Sunday, June 26, 2016

What we ate in Guadalajara: Anita-Li

Some go to restaurants for the food, some go for the decor and ambience, or the view from the revolving dining room; others go for for fun and entertainment. Anita-Li clearly falls into the last category. One meal does not prove much, but our tentative conclusion is that Anita-Li is a great place for drinks in a festive and kitsch ambience, but serious, well prepared food may be elusive.

It is obligatory to note that the name, "Anita-Li", is a palindrome for "I Latina", an earlier and closeby mother restaurant from which sprang the naughty young Anita.

Where the decor of Allium is spare and lending itself to appreciation of the highly nuanced food, the hyper-kitsch decor at Anita-Li sets the tone for a meal of over-the-top drinks and an unrestrained hand with the seasoning.

Anita-Li Dining Room and bar
Blackboard menu specials continue the informal tone
Let's have a look at the printed menu, this one of entradas.

Fun food awaits you at Anita's
You can look at the menus in more detail here.

We had first seated ourselves in the semi outdoors dining area (reserved for smokers) but moved inside due to the low level of buzz but greater warmth outdoors. The outside dining area lacks the kitsch decor of the inside one, and after all, that is part of the appeal of the restaurant.

We started off with a Chilcanita Peruana coctel, and exotic blend of spirits and fruits. It was quite good.

Chilcanita Peruana
Our first course was a blackboard special, Tacos de Soft Shelled Crab. It's becoming evident that we are crab fans. The tacos were the best thing we ate at Anita-Li. The dishes that followed declined in appeal.

Soft shelled crab tacos
Doña Cuevas ordered Sopes Cantineros, which proved to be an unfortunate combination of pork belly and octopus on cakes of masa. The two meats both were texturally similar, and the overall effect was of heaviness.

Sopes Cantineros
A pause, and another cocktail, this one even better than the first, A "Lupe Reyes", a fantastic drink combining licor de chile de Zaragoza with grapefruit and soda, dressed with fresh raspberries.

Lupe Reyes Coctel
Sra. Cuevas decided to hold at that point, but I gamely charged on, ordering Camarones Asados Thai. This was a dish which tends to demonstrate the flawed execution of "Asian - Mexican Fusion Cuisine", as sometimes practiced in Mexico.

Camarones Asados Thai. That's chipotle aioli squiggled on top.
The large, grilled, spiced shrimp were very good. But underneath the shrimp was a sort of salad of thinly sliced cucumbers and strips of chiles Jalapeños, in an aggressively acidic and terribly salty jus. It was inedible. I was instantly reminded of similar heavy handed seasoning in Asian fusion dishes we'd had at Aquiles Terraza in Morelia. Read here.

We decided not to try our luck with dessert. Besides, we were full.

In conclusion, it was an interesting meal in a fun room, with American Rock classics blaring on the sound system, but the food was poorly done, with the exception of the Soft Shelled Crab Tacos and the grilled shrimp by themselves. The cocktails were excellent, especially the Lupe Reyes.


Food:  6
Service: 7  Attentive, a little pushy, but not obnoxiously so. English is spoken.
Ambience: Garage sale in Asia
Cost: $$$$ La Cuenta, por favor.
Rest rooms: the men's was clean and cute, with a small garden view.

Av. Inglaterra 3100, Vallarta Poniente, 44110 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico

Tel: +52 33 3647 4742

Opens at 1:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

What we ate in Guadalajara: Allium

Allium restaurant is part of the New Wave of locavore, farm-to-table restaurants that are opening in Mexico. Our meal there was among the best we had during our brief stay in Guadalajara. (Señora Cuevas rates the Pozole Blanco at La Chata as the best thing she ate. I liked that, too, but my best dish was the Crab Cakes at Allium.)

The menu is limited, which in my opinion is good.

Wine list
Other beverages
The two small dining rooms, a small inner one abutting the open kitchen, and a a larger, semi open air terrace, are decorated in spare, Minimalist style. At Allium, the focus is on the beautiful and delicious food.

Allium terraza dining area
The food is exquisitely and creatively crafted. There are some brilliant combinations, and as you would expect, some worked better than others. But nothing we ate was bad.

We were brought an amuse bouche of Sopa Fría de Melón, which had a mysterious herbal component. (Hoja santa?)

The house-baked bread was very good, although the black bean spread, in a pool of sesame oil, lacked pizzaz.

