First Look: Downtown Syracuse Gets The Authentic Mexican Food It Claims

(In First look, we quickly pay a visit to a new restaurant or bar in central New York City to give readers an idea of ​​what to expect. Our food critics could possibly visit these places and give us their opinion, but we want to highlight the novelties in our region. If you know of a new place, send an email to [email protected] or call / text me on 315-382-1984.)


Syracuse, NY – Downtown Syracuse has been offering Tex-Mex food for a few years, and it had a new California-Mex restaurant last month. Still, members of our Where Syracuse Eats Facebook page are looking for a downtown restaurant that serves authentic Mexican food.

Well, the wait is finally over. The Mexican restaurant Guadalajara opened its doors a few weeks ago for take out only, as it was awaiting a permit to dine in person. On Friday, the city acceded to owner Salvador Ramirez’s request to open the dining room. Now, customers can eat at one of the 12 stalls inside or at the six tables outside the restaurant on West Water Street, in the shadow of the towering Art-Deco National Grid building.

Guadalajara occupies the southeast corner of the Creekwalk Commons building, next to the Kubal Café and behind the Talking Cursive Brewing Co tasting room.

Guadalajara Mexican Restaurante in downtown Syracuse.Charlie Miller | [email protected]

Salvador, 55, grew up in Mexico and has worked in the restaurant business since moving to California in 1983. He cooked in the Golden State for several years before moving to New York. Most recently, he was the manager of the Rio Grande Mexican restaurant in Liverpool.

Early last year, he and two friends decided they wanted to work for themselves rather than cooking someone else’s recipes. When Covid-19 forced restaurants to close their dining rooms last March, they methodically searched for a perfect location to build their own kitchen. They moved into a closed convenience store that had served residents of Creekside Commons and neighboring businesses.

They gutted the interior and added a kitchen with deep fryers to cook their own tortilla chips, a griddle for grilling chicken, steaks, pork, and fish, plus plenty of prep stations to store freshly cut vegetables. and grated cheeses.

“The Rio Grande’s menu is very similar to mine, and it’s good,” he said on Monday. “But our food is really authentic. It is very different. Each of my dishes comes from my grandfather’s recipes passed down from generation to generation.

About this menu: Guadalajara’s menu is so big that you could eat here every day for seven months and never have to eat the same main course twice. The first five pages detail 224 meals originally created in Michoacán, a state in southwestern Mexico. The sixth page of the menu lists dozens of drinks, including 11 margaritas and 18 tequilas. (Their liquor license should arrive within a month, Salvador said.)

“I don’t want people to be bored. I want them to come back to try something very different, ”Salvador said. “We will cook it the way you want. Do you want hot? I’ll make it spicier. You want it sweet, I will too.

I have eaten here four times and have had a very different experience on each visit. I almost always went for the piping hot and Salvador added a cup of his house hot sauce.

Each visit was prepared quickly. I usually ordered two or three entrees, and the cooks had them done and ready in 5 minutes.

Mexican restaurant Guadalajara

Ricardo makes chicken fajitas (top left), arroz con pollo (bottom left), chipotle burrito (top right) and fish tacos (bottom right) at Guadalajara Mexican Restaurante in downtown Syracuse.Charlie Miller | [email protected]

Most dishes are served with rice and refried beans. Beans are meat and lard free. The rice stayed loose and is not sticky at all.

Your order will be accompanied by a bag of chips prepared each morning and a cup of pico de gallo. This cold salsa is slightly tangy thanks to what I’m guessing are chunks of serrano peppers mixed with chopped tomato, onion, a little salt, lime juice, and cilantro.

TRICK: Make sure you DO NOT gobble up all the tokens on the way back to the office or home. Twice I made this mistake, and twice I found myself unable to finish my meal.

You must try …

Chipotle burrito ($ 9.25): While “researching” this story, I went through three burritos. I can’t decide which one was better: this one or El Burrito Verde ($ 8.75).

The chipotle burrito was filled with grilled chicken, rice and beans and topped with a cheese sauce, pico de gallo sour cream and guacamole. Eduardo, a reader who enjoyed this burrito made by Ricardo, said, “There was just enough time for you to sip a glass of water, but the cheese cooled things down a bit. Es muy bueno! ”

El Burrito Verde was filled with pork, grilled onions and topped with green salsa. It wasn’t in the least offensive to the senses, so I just dipped it in Salvador’s special sauces.

The shells on both were slightly mushy – in a good way – probably from the take out containers.

Mexican restaurant Guadalajara

The Chipoltle Burrito de Guadalajara Mexican Restaurante in downtown Syracuse.Charlie Miller | [email protected]

Arroz con Pollo ($ 8.75): Chicken rice is a popular dish in Latin America and there are several variations. What sets the Guadalajara version apart from many others is the cheese. Salvador grates it himself.

The dish contains the standard ingredients of yellow rice and chicken pieces, mixed with generous amounts of green peppers, onions and tomatoes. It is well seasoned, but it is not spicy. That’s why some of us choose to ask Salvador for a few extra cups of his hot pepper sauce.

I gave one to my colleague Don Cazentre, a food and drink writer for The Post-Standard. “In Guadalajara, the cheese, listed on the menu as cheese dip, is the glue that holds it all together,” he said. “Each bite offers a gooey cheese texture that binds chicken, rice and veg in one satisfying package.”

Mexican restaurant Guadalajara

Arroz con pollo de Guadalajara Mexican Restaurante in downtown Syracuse.Don Cazentre | [email protected]

Fajitas Taxanas ($ 11): Usually a Tex-Mex chain offers chicken or beef for their fajitas. Guadalajara has both. But understand this: they throw shrimp! You get an entire farm in this delicacy.

The menu says you get two tortillas; I have three. It still wasn’t enough as there was enough food to fill maybe five of the soft shells.

The beans serve as a binder that keeps everything together and keeps the veggies from spilling out on your knees. (I had a mess of green salsa on my white t-shirt, however.) This meal is definitely enough for two, especially if you do what I did and pass the time munching on tortilla chips.

Mexican restaurant Guadalajara

Fajitas Taxanas de Guadalajara Mexican Restaurante in downtown Syracuse.Charlie Miller | [email protected]

Tacos à la Diabla ($ 13): It’s nothing like something you’ll find in your nearby Taco Bell. On the one hand, there is no lettuce, tomatoes or cheese. This is how tacos are meant to be.

You have the choice between flour or corn tortillas. Inside, there is only spicy meat (steak and chorizo) and a stalk of green onion. That’s it.

You get a side dish of rice and beans, and it’s paired with a cup of tomato sauce and a serving of pico de gallo. These are pretty much just Mexican street tacos, just bigger.

Mexican restaurant Guadalajara

Tacos a la Diabla at Guadalajara Mexican Restaurante in downtown Syracuse.Charlie Miller | [email protected]

The details

The place: Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant, 324 W. Water St., Syracuse. (315) 552-1300

Hours: Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Sunday.

Dress: Casual

Credit card? Yes

Car park: Plenty of street parking. Just be sure to power the meter if you park outside during lunch on a weekday.


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Charlie miller find the best food, drink and entertainment in central New York City. Contact him at (315) 382-1984, or by email at [email protected]. You can also find him on Twitter @HoosierCuse.

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