Browsing: Isla Mujeres

Grill Garden-Isla Mujeres 2022

April11

In the spring of 2020, it looked like our Winnipeg Jets might make the play offs. As a result, my family and I made a number of visits to Snappers on Carlos Lazo in March of that year to watch their games. As we did so, we would peak past the gate at the construction site of a new restaurant, wondering what would eventually be raised up there. Well, as you know, the NHL was soon cancelled and the world shut down for a couple of years. That is, with the exception of Fernando the owner of the North Garden. He found a way to keep locals employed with construction and also take care of his staff. This lovely story was told to us by Pablo, the amazing server/manager who took care of us recently at Grill Garden.

We commenced our evening with beautifully crafted cocktails- a Hibiscus Mojito on the right and Mezcalitas Cilantro concoction on the left. The latter was rimmed with chile powder was sweet, smoky and so refreshing. The Hibiscus Mojita with muddled mint, wasn’t sweet but was perfectly fresh and smooth.

You may recognize the Crispy Cilantro Cheese starter from North Garden. OMG! The goey gouda and tomatillo sauce was perfectly balanced. When scooped up with white tortilla triangles-sensational! I had to restrain myself.

Pulled pork tacos had a liquid cheese base, stacks of toasted tortilla chips, ribbons of pulled pork, pico de gallo, guacamole and sour cream (a rarity on the island). We could have been satisfied with these hearty starters for our dinner!

As we took an eating breather, we had a look around the gorgeous interior. The bar was stunning and check out the cool wine rack!

More food adventures were ahead. The Whole Fried Fish took fresh catch to a whole new level (literally). The crispy outside and perfectly cooked flesh was delicious unadorned when plucked from the fish frame with our fingers. When I used my fork and added the silky coconut rice-sublime! A citrus salad lay under the fish cradle. I detected lime, orange, tomatillo, cucumber and cilantro. Amazing!

Pablo pulled around a cart for the table side preparation of our Tomahawk Steak (not actually on the menu).

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He skillfully sliced the beef on a diagonal. This ensured the tenderness of the well marbled, medium rare steak. Once he flamed it with a generous glob of seasoned butter in a pre-heated cast iron pan, he gently transfered it back to beautiful wooden platter.

The stuffed baked potato and delicately tossed greens were perfect alongside.

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Had we not been absolutely stuffed, I would have gnawed on the bone!

We declined coffee and chatted with Pablo about our family back home being in the craft beer business. He delighted us with mini beer shooters made with Liqueur and Pina Colada!

We were very impressed with the attention to details in the interior decor.

The restaurants was cozy and inviting in spite of it being completely in the open air. I would be concerned if it was a chilly rainy night but such was not the case on this evening or our entire three week visit! We longed to go back and visit Pablo some more, enjoy the decor and try some other items on the menu. Next year. There is always next year.

Grill Garden was a perfect and memorable evening from start to finish!

Kath’s quote:“To see the butcher slap the steak before he laid it on the block, and give his knife a sharpening, was to forget breakfast instantly. It was agreeable too – it really was – to see him cut it off so smooth and juicy. There was nothing savage in the act, although the knife was large and keen; it was a piece of art, high art; there was delicacy of touch, clearness of tone, skilful handling of the subject, fine shading. It was the triumph of mind over matter; quite.”Charles Dickens (1812-1870) ‘Martin Chuzzlewit’

Love is all.

Green Verde-Isla Mujeres 2022

April8

We have enjoyed a number of delicious meals at Greenverde over the years. A bestie of ours declares that it is the best restaurant on the island.

We started our lovely evening off with a pina coolada and a classic margarita. I do love artisan cocktails but go back to the classics like a good old coconut/pineapple cocktail, again and again.

Another classic-guacamole, was lightly seasoned with onion, tomato, fresh lime, garlic and salt & pepper. The result was so light and refreshing. Why muck with perfection and in my mind an avocado is nature’s perfection.

