A Guide to Guadalajara

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A Guide to Guadalajara

Comment Guadalajara, Mexico
Parish of St. Peter the Apostle, Tlaquepaque

Parish of St. Peter the Apostle, Tlaquepaque


Guadalajara is the fourth largest city in Mexico and the largest & capital of the state of Jalisco. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect touching down in GDL but I knew that because I'd be in Mexico I could count on exquisite cuisine, incredible architecture, good art, and warm people. During my week in the city, this is exactly what I experienced and so much more.  This is the culture I know and I am always filled with so much pride when back in the country of my lineage. 

GDL (which is Guadalajara for short) is home to Mariachi music and tortas ahogadas, but in the past decade it has been touted as an art, design, and culinary destination–three of my greatest passions. It's not every city that immediately has me itching to book a trip back, but that's what Guadalajara stirred up in me, and not simply because I had a fun date with a really cute Mexican painter. It was everything about the city. The lush tree-lined streets of Colonia Lafayette, the ceramics in Tlaquepaque, and the blue agave fields in the Highlands. Every moment spent in Guadalajara was special. Just over 3 hours on a plane from LAX–GDL, an incredible city awaits you.

 

ART

Hospicio Cabañas

Hospicio Cabañas
Calle Cabañas 8, Las Fresas, 44360 Guadalajara, Jalisco
+52 33 3668 1642

Mexico is home to 34 Unesco World Heritage sites, making it the most in all of the Americas. Las Cabañas is not to be missed, seriously not to be missed, while in Guadalajara. The major highlight of the site is the series of monumental frescoes by José Clemente Orozco, including The Man of Fire, which is one of his most famed works of art, completed in1939.

 
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Taller Paco Padilla
Calle Prisciliano Sanchez 142, Tlaquepaque, Jalisco
+52 33 363 54838

Only a brief twenty-five minute drive from Guadalajara is Taller Paco Padilla, a cool ceramic studio in Tlaquepaque, a puebla just outside the city. I had the opportunity to take a private tour of this space and loved every minute of it. I bought a lot of unique pieces here; you'd be amazed at how far your dollar gets you at Studio Padilla.

 

 

HOTELS

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Casa Fayette
Calle Miguel Lerdo de Tejada 2308, Lafayette, 44160, GDL
+52 33 367 92000

This unique property is on the roster of hotelier geniuses Grupo HABITA. Casa Fayette is for the sophisticate who is obsessed with beauty.  It's a1940's mansion which was transformed into a design paradise within the city. This 37-room boutique hotel is located in Colonia Lafayette, with a roof top pool, delicious & beautiful restaurant, multiple bars, and spa. If interiors are your thing, this is like going to actual heaven.

 
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Hotel Demetria
Av. de la Paz 2219, Lafayette, 44140 Guadalajara, Jalisco
+52 33 381 80060

This is a hotel for art lovers and party goers. Hotel Demetria is located in Colonia Lafayette, known for its vibrant arts and culture scene. The10,000-square-foot boutique hotel has 37 rooms & six apartments. Amenities include a gym, rooftop pool, jacuzzi and two bars. You can find Agua de Piedra and Casa Bosques Chocolates in your room. When you book, ask for the giant bathtub.

 

RESTUARANTS

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Hueso
Efrain González Luna 2061, 44140 Guadalajara, Jalisco
+52 33 361 53591

This is one of my favorite designed restaurants in the world, like top 2. It's absolutely beautiful and the food is savory, seasonal, and will not disappoint. Meats are big on the menu but I also ate one of the best salads of my life here. Perfect place for romance, even if you are single. You feel sexy here. I love everything about it. The Cadena brothers really did something special here.

 
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Alcalde
Av. Mexico 2903, 44690 Guadalajara, Jalisco
+52 33 361 57400

If you love seafood, it's stunning here and prepared to perfection. The vibe is high in Alcalde and Chef Paco Ruano is crafting magic with his hands. A menu full of great cocktails for those who appreciate a good libation. This is where I had the best rice pudding of my life if you really want to know what time it is. When you visit Guadalajara, it would be a sin not to eat at Alcalde.

 
Hospicio Cabañas

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Hospicio Cabañas

Comment Guadalajara, Mexico
The Man on Fire, José Clemente Orozco

The Man on Fire, José Clemente Orozco


One of my life goals is to see as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites as I possibly can and Mexico is home to the most in the Americas and seventh in the world. You can see a full list of their sites here, which surpasses both the United States of America and the UK if you were curious. Hospicio Cabañas marks my third World Heritage Site in Mexico, having already seen the jaw dropping pre-Hispanic city of Chichen-Itza in the Yucatán and the Historic Centre of Mexico City in DF. Both which are experiences I will never forget. I was overwhelmed with excitement when I saw Hospicio Cabañas (or Las Cabañas) on our Don Julio itinerary, as seeing José Clemente Orozco's mural's were imperative while in Guadalajara, and this is where his most famed are celebrated.

