, Creator Rebel at the new museum
mariachis, jarabe tapatio (Mexican hat dance) charreria (rodeo)
About Orozco 1883-1949 a native of Jalisco, he moved to Guadalajara when he was a young
child, and emerged from the Revolution as a really firebrand.
If youre coming to Mexico, might as well live it up. We only got to try
two, but the locals insist theyre two of the best, and we believe them.
Av. Mexico No. 2727, Guadalajara, Jal, Mexico C.P. 44680
Tel. (3) 615-00-00 Fax: (3) 630-17-97 From USA: 1-800-445-4565
On Minerva Circle, gracious and mysterious, I loved this place.
Presidente Inter-Continental Guadalajara
Av. Lopez Mateos Sur y Moctezuma
45050, Guadalajara, Jalisco Apartado Postal 890
Tel. (3) 678-1234 Fax (3) 678-1222
To book a room from the US, call: 1-800-327-0200
by the Plaza Del Sol (a huge, jolly shopping mall)
The big plastic international hotel, where the heads of state stay, is beautiful, a
self-contained world away from the world, exactly what you want, comforting, friendly,
gracious, and theres a nice Presidential suite with a huge black Jacuzzi for two.
A Spa Near Guadalajara:
Rio Caliente Spa
Has vegetarian meals, massages, hikes, yoga, the works, and, best of all, NO PHONES!
Its about $30 U.S. outside of Guadalajara, and the only way you can book this one is
to call 415-615-9543 and arrange this before you go to Mexico.