The Mercado Libertad, sometimes called the Mercado de San Juan de Dios after the neighborhood in which it is located, is close to the Hospicio Cabañas and the Plaza de los Mariachis. This vast emporium of nearly 500,000 square feet distributed on three floors sells all manner of products from fresh produce, meat and flowers to handicrafts, cowboy hats and boots to electronic gadgets and appliances. After working up an appetite browsing the stalls and bargaining for souvenirs, head to the second floor where you'll find plenty of fondas (small family-run restaurants) to sample some of Guadalajara's culinary specialties.
Locals know which places serve the best food, so follow their lead: head to the busiest stalls for some authentic comida jalisciense (food of Jalisco state). Tortas ahogadas, the signature dish of Guadalajara, are "drowned sandwiches" made with a dense roll stuffed with pork and drenched in spicy salsa. Or satisfy you hunger with a filling bowl of pozole, corn hominy soup made with either pork or chicken. If you like your food hot and spicy, choose red pozole; otherwise stick with the white. Another specialty of Jalisco is birria, a spicy Mexican meat stew made with either goat or lamb. The meat is baked slowly with spices, traditionally in an underground earthen oven. A plate with minced onions, cilantro and limes accompanies your bowl of birria so you can garnish it to your liking. Buen provecho (Bon appetit)!
One of the best ways to experience a destination is through its food, and Guadalajara is no exception. The market is the best place to begin your gastronomical exploration of Jalisco's capital.