A pueblo (town) of well over a million people, charmingly unselfconscious Guadalajara has somehow, and rather without trying, become Mexico’s second city. While often neglected by travelers, the city’s charms are distributed equally and liberally throughout its distinct neighborhoods. The city’s Centro Histórico (Historic Center) is dotted with proud colonial relics that house museums, government offices, bars and hotels. More modern and spread out Chapultepec is sprinkled with fashionable restaurants, coffeehouses and nightclubs. Mellow suburbs Tlaquepaque (upscale) and Tonalá (grassroots) are a folk-art shopper’s dream destinations; and Zapopan has some interesting colonial sites, but is better known as Guadalajara’s Beverly Hills. Guadalajara residents (nicknamed tapatíos, which also refers to anyone Jalisco-born) are warm and eager to share the essence of their city.
Guadalajara’s many contributions to the Mexican lifestyle include tequila, mariachi music, the broad sombrero, charreadas (rodeos) and the Mexican Hat Dance, and these days it is also known for its outstanding food. From streetside taco and torta ahogada (chili-soaked pork sandwich) stands to neighborhood cafes to fine dining rooms in restored colonial mansions, you’re never far from a great meal in joyful Guadalajara.