D and I had this idea about combining our dinner choices for a “surf and turf” so he ordered the Tampequena and I the Shrimp Mezcal.

Our beautifully plated dinners didn’t look quite so pretty after the merging of our dishes but the tastes were divine!

D’s skirt steak had been grilled with strips of poblano pepper then topped with a mixture of sweet onion, corn, cotija cheese and sour cream. His plate was then laden with more of that amazing guacamole, chilaquiles, beans and quesadillas. The steak itself was so flavourful and tender it was scrumptious on its own and made more so with all the fixings.

My shrimp had been marinated in a green style sauce (we were dining at Greenverde remember!) with Mezcal and a touch of butter. The dish was enhanced with rice but a side plate of corn, tostone banana and sweet potato also came along. What a feast!

Friends tucked into a generous portion of salmon (took home half) crowned with hibiscus sauce and bedded onto refried beans and fresh asparagus.

They also selected a tricolor of moles: Green Mole with Pork, Yellow Mole with Beef and Red Mole with Chicken. Green Verde’s mole recipes are authentically made with toasted chilies and vegetables. The tortillas were smothered in cream, cheese and a variety of seeds. The sauces were so delectable, our friend would have loved more.

My pina coolada had gone down so quickly that I ordered a glass of wine with dinner. They had a great selection of my favourite Chilean wines and I appreciated their generous pour.

Their authentic flan came with 4 spoons and we admired the creaminess and subtle sweetness along with its silky texture as we gobbled every speck of it off the plate!

Kath’s quote: “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”-John Ruskin

Love is all.

Rinconcito Kahlo-Isla Mujeres 2022

April6

If you go by cab tell your driver “A unos pasos de Cable Wizz, Sobre le Avenida”. In English: “A few steps from Cable Wizz on Medina, east side heading south”.

I took a picture of their sandwich board so you could see the prices yourself. Unbelievable value!

This amuse bouche arrived at the table without our requesting it-a peppery sauce and a squiggle of cheese made for a salty treat to accompany the delicious non-alcoholic beverages we selected.

Dos Frida Vivas please! Pineapple, lime, mint and cucumber. So refreshing!

Not like any quesadilla you have had before.The pork filling is slow roasted in a pit lined with hot rocks and covered with banana leaves. When ready, the pork is stuffed into soft corn tortillas and grilled in some of the drippings from the roasting process.The result is a flat crunchy quesadilla packed with savoury pork. Perfect when plunged into the dipping sauce.

These condiments arrived first. It was explained that they could be used to enhanced the dipping sauce..

We added lime, cilantro and chopped white onion to the light bean broth. We declined the caliente sauce.

The perfect marriage of tastes.

Los Gardos are beautifully butterflied shrimp (shell on) crowning amazing guacamole (I think it was the refreshing lime that balanced the rich avocado), pork pieces (you can swap for chicken), and a smear of refried beans topping a crispy taco sphere.

I had a hard time using a knife and fork so I threw down my utensils and picked it up. I was tutored by D and was grateful for the generous supply of napkins.

The decor of the family restaurant is beautifully assembled. The owner’s son explained that his mom is “slightly” obsessed with the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. You could hear the pride in his voice when he also explained that all the recipes served on their little corner were his mother’s. He also mentioned their exciting plans for a Centro location were ahead. And that time has come!

Kath’s quote: “I am that clumsy human being, always loving, loving, loving. And loving. And never leaving.”-Frida Kahlo

Love is all.

Neal’s Irish Pub-Isla Mujeres 2022

April4

During the months in between our visits to Isla Mujeres, we crave Mexican food and put a squeeze of lime and cilantro leaves on every opportunity available. So it might seem strange that our first restaurant visit on Isla Mujeres was to an Irish Pub.

We traveled to Ireland a number of years ago and loved the food, libations and the local music. The same could be said for Neal’s.

At our server’s suggestion, we started with a Bahama Mama and a classic Margarita, neither of these offerings were available in Ireland but it was a refreshing way to start the evening.