Warm bread in a cozy
Puree of black beans in oil
The Crab Cakes, a hot appetizer which could in itself make a light meal, were among the best I'd had anywhere. The cold Robalo curado en sal was wonderful.

Crab Cakes
Robalo curado en sal
Breast of duck, ordered medium well, was a bit smoky and chewy. Not my favorite dish of those we had, but acceptable. La Señora had la Pesca del Día, in the Elote Dulce preparation. It was good. The layered sauces tend to be on the gooey side in texture. That might not appeal to all tastes.

Pechuga de Pato

My dessert, Flan de Elote Tatemado, was pretty but not especially outstanding. The elaborate presentation raised expectations unduly high, but the conclusion was that it was merely pleasant.

Flan de Elote Tatemado
Service was casual but attentive. We liked Allium very much. We applaud the three chef owners for their often daring culinary creations. If we are ever again in Guadalajara, we would return there.

The Three Chefs (names to follow, I hope)
We also drank most of a bottle of a dry white wine, Villa Grand Cap Colombard-Sauvignon Blanc 2014. Reasonable priced at $450 pesos the bottle, or less so at $90 the copa.

Note that the terrace dining room has windows open to the street. Street vendors made perfunctory attempts to sell to the restaurant guests through the windows. Towards the end of our meal, a sudden wind and rainstorm broke out, and there was a lot of wind gust and some debris blowing about in that dining room. Karla, our waitress, found us a table inside and out of the wind.


Food: 8
Service: 8  Friendly and casual, just right.
Dress code: casual
Cost, including a bottle of wine: $$$$$+  La cuenta, por favor.
Ambience: Minimalist. Allium website

López Cotilla 1752 A,
Colonia Lafayette, CP 44150.
Guadalajara, México.


Tel: 3615 6401

Martes - Jueves
13:30-17:00 y 19:00-22:30
Viernes - Sábado
13:30-17:00 y 19:00-23:00

Friday, June 24, 2016

What we ate in Guadalajara: around the hotel

There seemed to be quite a number of small, popular eating places, all within a few blocks of the hotel Morales. There are also some cheapie places offering such comida rápida as hot dogs and hamburgers. We didn't indulge our basest instincts.

The most obvious, and convenient spot, is Taquería Los Faroles, immediately across the street from the hotel entrance. We went there Sunday evening for a late snack. Doña Cuevas had three tacos de arrachera. They were pretty good, but best of all, non greasy. I had a nice torta ahogada, which came with a bonus pair of tacos dorados, but of nondescript content. It was nothing spectacular, yet satisfying. Service was very swift and friendly, and prices are low.

Torta Ahogada
Unrated. "It's a taquería, dammit!"

Slightly closer to the hotel than La Chata is La Gorda, a rather more conventional and even less formal luncheonette. I stopped in and had a tall glass of good horchata, nothing more, while watching the cook make enchiladas. Surprise! Cooking oil plays a major role in the food preparation there. But I would not hesitate to eat there if an opportunity arose.

A more significant food destination, a 10 minute walk from the Hotel Morales, involved birria. The dilemma was which birrieria offered the optimum experience? La Nueve Esquinas or Los Compadres? They face each other across a charming plaza like gunmen on the streets of Laredo. We decided on La Nueve Esquinas, because... well it was a few meters closer and looked more charming. ¿Quien sabe?

Birrieria Los Compadres
Birrieria Las Nueve Esquinas
Las Nueve Esquinas did not disappoint for either charm nor food.

Inside Birrieria Las Nueve Esquinas

The table salsas were especially attractive and sabrosa.

I had a large Birria de Chivo, and Sra. Cuevas a small barbacoa de borrego. Surprisingly, the barbacoa was served dry, without consomé.

Birria de chivo
Barbacoa seca de borrego
Note the small dish of lusciously porky frijoles. It was complimentary.

Food: 7

Service: 7

Cost:$ 1/2  La Cuenta, por favor.

Cleanliness: 9

Cólon 384 esquina Galeana,
Centro Historico.
Guadalajara, Jal, Méx.
Tel. 01 (33) 3613 6260

(Google Maps is incorrect as to the location of the two birrierias. They are transposed.)

What we ate in Guadalajara: La Chata Centro

Guadalajara and Jalisco are known for some traditional foods. There is pozole, birria and the torta ahogada representing the main food specialties. There is also jericalla, a baked cup custard, but a minor player. During our four night stay, we covered all of those nicely, although perhaps not optimally. In addition, we dined at two restaurants that broke far away from tradition, one which assiduously follows the farm-to-table credo, the other, unrestrained and serving often wacky Asian-Mexican fusion cuisine.

