Blue Bally-Hoo, Isla Mujeres 2022 by Sister #3

May24

For many years the first stop we made on Isla was Ballyhoo.  Straight off the ferry, suitcases in tow, we would stop for a cold beer and a serving of fish tacos. So I was disappointed to hear of it’s closing. 

I was thrilled to hear that last December at the same location, Blue Ballyhoo opened it’s  doors. Totally different ownership, but the same great location. Aesthetically far more beautiful, the restaurant layout has been reconfigured. It now has a nice clean new bathroom, gone are the days of using the one next to the gas station. There are additional tables set out on the beach, that has filled in what used to be water next to the dock, allowing more seating. I love to sit with my feet in the sand when I eat seaside.

There are lovely turquoise lounge chairs where we spent an afternoon enjoying cocktails and yummy guacamole. 

It was wonderful to meet Lilly who is running Blue Ballyhoo. Lilly has deep roots on Isla. Her grandfather, Mr. Lima owns the dock on which the restaurant is located. He owned Zazil ha, now known as Mia, the first hotel on Isla Mujeres. Her dad, Captain Anthony runs their four sport fishing boats, the Lilly M, the Andrea M, named for Lilly and her sister, and the Keen 1 and 2, named for her mom, a well know hotelier on the island. Captain Anthony is all about making fishing a sport and conserving fish species. He works with the BBC, National Geographic, and Guy Harvey. 

Lilly is ever present in the restaurant, building relationships with her customers in order to create an experience that really delivers. She is so grateful for the fisherman who bring in their catch to be cooked up or just stop in for a drink. She enjoys the banter of both old and new fishermen sharing stories of the past and how it used to be whilst talking about the new destinations to go fishing. 

Having lived in Isla her whole life, Lilly is a font of knowledge when it comes to the island and life on the water. Her family is all about serving visitors and providing hospitality. 

On our first visit to Blue Ballyhoo we tried a cocktail called the ‘Mahaché’. Created by Lilly it contained gin, lemonade and blue curaçao. I asked her what Mahaché means and she shared it is a rain storm. I think this talented mixologist should also create a ‘norte’ and a ‘hurricane’ and make them her signature cocktails. Blue Ballyhoo prides itself on an excellent Margarita and of course, everyone wants a marg in Mexico.

For dinner we enjoyed fish tacos. Served with tartar sauce and spicy mayo. The fish portion was more than generous and the batter was crunchy and delicious. I had to eat some of the fish before I could attempt to roll it into a taco.

We also enjoyed the fish in red Guajillo sauce with rice and veggies. The fish was Wahoo caught the previous day. The sauce was flavourful and not at all spicy.  

As a smart restauranteur will do, Lilly has selected strong and talented chefs. You can hear the pride she has in their work when she talks about the food they produce and the impeccable kitchen they run.  The food is excellent! 

The ambiance is great, good music and the vibe is light and fun. Like establishments in countries around the world there is a shortage of serving personal available. The servers were attentive but pretty new to their roles. They were trying their best. You might encounter a bit of a communication challenge but with pointing to the menu and a few hand gestures, you’ll get by. I looked at it as an excellent chance to practice my Spanish. 

I’ve always wondered what Ballyhoo meant. Lilly explained; a Ballyhoo is the fish that is used as bait for Sail-fishing, and since Isla Mujeres is a big sport-fishing hotspot and the main customers are fishermen and captains, Blue Ballyhoo just seemed to suit the place .

I wish nothing but the best to this local family and the Blue Ballyhoo. They are now open for breakfast and from the pictures I’ve seen the food looks spectacular. 

Kath’s quote: “In the hands of an able cook, fish can become an inexhaustible source of perpetual delight.”Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Love-that is all.


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