Our appetizer of creamy spinach and artichoke dip was served in a carved out bread bowl. The Italian bread-sticks and Mexican tortilla chips made the appetizer an international dish. We were so enamored with it, we even ate the bowl.

To add to the ambiance, a local sax musician serenaded us throughout dinner.

I took the opportunity to sneak a peak into the glassed-in kitchen, to view one of the chefs carefully plating our dinners.

The chef”s twist on a classic Shepherd’s Pie:-it was topped with a tasty, crispy potato crust rather than pastry. The scrumptious pie was served with honeyed carrots and mushy peas (which were surprisingly delicious!)

I recommend that if you go to Neal’s and order the Reuben sandwich, you make plans to share it or take half home with you as I did. It was so huge, I could hardly take a chomp out of it. The beef had been house-smoked and enhanced with a subtle sauerkraut, gooey Swiss cheese and a side of Russian dressing for dipping.

The process of curing and smoking the beef commenced 10 days prior and concluded with 4 hours in a slow oven. I expected something quite different, but was very impressed all the same.

D and I were both so stuffed it would have been nice to walk back to our suite on the Airport Strip, but our helpful server had already called us a cab and we were risked away, enjoying a cool breeze coming off the sea.

Kath’s quote:  “Bless us with good food, the gift of gab and hearty laughter.  May the love and joy we share, be with us ever after!” – Irish Blessing

Love is all.

Lola Valentina Isla Mujeres 2020

July29

We have enjoyed Lola Valentina’s for many years. On my visit and subsequent blog post last year http://foodmusings.ca/restaurants/lola-valentina-isla-mujeres-2019/, I linked to a number of other wonderful dining occasions.

On this visit we started with a sampling of their artisan cocktails.

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In the red tiki glass was a Classic Mai Tai concocted of Bacardi Blanco rum, Bacardi Anejo rum, Captain Morgan rum, orange liquer, orange juice, pineapple juice and lime juice. It was stellar!

Not to be outdone in the accompanying green tiki glass came an Aloha Isla, made from Captain Morgan rum, Malibu rum, Licor 43, lychee and passion fruit. I couldn’t decide which one I loved more.

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We started food service with guacamole garnished with green apple, bacon goat cheese balls! The apple provided sweet crunch, the bacon savoury saltiness and the cheese ball a creamy pungent hit. OMGoodness! We hoped the rest of the evening was going to be this delicious.

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I enjoyed a second cocktail of an avocado martini. Since avocados are supposed to be good for you, I pledged to drink one a day (JK).

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One of the first dishes we sampled was from the “Bowl” section of the menu. The Mexican Bowl was chock full of rice, corn, cheese, avocado, pico de gallo, green salsa and sour cream. The hanger steak which occupied a quadrant of the bowl was so tender and perfectly prepared. Lorena who was a part of our gang LOVED IT!

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We also enjoyed tempura cauliflower tacos that were a sensational vegan choice. Meat? Who needs meat! They were accompanied by yummy cole slaw, guava/chipotle sauce and guacamole.

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Another tempura taco choice was Lola Valentina’s shrimp tacos. The shrimp were enormous and snapped when you took a bite-my barometer that they were fresh and perfectly cooked.

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The first time I ever saw Lola Valentina’s Pablano Fish it was on the table of a diner next to me. I was so enthralled by the dish and how he avidly dived into it, that I asked him how it tasted. Well he oohed and awed and I knew that I just had to order it. Unfortunately by the time it was set down in front of me, I was too full to make a dent in the dish. I did appreciate the creamy stew with shrimp and vegetables crowning amazing mashed potatoes. But the sauce-the poblano sauce was simply divine! Lucky for me I had some family members sitting close by who agreed to help me eat the dish because I absolutely refuse to waste food.

Lola Valentina’s consistently delivers exceptionally well prepared food. Whether you are taken care of “Morning Abel” or “Evening Abel” you will be in very good hands.

Kath’s quote: “You cannot make everybody happy. You are not a taco.” -unknown

islaheart

Love never fails.

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