When we arrived at the Hotel Morales on Friday afternoon, we knew that we wanted a simple yet satisfying meal. We found exactly that at La Chata, just 4 or five blocks north of the hotel, on Avenida Ramón Corona.

La Chata: No Line!
La Chata, despite the similarity of names, will never be confused with Chet's Chat 'n Chew, formerly of Topeka, KS.

The popularity of La Chata is attested to by the waiting line that forms at the entrance at peak hours. To while away the wait, we people watched, especially the cooks up front, dressed like the Sisters of the Clean Room. Our wait was perhaps 20 minutes, after which we were escorted to a table in the well lighted, somewhat crowded dining room.

Las Cocineras "Monjas"
We already knew that would eschew the many temptations on the menu, and so, we both ordered Pozole Blanco. Sra. Cuevas had Pozole Blanco con Pollo and I Pozole Blanco con carnes mixtos.

Both were exactly what we had been wanting. The caldo was well made, nearly grease free, and both bowls were chock full of meat. The nuggets of maíz pozolero were cooked perfectly al dente. All in all, they we some of the best pozoles we'd had anywhere. But the accompanying tostadas were industrial origin and flat out tasteless.

The trio of table salsas were fair, but when I requested una salsa más picosa, our waiter quickly brought me a vibrant salsa de chile de árbol.

Pozole Blanco de carnes mixtos
For dessert, I had a o.k. jericalla and a so-so café de olla.

Sunday morning, we returned to La Chata for breakfast. There was no waiting.
 La Señora ordered a Big Truck Driver's breakfast of eggs, bacon, frijoles and chilaquiles. It was good, but too much to finish.

I erred in asking for Huevos Al Patron. This was a multi layer melange of bistec encebollado, huevos estrellados, sauce and some creepy pink edged and rubbery chunks of pancita. Overall, it was pretty gross. Had I thought more before ordering, there were many more than satisfactory foods awaiting a more discerning decision.

Huevos al patron

Bottom line: we like La Chata.


Food: 7

Service: 8 Service is swift.

Cost: $ 1/2 Our supper bill.

Cleanliness (restrooms included): 10

Location and Hours:
Av. Corona No. 126
Tel. 3613.1315 / 3613.0588
Horario: L-D: 7:30 am a 12:00 am

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Anniversary in Guadalajara—The Hotel Morales

Señora Cuevas and I observed our 48th wedding anniversary yesterday. We celebrated by spending an extended weekend in Guadalajara. Guadalajara was new to us. We'd been in México CDMX countless times, but never in the Big Guad. (Not counting a couple of nights in nearby Tonalá going and coming from the airport.)

We decided to stay at the Hotel Morales, in Centro. The Morales has excellent ratings on TripAdvisor and other web sites, and it's well merited. Everything about our stay was first rate and enjoyable.

The  dimly illuminated interior of the hotel is in a Spanish Morisco style. The public areas have antique furnishings. Everything is lovingly cared for and I smelled the good scent of lemon oil polish when I walked down the stairs.

On the other hand, the rooms have every modern amenity for one's comfort.

The hotels gallery of images far surpasses mine, and to view them, you merely have to click here.

We booked the Imperial Suite for 3 nights. It's a spacious corner room, tall ceilings and windows, hardwood floors, with a king bed. The big attraction for me was the ample jacuzzi in an alcove of the bathroom.

I made the most of the jacuzzi.
The jacuzzi tub filled rapidly and the water was as hot as one might wish.
The shower, in a separate stall, was very good, with near instant hot water and plentiful volume and pressure.

The bathroom also held a spacious, illuminated three door closet and a safe.

I'd booked the Paquete Lunamiel add-on, which adds "romantic room decoration", that is rose petals strewn about, kissing swans made of towels on the bed; a nice bottle of vino spumante Italiano, a fruit basket and a buffet breakfast for two. Because of our particular dining schedule, it took us a while to get to drink the wine, we barely touched the fruit, the breakfast was o.k. Sra. Cuevas found a handy mini-fridge under the large screen tv (which we did not watch.)

A corner of our suite
A cozy nook with antique radio and record player
The restaurant is pleasant and the food that we had was well prepared for the most part. Keep in mind that it's more of a convenience for guests than a gastronomic destination. The Ensaladas Mixtas were particularly fresh and good. Salmon a la plancha was well prepared.