Although I briefly studied and created fine art before focusing on my undergraduate work in Women's Studies, it wasn't until 2016 when I dated a painter who really put me on to Orozco. I was familiar with the name but never had the opportunity to study the artist, another reflection of how Mexican geniuses are often excluded from the academic art canon. There are few positive things I can say about this painter I once called my boo but he did have an extensive collection of art books, of which I read often. One day when telling me of his past residency in Guadalajara, he began piling book after book in front of me, almost all of them focusing on the history and talents of José Clemente Orozco. I was blown away by his work while simultaneously disappointed no one ever pulled me aside and said, you should really know about this Natalie. It was at that moment I decided I needed to see much of Orozco I possibly could, but most importantly his frescoe depicting the allegory of The Man on Fire, located at Hospicio Cabañas.

 
Living My Best Life at Hospicio Cabañas

Living My Best Life at Hospicio Cabañas

Sculpture by José Luis Cuevas

Sculpture by José Luis Cuevas


Here I was at Las Cabañas, living my best life as a Mexican American woman in Mexico. While on our tour of the property with one of the coolest docents I have ever met–he was 60+ and continually referenced Heavy Metal bands–I found myself standing under Orozco's mural with tears in my eyes. The Man on Fire was magnificent and of monumental proportions; it moved me in a way few others have done before. It was something I wanted to stare at for hours but we had a full day ahead of us. Orozco's fresco simply could not be summarized by adjectives. You must experience it with your own eyes. This epic mural should be taught and appreciated in schools much like Michelangelo's work at The Sistine Chapel; it's a masterpiece.

Hospicio Cabañas | Calle Cabañas 8, Las Fresas, 44360 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico

 
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Concept: Bishop Juan Cruz Ruiz de Cabañas
Architect & Design: Manuel Tolsá and José Gutiérrez
Masterpiece Murals: José Clemente Orozco
World Heritage Site granted in 1997

Taller Paco Padilla

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Taller Paco Padilla

Comment Tlaquepaque, Mexico
Ceramics by Paco Padilla Workshop

Ceramics by Paco Padilla Workshop


I love ceramics, particularly pieces that were conceptualized and made in Mexico, where the art form has been celebrated for thousands of years. Ceramic arts and pottery crafts pre-date the arrival of Europeans in Mesoamerica, yet another example of Mexican sophistication that has rightfully become a respected tradition. When I read on my Don Julio itinerary that we would be given a private tour of Taller Paco Padilla in Tlaquepaque I was over the moon. Although I was not originally familiar with this pueblo, upon my on-the-spot research I learned that this city was known for its artisan crafts and pottery. Before even stepping in the studio, I knew I would be coming home with some special objects and gifts for friends.

Only a brief twenty-five minute drive from Guadalajara, we made our way to Padilla's workshop in Tlaquepaque, where we would spend the day learning about the taller (workshop), witness artists at work, and paint our own calavera in celebration of Día de los Muertos, under the tutelage of Paco Padilla himself. Señor Padilla was a kind man who was also full of so much life! We spoke in Spanish about his life's work in Tlaquepaque and before we knew it, he grabbed a guitar and started singing to us. It was truly a magical afternoon to be in Mexico.

Taller Paco Padilla | Calle Prisciliano Sanchez 142, Tlaquepaque, Jalisco 45500

 
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Kiln at Paco Padilla Ceramic Studio

Kiln at Paco Padilla Ceramic Studio

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My Trip With Don Julio Tequila

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My Trip With Don Julio Tequila

Comment Guadalajara, Mexico
Tequila Tasting at Casa Don Julio

Tequila Tasting at Casa Don Julio


Growing up Mexican American in Los Angeles meant that tequila was often part of our familial celebrations. If there was any kind of function, whether it be in a backyard or wedding ceremony, tequila was a standard issue drink. Even on our trips to visit cousins in Tijuana, my family would stop at the grocery store to bring back a couple of bottles of tequila, because the prices and variety in Mexico were always better than in the states. If you're lucky enough to be born into our culture or call us your friends, you know that food & drink are crucial elements in enjoying all that life has to offer when you are Mexican or Mexican American. Even today when I choose to drink, which is a rare occasion, I always select a top-shelf tequila or mezcal. Now having been to Jalisco and back, I come bearing knowledge that has not only elevated my imbibing experience but will undoubtedly improve yours. 

