Tlaquepaque Restaurants

Tlaquepaque Restaurants – Photos by Donna Day

Every town has its favorite restaurants—some come and go, others find the magic formula, and seem to last forever without ever losing their charm and appeal. We found a couple of spots in Tlaquepaque that have been local and tourist draws for decades, and continue, today, to offer great food, great service, and a good time in splendid surroundings. First, we hit Casa Fuerte, located right in the middle of everything on Independencia, the pedestrian walkway. We slipped into this well-known spot on a quiet Thursday night—the night before Good Friday, in fact—and found nobody home but us and one other table and a staff of a dozen wondering why they were open. For us, of course. By the time we’d settled in and ordered, they were closed, but still…I ate a great Sonoran filet with mushrooms and mashed potatoes, my daughter scarfed up half a dozen giant prawns served over spaghetti, and my wife had the house special, a torte de elote, or colonial corn cake, a kind of cornbread appetizer served with a wonderful light spicy sauce. They did not make us feel rushed in the least, though not another soul came in through the door while we ate.

And take a look at the place! Perfectly executed, effortless traditional style.

Restaurants in Tlaquepaque

Classic Casa Fuerte

A block down Independencia there’s another one of Tlaquepaque’s classic dining rooms, El Patio.  Built into the courtyard of an old colonial house, El Patio has been a local and tourist favorite for decades, for many reasons: beautiful rooms create wonderful ambience. Great Mexican traditional food, updated for the modern palette, is served all day long—breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Delicious! Songbirds holding forth, a kids’ play area in the back, drinks flowing under a bath of warm, natural light by day, and glittering chandeliers by night add up to a truly magical Mexican environment. And if you get there at the right time in the afternoon—between 3 and 4 pm—you can enjoy the wonderful music of Tlaquepaque’s all woman mariachi band, Innovacion Mexicana. I’m not a huge fan of mariachi, I have to confess, but when the whole thing is taken over by women, well, the softer, more honeyed voices and less abrasive instrumental approaches take the music into a whole other realm, for me at least.

There are dozens of other restaurants all over the center of Tlaquepaque, including at least half a dozen tucked into and around the shelter of El Parian, one of the town’s historically significant buildings. Given the form of El Parian—a square block of columned, sheltered arcades surrounding a central plaza, where mariachis often play, these restaurants all tend to blend into one another—it seems like they might even all share the same kitchen! I remember thinking, or suspecting, the same thing about all the Indian restaurants on E. 6th Street in New York’s East Village, years ago, in another lifetime—but here in Tlaquepaque its due to the way the building works—this set up is great for partying, not so great for dining.

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