Ensalada Mixta
Soon after we checked in, the reception desk rang our room to tell us that our taxi driver had found a cell phone, but due to "traveler confusion", I didn't realize that it was my phone. The staff later tracked down the driver, and my phone was returned the next day for a modest fee.

There is a nice, outdoor swimming pool on a terrace off the third floor, as well as a gymnasium.

Heated pool
I'd wanted a fourth night, but the hotel had no availability. However, I was able to book a double suite with two camas matrimoniales, in the new, brighter (and warmer) part of the hotel, through It was surprisingly easy and hassle free.

Patio in new section
New patio
Our second room had no window, but there was a skylight dome in the spacious bedroom. There was plenty of light, and, of course, air conditioning. The bathroom held a tub and shower, and the tub was equipped for hydro massage.

The staff is outstandingly friendly and helpful. The Sales Manager, Sra. Liliana Nila, was ever helpful. Her husband, Lic. Manuel Mejia is in charge of Guest Relations and serves as Concierge as well. He was very gracious in obtaining restaurant reservations for us, and pleasant to talk with.

The desk staff at reception are all pleasant and attractive young women who are always smilingly helpful.

There is no lack of easy, casual restaurants within a short walk.
If we are ever in Guadalajara again, the Hotel Morales would be our place to stay.

Comfort *****
Service *****
Cost: varies by room and other factors.
INAPAM discount given, on request

Hotel Morales Historical & Colonial
Downtown Core,

Ramón Corona Ave. No 243
 Zip Code 44100

Guadalajara Jalisco, México

P: +52 (33) 3658.5232 | 01800 315.5232

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Adios al Mercado de Pátzcuaro *

Fanciful Fruit Snacks at the Calle Codallos entrance to the Mercado
We have long loved the Mercado Municipal de Pátzcuaro. For color, variety and lower prices, it can't be beat. I still have a soft spot in my heart for it. But love grows old and love grows cold.

Recently, we have been more and more shopping elsewhere. We have traded color for convenience. Trudging through the mercado, carrying heavy shopping bags over broken, irregular pavement, dodging porter wagoners (how did he end up here?) and our van parked hundreds of meters away, has become pesado. Convenience implies easy and nearby parking. Our new go-to shopping place is the Tienda Don Chucho's and a fruits and vegetable stand just outside.

Why the change? Tienda Don Chucho's is located on Carretera 14 at Calle Puebla. Calle Puebla usually has easy parking, if not immediately next to the store, then a few meters up the street, where there's shade!

Don Chucho's is in the white building on the corner
Not only is there convenient parking, but the sidewalks and street pavement are in good condition.

But one of the best reasons to shop there is that the wonderfully friendly staff of Tienda Don Chucho's are service minded, and will go out of their way to help you. Don Chucho's is one of those amazing stores, where if you don't see what you want, just ask, and it's likely that they have it in stock. The amplitude of the inventory boggles the mind.

A sample of delicacies available at Don Chucho's
I have an unconfirmed impression that prices are slightly higher at Don Chucho's than elsewhere, but for me, it's worth it for the breadth of variety and the friendly service. Note: the store is very popular, and during peak hours, you may have to wait a few minutes to be attended to.

The fruits and vegetable stand, independently owned and operated by Sr. José Luis, has a sufficient selection of almost all verdura except for the most exotic.
If you like to comparison shop, you'd do better elsewhere, but José Luis' fruits and vegetables selections generally suit us. Sometimes if he doesn't have what you want, go in Don Chucho's, and it's likely that they stock it.

Another plus is that from about 8:00 a.m. daily, a matronly señora stands next to the Calle Puebla entrance to Don Chucho's, selling pan de leña from Panadería La Espiga. But you need to get there before 10:30 a.m. to get some.

Then, across the street is a string of menuderias, which I have described in part in a previous post titled Intestinal Fortitude. Testing is still in progress, but so far, I favor Menudería Lupita's and Menudería Los Dos Mundos.

We supplement our food shopping at Bodega Aurrerá, which adequately fills our needs. Not only is it conveniently located, with ample parking, the line of produce, while limited, is relatively clean and you can buy smaller quantities that keep longer. Our experience with mercado produce is that it spoils faster.


*Yes, I'm aware that "adios" is properly used when saying goodbye to the one who is leaving. But in popular GringoSpeak, it's o.k. for the one leaving to say it to the one staying. ¿Me entiendes?