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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

Guadalajara Modern Mexican offers tradition … with a twist

Last week’s news of the opening of Sergio’s Cucina Italiana & Steaks in Hurricane mentioned that it was the second local restaurant for owner/operator Sergio Lugo-Mata, who also runs Guadalajara Modern Mexican restaurant in Nitro.

Smoky Pozole Rojo from Guadalajara Modern Mexican
Smoky Pozole Rojo from Guadalajara Modern Mexican

When Guadalajara opened its doors in March 2022, there were a fair amount of folks who had the same lukewarm reaction about therer being yet another same-ol’ same ol’ Mexican restaurant in town.

To those folks, I would say: “Not so fast. Have you actually tried it?”

Ceviche from Guadalajara Modern Mexican
Ceviche from Guadalajara Modern Mexican

Specializing in authentic cuisine from Sergio’s hometown in Jalisco, Mexico – occasionally fused with a modern twist – Guadalajara does offer the usual queso, guacamole, nachos, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas and such.

And there’s also the not-as-common chilaquiles, taquitos, seafood ceviche and tortas made with pork, chorizo or ham and cheese.

But I’m most intrigued by the restaurant’s occasional specials, which you certainly can’t find most places.

Those would be handmade tamales stuffed with various goodies, zingy tinga chicken, slow-cooked marinated al pastor pork, richly flavored mole, caldo de abondigas (a Mexican meatball soup), ribs simmered in salsa verde, plus pork pozole rojo, an authentic Mexican stew make with pork, hominy, jalapenos, cabbage and radishes in a smoky chili broth.

The best dish I’ve had there, however, is the bursting-with-flavor carne guisada.

Carne guisada from Guadalajara
Carne guisada from Guadalajara

This traditional plate features chopped steak cooked in a housemade tomato sauce with onions, serrano peppers, cilantro and spices. Topped with fresh ripe avocado and queso fresco – complete with tasty sides – the meat reminds me of a rich Italian sauce or stew that’s been simmering on the stove all day so the flavors just build and meld seamlessly.

Guadalajara’s margaritas are on point, sweet treats like churro toffee cake help seal the deal, and both service and quality have been admirable during my few visits.

The restaurant is also a good neighbor, often volunteering food and space to help out in the community.

There’s a lot to like about this little place, so I encourage you to give them a try.

  • IF YOU GO: Guadalajara Modern Mexican at 3901 39th St. in Nitro is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 681-217-1694 or check out the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Magazine names top 25 restaurants in WV

In the spirit of year-end lists ranking the Best 5 this or Top 10 that, WV Living magazine named its “25 Best Restaurants” in the Mountain State this past fall.

Chicken pozole verde from Guadalajara
Chicken pozole verde from Guadalajara

I was honored to be asked to submit my own nominations, which were combined and vetted with other suggestions before a panel of food lovers and restaurant critics whittled the list down to the 25 esteemed eateries below.

And while my own individual list looked a little different, I appreciate the fact that a group of trusted folks came together to pick their cream of the crop rather than letting a single person make those tough decisions.

So without further ado, I present to you this sweet and savory statewide roundup!

Starting in the state’s capital city, Charleston hotspots 1010 Bridge, Laury’s and Kita Modern Japanese all made the list, with Noah’s Restaurant and Bridge Road Bistro receiving honorable mentions. Down the road in Huntington, 21 at The Frederick and Le Bistro made the top 25, with Savannah’s as an honorable mention. Up in Parkersburg, The Blennerhassett Restaurant made the cut.

Churro toffee cake from Guadalajara
Churro toffee cake from Guadalajara

Italian restaurants had a good showing with Rocco’s Ristorante in Ceredo joining Muriale’s Italian Kitchen in Fairmont, Julio’s Café in Clarksburg, Stefano’s in Morgantown, plus an honorable mention for Oliverio’s Ristorante in Bridgeport and Morgantown.

Others in the top 25 in the northern part of the state include The Wonder Bar Steakhouse in Clarksburg and Vagabond Kitchen in Wheeling, with Sargasso in Morgantown and Elle & Jack’s in Wheeling as honorable mentions.

Heading over to the Eastern Panhandle you’ve got the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown, 9 Dragons in Charles Town, Lot 12 Public House in Berkeley Springs, Farmer’s Daughter Market & Butcher in Capon Bridge, The Guesthouse at Lost River and Stoney’s Whiskey, Wine & Raw Bar in Martinsburg, with the Press Room in Shepherdstown on the honorable list.

Margarita from Guadalajara Modern Mexican
Margarita from Guadalajara Modern Mexican

Throughout the Potomac Highlands and into the Greenbrier Valley you’ll find The Forks in Elkins, Ish Kitchen at The Billy Motel in Davis, Prime 44 West in White Sulphur Springs and Stardust Café in Lewisburg.

Honorable mentions in these areas went to Appalachian Kitchen at Snowshoe, The French Goat in Lewisburg and The Varsity Club at The Schoolhouse Hotel in White Sulphur Springs.

Southern West Virginia represented with Secret Sandwich Society in Fayetteville, The Dish Café in Beckley and The Vault Downtown in Bluefield.

Looks like I have some travelin’ (and eatin’) to do in the new year!

• • •

Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at

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