Don Julio Tequila asked me if I'd like to catch a flight to Guadalajara to experience something that only a rare few ever will–taking a tour of their blue agave farms, distillery & factory, and spending time in the home of Don Julio himself. This invite was an actual dream come true as I manifested it merely a month before when conceptualizing the same idea for rapper Jeezy while writing video treatments at Spotify. Although Spotify decided a a trip to Mexico was too difficult to execute, they went with another idea of mine, highlighting Jeezy's car collection on an Atlanta racetrack. Now here I was, living my top-line Jeezy concept and I could actually taste the satisfaction. 

Where to begin when describing one of the best press trips of my life. International at that. I love to learn and expand my knowledge in a variety of fields, and after my journey to Guadalajara, I will never treat tequila the same. To be fully immersed with experts for days at a time, expounding on one particular subject, was incredibly cool and expansive. From multi-course dinners paired with Don Julio cocktails at Alcalde and Hueso, to a Día de los Muertos celebration at Casa Luna, the premium luxury spirit did not stop flowing and I felt great with every glass I sipped. I learned that many have suffered bad tequila moments because they were pounding back subpar liquids, only intended to be mixers. In fact, tequila should be savored slowly, similarly to a nice Scotch or Cognac, not catapulted down your throat like a disgusting spoonful of cough syrup.

 
Don Julio Tequila Tasting

Don Julio Tequila Tasting

Mexican Gorditas Made Fresh

Mexican Gorditas Made Fresh


Lunch at Casa Don Julio also known as Hacienda Don Julio was a magical afternoon. Through the rocky terrains of the Highlands we drove to our historic destination. Upon arrival I could hear a mariachi in the distance and got a whiff of grilled meats in the air. My sensory memories were being tapped into on many levels and I couldn't wait to see what was beyond the facade before me. As I walked through Don Julio's front doors, I spotted a beautiful backyard with an entire spread awaiting our group's arrival. A private lunch at la Hacienda was exactly what I needed on this warm day in Jalisco. I took my seat towards the head of the table, close to the mariachi, and began to sip on the most delicious margarita I've drank in my life, Don Julio style. Women were flipping freshly made tortillas and grilling doughy pillows known as gorditas, both topped with generous amounts of butter. As my mouth began to water, the plates began to hit the table, not a beat skipped by the attentive staff ensuring every moment of our trip was flawless. Carne asada, caramelized onions, grilled fish, cecina, and an assortment of chilies were sprawled across the giant dining table . I felt like royalty with this delicious meal blessed before me. It was time to celebrate with another margarita.

After a lunch fit for a queen, we made our way into the house for an special tasting guided by Master Distiller, Enrique de Colsa. Before me sat four varieties of Don Julio: Blanco, Reposado, Añejo, and 70 Añejo Cristalino, all served in a Champagne flute. Senor Colsa would later inform us that a luxury tequila should always be sipped from either a Champagne flute or Cognac glass (snifter) for optimal satisfaction. Refined, the true Mexican way.

Here's a tequila drinking guide, as learned from a Master Distiller. There's levels to this.
Blanco: Clear, crisp agave aromas blended with hints of citrus. Light, sweet agave flavor. Best for mixed drinks.
Reposado: Straw-like color, incredibly soft & elegant hints of dark chocolate, vanilla, & light cinnamon. Best served neat.
Añejo: Light amber, bright and lightly spiced finish with essence of wild honey. Best served on the rocks.
70 Añejo Cristalino: Clear, smooth in character with highlights of vanilla, honey, & toasted oak. Best served on the rocks.

 
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Benjamín Chavez, Don Julio Farm Worker

Benjamín Chavez, Don Julio Farm Worker

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I experienced the entire life cycle of tequila, from its birth in the fields of blue agave to its intricate distillation at the Don Julio factory. At La Primavera, located in the Highlands of Jalisco-Los Altos region, Don Julio wanted to create a more nuanced blend of tequila for personal enjoyment and began experimenting with 100% blue agave plants among the rich clay soil and microclimate. He planted blue agaves farther apart than most distilleries, which lead them to grow larger and essentially sweeter. When sliced, the agave is called a "piña" as it resembles a pineapple, beautiful in its shape. Whereas many other distilleries place the entire blue agave plant into the furnace, at Don Julio, each stem is removed by a farmer. By doing so, they are avoiding a betrayal in flavor caused by a waxy film found on the leaves. Quality over everything is something I repeatedly saw while on my tour.

