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6 Great Places to Eat in Guadalajara That Aren't Mexican

Updated: Apr 3

Every expat I know loves the incredible food here in Mexico. Whether it's fine dining or street eats, food in Mexico is fresh, delicious, of high quality, and affordable.


But many non-natives who call Mexico home are well-traveled foodies for whom variety is the best of all worlds. Fortunately, we don't have to sacrifice much as we live in one of the country's most cosmopolitan cities for dining.


As a side note... While there are a few exceptions, foreign cuisine in Mexico is generally more expensive than local fare. For one, there's less competition. Plus, foreign cuisine is viewed more as a 'special occasion' by Mexicans, and priced accordingly.


So for those moments when you're craving something other than local cuisine, I have six options worth a visit (or more) in metro Guadalajara.


Italian


Every local foodie knows Moresca, owner of a handful of high-end Italian restaurants in Guadalajara and Zapopan. Another excellent option for Italian -- but less known -- is Verum Franco Mesón Italiano.


Stepping into Verum Franco in the historic center of Zapopan feels like walking into an old Tuscan house. Built with stacked stone and brick, there are lots of small dining alcoves illuminated by candlelight.


Gracious, professional service is the norm. The clientele is predominantly families (multi-gen adult groups, not children) and couples on dates.


While the ambiance feels like Tuscany, the fare is not regional at all. It's more like Italy's "greatest hits." There are tomato-based pasta dishes, pastas with mariscos, grilled meats, pizzas, and risotto.


Recommended dishes include linguini frutti di mare, risotto del giorno, and sauteed mushrooms with garlic and chile de arbol. For dessert try the profiteroles (albeit a French dessert) with ice cream and an espresso.


While not pushing the culinary envelope, everything is very well executed and delicious. Plan on spending around $70-75 for two with drinks, before tip.


If authentic Italian pizza is your thing, head to Napoles (owned by the Moresca group mentioned above). We know of no other pizza joint in Guadalajara where the pizzaiolo was certified in Napoli (the birthplace of pizza in southern Italy).


Napoles' pizza crusts are just right -- thin and chewy with a bit of char. Toppings are traditional, and include anchovies, mushrooms, fresh basil, mozzarella de bufala, proscuitto, and more.


This is pizza for traditionalists. In other words, there are no jalapeño peppers, refried beans, raw tomatoes, corn, or other popular Mexican toppings here.


For those not in the mood for pizza, there are hand-made pastas (pappardelle with mushrooms and linguine with shellfish are muy rico), as well as carpaccio, burrata, grilled fish, and risotto (preparations vary by season).


While the mains and antipasti are stellar, I caution against ordering salads. We've tried almost all of them and they're consistently over- or under-seasoned, as if the cook doesn't bother to taste.


Napoles also has an extensive wine list that leans heavily towards Italy and Spain. If you love Sangiovese, this is the place to splurge. Plan on spending $100-$120 for two with drinks, before tip.


Japanese


Few food topics trigger as much heated debate among expats as where to find good sushi in Guadalajara. For us, the answer is HONŌ.


It's worth noting that the place is a bit hard to find. There is no sign and it's tucked into the back of the building that also houses the famous and perpetually packed La Docena.


Please don't get sidetracked.


Once inside, the space is a bit spartan, with a long bar that offers lots of seating for solo diners or couples. We like it here because you can watch all the action behind the bar.



There are nigiri, sashimi, and assorted rolls. All of the fish is super fresh and traditionally prepared. We were blown away by the melt-in-your mouth hamachi, sake, and unagi in particular.


You don't have to worry about Philadelphia cream cheese sneaking into any rolls here. They've also got little hibachi grills they will bring to your table for cooking vegetables or meats.


HONŌ offers a small wine list with interesting selections. We opted for a medium-bodied French Viogner from the Rhone Valley. There was also a Txacoli from Northern Spain our waiter claimed was the perfect pairing with sushi. (I'm not fond of Txacoli, so we passed)


If cocktails are more your thing, whoa. Be sure to check out the Umeshu Sour as a post-dinner palate cleanser.


As a side note, fish of this quality does not come cheap. We were here for a special occasion and ran up quite a bill (About $200 USD for two with drinks, before tip).



