Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Take Montejo North

Elio Al Mare
calle 21 no.60 x 40 y38
01 969 935 0804

Everyone whom I trusts on matters of taste calls me the minute they discover Elio Al Mare. They obviously don't read my blog.
I've been enchanted by this place since I stumbled on it about a year ago. But each time I return, which is not often, it has been closed. I've only just gotten the phone number from a friend of a friend of the owner. The chef/owner is an Italian who had a restaurant for several years on the isla de Holbox. I don't think he's secured his license to sell liquor yet so you'll have to imagine you're sipping the perfect Greco di Tuffo with your seafood pasta. I cannot really remember what I ate a year ago but I remember being slightly stunned by the quality and a little surprised by the tab. I shall return....but I'll call first.

October 2009 They do have wine and beer now at Elio Al Mare but they are so inconsistent with there hours and closing days that I've found myself standing in front of the door stomping and screaming on too many occasions.

Saint Bonnet
Avenida Malecon x calle 28

The beach is the place to eat seafood. It's best to go when the weather is calm. When it's stormy they don't fish as they boats are tiny and they have never even heard of the life vest option. There is a new place hidden away down the beach that is owned by an Italian transplant from Holbox. Elio Al Mare is off the beaten path, thank the lord, and far from the tourist infested malecon of Progresso. Saint Bonnet is where we normally eat if we find outselves washed up on the beach in Progresso. If you go to San Bonnet, keep it simple. If you've just stumbled off a cruise ship you will most likely want to go eat, drink and scream "ariba" at Eladio's which is just a hop, skip and jump off the Pier from whence you came.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Restaurants Near Mejorada & Santa Lucia

Cafe Alemeda
Calle 58 #474 between 55 and 57
This lebanese restaurant is cheap and casual. I only like to sit on the patio in the back. That is sometimes a problem. Josh likes the cabbage rolls. We always have the hummous, berenjena and taboule. Sometimes the kabobs are nice and tender and sometimes they bounce.

Cafe Club
calle 55 x 60 y 58
I go here for the fresh juices and the vegetable soup. Don't know why but I go back once or twice a week. It's my canteen but my order never varies except on the days I order french fries and change from watermelon juice to payaya with lime.
Here I never have to fight to sit on the patio.

El Templo
Calle 59 #438 x 52 y 50
Last time I checked they were not open for lunch. The working gringo's like this place alot. More than I do so I'll let them speak. I've had a couple of good meals here but always very bad service which in the end made not wish to return. But that was at lunch. We'll order a drink and if it sucks go around the corner to Meson del Segoviano.

UPATE December 1, 2011 After rave review from my friends Jim and Vija from NY I tried Templo again. The chicken in mustard and white wine sauce was undercooked but the sauce was not reduced enough and just tasted like wine had been poured into a watery stock at the last minute. The stuffed chicken breast with chipotle and cheese had a very unsavory crust and it was cream cheese which I have a hard time think of as cheese. If the food had been good I could have endured the loud pop music and the low chairs at a high table...alas the food was awful. I called Jim and he assured me that his lunch had been great and in fact his dinner the night before was catered by El Templo and was good as well. He is as finicky as I am so you'll have to take a chance on this place. Segoniano has moved to El Norte.

Casa Lucia
Santa Lucia Park
calle 60 x 55 y 53
Reminds me of alot of neighborhood restaurants in Milan from my former life in fashion. Marble and glass and laminated menus. It's not at all a bad choice for lunch. I eat there all the time. It's never been great and it's never been bad. The desserts are the only real disappointments here. They are sitting there staring at you all through your meal and they look great. They all suck. I have tried them all. They suck. I know they look really, really, really good but they allsuck. Yes the pecan pie, the chocolate layer cake, the carrot cake and even the cheesecake suck. Sorry. Have that order of fries and skip the dessert. Even the bathrooms make you feel like your in Milan.

Meson del Segoviano
calle 50-a no 443 entre 59 y 57
Plaza de Mejorada / Centro
tel 999 924 0055
I've said elsewhere it's the best restaurant downtown. I believe it is. I've been back several times this fall 2007 and I like it for lunch and I love it for dinner. Update June 2008. I still go here often when there are friends or guests in town. It's best to call first and make sure the owner/chef will be there. Sadly there are never many people here and there is basically zero buzz after you ask them to turn off the TV. But the food is real and the things I like best are croquets, sausages and the divine warm octopus & potato salad.