I spent an entire day with Enrique de Colsa, Don Julio's Master Distiller and close friend to Don Julio himself (when he was alive). He is the man responsible for evaluating the subtleties and nuances of each grade of tequila in the portfolio, ensuring that Don Julio remains the best selling in Mexico. Colsa is the reason we have 70 Crystal Añejo, a celebration of Don Julio González’s quest to redefine tequila. Don Julio 70 is twice distilled and aged to perfection for 18 months in American white oak barrels, giving it the rich complexity of a traditional Añejo, and then carefully charcoal filtered to bring back the crisp agave flavor typically found in a Blanco. 

I'd be remiss if I forgot to mention my favorite of the bunch, Don Julio's 1942 Tequila, a commemoration of Don Julio’s 60th anniversary. Using a personal selection of prime agave, Don Julio created this unique batch of tequila aged for at least two and a half years in American white oak barrels. This was the final act of Don Julio González's life, in collaboration with Master Distiller Enrique de Colsa. 1942 is packaged in a elegant elongated bottle designed after the agave leaf and is best appreciated when served in a snifter. While on the trip, I would not stop singing Partynextdoor's ode to1942 but the real tequila heads said if he were really about it, he would've sang about Don Julio's REAL, the most expensive in the collection. Unfortunately, I was not given not one sip of that on my trip but I can report that I got indulge in a brand new variety that has yet to hit the market. 

 
Blue Agave Piñas at La Primavera Distillery

Blue Agave Piñas at La Primavera Distillery

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Blue Agave Fields at Casa Don Julio

Blue Agave Fields at Casa Don Julio

Casa Luna during Día de los Muertos

Casa Luna during Día de los Muertos

Mariachi at Casa Don Julio

Mariachi at Casa Don Julio

Casa Fayette

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Casa Fayette

Comment Guadalajara, Mexico
Casa Fayette Menu

Casa Fayette Menu


While preparing for my trip to Guadalajara, I made a list of hotels, galleries, and architectural sites I wanted to see while in the city and I made Casa Fayette a top priority. Opened in 2015, this 37-room boutique hotel is one of the best designed in Mexico and from my travel experiences, the world. Casa Fayette is one of the coolest hotels that I have ever had the pleasure of exploring and one that I cannot wait to be a guest of.

This unique property is on the roster of hotelier geniuses Carlos Couturier and Moisés Micha of Grupo HABITA, a personal favorite of mine. They're also owners of Condesa DF in Mexico City, which I had the pleasure of visiting back in 2014 and am currently long over due for a return. Grupo HABITA teamed up with local architectural firm Estudio5 to transform this 1940's mansion into a design paradise within the city. They maintained and played-up the original Art Deco structure while incorporating both mid-century modern and Jalisco aesthetics. In the restaurant and lobby, the Barragan-inspired palette played perfectly with the lavish tropical prints and fecund botanicals found throughout. The interiors are credited to the brilliance of Milanese design firm Dimorestudio, who hand-selected the furnishings and fixtures throughout the entire space, many of them which are for sale. There were also a variety of objects specifically designed for Casa Fayette and manufactured in Mexico. I had the opportunity to look at Casa Fayette's catalog of furniture while on my visit and was blown away. 

As a an art and design fanatic, I was excited to further explore Guadalajara during my free day on this spectacular Don Julio press trip. For those who love and worship the work of Luis Barragán and those he inspired, making the pilgrimage see the modernist houses built between the 1920s -1940s in GDL is a must, with Casa Fayette among them.

Located in the burgeoning Lafayette District, it was but a short walked on the tree-lined streets from Hotel Demetria, where I was staying. I arrived for weekend brunch and ordered a latte with pancakes and avocado toast. The natural light and casted shadows were absolutely stunning in the restaurant. My only snag was that while taking my first few photos, I was stopped and forbidden from using my camera in the hotel. I was restricted to using my iPhone on the property as management said I'd have to pay an hourly rate to use a camera with a detachable lens. 

