We visited Guadalajara for the first time back in April and we enjoyed it so much we decided to come back just before Christmas. With it's close proximity to Tequila, we also felt it a great place to meet up with Matt's mother for her annual Christmas visit. Coming from Hawaii she wanted to get a feel for the big city. We were looking forward to a bit of cooler weather but we got a little more than we bargained for. The chill did make the trip feel more Christmas like, and the city topped it off with all their magical decorations!
Last time we came out to Guadalajara, we stayed at an Airbnb in Zapopan which was great but, seeing as we loved Tlaquepaque so much, we decided to stay at the beautiful Quinta Don Jose Boutique Hotel. This was an adventure in and of itself with its beautiful rooms, delicious food at the hotel restaurant, TlaquePasta, and the amazingly friendly staff. The moment we walked into Quinta Don Jose, our jaws hit the floor. Every inch of the hotel is covered in beautiful artwork. It was colorful, authentically Mexican, and well thought out to the most minute of details. If you ever have the opportunity to stay in the greater Guadalajara metropolitan area (Tlaquepaque is its own separate city), this one is a must.
Our first day was relaxed so we decided to just explore a bit more the beauty that is Tlaquepaque Centro. Being known for its artistic history and haven for art connoisseurs, the streets are lined with sculptures, art galleries, and more excellent restaurants than you could possibly eat at. Additionally, you have the oldest and newest churches in Tlaquepaque standing right next door to each other. Those churches border the main square with plenty of food vendors and outdoor markets selling all sorts of items.
Among street food like Tortas Ahogadas, we sampled a Cantarito in El Parion, a famous drink in these parts that are so close to the town of Tequila. Although everyone makes this drink differently, the drink is generally made with tequila, grapefruit soda, and fresh oranges and other citrus fruits. It was very good.
The next day, we decided to take a trip to the zoo because, on the previous trip, we ran out of time to do the safari. It was well worth the return as it was truly amazing! We got to see tons of animals, including lions, elephants, zebras, antelope, and many more. Jude even had the opportunity to feed a giraffe from his hands. The look on his face alone was enough to make returning to the amazing zoo well worth it. We also had the opportunity to visit the aquarium, which we had missed last time. It was a lot of fun and we all enjoyed ourselves.
After leaving the zoo, we headed for some Indian food at Delhi 6. Indian food is one of my personal favorites, certainly in my top 5, and living in Mexico means it is not always easy to find it. However, Delhi 6 was amazing! Also, Ashley does not eat meat anymore, so it offered many vegetarian options for her. I always say you can slap curry sauce on pretty much any food and I’ll eat it.
On this return trip to Guadalajara, we had the opportunity to actually travel to the town of Tequila, where tequila was invented. There are tons of distilleries to visit here, including Jose Cuervo, which most people will recognize. However, after several recommendations, we decided to take the Herradura tour, which was fantastic and worth every penny. It was 240 pesos per person for the normal tour and 360 pesos to try the higher end tequilas during the tasting. That’s approximately $18 and you get a tour of the facilities and a step-by-step walkthrough of the entire process and some of the history that goes into making Herradura. We even got the opportunity to try the cooked agave, which had a juice that was thick and sweet. My mother being a fan of tequila, we opted for the higher end tasting, which we were very happy about. I am not the biggest tequila fan myself, but I never knew tequila could have such a smooth flavor. My favorite was the Selección Suprema and my mother enjoyed the Ultra Añejo. All in all, it was a great time.
After the tour, we planned to go to a restaurant in the center of Tequila called Quinta Sauza. While trying to order an Uber (no Ubers to be had and getting nervous), the large family that had taken the tour with us asked us if we would want a ride as they were heading to the same place. The restaurant was a fantastic all-you-can-eat buffet of mouth-watering variety, including tortilla soup, steaks, chicken, chorizo, quesadillas, tacos and so much more!
After dinner, the kind family that offered us a ride to the restaurant decided to give us a ride all the way back to our hotel, about a 40 minute drive past their home and a 2-hour drive, but only under one condition: they had to make a stop at Cantaritos El Güero, a famous bar with two traditional Mexican bands playing at the same time. It was open air and massive and we had a great time. We are truly lucky to have had this kind family treat us so well. They treated us like family. In one night their kindness summed up that of which we find so abundant here in Mexico; truly wonderful people.
In the crazy way that things happen, the following day we were visiting the Cathedral de Guadalajara in downtown Guadalajara when we ran into some of the family that we had met in Tequila the previous day. Now, it’s always possible that you may run into people you know, but this is not a small city. The Guadalajara metropolitan area has about 6.5 to 7 million people in it. It was just one of those amazing things that happen like there was some destiny that we make a connection with these people. We will always remember the kindness that they showed to us and, as the father and husband of the family said to me outside of the car after dropping us off at our hotel, I will be sure to pay it forward.
Finally, wrapping up a short, but full, 6 days, we ate our final meal at TlaquePasta, restaurant at our hotel. I had the rack of lamb, which was brought out and flambéed with liquid fire right at our table. My mother enjoyed a vegan lasagna, which she said was amazing, and Ashley, being a huge fan of pasta, had her fettuccini Alfredo. We topped it all off with a delicious creme brûlée for dessert, torched right at our table. It was a great way to wind down our trip surrounded in the warmth of that restaurant covered in Christmas decorations and beautiful paintings with family, great food, and fine tequila. This will not be our last visit to Guadalajara, but it will certainly be tough to top in the future.