Isla Mujeres 2024 Restaurant Features-Riconcito Kahlo

February25

Criss Medina is from a family that goes back many generations in Isla Mujeres. We first met when I visited one of her restaurants in Centro. Riconcito Kahlo and a couple spin off concepts have moved locations a few times, but I think where they having landed, the previous Sesso Locos, is the ideal spot for them to put down permanent roots.

There is something about Riconcito Khalo that reminds me that life is beautiful. The walls are filled with colourful art, full of flowers and lovely images of Frieda Kahlo, a Mexican icon. The ambience is cheerful yet sophisticated and matches the vibrant nature of the women who run it.

Criss has handed the reigns of the establishment to daughter Dani who is an absolute natural at hospitality. While her smile lights up the room, her attentive nature leaves you feeling very welcome. 

The evening we were there the live music was smooth and sultry. Cindy Lu provides jazz and blues every Friday evening. This week she was joined by Walter Fischbacher and Elisabeth Lohninger who made a stop in Isla before setting out on a European tour. 

I was in the mood for something cold and refreshing sans alcohol and their lemonada was just perfect. Icy cold, lemony and not too sweet. Like a few other restaurants I’ve experienced on Isla RK serve “botanas”, small plates of snacks to enjoy with your drink as you wait for the food. We munched on a small bowl of popcorn and shelled some salted peanuts which helped keep our hunger at bay. 

We decided to order one decadent dish and one on the lighter side. The first was the quesabirrias for which Riconcito Khalo is famous. I first tried them two years ago and couldn’t wait to have them again. Crunchy tacos with melted cheese and pulled beef that has been slow cooked and is chuck-full of flavour. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s served with a bowl of broth made using the drippings of the beef as its base.

You add chopped red onion and cilantro and a squeeze of lime to the broth and then dip your tacos in like a Mexican beef dip. After you are done, you can finish the broth as a soup. 

Our lighter dish was the aguachile suggested by Dani. Both my sis and I love ceviche so we were pretty sure this would be a hit. It was fantastic. We ordered a mild heat level. The shrimp that is cured in lime juice was tender and sweet. The cucumber, onion, and avocado slices all came together as a perfect dish to eat on tortilla chips. 

I look forward to many a meal and evening of excellent music at Riconcito Khalo. And especially to spending more time with the delightful Criss Medina and her family. 

Riconcito Kahlo is located on Medina next to Green Verde. For menu and hours check out www.mapchicks.com. Best money you will ever spend.

Kath’s quote: “Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?” — Frida Kahlo

Love never fails.

Isla Mujeres 2024 Restaurant Feature-Kokonuts/Sardinian Smile

February24

Written by Sister #3

I was joining my sister for dinner the other night and we decided to visit Kokonuts on Hidalgo as Sylvia of Sardinian Smile is now the new manager of Kokonuts. 

It’s a place I have always wanted to try and a favourite of my sister’s as it reminds her of her trips to Italy. I’m hoping to travel to Italy this year, and while I’m not likely to make it to the island of Sardinia, I’m anxious to soak up all things Italian as I dream about my trip. Owner Silvia shares her family’s traditional Sardinian dishes along with a variety of other selections that highlight the fresh products available on the island. 

Upon arrival we were greeted by Luciano who was a wonderful host. The set up of Kokonuts isn’t exactly the vibe you would expect for this fine Italian establishment. Inside feels like a bar with video screens and flashing lights. but we selected a table on the street to soak up the energy of Hidalgo.  The live music of Jesús Campuzano adding to our experience. We were grateful that Sylvia and her staff amalgamated with Kokonuts so we could still experience their food. 

We settled in with two-for-one mojitos that were a refreshing cocktail to start the evening.  We had a couple of appetizers recommended by Sylvia.

The crab cakes were crispy on the outside, tender inside and full of crab flavour. They didn’t need the tartar sauce but it was so yum that I ended up eating some of it with the cakes.

The pulpo a la gallega was amazing. A traditional dish from Galicia it reminded me of the tapas we ate in Spain. Tender chunks of locally caught octopus on tender potato slices, topped with olive oil and paprika. We added a kiss of salt to bring out its full flavour.

For our main we selected their lasagna, made with bolognese and béchamel sauces, it was rich and melt-in-your mouth.

But my favourite dish of the night was the ensalada Kokonuts, a romaine and cucumber salad with slices of crisp Granny Smith apple and chunks of mango. Topped with candied walnuts and perfectly seasoned shrimp. I will be back for that salad very soon. Served with scrumptious homemade buns it was simply perfection. 