 
Pancakes at Casa Fayette

Pancakes at Casa Fayette

Casa Fayette Interior

Chef Leobardo Solano Garcia is at the helm of the restaurant, with a menu that describes itself as "a mix of American comfort food and local Mexican ingredients" based on the surrounding seasonal products. I wish I had a photo of the menu design because it was the most beautiful menu I have ever held in my hands–it almost brought me to tears because it was that incredible. My brunch was served and the pancakes were a dream, topped with mascarpone and stewed raspberries. I have been on a real pancake trip these past couple of months and these were some of the best. The Avocado Toast  was a unique serving, topped with smoked trout, pickled onion, habanero, and coriander. I indulged in the  pancakes so much I found myself mad that I could not finish my toast, which was topped with so much flavor, it felt a shame to leave most of it behind. I have encountered a lot of lazy avocado toasts in Los Angeles, so to be served a dish so elevated, I wanted to savor every bite. Again, Mexico with all the right flavors.

Because I was beyond hyped to experience the design-lovers dream known as Casa Fayette, I pressed the issue again with my camera. A young man then appeared and although did not oblige my request, asked me if I'd like to take a private tour of the property. I emphatically said yes. When we reached the rooftop pool, I was ready to put on a robe, kick up my feet, and take in the views of Guadalajara. My favorite hotels are the ones that welcome and encourage the art of relaxation, and at Casa Fayette you can disappear into the spa, pool or one of the artfully crafted enclaves, guaranteed to foster total chill vibes. If you want a cocktail, they have that too, from a gorgeous Art Deco bar in the lobby to the Modernist roof-top bar. You don't have to leave if you don't want to. And I didn't want to.

Casa Fayette | Calle Miguel Lerdo de Tejada 2308, Lafayette, 44160 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico

 
Casa Fayette Suite

Concept: Grupo HABITA
Architect & Design: Estudio5
Interiors: DIMORESTUDIO
Graphic Design & Branding: Pierre Marie Agin
Restaurant: Chef Leobardo Solano Garcia

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Casa Fayette Design
Casa Fayette Rooftop Pool

Casa Fayette Rooftop Pool

Hueso

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Hueso

Comment Guadalajara, Mexico
Hueso Restaurant interior design by Ignacio Cadena

Hueso Restaurant interior design by Ignacio Cadena


At the top of my agenda when traveling to any new city, particularly one in Mexico, is a list of the best restaurants to try, both from my personal investigations and recommendations from trusted sources. Although I had done my preliminary research before touching down in the state of Jalisco, it was our local Guadalajara guides who made reservations for almost every meal of ours. After our first night of indulging in a 5-course dinner at Alcalde, I knew I was in the right hands. Our GDL hosts did a superior job and I couldn't wait to see where we'd eat next.

We dined at the absolute best restaurants in Guadalajara, one of which is called Hueso, located in Colonia Lafayette, also known as the Lafayette Design District. I have never enjoyed photographing a restaurant as much as I did Hueso, which I had to pull a couple strings to do so, as the restaurant is only open for dinner and I came through on a weekday morning. I must thank my handsome friend Alex Martínez for his assistance with securing the bag. Hueso was designed by architect Ignacio Cadena, brother of Chef Alfonoso Cadena, head of culinary concepts. When strolling up to the restaurant, tucked away on a busy tree-lined street, you will see a single bone suspended from a chain above the entrance. This is but a first glimpse of the full-picture at Hueso. This 1940's modern building was transformed into a vibrant restaurant displaying10,000 different animal bones on its interior walls. Drawing inspiration from Darwinism, bones (Hueso in Spanish, a-ha!) is the motif at every glance, from the walls, bone-colored floor tiles, and even the menu. The restaurant feels like a piece of art, even down to the business cards; for that reason, paired with the food of course, it's one of my top 5 favorite restaurants in the world. This was one of the best dining experiences of my life and not merely because the Don Julio 1942 was flowing. (personal side note, listen to Partynextdoor's 1942 here)

 
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Apples drying in the sun, perfect for a Hueso salad

Apples drying in the sun, perfect for a Hueso salad

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Hueso is the coolest designed restaurant I've ever had the privilege of dining in. Large wooden dining tables were custom-designed by the architect, placed in the center of the room, giving the restaurant a communal atmosphere. At night, the tables light up with a singular bulb reminiscent of a candle. It makes the atmosphere incredibly romantic. I felt very sexy as I sipped my speciality Don Julio cocktails and laughed loud with my new friends. I tried to get a copy of the elusive menu from our special dinner but it's been difficult to track down. You cannot even read a menu online but I'm sure that's do in part of the restaurant's commitment to all seasonal, all the time. I'll typically jot down everything I ate, but I was so overcome with this joyous experience, my phone remained tucked away in my purse. I had no need to be on a machine when I was taking in one of life's greatest gifts–good food and conversation. Was this my favorite meal of 2017? Just maybe.

