Dining with Dave… La Chata in Guadalajara

You’ve been walking all morning seeing the sites of the famous Plaza Tapatia in the historic city center of Guadalajara, the cultural heart of Mexico.  You’re beat and are wondering where you can go, relax and get a great meal.

Wonder no more!

Two blocks off the famed plaza, in the shadow of the Hotel Fénix where President Kennedy once stayed is La Chata, a Guadalajara institution since 1942.  Serving up a classic Mexican menu, there is perhaps no better location in this part of Guadalajara to sate your Mexican food fix.We arrived around 1:00 in the afternoon, just before the Mexican comida crowd got there.  As usual, there was a small line, but nothing like it was when we left.  But that is part of the charm of La Chata.

While you wait in line you get a chance to mingle.  People from all over the world join you in a cultural mash up that mixes people from Mexico, Europe, the US and literally every corner of the globe.  As you get closer to the front, occasionally the staff offers up small beer samples to get you started.And then there is the food and the cooks of this wonderful restaurant.Clad in starched whites, the cocineras [cooks] are essentially preparing your food right in front of you.  You get a chance to watch as steaming bowls of pozolé, plates of steak tampiqueña and any number of other traditional plates from Jalisco are pushed out to the wait staff.  This is an open kitchen on steroids, totally unafraid to showcase the work of these dedicated hard working women as they serve the relentless hungry crowds that flock here everyday.Once we took our seat we were greeted quickly, offered a menu and asked about our drinks.  When you’re in Guadalajara, you have got to try the horchata and they serve a great one here.  Ice cold and brought to you in a massive mug, or jarra, this drink will quench even the most stubborn thirst that enters with you.I ordered the caldo tlalpeño, a wonderful soup mixture of chicken, vegetables and chunks of avocado and Mexican cheese.  Served steaming hot in a large bowl with a basket of tostada shells, add some smoked chipotle, onions, cilantro and you’ve got a perfect lunch time meal.

The Torta Ahogada

La Chata also serves up one of stars of Guadalajara street food, the torta ahogada.  This sandwich, served bathed, or literally drowned in sauce is as famous in Guadalajara as the cheesesteak is in Philly.  It’s literally everywhere and if you are a little afraid of trying one on a street corner, this is the place for you. Served at whatever temperature or spice level you are comfortable with, what you are basically getting is deep fried pork on a crusty french roll, or bolillo.  It is dipped in a thinned tomato sauce, your chile, or salsa is added, and you’re set to go.But no trip to the heart of Mexico should be considered complete without a plate of carne asada and this is another standout of La Chata.  Served with handmade corn tortillas, your plate comes with a generous portion of carne, salad, guacamole, refried beans and even an enchilada, all for under $8.00.You really can’t go wrong here.  The service, the value, the quality of food is all top notch and the location, literally right off the tourist hub of Plaza Tapatia, makes it a natural place to rest your weary feet and prepare for the rest of your day seeing some of the greatest art and architecture in all of My Mexico.

La Chata, Ave. Corona 126, Zona Centro, Guadalajara, Jalisco

Lunch for 2, $25.00 including horchata

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