Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Where I Eat What and at What Time

This is my 9th year in Merida and I’m a bit jaded about the state of food in the state of Yucatan. You can read my blogs and see where I’m coming from and why I’m so opinionated or snobbish when it comes to tastes and taste. Everyone wants to know why I’m not posting any more & I’m feeling a little guilty about it so here goes…I am avoiding dining out at night this year. Tis part of my New Years resolution to loose weight, save money and eat healthier food. I have a new organic garden with lots of herbs and veggies. If anyone has a good insect or caterpillar recipe please send it on…

While you are in Merida you should try all of the tropical fruits in season because there are so many you never see anywhere else besides Ediard in Paris. But if you want your eggs go to the market in Santiago and have huevros divorciados or rancheros at “La Virgen de Moreno” or to the Hyatt which does still have the best breakfast in town. Waynes tacos (huevros con chaya or papas con chorizo) are great for breakfast and on Sundays Ana Sabrina serves great tacos in Santa Lucia Square. Café Club has a decent breakfast and Hotel San Angel has good pastries and cakes if you are on vacation and feel like indulging. Teddy’s Corner has biscuits and gravy and o.j. from Florida from concentrate for some reason. Any time of day you should have juice and licuados from the juice bars around the market. In fact you could just have breakfast every morning the market.

I’m eating fish and loving it maybe 4 or 5 times a week. I go every week to Aquamar, Marlin Azul and Campay Sushi Express and less often I have fish tacos at El Congrejito. On the non fish days I might go to El Reforma and have chile rellenos or I might grab a pizza at Costco. Rafaello’s is much better pizza but it’s not grabable since it’s made to order. I go to Café Almeda for Lebanese or Café Club for soup. I don’t eat at cocina economicas much anymore because I’ve bored with the menus but they are great options for tourist or visitors. One gets a real taste of the real Yucatan. If I’m famished I might go to La Rueda for a steak. Once in a blue moon I might go to La Pigua or Muelle 8 for a more expensive seafood lunch or I might go sit on the terrace of Xcanatun and have a salad and stuffed pepper.

The trendiest restaurants of the moment are at Rosas y Xocolate & C’a D’Oro. For me they are must avoids on the weekend but that is when the crowds compete for service and attention. Nectar and Xcanatun can be just great or just awful. These four restaurants are too expensive too have mediocre service or less than perfect food. For me they all have passed my 3 strikes and you’re out quota. For you it will be hit or miss but you will get over it. I may not. Trotters American Bistro atmosphere or and La Recova ‘s Argentine grill might be a good option if you are with friends and want some noise and French fries with your Steak. All of those restaurants are as expensive as the restaurants in New York (my former home) and not as good. None of these restaurants are in Centro Historico.

If you are looking for a more reasonable place to have dinner you could try Italian at Villa Italia or Pane y Vino. People (not me) do like Panchos, and Frida’s for Mexican food. I order the mole at Frida’s but I don’t go to Panchos. I still enjoy having the tapas at Meson de Sergovia. Beware the expensive wine pushed by the charming owner. Most of the wine is good here and all Spanish. I still go to Santiago Market to Reina de Itzalana for tamales and soup. Seafood is not a dinner option in Merida though La Pigua is open at night on the weekends and Muelle 8 is open til 6.

Something Fishy

Calle 62 at the corner of 63.
Open for lunch til 5

Aquamar is something I never thought I'd see. A good restaurant on the Plaza Grande. It's a little room with 3 tables that seat 11 people. There is another table for 4 by the kitchen. I've never had to wait for a table but I'm sure that will change. The fresh and flaky filets are thicker than most of the other restaurants down town. The problem is that they run out of filets most days around 2 or 3 or whenever I walk in the door. I like equally well the octopus ceviche or in ink. The mixed seafood ceviche would be perfect were it not drenched in a local green oil called gary. So one must remember to say hold the oil. The shrimp tacos are great but you must wrap your mind around the double un-kosherness of bacon and shrimp. They come with grilled onions and avocados on home made tortillas. They seldom have the empanadas or the whole fish. It is a great mystery why they run out of food because they are owned by La Pigua.

AQUAMAR IS CLOSED. I ran into one of the waiters who told me they are looking for a new place to rent in Centro.

Try'n Mayan

Should I move away at some point there is not one dish from the Yucatan that I shall crave.  & I don't agree with the recommendations I've read on other websites & guide books or even Trip Advisor.  I think that if you have a change to go to Mani and eat Poc Chuc at El Principe de Tutul Xui you should.
The guacamole and the sopa de lima are also good here and try a pitcher of ague de lima the fresh yucatecan citrus that is more like a bergamot than a persian lime.  It's a good place to try Relleno Negro too.

If your staying in town the all the guide books recommend Los Alemendros and if your must (I wouldn't) then try the one in the Fiesta Americana as the one at Mejorada is just depressing.  I'd try La Tradicion near the hotel zone or Chaya Maya before setting foot in Los Alemendros but I'd be just as happy with a couple of tortas from Le Smoking Club I as anywhere else.

I think that ordering the Mayan food on the menu at the Haciendas is almost always a good idea.  The Starwood Hacienda hotels have very inconsistent food as the chefs come and go and the cooks who assist are from the least they know how to make the local fare.  Even at the usually very good restaurant at Hacienda Xcanatun the Mayan food is often the best option.  

But really you should go to the Mercado or one of the satellite markets at Santiago or Santa Ana or even San Sebastian for fast food and try the simple soups and tamales and the tacos.  Cocina Economicas cannot be beat for lunch and you can find them all over town in every single neighborhood.  Local women cooking traditional meals (not usually Mayan) in their homes or little shop fronts with a couple of tables and plastic chairs.  You'll find them delicious and hospitable and you'd be hard pressed to spend more than $50 pesos for a  hearty meal.