Because I have a memory that rivals some of the best and this night was so memorable, I managed to piece together what came across our table. We began our multi-course dinner with a plate of salmon mouse and toast, an excellent light dish to awaken our appetites. What arrived next was the most insane salad I've ever eaten in my life. It was a bed of greens tossed with the most unlikely of vegetable and fruit pairings: tomatoes, dehydrated apples, beets, and a few other things, I wish I could remember that! I underestimated this salad, I pre-judged it. After a couple bites it had me rethinking every salad I had eaten before it. Why hadn't anyone else put such a plate in front of me before this moment? I shook my head in disbelief. You must order this salad.

Mussels swimming in beef broth, Chuletas de Cerdo (pork chops) and perfectly cooked slices of steak with roasted vegetables & habenero cream were served. I rarely enjoy pork chops but these were other worldly. Have you ever ate something so delicious you're mad at all the other versions that came before it? That was my experience. I didn't think the meal could get any better and then Hueso's steak was placed before me. My goodness, what a perfectly cooked piece of meat with a hearty serving of root vegetables that were packed with immense flavor. Chef Cadena is committed to using only the finest of quality ingredients, sourcing his vegetables, fruit, seafood and poultry from within the Jalisco state. As for the red meat, like my steak, it's sourced from Sonora, an area much further North, known as "the meat capital" of Mexico.

Dessert was delicious but at that point in the meal, I was spent. Only Don Julio could save me now.

 
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Exterior ceramics made by José Noé Suro

Exterior ceramics made by José Noé Suro


I feel inspired to mention that I am never surprised by the quality of food, decor, service, and taste level while in Mexico. Although I was raised in a country that tried its hardest to make me feel ashamed of being Mexican American–even present day with a "president" who spews lies about my culture–its been my continual trips to this incredible country that screams our greatness as a people.

When gathering more information on Hueso I came across many stories, typically written from an Anglo perspective, that were "surprised" or "shocked" that such an avant-garde space with impeccable food existed in Mexico, much less Guadalajara. That kind of language is a clear indicator of one's racism, whether they are conscious of it or not. I've had to hear this shit about Mexico my entire life and I'm tired of it. Please stop saying Mexico is dangerous. Please stop saying you're surprised to find art, fine dining, and luxurious hotels in this country. You sound dumb and ill-informed. 

For those who love to travel, especially to eat, Hueso should be at the top of your list when in Guadalajara. The restaurant is open until midnight so it's perfect for the nightlife set. Being a guest here is like being part of a work of art, while eating a work of art. It's simultaneously beautiful and cozy, with a warmth that is uniquely Mexican. I cannot wait to return to Guadalajara so that I may eat here again.

Hueso | Calle Efraín González Luna 2061, Obrera, 44140 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico

 
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Culinary Concept: Alfonso Cadena
Concept: Cadena + Asociados
Architect & Design: Ignacio Cadena
Ceramics: José Noé Suro

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Hotel Demetria

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Hotel Demetria

Comment Guadalajara, Mexico
Bathtub in my master suite at Hotel Demetria

Bathtub in my master suite at Hotel Demetria


Hotels are something I could not live without, they're my preferred method of lodging when I travel–the plush robes, slippers, turn down service–these all make for the perfect self-care recipe when I'm out here catching flights. Add in the largest bathtub I have ever seen and you could almost call it heaven. This is what luxuriating in Guadalajara, Mexico looks like. There are two hotels in GDL that get all the love, I called one of them home for a week and the other I took a private tour of after eating a delicious brunch at their restaurant (more on that later this week). Hotel Demetria is located in Colonia Lafayette, known for its vibrant arts and culture scene, perfect for my kind of lifestyle. The hotel itself, owned by architect Iván Cordero, is filled with art at every turn, and as someone who truly appreciates beautiful things, I delighted in every moment. My stay happened to coincide with an art festival happening at Hotel Demetria and I took the opportunity to make my first appearance in the Guadalajara art scene. People were wondering “who is she?” as I frolicked around the lobby in a faux fur and colored lenses. I felt at home and the women were coming through with bold statements and strong looks. This was Mexico after all, a country with incredible taste and a rich history of celebrating the arts. 

Hotel Demetria is constructed out of glass, steel, and concrete, pulling hard at my brutalist-loving heart strings. No two rooms are the same and from the tour I had the privilege of taking, I learned that I had been blessed with one of the largest rooms on the property. My master suite was nearly 350 square feet, fully equipped with a bath tub and my own private living room. The shower, built entirely out of black concrete, had 3 different water spouts. If you’re obsessed with showers as much as I am (I take 2-3 a day), this hotel is begging you to get wet. I have a lot of Pisces in my chart if you're curious as to why I cannot stay out of the water. You can only imagine the squeal I made when I first laid eyes on the tub! If you happened to watch my Instagram Stories while I was in Guadalajara, you got to hear me gush in real time.