This restaurant closed and is now called El Segoviano. Now there are more people and more TV's and a larger menu. Zero charm but still very good food

Calle 32 no. 219 plaza 32 upstairs
San Ramon Norte

924 0055 or cell 999 163 3196

Los Alemendros
Plaza de Mejorada/Centro
This is why I link to David Sterling at Los Dos cooking school. He gives places a second chance and give them the benifit of the doubt....
Whatever... It is still an unpleasant room to eat in.

Update June 2008: I still cannot bare the thought of going back to Los Alemendros but recently some guests invited me to lunch a couple of times at La Tradition a 100% Yucatecan restaurant that I can recommend. In fact if you are at Mejorada you'd better jump in a cab right now and go there if you're looking for real Yucatecan cuisine prepared by a real chef. It's not in centro but it's not far away either.

La Tradition
calle 60 no. 293 x 25
Col. Alcala Martin

Restaurants Near Candelaria & Santiago

Pane e Vino
64 x 59

If your looking at the wonderful art deco Teatro Merida you'll miss out on the best Italian food downtown. Across the street Pane e Vino offers honest Tuscan food in a bohemian atmosphere with a mix of locals, expatriots and tourists. I am never sure if the owners are still cooking here or not. But since I always order the same things and they are always good I quit asking. The menu is huge and exhausting. In fact my favorite thing to do is sit up front and watch the tourists read the menu. They flip the dirty pages of the menu on the stand. They look at unpainted walls and the rustic floors. They waddle off to somewhere nicer. It may or may not be cleaner that will poison them for sure. I assume it's the menu and dirt that scares them off and not me hissing at them. I like the ragu sauce on gnocci or tagliatelle. I loved loved loved the panacoti until they changed the sauce from caramel to insipid black berry.

after dinner stroll around the zocalo or visit the Olimpo art gallery. In the corner to the right of the front door of the Olimpo are posted the current cultural events for the month.

Update Oct 2009
The owner doubled the rent in the middle of a tourist/financial crisis so Pane y Vino has relocated to a cleaner, prettier, bigger and I suspect cheaper location 2 blocks away. No longer in front of the Teatro Merida now in front of Telmex they now offer a lunch buffet which I'm 99.9% sure should be avoided. Hopefully they are still fresh pasta to order in the evenings and I'll check it out one day....soonish.

La Casa de Frida
61 x 66 y 66a

The owner recently gave up on having a huge menu and I can only say amen sister! Now you can sit in the courtyard and enjoy the homage to Frida decor although you can no longer enjoy the stars. Now there is a plastic roof over the once open patio. Chiles en nogada and mole are the things to order. The service has vastly improved.

before dinner you can shop at the real "Casa de las Artesanias" on calle 63 x 64 y 66 until 8 pm. Here you'll get a good idea of what you can expect to find in all the shops and here the prices are fixed and fair.

Alberto's Continental
64 y 59

It's been 3 years since Hurricane Isidoro wiped out the giant rubber trees that shaded the colonial courtyard of Alberto's. They've grown back and now you don't have to rely on the owners charm alone to enjoy a drink in the garden. Order from the Lebanese side of the menu. There are antiques for sale in the back and if your nice or cute he might open up the boutique for you after dinner. If you see a bus load of tourists in the dining room you should probably return on one of the nights when the place is empty...

La Reina de Itzalana
Santiago Market
57 x 72
They are not called tacos but the local fast food here is excellent. Five years ago when we were building our first house we ate here 3 or 4 times a week. The panuchos and salbutes are the best. All the tamales are great. I like the simple consume more than the lime soup but they are both exceptional. The fresh fruit aguas and liquados are great. There is a decent ice cream stand a few steps away toward the church. Open in the early evening til late at night.

Restaurants Near Ermita & San Sebastian

There's not much of anything in this area of town. At night there are several good fast food stands around the corner of calle 77 y 70. Most days on calle 81 between 66 & 68 there is a man standing on the sidewalk or edge of the street grilling chickens . They are fantastic. You could picnic in the park and buy your drinks on the corner of calle 66 and 77. There's a new cocina economica on calle 75 and 64 and another on calle 77 and 62 but I've not tried them yet...going soon.

