This temple of bones is one of Mexico’s top restaurants
With more than 10,000 bones lining its walls, Hueso sounds like a fairly nightmarish place to have dinner.
There is no sign outside this Guadalajara restaurant; just a single bone hanging ominously from the white tiled exterior. But once you step inside and see the animal bones artfully fixed to its whitewashed walls, any thoughts of macabre catacombs are quickly forgotten. With chunky whale bones, a whole snake skeleton, and even a tiger skull on display, it feels more like a mash-up of a natural history museum and a modern art exhibition.
“For a chef, a bone represents flavor,” 45-year-old chef Alfonso Cadena tells me. “Besides, at the end of the day this is the truth behind cooking: a lot of what we’re eating comes from bones, tissue, and nerves.”
Hueso, which unsurprisingly means “bone” in Spanish, is Cadena’s second restaurant after the acclaimed La Leche in nearby Puerto Vallarta. Since hosting an episode of Chef’s Night Out there in late 2015, he and his team have cooked for rock stars and former presidents, and even got caught up in a dramatic confrontation between cartel gunmen and the sons of the world’s most notorious drug lord. None of that seems to have fazed the man who runs two of Mexico’s best restaurants and is now preparing to launch a third.
Cadena opened Hueso in 2014 in partnership with his old friend and former bandmate Juan Manuel Monteón. Set in a converted house in Guadalajara’s leafy Lafayette neighborhood, it took nine months for their respective brothers, an interior designer and an architect, to turn their unique vision into reality.
“We wanted a unique space where we’d fall in love with coming to work every day,” Cadena tells me. “At first, when we told people about the bone concept, they were like, ‘What are you doing?’ but the challenge was to do something apparently repulsive and make it aesthetically pleasing.”
With shark, bear, deer, wild boar, and many other animal bones all competing for wall space , it is certainly “a unique space”…