It's 10:00 on a Wednesday night at the book festival in Guadalajara and the Jonathan Gold-led culinary outings have developed quite a following. There was that visit to the regional delights and surprises of Lonche-rita. There was a dinner in El Parian, a historic square in heart of Tlaquepaque, where a dozen small restaurants share a central mariachi-infused courtyard.
Tonight though, Pilar Perez, an organizer of the L.A. portion of the book fest, sets the agenda. First our group, which has grown to require three and sometimes four taxis, heads to a small bar in El Centro, the old colonial center of Guadalajara.
The streets are narrow and the buildings' plaster walls, pierced by balconies, rim the sidewalk in an unbroken facade.
We walk by the old-fashioned bar, squeeze past tables filled with men, with a few women, and into another long room where contemporary photos, large and stunning, line the ancient walls.
Waiters push tables together and we settle in, order drinks. The room adjusts to our presence. Conversations resume, discussions progress, the guy on a date at the table across from us gets to first base.
...is quickly joined by few more musicians and they play, play so well we're entranced. He pauses, trickles out a few notes which the crowd instantly recognizes and then the whole bar, every person there, is singing.
...and the total is shockingly small. And we're following Pilar again, back into the brick-lined streets where it's midnight now and for us, like for much of Guadalajara, the evening is just beginning.