I came from Puerto Vallarta for 72 hours of restaurant reviewing in Guadalajara, looking for the next great place to write about. As soon as I arrived, I headed straight to a place recommended by a new acquaintance.
Casa Tripache is a medium-size restaurant/café in the Ladrón de Guevara neighborhood of Guadalajara. While spacious, its feng shui is disturbing as you enter and have no idea where to go. The bar is on one side while the seating is elsewhere. There is a terrace to confuse you more, so I settle at the bar near the kitchen to see the action and the plates coming to the floor.
The menu is impressive at first, so I see why I was sent here: Duck gorditas with black bean puree, tacos de cachete (pig’s cheeks), grilled octopus, potato and marlin tacos. The sopes de chorizo come in three pieces, the hamburger with pesto is delicious (I had only a quarter of it as I tasted a lot of dishes) and I sampled other delicacies that in the end turned out to be a bit too repetitious. Black beans and cheese are used in too many dishes, as well as diced tomato and cilantro. You get the picture. With 17 items on the menu, most are primarily small, tapas-like tastings, most flavorful. I was happy to find yet another place that is welcoming with its friendly staff.
On my next visit, I discovered the bar-like atmosphere is really a local hangout for the many millennials in the area. The lady in charge of the restaurant is a lively, bubbly chef who is now managing the floor.
I took notice of the staff the second time around and discovered they spent a lot of time goofing-off, and the balloon deflated in front of my eyes. The banana dessert did leave me satisfied, but then it was too late and I wanted more for my money. While recommended to me, I would say that if you are looking for a serious eatery, look elsewhere.
Casa Tripache, Gabriel Ramos Millán #146, Colonia Americana, Guadalajara
Tonel de Diógenes
This cynically-named place is like a small tapas bar you find in Barcelona, or even Madrid. Its wooden bar and tables give Tonel a lovely look, appreciated by the discerning eye. The small bar is filled with bottles of its own brew, while there’s tap beer of their own making to enjoy.
The afternoon I stopped by was perfect because while still full from the previous meal, I started with their own brand of olives. Served in a small cup, it was enough to introduce me to the small, yet exciting menu: Spanish ham on top of a crispy galette with Manchego cheese (wow!), a mussels dis to die for, scallops in the house olive oil accompanied by sliced baguette, grilled pimentos that were so rich that I could not finish them, and a dish aptly named Embutidos Ibericos, or white sardines on crispy crackers. The remaining olive oil is easily absorbed with fresh bread and is delightful.
The Wine List is exceptional, with European rarities of cabernet blends, a Brouilly to die for, champagne, and white wines from chardonnay to sauvignon blanc, and so on.
Their tap beer is easily rated among the top beers I have tasted in Guadalajara, particularly their pale ale. The Henry Chinaski (named after a character in Charles Bukowski’s books, and the film Barfly) is Tonel’s bottled beer: a bit expensive though worth tasting. Olga will take care of you when you visit, and you will leave happy.
Tonel de Diogenes, Argentina #17 Colonia Americana, Guadalajara
Service: Great (Closed on Mondays)
De la O’
A Mexican-themed restaurant bar serving excellent food, and I mean excellent. Upon seating you get water, and soon after, a small plate of the day’s gastronomic creation (I got a plate of steamed broccoli in a fresh cheese sauce, chips and salsa and a taste of warm cauliflower in butter).
Since I came from Tonel just down the street, I was full, but nevertheless tasted the offering. It is my belief that if a Mexican restaurant serves great chips and salsa, the rest of the menu will certainly impress you, and this was the case here.
This first visit I tasted a bit too much tequila, chased by a local beer. The selection of tequilas and mezcales is impressive as ownership has two more drinking spots: its next door neighbor, named Para de Sufrir (“Stop the Suffering”), and Mezonte, a small mezcal-only bar a few blocks away.
The restaurant is impressive because the staff knows all of the spirits. They know the maestros of all of its mezcales, and have direct connections with the tequila distilleries on their list. The food, at my next visit was truly impressive. You start with botanas, small tapas-like dishes meant to be appetizers, but really just teasers. Next there are traditional dishes like grandmother would make: frijoles de olla and dobladita de chile rojo – a tortilla filled with mature banana, panela (a famous soft Mexican cheese) and bathed in a red sauce that is not spicy. This dish is topped with a spoonful of Mexican crema found only in Guadalajara, a salty, thick whipped cream to leave you wanting more.
Tacos, tostadas and dessert follow. You have to be hungry when you come to this joint, as the sweet last dish is a must have: Flan with macerated almonds, quite possibly soaked and aged in rum. For $50 pesos I would have another.
The place gets its name from a serious revolutionary who rode with Emiliano Zapata, a general who lives in Mexico’s history books, a well-respected man feared and loved by all. You must not fear this place but simply love it!
De la O’, Argentina #70, Colonia Americana, Guadalajara
Service: Excellent (Closed on Tuesdays)
Part two of my 72 hours of restaurant reviewing in Guadalajara will be coming soon.