Browsing: Isla Mujeres

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.

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-El Mexicana (formerly the Raw Bar)

February21

Since we visited and wrote this post, the restaurant has been wisely renamed and is now El Mexicana.

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.

Isla Mujeres 2024 Restaurant Feature-Relax at Jax by Sister #3

February20

Regulars to Isla Mujeres will be very familiar with Jax, a place considered a cornerstone of the community. Located at the tip of Medina and Lopes Mateo, across from the round-about, facing the lovely fisherman memorial statue, it has long been, (22 years to be exact), a gathering place. You may find yourself at Jax for Island Worship on a Sunday morning or enjoying a sporting event on their big screens. Stopping for snacks after a fishing tournament or taking advantage of Hump day happy hour, followed by live music every Wednesday. Spend any time on the island and you’re likely to visit Jax. But I would highly recommend also making it a dinner destination, on a less busy day and enjoying the great food and service, taking in the lovely view and ambiance. 

The evening we visited, Sister #1 had just arrived to the island on a late day ferry. We literally dropped her cases at her apartment and were off to see our friend Jackie, the owner of Jax. To say that Jackie is overflowing with southern hospitality would be an understatement. 

We settled into a table on the second floor, to enjoy the view of the palms and a cool breeze. After a cocktail to toast our time on the island, we decided it was chilly enough to have soup for our first course.

The soup was a bit of comfort, after a long travel day. The seafood soup was incredible! The fish broth with onion, tomato and peppers, was so tasty and it was chuck-full of conch and octopus with plenty of plump shrimp. Each bowl of soup is made to order so the seafood is fresh and delicious. We especially enjoyed crumbling our tortillas into it, as they do with most soups here in Mexico. This in itself is a meal, but it had been a long day with not much to eat, so we moved on to the mains. 

A dish of three Baja style fish tacos featured tender fresh grouper in a light tempura batter along with sopero cheese, cabbage and crema. The fish at Jax is always excellent. For their fish and chips, fish tacos, etc. they only use grouper or mahi-mahi and work with local fisherman who will fish a bit further a field when necessary to bring home the catch. On the rare occasion that this caliber of fish isn’t available, they will just pull it from the menu for the day rather than serve an inferior product. 

Jax also offers ahi grade tuna. We had the pepper grilled version that was served with rice and fresh vegetables, accompanied by wasabi, soy, and pickled ginger. 

Talk about a cheeseburger in paradise, we indulged in the Original Jax Burger piled high with all the fixings. Ours had onion, tomato, lettuce, fried mushrooms, jalapeños, avocado, pickles, and American cheese! Served with piping hot French fries, this half pound ground sirloin burger is all meat-cooked on the grill with pepper and a particular seasoning blend.  This seasoning is a testament to Jackie’s commitment to good ingredients. When this spice mix was nowhere to be found on the island she made a trip to Texas to purchase it, along with a couple of other impossible to find items. She tells us that her apartment now looks like a bodega. 

The avocado shrimp salad was lovely and refreshing. Chopped greens with slices of perfect avocado were topped with giant poached shrimp (8 of them!) and served with a remoulade sauce, whose flavour brought out the sweetness of the shrimp perfectly. It’s easy to understand why this is a crowd favourite. 

Jackie is proud of the drinks and food they have created at Jax, but she shared that the thing she is most proud of is her incredible staff. Many have been with her since shortly after opening. A testament to the fine and generous soul she is. 

Kath’s quote: “You can’t just eat good food. You’ve got to talk about it too. And you’ve got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food“.-Kurt Vonnegut

Love never fails.

Day 15 Isla Mujeres Trip Report-with a visit to Pizza Mikes

April17

As I mentioned, I hadn’t slept well that first night so on this morning, I got up, took a glance of the sky just before sunrise, and went back to bed.

The pool and area surrounding the pool was quite lovely. With turquoise every where, I knew we had come to the right place.

The view from the pool was perfection.

By the end of our stay, we got to know many of our neighbours really well and are keeping in touch now that we are all home. But that first day. we whispered to each other because one couple didn’t speak at all and the other pairs, just amongst themselves. We wondered that day, if this would always be the case.

We enjoyed our sunset and then walked down the street to Pizza Mikes. Since we had not seen our friends IRL for a number of months, the day was filled in with a shop at Chedraui and catching up on each others lives.

This pic was another of my favs from the trip. Being a lover of everything Italian and especially Italian food, it is a glimpse of what heaven looks like to me.

Speaking of heaven, Mike’s garlic knots were divine!

We love mussels and order them often when dining. Mike’s were supposedly from Chile so we definitely had to check them out. Steamed in white wine and more garlic, they were sensational! I could see walking to Mike’s for another bucket in our future. The mussel meat was plump and juicy and the spinach and parmesan the perfect garnishes. We were off to a great start.

We read on the menu that Mike’s stuffed crust pizza was award winning, so trying one was a must.

The pie was absolutely amazing. Stuffed with so many good tastes, it was surprisingly light and crispy! Having never experienced Mike’s except for his pizza delivery, we were absolutely smitten with his offerings.

A stroll home, took the edge of our consumption before heading to our books and sleep. We were grateful anew for our good friends and the great blessings of being together again.

Kath’s quote: “I want to live in a world where the need for pizza belittles that of war.” Jason Barnett

Love never fails.

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