Word of Mouth: Guadalajara, Mexico

Tradition and modernity collide in this buzzing city full of art, food and charm

Mexico’s second city, Guadalajara, may be large but its Lafayette neighborhood has been making a name for itself as a niche haven for art, design and culinary delights for some time. The streets are lined with stately homes, colorful architecture (famed Guadalajaran architect Luis Barragan has work sprinkled throughout) and plenty of foliage. It’s a city where the modern meets the traditional—a combination that many hotels and restaurants have mastered. While we have selected some of our must-visit places (from hotels to restaurants and galleries), Guadalajara is also known for its cantinas, old watering holes where authenticity reigns supreme and every drink is far cheaper than visitors expect (one of our favorites is Cantina La Fuente). It’s this blend of the past, present and future that makes Guadalajara place so remarkably dynamic—and desirable.

Casa Fayette

In a metropolis as large as Guadalajara, finding a respite from the city noise is always welcome. At Grupo Habita’s Casa Fayette, one step inside its foliage-fringed perimeter and you’ll instantly feel transported. This former private residence, built in the 1940s, effortlessly binds top-tier service with nostalgic design aspects that steer clear of being kitsch or gimmicky. From the retro-vibed restaurant in emerald green (complete with bamboo stools and palm-covered seats) to the jewel-toned lounge, each room has been tailored to the senses, all the while paying homage to the architectural history of Guadalajara.

Magno Brasserie

While there are vegetarian dishes available at this beautiful restaurant, meat-eaters will be especially dazzled at Magno. From cured meats to foie gras and côte de boeuf, the fare is rich and flavorful, but the menu is balanced—lots of light and acidic flavors are used, and there are plenty of pastas on the menu too. Australian Paul Bentley perfected his skills over 20+ years, from Europe to the USA and now is both the owner and executive chef at Magno, where the atmosphere is casual but the food and service is remarkably high-quality.

Travesia Cuatro

The sister gallery to its Madrid namesake, Travesia Cuatro immediately stands out due to its location. The gallery is housed inside Casa Franco, one of the many Barragan-designed buildings in the city. The gallery, concepted by Silvia Ortiz and Inés López-Quesada, highlights the discord and harmony between the European and Latin American art worlds, under a distinctly contemporary lens.

Casa Zuno

Situated on the corner of Calle José Guadalupe Zuno Hernández and Avenue Unión, Casa Zuno cuts a striking figure. The former residence is completely covered in volcanic stone; nature’s version of mosaic and the reason for it’s second name, Casa de Tezontle. The home was donated to the state and now houses the city’s historical archives, but a visit for the building itself is duly warranted.

Nimia

Wandering through the Lafayette and Americana neighborhoods, it’s easy to distract yourself with the architecture, but keep an eye out for the Nimia concept shop. Wooden shelves lined with backpacks, pencils, stickers and colorful notebooks create the effect of a back-to-school shop for adults. But there’s plenty more on offer here—from colorful ceramics to illustrated prints, cute clothing and beyond.

Trasfonda

The sister restaurant to chef Francisco Ruano’s Alcalde, the less formal Trasfonda feels like you are entering the chef’s home. In fact, Ruano’s inspiration actually stems from his mother’s kitchen. Whether you’re enjoying the green-tiled floor or the shaded garden, the traditional guacamole, or $4 avocado toast, that comforting touch can be felt throughout.

Nimia and Casa Zuno images by Leora Novick, all others courtesy of respective venues