Thursday, April 7, 2011

Places to Eat

1) Where us locals eat: $7.00 a person (or less...and includes your drink) - the taxis all know the locations
        Note: Many restaurants which took credit cards in the past are not taking them now. This is due to the favorable exchange rate offered by the dollar. It is best, to get your best value, to always pay in pesos. Never assume the restaurant will accept credit cards.

a) The Municipal Pier – For your fishing lunch, get to the pier about 15 minutes early and have your lunch made up at one of the tables set up by the locals. It is excellent traditional food, stuffed into a fresh hot roll of bread (balillo...pronounced ba-lee-yo). The bread is still hot and only minutes old. Three balillos will fill up a very hungry large man...for a cost of less than $4.00. You can also get coffee, orange juice and breakfast rolls.
       Also at the pier, where the girls have the tables set up for the lunches and coffee, is a small store on the corner you can buy beer and other snacks.

b) Tamales Any- In Zihuat Centro and Ixtapa. Excellent traditional food, with large portions. Order a couple of tamales with corn husks, a bowl of pozole, and a taco plate, and a chile relleno. It will easily feed 4 and everybody should share. Share a pitcher of Jamaica (Jara) water.

c) Street Vendors - On Sunday evenings, it is traditional for the locals to go to  the basketball court down next to the beach in Centro. Many north of the border people feel it is the best dinner offered in Zihuatanejo on Sunday nights. The vendors there sell excellent traditional foods like tamales, corn on the cob covered with mayo and fresh cheese (see photo), tacos, and empanadas.

d) Tacos al Pastor- There are several locations. Get 3 tacos each (1 orden) - they are small tacos, an order of alhambra or shoot chuey each. Share a queso fundito. Be sure to get an order of the onions (they are incredibly sweet). Open at 7PM.

e) Pollo Feliz- As you enter into the center of town… on the right side and just past Copel. The second one is across the street and close to Scotia Bank in Centro. Great chicken: barbecued over mesquite charcoal. Get a side order of beans and make your own tacos. A chicken order comes with tortillas, salsa, and marinated onions. It is excellent and I highly recommend eating there...or great for the boat lunch.

f) Pollo Feliz Takeout- Across from the City Hall and at the Fuente the Sol lateral. Better prices and it is the same food as the two in Centro.

g) Doña Licha’s Cocina Economica- My personal favorite, behind the Mercado and near Plaza Kiota. Excellent lunch and breakfasts. Open from 8AM till 6PM. Get either a small or a large jara (hara) of Jamaica (ha-my-ca) or a fresh squeezed juice. It is large, clean, and airy. Order the specials of the day off the typed slip taped on the right side of the menu, or order traditional. I like the huevos campanchanos -scrambled eggs mixed with ham, bacon, and chorizo. It also comes with hand made tortillas, beans and rice. 45 pesos, including your beverage, and you will be stuffed. The chicken mole is excellent, as well as the chilaquiles (see photo) and enchiladas granitadas (covered with cheese). This is another place you can eat at every day and not get bored with the food.

h) Tacos Canasta- Another favorite of mine.
Next to the store Cacuate. They open about 9:00 in the morning and sell out by 2:00. Six tacos will fill a man up. Order two of each - carne desabrada (shredded beef), barbacoa (beef traditionally cooked in an oven below ground), and papa con chorizo (potato). Six tacos, and a fresh squeezed orange juice cost 38 pesos (about $3.50). They also have chicken and mole, frijol, and chicharon. 

i) The Centro Mercado - has several small stall type restaurants. You can’t go wrong with any of them. The Cocina Economica No. 30 (see photo) is my favorite. A chile relleno, with rice and beans, and handmade tortillas, is about 50 pesos. This also includes a glass of jamaica water.

j) Another stall type restaurant in the Mercado I frequent specializes in carnitas. It is located near the back, facing the parking area and street and called Carnitas de Uruapan. 

k) In Ixtapa there is a great taco place, but it is only open for late breakfast / early lunch. They open about 9:15 and are usually sold out by noon. Located on a diagonal across from the Holiday Inn, on the back side of the Ixtapa commercial area, they have the corner location of the building. They usually have 8 to 11 varieties of tacos, including cabeza, tripas, barbacoa, bistec with papas, chorizo with papas, carne in chipotle, rajas, chicaron, and rice with whole boiled eggs. Are the tacos good? In a few short hours they sell 1,200 tacos, and a few hundred more when the Mexican Nationals are here on vacation.

l) Chinese foodThe Chinese takeout across the street from Scotia Bank will give you a very good value for your meal in terms of large portions and very reasonable prices. Order a plate with two items (all plates also come with your choice of either fried rice or lomain) for a cost of 30 pesos. Two people can get different items and share. Just be careful if they say an item is picoso…it means it is spicy hot…like in real hot. You will have left overs. 

