I recently traveled to Mexico for the first time. I visited historic Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco. The architecture, scenery, and the people were beautiful and the food was delicious. I have always heard that Mexico has great food so I was excited to finally get the chance to take a bite. A friend of mine once said to me “In order to fully experience and appreciate a culture you must eat their food”, so I gave up vegetarianism and decided to try what Mexico has to offer.
The first place I stopped was a restaurant called “Karne Garibaldi”, which has won a title in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the fastest table service. Before we were seated me and three friends of mine we bombarded with a gang of waiters serving us guacamole, refried beans with corn, fresh tortillas, chips, salsa, cilantro, onion, and a waiter asking what we would like to order for the main course. Overwhelmed and confused I tried to order something on the smaller side because our dining table was already jammed packed with delicious looking authentic Mexican food. I ordered the “Infantil” beef bowl. The waiter laughed and said that the infantil option was for children only. I then proceeded to order the “Chica” beef bowl, which generated another chuckle because that option is apparently intended for women to order. All of the embarrassment went away after the waiter presented me with a bowl of steaming hot beef in broth mixed with pieces of bacon. Nervously, I put together a taco thinking about my last three years of vegetarianism and bit into my first meal in Mexico. Delicious!!! Not only was this the fasted table service I have ever experienced it was also the best taco spot I have ever been to.
- Karne Garibaldi
In 1996 Karne Garibaldi was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for fastest service.
Mariachi Band at Karne Garibaldi
My next food mission was to try a “torta ahogada.” A torta ahogado is kind of like a French dip sandwich but Mexican style and is native to the city of Guadalajara. The meal consists of a piece of bolillo bread filled with meat and placed on a plate filled with a spicy tomato and chili pepper based sauce. “Ahogado” is Spanish for “drowned. “ The sandwich is drowned in the sauce so the bread soaks it up infusing all of the flavors together. It is usually served with pickled onions and avocado. I would suggest ordering a glass of water because this dish is spicy and will make you sweat. This was the best torta sandwich I have ever eaten and will hopefully find a place that has the same thing back home in San Francisco, CA.
How to Make a Torta Ahogada
Number three on the list was to search for a bowl of “birria” which is a goat stew native to Jalisco. My friends and I were riding in a van on our way to Puerto Vallarta when we noticed a gigantic sign that said “BIRRIA” just outside of Guadalajara. We ordered the driver to make a pit stop so we could all try a bowl. The restaurant looked like a shack with a mud oven and a couple of straw gazebo style outside dining areas with picnic tables. Birria was all the restaurant offered and it came in two sizes, big and small. I ordered the big bowl. It arrived a few minutes later with cilantro, salsa, lime, and fresh tortillas. This stew was amazing, the meat just melted in my mouth and was full of flavor from the tomato broth. Adding the toppings and dipping tortillas in it made the stew explode with even more flavor. After that satisfying meal I hopped in the van and feel asleep as we made our way to Puerto Vallarta.
How to Make Birria Video
My time in Guadalajara and the state of Jalisco is something I will remember for the rest of my life. I will travel there again sometime and suggest anyone to do the same. And trust me, there is plenty more to do than eat. Jalisco is full of beautiful beaches and is also the home of Mariachi bands and Tequila!
Jason Menayan from San Francisco on February 22, 2012:
I can't imagine a better place to indulge with food than in Mexico. We spent a week and a half there (in D.F.) last year and never had a bad meal.
And I disagree with Norah: vegetarian is possible and *delicious* there, although you do have to forgo some specialties, including the "infantil beef bowl." ;)
Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on June 22, 2011:
That sounds delicious! Mexican cuisine is a favorite of mine. We occasionally get distant cousins from Germany as visitors and always take them to a Mexican restaurant. They always love it, though they have no idea what they are eating.
It has been a long time since I've actually eaten in Mexico. This makes me want to head south.
Norah Casey on June 22, 2011:
Good idea giving up on vegetarianism for that trip!
kafsoa on April 08, 2011:
Mmm, this “torta ahogado" looks great!