 
Daily breakfast spread at Hotel Demetria

Daily breakfast spread at Hotel Demetria

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I am not entirely sure if the daily breakfast spread is typically included with a stay at Hotel Demetria or if it was one of the many things my host, Don Julio, laced me up with. Either way, what a pleasure and convenience it was to walk downstairs to the hotel restaurant every morning to start my day with a delicious meal. Mexicans do it right and as a Mexican American I know this–I know that every meal I eat when I'm in Mexico is going to be delicious whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner. The standards for food in Mexico are superior to those in the USA, it's as simple as that. Oh, and the flavor!

What an abundant spread I got to lay my eyes on every a.m.: fruta fresca, yogurt, granola, pastries, salchichas, eggs, beans, nopales, and fresh tortillas to name a few. There was a choice of orange juice or my personal favorite, kale & orange juice, in addition to a full espresso bar.

When I leave the states it never fails that I inadvertently become a coffee drinker, a fascinating reality whenever I think about it. If there is one thing I've experienced in all my travels, it's the ability to order a quality espresso no matter where I am outside the USA. I unfortunately cannot say the same about my homeland, so my coffee drinking it much limited here. While staying at Hotel Demetria, in addition to my kale orange juice and Agua de Piedra Mineral Water every morning, I would also start my day with a pipping hot latte made with leche de almendra (almond milk). I became friends with the men working the espresso bar and before too long, I didn't even have to tell them my order as they already knew. It was perfect.

 
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Patio de las Huilanchas, art installation

Patio de las Huilanchas, art installation


The 10,000-square-foot boutique hotel has 37 rooms and six apartments. Not to mention a gym, rooftop pool, jacuzzi and two bars. Hotel Demetria opened in 2011 and can be found sandwiched between two historic houses: Luis Barragán’s Casa Franco and Pedro Castellanos Casa Quiñones. The lobby serves as a gallery and event space, while many of its hidden gems are discovered while searching for your room or wandering the halls. Everything you see in the hotel is for sale, in true boutique fashion.

An art piece outside the elevator read "Do More Of What Makes You Happy", I appreciated seeing the affirmative message every time I maneuvered in and out the lobby.

If you have an affinity for modernist architecture, this makes for a beautiful stay in Guadalajara. Glass stairs, glass elevator, a black pool on the roof–I could go on and on. No elevated detail is spared, from the bottles of Agua de Piedra mineral water, Moët, and Casa Bosques chocolate bars in the room's mini bar, to the L'Occitane products lining the bathroom sink. As I write this, I find myself wishing I was back in my tub soaking in some bubbles. Get me back to Guadalajar, pronto.

Hotel Demetria | Av. de la Paz 2219, Lafayette, 44140 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico

 
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Hotel Demetria rooftop pool, overlooking Guadalajara

Hotel Demetria rooftop pool, overlooking Guadalajara

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Rick Rubin's Shangri-La Studios

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Rick Rubin's Shangri-La Studios

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Recording Studio at Shangri-la

Recording Studio at Shangri-la

Jane Shin, Me, Martine Syms

Jane Shin, Me, Martine Syms


In 1991 Red Hot Chili Peppers dropped their album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, produced by Rick Rubin. As a little girl who listened to a lot of KROQ, this album became a favorite in my early youth and one that I have enjoyed revisiting as an adult. In 2018, twenty-seven years after its release, the track Breaking the Girl hits me harder than ever. Over the years I realized that if you grew up in Southern California during this time, there’s a big chance that you too hold this project close to your heart. As I aged into my pre-teens and teens, with a subscription to both Rolling Stone and Spin, learning about producers became increasingly important to me, and Rick Rubin was a name that was continually lauded, often being spoken about as a guru or a god amongst men. 

It was an overcast October day with the smell of Malibu sea foam in the air. As I drove up PCH to Malibu, I was overcome with emotion thinking about the afternoon I would spend at Shangri-La Studios, for an intimate listening party celebrating Nils Frahm’s upcoming album, All Melody, graciously hosted by Rick Rubin. Before even listening to the project, I knew that it would be something special–it had to be if Rick was opening up his beautiful space for us to experience it.  I pulled up to Morning View Drive and my first vision of the compound was a charcoal black studio that could've easily been confused for a cool church, its cross window overlooked the front lawn. Its appearance reminded me of the thousands of black metal albums I use to sift through at Amoeba every Sunday when Asael and I would look for rare Norwegian cuts. We had arrived at Shangri-La. It was a beautiful sight to take in. I had dreamt about this moment and now here I was. I had the privilege of inviting my two favorite music heads, Martine Syms and Jane Shin, to join me on this special afternoon, which blossomed into a day that none of us will ever forget. 

