Sunday, February 9, 2014

Taco night in Lo de Marcos

Mexicans love their food and rightfully so! Forget the instant Taco packages you can buy at the supermarket at home. The real stuff is only available here, on the streets of Mexico. Walking through town in the evening restaurants pop up everywhere. Little family places that present you the most wonderful food out of the most unlikely places. Food in Mexico is an experience, an experience not to be missed. Every Saturday it's Taco Night which results in restaurants popping up out of nowhere. Mexicans are proud of their food and so they should be! 

For a 'westerner' like myself , brought up with restaurants where the kitchen is a sealed off no go zone, seeing the cooking in Mexico is an experience. Cooking isn't done behind closed doors here, but out on the streets. Anyone can see what's being prepared, nothing to hide. 'Mum and dad' do the cooking, and do so on the simplest 'equipment'. No microwaves, no massive multi burner stoves, no stainless steel bench tops, no annoying beepers. No fancy stuff like silly chef hats either. They just cook because they love to cook, and it shows. The flavours, the colours and the atmosphere they create are marvellous.

Chile de Nogada, a speciality of Las Glorias
At first it was strange to our eyes to see cooking done on the street. Stoves made from drums that are cut in half. Coal fires on the pavement. Enormous shallow pans, heated with a small simple burner that's moved around to give heat where needed. Oars that are being used to stir big pans with crackling… it all does look strange. Yet when you let it sink in for a minute, and put aside the familiar, it all makes perfect sense. Cooking is after all relatively simple, or so it should be.

The food we've had in Mexico is great and the smell of food being prepared is everywhere. It's a warm mixture of roast beef, chicken and pork, blended with the whiffs of smoke from the many coal and wood fires. A restaurant critic would call the spices strong and crisp and tantalising the tastebuds… I simply call them great! Mexican food had always tasted good, even before I came to Mexico. We had no idea what we missed though until we tried it in Mexico! Even in a small town like Lo de Marcos there are so many great little places to eat that we are literally spoiled for choice. Every Saturday it's Taco Night. Having been here for a while now, we have tried a few restaurants :-) and the following 5 are our favourites. Not that the others aren't any good, far from it, these 5 are just our favourites. The numbers correspond to the map below.

1. Cruz Maria RV Park
First stop should be the Cruz Maria RV Park. It's not a restaurant but the best place to stay while sampling the 5 restaurants below. Dave and Karina are a wealth of information on Lo de Marcos and the surrounding area.

2. Las Glorias
Unless you know where it is, you won't find it. It's on the main square, next to the supermarket with the two parrots in front of it. The parrots are funny; they speak as much Spanish as I do: Hola! and laugh about it too. 
Las Glorias doesn't have a sign and during the week it's not even a restaurant, but a dancing school…! On Saturday and Sunday evening though, in my humble opinion, it's one of the best places in town to eat. Try the speciality: Chile de Nogada! Try the enchiladas! Actually try everything as it's all good. Gabriela speaks English, which was a bonus for us. The food is great, the atmosphere is great. Everything is homemade and this family knows how to cook! Looking for dessert? If you're lucky, mum has baked a carrot cake… if not; they sell ice-cream next door!

3. Pizza on the corner
On the south-west corner of the main square is another family operated restaurant that is well worth a visit. I can't remember what it's called, checked my photos to see if there was a name or a sign on the wall but there isn't. Everyone just knows it as the pizza place at the corner of the plaza. Apart from good Mexican food they also do quite a few very nice pizzas. We love the pork tortillas and the pizza Hawaii! A lovely family and a great place to eat.

4. Arcelias Palapa Restaurant
This one is a bit further away from the action of the town centre, but a great restaurant. They are famous for their hamburgers and ribs, but also have traditional Mexican dishes on the menu like Fajitas. Being a bit further away from the action, in a side street, means it's a lot quieter. The hamburgers they make are huge and very good. The food is great and the service quick and it's only a short stroll from the beach.

5. Yadira
Also a bit further away from the action of the town square. During the day there is nothing to suggest it's a restaurant, as she simply cooks from home. The first time we stopped there she was just selling hotdogs from a little hotdog cart. What can be so special about a hotdog that I want to mention it here? Well, have you ever had a hotdog with bacon, onions, tomato, cream, homemade jalapeño sauce and mustard? During the time we have been here, Yadira has expanded her menu with great hamburgers, beautiful chicken tortillas, chicken buns and last night she added Jamaica to the menu. What is Jamaica? A kind of cold brewed tea from the Hibiscus plant. It tastes sweet and soft and beautiful when ice-cold. Yadira's simple hotdog cart is slowly expanding into a full size kitchen, with more on the menu every day, and she knows how to cook! She can be found between the CocoLoco outdoor store and the Tortuga Hotel, street number 26. You can't miss her smile :-)

6. Olivia
Dining on the beach is possible too in Lo de Marcos, as there are a couple of Palapa style restaurants. Olivia is one of the better ones. They make a special kind of hamburguesa called the Irene burger. It's named after Irene who has been living here at the Cruz Maria RV park for over 20 years. Olivia is open all day. Lo de Marcos is a great town with a lot of charm and a relaxed atmosphere. It's easy to see why so many people want to spend the winter here and keep coming back year after year. The list above are not the only good places to eat, they are simply our favourites.