Grill Garden-Isla Mujeres 2023 Restaurant Feature


When you are a “foodie” (I state that gingerly since the movie “The Menu” came out), you think about food a lot and I don’t mean just when you are hungry. Sometimes, an ingredient or a dish, simply captures you and you can’t get it out of your head. Case in point: the first time I tasted Crispy Cilantro Cheese and the Pulled Pork Grilled Nachos was a year ago at Isla’s popular Grill Garden. We couldn’t wait to visit again and we asked along Sister #2 and my Bro in Law to try it for their first time.

We cheered to our precious time together. They hadn’t been on the island for six years so we couldn’t wait to express our gratitude and share our favourite places with them-Grill Garden being high on our list.

But I digress. Back to the food! I understand that gooey cheese is NOT one of ingredients that makes authentic Mexican food so popular, but for me, it is the icing on the proverbial cake.

I don’t order nachos very often on the island and I realize that it is because very few offerings are as sensational as Grill Garden’s. First off, they grill the corn chips for that extra char and smokey essence. Then they pile savoury pulled pork on top. This in turn is smothered in cheese sauce and shredded cheese and then all of it is placed under the grill again before sour cream, silky guacamole and sparkling pico de gallo are placed on top. We asked for the jalapenos to be served on the side. The cast iron frying pan comes overflowing and if you ordered some extra tortillas, you could easily make this a meal. But, since there was being shared by four, we actually made short work of them.

Grill Garden’s Crispy Cilantro Cheese are the things that dreams (perhaps obsessions) are made of. The first time I tasted cilantro was on a trip to Cozumel some thirty five years ago, so it was a “full circle” sensation for me. Once again, the tortillas make it a meal, but I love the decadent concoction so much that I could eat it with a spoon. Mozzarella cheese is breaded and fried and then placed in a bath of tomatillo sauce. Each bite (or spoonful) is a balanced one of sweet and salty, gooey and crunchy, hot and cold, well you get the picture.

In the mean time, my Bro in Law’s Smoked Short Rib Burger came along. To remind you of the succulent meat inside the bun, an extra short rib arrived on the platter. He reported that is was delish.

I recommended the Pina Colada Shrimp to Sister #2. Even though other restaurants serve larger shrimp, none are sweeter or more plentiful. They soak up some of the pineapple essence from the carved boat that they arrive in. The coconut sauce that accompany them for dipping, is sublime. They were so plentiful, that four people had tastes and there was enough to take home and serve the next evening for Valentine’s Day!

You may not have had a lot of exposure to the trend of tomahawk steaks being shared as a meal but D and I have not only enjoyed them in Italy (where they are called Steak Florentine), at The Keg Steakhouse and Bar where I have worked for fifty years (egad did I just put that in writing?) but also with our neighbour back in Winnipeg who is Argentinian and is an expert meat griller. So bring it on!

I don’t know how many ounces this baby weighed but I had a hard time lifting it with one hand. It comes with a delightful baked stuffed potato AND a hand made grilled sausage (in case you needed more meat). In truth, we would have enjoyed another bit of potato because I love a taste of carbs with every forkful of steak. This was remedied the next day when D made Sister #3 and I that Valentine’s Dinner of Surf and Turf with a generous side of mashed potato.

But this steak story is not over yet. First off, it is grilled to just under your desired doneness. Then your server expertly carves it your table, removing the bone first and then creating the perfect strips of steak, appropriately marbled and at a temperature where the fat is just starting to melt.

Upon completion, the entire steak is placed back onto a sizzling cast iron platter to sear in the juices, reheat it and add that smokiness that Grill Garden is known for. Can you imagine living next door to all those glorious aromas each night?

In the mean time, D (a Fred Flintstone wannabee), tucked into that mouth-watering rib bone. The steak is always juiciest there and D was well-pleased. Once again, the four of us could not do justice to the steak quantity justice and it too had to go home in a take out container. I kicked myself for not bringing my own container. Since refuse has to be hauled and ferried off the island, there is a movement a foot to reduce take away containers on Isla.

We obviously did not leave room for desert, so the guys sampled a lovely after dinner drink that was part liqueur, part coffee and part sweet cream. The perfect nightcap (unless you planned on sleeping that night)!

The happy and helpful staff gets every Tuesday off. Grill Garden, as it’s name indicates, was constructed in a lush and tropical garden and is open every other day (rain or shine) from 4-11 pm. You will be enthusiastically welcomed on Carlos Lazo Street (almost across from Snappers). Go, just go.

Kath’s quote: “The nerve of any man who is waking up a person in a hammock“.- Fred Flintstone

Love never fails.

posted under Isla Mujeres

Email will not be published

Website example

Your Comment: