Guadalajara: a city tasting tour with chef Francisco Ruano
Many iconic photos of Mexico are actually of Guadalajara, a place that blends tradition and modernity. The city is renowned for myriad notable figures ranging from mariachis to architect Luis Barragán and is a seedbed of musicians, master brewers and, of course, chefs.
One of its outstanding restaurants is Alcalde, offering wonderful contemporary Mexican cuisine. Its chef, Francisco Ruano, leads us on a delicious journey to visit the four corners of the city, from classic antojerías which have inspired his cooking to the most innovative dishes highlighting regional ingredients.
Ruano starts by confessing two of his secrets to Fine Dining Lovers. “What you have to do when you get off the plane in the morning is head straight over to Chicago Street to Hermanas Coraje and have some chilaquiles for breakfast or a hot beef broth. The truth is, what I love most here are their charcoal grilled meats because they prepare them like yakitori skewers over the coals.” They’re one reason to visit the city’s industrial area.
On Thursdays go for breakfast at Alcalde Market to try some bone marrow soup.“For me, the most remarkable thing about Doña Mary’s soup is that the broth she makes is very velvety, perfectly balancing the flavor of the meat and the aroma of the chipotle chili. She only makes it once a week because she goes to the market in person, so the marrow is fresh… it’s robust yet mellow.” The stall is an institution in and of itself; it’s been in the market for fifty years. It’s his favorite place in the city and, in fact, that’s where his restaurant gets its name.
The weekend tapatío ritual means eating torta ahogada. The one he likes best is Profe Jiménez. “They’re the coolest. They’re really attentive to every step. The bread they use is from the Temazal market. It’s made with yeast dough and has a golden-baked crust.” It’s perfect for holding beans and barbecued ribs slathered in tomato sauce and drenched in warm salsa. The stall is in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.
“Terrible Juan is one of the new additions. It’s a really nice neighborhood café.” It has a meticulous selection of specialty grains, like Caféologo, and myriad methods of preparation. It also serves breakfast.
Try ceviche! It’s just as great for curing a hangover as it is for lunchtime cocktails, tacos and tostadas; it’s Happy Fish. “Don’t confuse it with other places on the same street!” he warns.
Mi Niño Jarocho
To leave the beaten touristy track, head over to Mi Niño Jarocho for delicious barbecued fish tacos and shrimp cocktail - which you should order without ketchup so as not to ruin the tasty broth.
Salón del Bosque
He suggests spending an afternoon at Salón del Bosque eating pork crackling taquitos and dried shrimp tortitas. “It’s been a temple of hospitality for thirty years. Plus, I believe that they make the best hierbabuena in the city. There’s no music, it’s an old-school cantina.” Hierbabuena is commonly drunk in traditional cantinas, each one of which has its own recipe based on water, ice and spearmint leaves. Sometimes liquors are mixed in with varying levels of alcohol content.
“You have to visit Cynthia Ruelas and Óscar Segundo’s antojería Xokol. They’re doing really amazing things. Aside from being the most exciting place that’s opened in the last two years, they’re a really hard-working pair. They start working in their mill at six o’clock in the morning, and in the evenings, they open up a small diner serving dishes with mottled corn as the main ingredient.” Xokol is a good reflection of the land and the seasons. They harvest the region and reinterpret it with simple dishes easy for customers to understand. “It looks to me like it’s the next big thing in Mexico. I’m really happy that they’re in Guadalajara.” You’ve got to follow them because they’re going to give you a lot to talk about!