Restaurants Near Santa Ana

Santa Ana Market
calle 47 x 60 y 58
Santa Ana Market Stalls are good enough for Rick Bayless of Frontera Grill. In fact Rick made all of season 5 of his PBS cooking show about the Yucatan and our cuisine... the journey continues as they indulge in early morning treats including tortas, panuchos and impossible cake (chocolate cake topped with flan) from the Santa Ana market.. So check out the Santa Ana Food stalls and market early in the morning.

Dona Tere
calle 47 x 68 y 66
Dona Tere is the cocina economica around the corner from L'Orangerie de Santa Ana. It once had the ironic misfortune of being called the house of screws. Then Mary Soco moved from the corner of calle 47 & 66 to the house of screws but now she's moved down the road to calle 68 around 53. Whoever took over her old space is doing a fine job as well. So here are 3 good cocina economica's within 3 blocks of each other.

Hotel San Angel
Paseo Montejo no. 1 x 49
A charming hotel, a great Fonart craft shop and a cafe that serves lunch or snacks on the patio or in the sala. The owner has a sweet tooth and loves to bake. Try the cakes and cookies for sure. A good place to rest between centro and Paseo Montejo.

Noche Mexicana
calle 47 y Paseo Montejo
On saturday nights a variety show that is often good and always campy here at the beginning of the Blvd. Montejo. Anna Sabrina serves the best tacos in town here on Saturday nights and in Santa Lucia square on Sunday before 2pm. These are tacos from the state of Mexico not from Yucatan.

Pizzeria Raffaello
corner of calle 60 and 49
deliver 924 99 43
Still no wine or beer and that is about the only reason not eat at Rafaello and Bruno's pizzeria 3 nights a week! Fresh toppings and perfect crust. My favorites are Napoli and Roma. Since most people don't like anchovies or potatoes on their pizza I don't have to share and that suits me fine.

Cafe Chocolate
calle 60 and 49
When my former assistants told me his landlord was opening a restaurant in this great location I asked him what sort of food they would serve. He said they had not decided yet. Anyone with a passion for food imagines opening a restaurant and pretty damn well knows what they would put on the menu. Well they did open a cafe and I can tell you what sort of food they decided to serve. Bad! Have a coffee and admire the bad art and decor.... at least it's cheap.

Rescoldos Mediterranean Bistro
Tuesday- Friday 2pm -10pm & Saturday 6pm -11 pm
Calle 62 #366 y 41 x 43
Centro Histórico, Merida
Phone (999) 286-1028

American Style Pizzas and Calzones cooked and served by the Greco Canadian owners in a pleasant house on a noisy street.
The bread here is great but that is the only great thing I've discovered here. I've had lunch 3 or 4 times & I'll go back but I'm not craving anything. They are number 1 on tripadvisor but not one of my favorite restaurants is in the top 20. This restaurant is popular with the expats. For me there is an over abundance of dried herbs in everything.

Namaste Grill
Santa Ana
calle 47 & 58
Dinner only

Statement from the owners as seen in Yucatan Today

"So not enough folks out there really wanted an Indian restaurant in Mérida it seems...the owners of Namaste Grill are re-inventing themselves with an Italian eatery coming soon...New York, New York will be in the same location, with lots of great New York-style Italian cooking to entice you."

So far I'm not enticed. I know for a fact that there are at least 50 people in Merida dying for a good Indian restaurant to open. Let us know when one does.

Teddy's Corner
calle 43 at 62

Teddy and I are from the same town in Texas which currently has a population of 4500 people but when we moved there in 1961 the population was 200. When I heard someone from Texas was opening a restaurant in town my first thought was "Tex-Mex, At Last!" But when Teddy informed me he was opening a "Country Kitchen" I thought "God Help US"! The biscuits and Gravy are very good (Patience required). The coffee is pretty much of the Texas truck stop variety. Open for breakfast and Lunch.

see the recommendations for Santiago and for Santa Lucia as well. They are just a 10 minute walk from Santa Ana.