If you need info about their hours, location and menu, please feel free to check out www.mapchicks.com

Kath’s quote: “This land resembles no other place. Sardinia is something else. Enchanting spaces and distances to travel-nothing finished, nothing definitive. It is like freedom itself.“-David Herbert Lawrence, Sea and Sardinia, 1921

Love never fails.

Isla Mujeres 2024 Restaurant Features-North Garden

February23

North Garden has long been on my favourite street in Centro-the street that leads to North Beach and perhaps that is one of the many reasons for their success. As you walk by, you can smell cinnamon buns and bagels being baked. That aroma sticks in your head but you are determined to get a prime spot on the beach (under a palm tree for shade), so you say to yourself  “On my way home, I am going to treat myself to lunch there” Then you may do, as I once did: I plunked myself in my chair from the hotel, but when the bottom fell out of it and I was splayed across the sand, I stood up and announced that I wasn’t going to stay anyway. I was on my way for breakfast at North Garden!

On this day, my brother and his wife joined me for breakfast. They had never been to North Garden and I love to get reactions to places from Newbies. They both admired the ambience of the garden. Don’t you just feel revitalized when you are surrounded by green? Instead of coffee, I opted for a green juice (chia, pineapple, cucumber, lime, orange and ginger) at which time I felt even more alive. Truth be told, I had recently shaken off the travel and settling in jags and had just started to be able to finish a sentence.

We commenced by sharing an amuse bouche of cinnamon roll French toast, with chocolate chips mixed right into the eggs. Chopped peacans garnished and enhanced the crunch. There was one each and it worked! My mouth was definitely amused and I was hungry for more. My husband D and I make a version of these at the Bread and Breakfast we sometimes help out at. I am going to suggest the B & B owners try the chocolate chips inclusion when I get home.

The breakfast menu is so extensive that I needed Brenda, one of the owners of the restaurant to guide us. She took the guess work out for us and we were delighted with her choices.

My brother had the Breakfast Bagel. Crispy bacon, orange yolked eggs, cheese, tomato, lettuce and chipotle mayonnaise on an in house baked bagel.

The bagels laid out in the window beside our table indicated all the varieties they bake. One of them could easily be breakfast itself on a future morning.

My sister-in-law was delighted when the eggs benedict were placed in front of her. It was exactly what she would have ordered if we had chosen ourselves. Their Pecana version, was expertly prepared (eggs were poached to still have a runny centre), as well as crispy bacon, spinach and tomato. They too were garnished with chopped pecans. She was slow to taste and savour, and you could definitely see that they were both enjoying their first visit to North Garden.

My breakfast plate was so laden with food that I could have shared it with at least one more person. The Hotcakes Trio came with lightly scrambled eggs as well as pancakes topped with bananas and Nutella! I honoured the kitchen by trying a couple of bites of the pancakes, but was really excited by the premise- made sausage that was also served. The chefs grilled a beautiful Argentinan style sausage made with brisket, garlic, chipotle and jalapeno chilies as well as mozzarella cheese, which deliciously bound the ingredients together. I am also a potato aficionado and the Garden’s breakfast potatoes are tossed in a delectable amount of olive oil and cooked until the inside is still sweet and the outside is crunchy. Perfecto.

Drop in anytime on your way to or from the beach!

For the hours, address and menu for North Garden check out www.mapchicks.com.

Kath’s quote: “Breakfast is everything. The beginning, the first thing. It is the mouthful that is the commitment to a new day, a continuing life.” – A. A. Gill

These sea glass hearts were collected by my friend Ann, who I have known for years but only met IRL recently. She was also dining at North Garden that morning.

Love never fails.

2024 Isla Mujeres Restaurant Features-The Point (Punto Norte)

February23
Donna and I, ready for dinner.

Upon our arrival at The Point, we were greeted at the door by a couple of handsome gentlemen who pointed out that we might want to sit in the garden instead of at the bar. It was the perfect suggestion as it was cooler and less noisy. Their names were Axel and Axael, of all things.

I wish I had remembered to take a photo of the beautiful garden setting. The restaurant is between Grill Garden and North Garden, and is in the vicinity of the pool of one of the nearby hotels.

Special martinis were suggested as a place to start our lovely evening. We chose the pina colada martini with a generous garnish of sweetened coconut and once we had shared it, selected another tropical one with natural secretions from watermelon and pineapple. Could you imagine the patience required to create a libation from juice secretions? This would be the task of beautiful Natalie the mixologist.

Our food service commenced with the house guacamole. I was intrigued by the refreshing taste and learned from Axel (the manager/server) that it was made with a secret ingredient. A graduate of Tourism and Hospitality Management, he elaborated: “not everyone likes the taste of cilantro”. I know this for a fact because even though I love it, I know of people who not only dislike it, they abhor it! The secret ingredient? Fresh mint!

