Culture & Dining
La i Latina
The “Tapatia” Trilogy: La i Latina
by Jorge Cardosa
I am typing these words on the day that i Latina opened their doors 22 years ago. June of 1999, is when my personal favorite restaurant brought to Guadalajara a sample of uniqueness in many senses. At the very beginning, (last century/millennium as a matter of fact) i Latina was an option totally different from the restaurants that existed in the city. It was a small place in a barely transited street, next to the railroads - literally at that time cars were parked next to the railroads! There were two amazing facts: one was its original, unconventional, creative, and colorful decoration and furniture, as well as its exquisite, unique, and novel fusion cuisine … Thai-Mex deliciousness.
You may think there are too many adjectives to describe the decoration and furniture, but imagine entering into a place that in the back of the bar has a wall of typical Mexican piggy banks. The bar is covered with laminated Asian newspapers, an artistic wall decorated with gloves our mothers used to wash the dishes, and a mirror whose frame is a race bicycle tire. The restaurant floor is the original and typical bi-color tiles used in Guadalajara downtown houses, the silverware was available at each table in little jars that grannies used to pour water; the check will come in a miniaturized bag used by mothers to go to the market. As they paid attention to every single detail in the restaurant, multiply that by 10 and you will see what they have done in the kitchen and in their menu. The partially fixed menu has been the constant since they opened, which is complemented with blackboards where they publish the specialties of the day - always a great surprise.
There are some menu stars that have been around for the 22 years, like Thai mahi – mahi or Thai - shrimps; both are rubbed with Thai spices, then grilled to perfection, served with sliced chiles, green salad and a special aioli with a chipotle base that explodes in flavor. They have created tens of dishes: Thai Ox, Lamb Hamburger, Garlic Lime Scampi, Eel steak, and Tahini Tuna. Tuna “Ahogada”, my favorite appetizer that several restaurants in the city tried to create their own version ,“Tacos Tropicales” which is built with a Jicama tortilla with breaded shrimp and an incredible pineapple based pico de gallo garnished with a special sour-hot-sweet salsa, super fresh and delicious! More and more dishes come to mind, and there are limitless memories from this place - favorite restaurant from my best friends, for years the place to have lunch with my parents on Sunday listening to a live Marimba, multiple business dinner with company workmates and customers, and always people from all the world 100% satisfied and asking to go back every time they were visiting Guadalajara, live music on Thursdays, meeting celebrities, national and international, New Year’s celebrations and a big one is that our after-wedding ceremony dinner took place in there!
I could keep writing about the place for many reasons, but I do not want to miss two; first, some of the personnel that worked there from the very beginning Brenda, who is in charge of wine and over the years has become my wine guru. They introduced some years ago, Natural Wine in the city. Moy, who is a barman who has won international competitions and who over the years keeps surprising us with his fabulous creations. Memo is the manager and takes care of all the details for a perfect customer experience.
The second reason is related to the owners whose creativity could not stop and created different restaurants that have their touch, quality and taste with many additional options and signature dishes and drinks at each place. In Guadalajara, we have this great “Tapatia” Trilogy: i Latina, its palindrome restaurant Anita L,i and Loló. More to come about these other two great places to complete this amazing cannot-miss restaurant trilogy in Guadalajara.