The Cultivtist’s Guide to Guadalajara

Mexico's second-largest city has it all: top art museums, buzzworthy restaurants, and award-winning tequila

Centrally situated in Guadalajara’s stylish Colonia Lafayette neighborhood, the two-year-old Casa Fayette combines a 1940s house with a contemporary tower.
Photo: Courtesy of Casa Fayette

If Mexico City is the New York City of Mexico, then Guadalajara is the country’s Chicago. Looking for top museums and up-and-coming restaurants? Check. A mix of historic and modernist architecture? Got that, too. The city draws the Second City comparison literally as well. Mexico’s second-largest metropolis, Guadalajara is where visitors go next when they want a dose of culture beyond Mexico City—and where artists have been moving for cheaper rent. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Guadalajara is in the state of Jalisco, the birthplace of tequila (the plantation and distillery for LVMH’s newest tequila, Volcán de Mi Tierra, in Huaxtla is worth a visit).

But the biggest draw is the openness of the people, says Joey Lico, curator for the Cultivist, a members-only global arts club that provides insider info and special access to museums, fairs, and art-world events: “You ask a question and you don’t feel ridiculous. You meet an artist at a coffee shop and you get an invitation to his studio later in the day.” Here, she shares her tips on what to see and where to eat and sleep in a city that’s first in her heart. thecultivist.com

Where to stay

Centrally situated in the stylish Colonia Lafayette neighborhood, the two-year-old Casa Fayette combines a 1940s house with a contemporary tower. The 37 rooms and suites are light and airy, and the Patio Bar serves Cerveza Ventura, a terrific local beer. Photo: Undine Pröhl, Courtesy of Casa Fayette
Hotel Demetria is an art-world favorite, with its glass-and-steel architecture mixed with Gothic touches. It also offers some of the city’s best coffee (something quite difficult to find in Guadalajara). Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Demetria

Where to eat

At Alcalde, chef Francisco “Paco” Ruano takes the training he got at Noma in Copenhagen and applies it to the food of his birthplace, and the result is delicious and still recognizably Mexican. Photo: Courtesy of Alcalde
Tacos Providencia has arguably the best tacos in the country—try the crispy chicharrón—and stays open late. (Avenida Ruben Dario 534) Photo: Yelp
Magno Brasserie, an art-world hangout, serves French and Italian dishes in an austere white space. Order the Trio of Beef or the tuna with foie gras and ponzu sauce. Photo: Courtesy of Magno Brasserie
Jalisco may be known for tequila, but it also produces mescal, another spirit made from the agave plant. Pare de Sufrir is the best place to taste a range: The bar and nightclub sources small-batch artisanal mescal from all over the country. At night it has an amazing showcase of cumbia music. (Argentina 66, Colonia Americana) Photo: Courtesy of Pare de Sufrir
A little-known fact: Mexico has some seriously fabulous wines. Try a glass or two at Romea, a chic, casual wine bar with a good cheese selection. (Morelos 1349) Photo: Courtesy of Romea

What to see

Cofounded by contemporary artist Eduardo Sarabia, PAOS (Programa Anual de Open Studios) is an art ‘‘laboratory’’ that hosts residencies and exhibitions by international artists, all housed in a former studio of the Mexican modernist muralist José Clemente Orozco. pac.org.mx Photo: Larissa Garza, Courtesy of PAOS
The ceramics factory for Cerámica Suro is magical and a must-see. Founded in 1951 by Noé Suro Olivares, and now run by José Noé Suro, an influential supporter of the arts, the studio has collaborated with hundreds of contemporary artists such as Walead Beshty, Marcel Dzama, and Mario García Torres, to name a few. Photo: Oliver Lopez Pelayo, Courtesy MO+G taller de arquitectura
The gallery Páramo Galeria is incredible at spotting emerging talent and yet remains committed to established artists. It hosts performances and talks in addition to exhibitions. Photo: Páramo Galeria
Designed by architect Luis Barragán in 1929, Travesía Cuatro is the biggest gallery in Guadalajara and represents well-known artists Jose Dávila, Gonzalo Lebrija, and Jorge Méndez Blake. Photo: Courtesy of Travesía Cuatro
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the historic Hospicio Cabañas is where famed muralist Orozco painted his masterpiece El Hombre de Fuego (The Man of Fire). Then, for a bit of history, visit the Governor’s Palace (Palacio de Gobierno). Facing the pretty Plaza de Armas, the baroque building was occupied by revolutionary leader Father Miguel Hidalgo during the Mexican War of Independence. Don’t miss two murals by Orozco: one in the principal stairwell and a smaller one upstairs—his last work—depicting Hidalgo signing the decree to abolish slavery. Photo: Wikimedia Commons