When it came time to order dinner we needed assistance. We knew we wanted fish. They had fresh grouper in the house. Alex explained their commitment to fresh fish and the lengths that they will go to ensure that it is served at its peak taste. Chef Lalo can do a variety of ceviche dishes but because they spoke so highly about their grouper, we tried grouper ceviche. That is the dish photographed above. It is made with julienned strips of cucumber, red onion and cucumber but what put the dish over the top were the ribbons of mango. The grouper had been cut into the same delicate strips. I coaxed my friend to try it, and although she is not a ceviche fan, she was pleasantly surprised by how much she enjoyed it. Me, on the other hand, loved everything about the recipe and heartedly scooped it up with the generous supply of tortilla strips. (I finished eating the dish last evening as my late night supper and it was just as great).

We also requested a cooked order of the grouper. The fish absolutely sparkled in our mouths. Simply prepared in butter, pepper corns and capers, it was perched upon a medley of grilled sweet peppers. The chef finished the dish with a squeeze of lime which I would normally have appreciated, except the taste came too close to the ceviche. The leftovers are waiting in my apartment fridge for my sister in law who has been on the island for a week and has not yet eaten fresh fish.

The staff were diligent in asking us if we would like more libations. We actually turned down their offerings of tequila shots!

To ice the cake of our evening, we were offered a grilled fruit. We chose the pineapple and after they had skewered it and put it over a flame, it was carved at our table. There was a simple sprinkling of cinnamon and it did not encumber our walk home as some final dishes do.

If you get a chance to look for and visit The Point, do so. I come to the island for fresh, simply prepared, food. It is an art for a chef to have the knowledge of when enough is enough (with cooking, seasoning and ingredients) and Chef Lalo and his team more than delivered!

If you would like more details about hours, location and menu check out checkout www.mapchicksapp.com.

Kath’s quote: “Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all“. – Harriet van Horne

Love never fails.

Isla Mujeres 2024 Restaurant Feature-Raw Bar

February21

While visiting Philadelphia one year to attend a Food Bloggers conference, I had the opportunity to eat at a restaurant called “Raw” and that is exactly what you got-recipes that had been prepared without heat being a part of the process. The restaurant owners professed that it was a purer way to eat. I absolutely love carpaccio since travelling to Italy and it is one of the most popular crudos (raw food) in the world.

So when I had the opportunity to dine at Raw Bar on Isla Mujeres, I knew what I was getting myself in for. Or did I? Unlike that Philadelphia restaurant, Isla’s Raw Bar serves mostly cooked items. Fried chicken anyone?

When I invited three family members to join me for lunch, my brother actually hesitated because of the name of the restaurant. Good thing he changed his mind because we were in for a wonderful surprise. Danny and Alex did an exceptional job of taking care of us.

For libations, we started with house specials of Lychee and Mango Martinis. If you are adventurous with your martinis, you will love these.

We started by sharing a delicious sushi dish called Saoko-with fresh tuna, onion, chives and cucumber. They were garnished with a dab of a very spicy sauce and tobiko (black fish roe) which is like caviar but from flying fish, not sturgeon. Sister #3 had the first bite and cautioned us about the heat, so I begrudgingly scraped mine to the side. I say “begrudgingly” because I love black fish eggs! The sushi was tasty and perfectly prepared but what put the dish over the top was the beautifully created garnish plate with pickled ginger, marinated cucumber, wasabi and a spicy red sauce.

When it was time for our next dish, Alex had his hands full with transferring the lava stone mortar bowl to the table top-it was that hot! This was the piece de resistance -Molcajetes Mixto! Surrounding a tasty guacamole, was fried cheese, superlative sausages, rib eye steak, sauteed chicken and grilled onion bulbs. Each protein was exceptionally prepared and absolutely delectable. When accompanied by the sauce of beans, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and serrano chilies, it was the perfect bowl for 4 to share for a tasty lunch. The martajada sauce itself was beautifully balanced and so savoury that I would have loved it on top of a mound of Mexican rice. Black corn (only grown in the Chiapas region) tortillas escalated the bowl ingredients to a complete meal.

If you are a raw afficiando, fear not. There was a great selection of Shashimi and Poke Bowls as well as juices and smoothies at breakfast.

The moral of the story is-don’t judge a restaurant’s menu by its name. You too might fall in love with the Molcajetas Mixto!

For exact location, hours, and menus, please check out www.mapchicks.com. The best investment you will ever make.

Kath’s quote: “Life is too short to not eat raw food and even shorter if you don’t!” – So says the raw organic food lovers.

Love never fails.

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