We ascended up the driveway and walked onto a path that wrapped into the backyard. I was overwhelmed experiencing the energy at Shangri-La Studios. In fact, I couldn’t remember the last time a musical experience evoked so much emotion from me. Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, Nine Inch Nails, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Weezer, Gossip, Gogol Bordello, Kanye West – these are but a few, some personal favorites, that Rick Rubin has produced for, most of who I’ve seen live. Gogol Bordello at the Key Club in 2006 and Kanye West at Made in America 2014 are still two of the best shows I have ever been to.

 
Some of Rick Rubin's Studio Equipment

Some of Rick Rubin's Studio Equipment


I walked through the doors dividing the house from the yard and I was enveloped in the luxurious smell of incense, which was burning throughout the space, even boasting an artfully constructed table for the sole purpose of holding sticks of incense. This was living. There were pianos at every turn, which further sparked my curiosity to explore. As a multi-instrumentalist I wanted to poke my head in every nook and cranny to see what kind of equipment I’d uncover. On my exploration I found myself in Rick’s main recording area, bouncing atop his yoga ball in front of the motherboard. Every inch of the studio was left open for guests to experience and interestingly among all of the music supervisors and corporate music bros, it was the 3 WOC (us!) who were nerding out over every piece of equipment. True music lovers. Martine, Jane, and myself converged in the giant studio, in awe of the moment, when Rick came thru and greeted us with a warm welcome. After we were done tripping out, it was time to get some fresh air so we headed outside. I made my way into Bob Dylan’s former tour-bus-turned-recording-studio, casually parked in the backyard. It had been restored and made into a cozy studio perfect for the most intimate moments. Had I been followed with a camera crew you would’ve seen the pure joy wash over me as I played with mini pianos in the bus and snapped photos with my friends. 

We got word that the listening party was about to commence so we made our way back inside to take a seat. Nils stood before us to briefly introduce his new project, All Melody, which was recorded in the Berlin studio he spent two years building and perfecting. He now calls Saal 3 his music home, which is part of the historical 1950s East German Funkhaus building beside the River Spree. Our listening session would be broken up into two parts, with an intermission that allowed us to stretch our legs and inhale some more of the perfect Malibu air. 

 
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Nils Frahm and Rick Rubin

Nils Frahm and Rick Rubin


It was when we returned for the second half of the listening party that the music began to hit, more so because I ditched the uncomfortable chair I was sitting in and laid myself on the floor but a few feet away from the speakers, much like my adolescent days of listening to punk records on my bedroom floor at maximum volume. The three of us cozied up in our own separate areas of the room ready to absorb all of Frahm's genius, and I am not using that word loosely. I was completely unfazed by everyone around me in this moment; I was there to embrace every sound and to feel the music.  The speakers, which were provided by The Audio Salon, emitted vibrations I had never felt before. The $56,000 Wilson Audio speakers (each), having been measured in the room for both distance and height, brought my ears to a whole other level of listening. It was a full-body experience, transcendent even. I took the opportunity of talking to the owner of Audio Salon after the session and he was happy to share every single detail about the speakers in addition to familiarizing me with his work, which included installing the sound system in Rick Rubin's bedroom. Speakers make the experience and I feel incredibly blessed to have listened to Nils Frahm's masterpiece on this equipment. The music penetrated my skin and spirit. All three of us were brought to tears we'd come to find out when we reconvened conversation post listening session. Nils spoke on his process and the importance of taking one's time to produce quality work–what an idea! It was refreshing to hear someone speak on being thoughtful in their work pushing back against this idea we must always be churning out something to be relevant. He was inspiring. His music was incredible. And when having the chance to speak with Nils, I was completely blown to pieces by his sincerity and genuine push to create good art in this world. Nils Frahm's All Melody LP is out January 26, pre-order here.

When it all came to an end, it felt like a personal beginning. There was gust of wind on my neck and I looked back to see Rick opening a window behind me; there was an exchange between the two of us and in that moment I knew I was on the right path. Thank you again to my friend Julian Schoen for inviting me to experience the most unforgettable music moment of my life.

 
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