In the Direction of Uxmal

Hacienda Ochil has a great buffet on the weekends and during the week you can have lunch til 5pm a la carte. It is on highway 261 between Uman and Uxmal at the exit to Abala. It' just 15 minutes from Yunku. Yucatan today has the details.

El Principe Tutul Xiu is the very best place in the Yucatan to eat Poc Chuc. Poc Chuc is a dish of grilled pork marinated in sour orange. There are two locations near Yunku. A new one in the village of Oxkutzcab on the road from Mani. The original is in Mani. Here's a second opinion.

It's been a couple of years since I've been to Chun-Yaax-ChÈ in nearby Muna. Jen Lytle from Tierra Maya Real Estate took us there. She used to live in Muna and she knows a thing two about the area and good food. There is also a very good and sort of expensive workshop that specializes in the reproduction of mayan art, polychromatic ceramics and sculpture. I remember the fresh hand made torillas under the thatched palapa cooked over an open fire. Hours 9-5. Calle 13 #20 Muna

Ticul is the largest town in the area and worth a visit. The market is interesting on Saturdays. Los Almendros: Calle 23 #207 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m is the most famous restaurant in Yucatan. Or so we are all told when we arrive. Here is Chef David Sterling's review I remain unimpressed however. Still if your starving in Ticul it's Los Alemendros or pizza...and the pizza ain't half bad. I just cannot remember the name of the pizza parlor but it's by the hardware store a couple of blocks from the cathedral.

The Hacienda Temozon is a beautiful estate. Part of the Starwood Luxury collection. You'll need a reservation as the resort is closed to the public with out a reservation. Sometimes you can drop in but not always. The quality of the food goes up and down. Lately reports are good.
Yucatan Living has a poll you can take after your trip and tell them which hacienda you liked best. They are photos of Uayalceh which is just 10 minutes north of Yunku. It's grounds are more or less public as the village surrounds this private estate. If you go to Sotuta de Peon you'll pass Uayalceh. Sotuta de Peon is a working hennequen hacienda with a museum and restaurant.

Restaurants Near Hacienda Sac Chich

In the 6 years I've lived in Merida I've never been to Hacienda Teya. It's in all the guide books and it's popular with the locals. It's about 20 minutes from Hacienda Sac Chich just off the Cancun-Merida Highway at km 12.

Update June 2008. I heard about a great nursery at the gates of Hacienda Teya and so off I went with my best Yucateca friend Josephina. The nursery was just great. They had a lot of beautiful mature tropical plants in a "musuem" and smaller versions for sale. To get to the restaurant at Teya you enter through a gift shop with just about the worse crap and ugliest shoes you can find in the hemisphere. That dear reader is a clue. The most interesting room is the waiting room with the photos of all the celebs who've graced the portals. The dining room is or was and I am sure it still is filled with the creme de la creme of Merida's old school diners who just loves them some corn starch sauce. The food is just plain awful. I did not see any toursist and everyone was very well mannered and very well dressed and they certainly did enjoy themselves. The vomitorium or bathroom has a certain charm. You can stand at the urinal and look into the waiting room. Just a really lovely experience.

El Principe Tutul Xiu is the very best place in the Yucatan to eat Poc Chuc. Poc Chuc is a dish of grilled pork marinated in sour orange. There are two locations with in 30 minutes of Sac Chich. A new one in the village of Oxkutzcab on the road from Mani. The original is in Mani. Here's a second opinion. It's my favorite restaurant.

The casual restaurant critic blogs on one of my favorite Yucatan Blogs, not the news. He has reviewed three restaurants near Sac Chich one is Sotuta de Peon which is a recently opened Museum and working hennequen plantation with a restaurant. And he has review a restaurant that has been closed every time I've looked for it. In Kanasin the first town on the old road to Acanceh and Sac Chich is La Susana Internacional a much recommended restaurant by the owners of hotel Mediomundo in Merida. Hacienda Tepich is one of the first restaurants we discovered out side of Merida. Our friends Salvador and Josephina were living at Sac Chich and they took us here for lunch. Having had a bunny in Paris for a pet I declined to eat the rabbit which is the speciality of the house. But I've had some of the best relleno negro ever here.