2) Places which are a little more expensive:

a) CoconutsOne of our better and more established eating places. Lunch or dinner. It was too expensive to recommend, but has recently been sold, remodeled and is under new management. I am waiting to hear some feedback (pun intended) on how good it is.

b) Frank's (Ixtapa) - Frank is Canadian. His establishment does excellent Italian and Mexican dishes. Very good service, sports bar, excellent food, and reasonable prices.

c) La Perla- Playa Ropà. Good food, moderate prices, but the portions are a little on the small side for the main course meals. I like to just go there, get a table under a palapa on the sand, and order off the appetizer menu. Ask for Francisco (one of the family members who owns the restaurant) and ask to see his excellent selection of Cuban Cigars in a huge walk-in humidor.

e) Lety’s – Great sea food and extremely reasonable prices. Near the municipal pier in Zihuatanejo, but on the other side of the foot bridge (on the same road to Casa Bahia). Also, an outstanding place for your fresh caught fish to be cooked the way you want it.
        Lety's coconut shrimp is the most popular, and outstanding (see photo). My wife (Rebeca) and I get the stuffed fish fillet, or a shrimp filled chili relleno or an order of coconut shrimp, and then share.
           According to surverys on the internet discussion boards, Lety's is the No. 1 location for seafood in all of Ixtapa / Zihuatanejo.
           Lety’s is where we sell Rebeca’s cook book “Las Cocinas Tradicional de Zihuatanejo – A Cook Book” (and yes it is in English). Several of Lety’s recipes are in the book, including the coconut shrimp and seafood chili rellenos.

f) Mama Norma and Debora – (Ixtapa): Good variety on the menu, good service, good food, good portions, good prices. Not a tourist trap, and a "can't miss" if you are based in Ixtapa. Open for breakfast through dinner. Also owned by Debora is a small place called Chili Beans on the main road in Ixtapa. The same service, same (abbreviated) menu and same quality of food is served as the larger main restaurant.

g) Hija de Capitan (the Captain’s Daughter) - Small upstairs local. Large portions, good food, good menu variety, good prices, good service. If you are craving a hamburger and fries or onion rings...this is the place to go. They actually have enough confidence in their Angus meat they will ask if you want it cooked medium rare, which is incredible when compared to the over-cooked dried leather tasteless hamburger meat I have had to eat the last 13 years. (Note: For hamburgers, I realize some people like Ruben's in Ixtapa, but I am not impressed with their food or tourist prices.) The Hija also has excellent BBQ ribs, steaks, lasagna and pasta. Located in Centro.

h) Jungle Pizza - No. 1 on the internet discussion boards for the place to eat in all of Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, with Lety's being No. 2. This is mostly due to the fascination to American junk food (which Lety’s is not). And, the fact most people bring the family to vacation here, with kids ages 3 through 88 all loving pizza. My wife (Rebeca) and I took realtor John Murphy’s suggestion when we saw him there our 1st time and had the vegetarian pizza with pepperoni added. It was excellent. Since then, we haven’t ordered anything else so I can’t help you with other recommendations.  Located on the left side of the road going to the end of Playa Ropa. Open from 4 to about 10:30 or 11:00 PM. Closed on Tuesdays. 554 - 7839

i) El Mirador - Mirador means a lookout point with a great view. Located on the 2nd floor above Arturo's corner store, the view is all the way to the end of the municipal pier. Frank, an American, is the manager and has developed quite a menu. And, excellent service is the norm. It is not just a great place for a cold one after a day of fishing, but great for dinner also. The next time you are on the pier in the daytime, stop in for a cold michalada and ask Frank for a menu to review. You will be back that evening.