Korean


SSAM Comida Coreana has a large following, and the attention/popularity is deserved. For clarification, this is no hole-in-the-wall Korean restaurant (which I also happen to love). It's a classy joint.


While they now have several locations, the original spot in Arcos Vallarta has the best atmosphere. With a groovy izakaya/nightclub vibe, it features a cozy front room with lanterns and a communal table (as well as some private ones) and a dark back room with grill-top tables and a backlit bar.


I prefer the back room as it faces a serene, jungle-like front patio.


As for food, a standout is the Bibimbap Salmon bowl. It's exceptionally tasty and also healthy.


Prepared with a molcajete (mortar & pestle), the dish incorporates rice, seaweed, chile flakes, and fish eggs, with salad and fresh salmon on top.


There is also traditional Bibimbap with beef (or with vegetables only), delicious ramen with various proteins, kimchi with marinated pork loin and tofu, and Korean-style dumplings.


Besides the delicious food, there are creative Soju cocktails. My only gripe with SSAM is that it had no wine or domestic beers on our last visit. Perhaps it was a temporary thing, but annoying nonetheless.


Plan on spending about $60-$75 UD for two with drinks, before tip.


Lebanese


Near Eastern food (Lebanese, Moroccan, Jordanian, Israeli) is a favorite of mine. While not easy to find in Mexico, we're fortunate to have a restaurant as good as Suleyma in Guadalajara.


Located on a small and unfussy corner in Colonia Americana, there are only a few tables inside and a few more spilling onto the sidewalk.


Standard Lebanese fare like tabbouleh salad, falafel, hummus, and baklava are all delicious at Suleyma, as are larger plates like Shish Taouk, a savory marinated chicken on skewers served with pita and pommes frites.


Paired with a lemon cucumber agua fresca or Arabic coffee, Suleyma's food hits the spot after a steady diet of tacos, tostadas and quesedillas.


Service is friendly and fast at Suleyma, and they do speak English. It's also a fantastic bargain, where two can eat well for $18-20 USD at lunch or dinner.



Spanish


We used to spend a lot of time in Northern Spain when my husband worked for a company in Pamplona. Eating and drinking throughout the Basque region, Navarra, Catalonia, and Rioja was a pastime of ours during this period. Suffice it to say we know Spanish food.


Casa Tomás is an upscale Spanish restaurant in the Arcos Vallarta neighborhood that baffles me to this day. The food is exquisite, the modern art collection impressive, and the wine list deep.


Yet the place is never busy, but doesn't close for lack of business. Perhaps it's in the wrong neighborhood for the food... That said, if you crave authentic Spanish food we've found no equal to it in Guadalajara.


I recommend creating a diverse meal around tapas. The best dishes we've tasted are pulpo a la gallega (grilled octopus), sopa de porro y papa (potato leek soup), Spanish tortilla, boquerones (fresh white anchovies in olive oil & vinegar), piquillo peppers, and croquetas with bacalao.


Casa Tomás also has a nice collection of Spanish wines, with many quality bottles from Ribera del Duero and La Rioja, not to mention a serious tequila list.


Prices are a bit high by local standards, but a great value for the quality. Plan on spending about $100 USD per couple with drinks, before tip.


As a final thought, well-to-do Mexicans also love Argentine food. As we don't eat steaks, there are no Argentine places recommended in this post.


If that's your thing you'll need to explore those on your own. But options are plentiful -- especially in Zapopan, Monraz, and Providencia.


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Resources


Verum Franco Mesón Italiano, 28 de Enero 175, Zapopan, 45160 Zapopan.

Napoles, Av. Rubén Darío 1045, Lomas de Providencia, 44630 Guadalajara.

HONŌ, Av. de las Américas 1491, Providencia, 44630 Guadalajara.

Suleyma, Lopez Cotilla 1551 Lafayette, Americana, 44160 Guadalajara.

SSAM Comida Coreana, Av. José María Morelos 2122, Arcos Vallarta, 44600 Guadalajara.

Casa Tomás, C. Calderón de la Barca 95, Arcos Vallarta, 44140 Guadalajara.



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