Xantolo Alma-Isla Mujeres 2019

March29

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There have been a couple of new restaurants spring up in Centro since our last visit. I mistakenly judged a book by its cover as I walked by Xantolo a number of times . It occupies a corner that has previously been called “sketchy”. Boy was I wrong! The interior was beautifully appointed and the staff that enthusiastically greeted us were eager and knowledgeable. We had an opportunity to meet Daniel the owner and we knew that we would be in good hands. His English was impeccable and his business savvy vast.

We shouldn’t have been surprised as a sister restaurant to Xantolo was Lola Valentina that we have been fond of for a number of years and after a stellar visit again this year. They have a third restaurant in their family and that is La Esquina where we intended to visit as well. And when I say “family” I mean it in the truest sense of the word. The staff obviously love what they do and you get a real inclination that their enthusiasm knits them together. Our server Francesco with his mop of curls recommend his personal favourites for us to try.

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But first we decided that we were interested in sampling their two for one Margaritas. I am sometimes skeptical about these offers having consumed my fair share of watered-down cocktails. These were not only the best twofers we had every sampled, they might have been the best margaritas we had ever tried, anywhere! (I say “might” because I am committed to doing more research in this area-lol). The Pina Maracuya that I am referring to was composed of mescal, triple sec, pineapple and passion fruit. I typically opt for a straw when the margarita is rimmed with salt but this one was the perfect combination of hibiscus, chilie and salt which enhanced the complexity of the drink itself. The skilled Mixologist at Xantolo was a woman from Minnesota (just to the south of our home).

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We were also treated to an Isla Tiki and a Xantolo Sour. I had to look up the ingredients the next morning because they were both so tantalizing that I didn’t take notes, I simply sipped and sipped and sipped.

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I have now determined that the Tiki was a combination of cinnamon, banana infused Captain Morgan and hibiscus flower.

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The Sour displayed mixologist skill when Bombay gin, basil, cardamom, pineapple, egg white and Angostura bitters were blended together.

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But, to the food! Francesco recommend the Cheese Sticks and even though we wrongly considered them pretty pedestrian, when the owner recommended them as well, we thought we might be on to something. Sure enough…we were blown away! Take the typical recipe from home that we were used to and enhance it with the inclusion of chorizo sausage.  When mixed with Oaxaca cheese and then rolled in panko flakes, they were delectable. But when consumed inside the recommended tortilla and dipped into the green tomatillo salsa-they were sensational! Sister #3 and I shared one of the two sticks which would be better described as Douglas Fir Tree logs as opposed to sticks. We asked Francesco if he would like our 2nd one and he enthusiastically accepted.

xtonolo2Accompanying the cheese was a white truffle soup that was also breathtaking. Me being a truffle lover, I appreciated the subtle tastes. The soup was crowned with pork crackling and Sister #3 was in heaven.

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We had to ask our server at this point to inquire if the Chef could hold off for a bit before starting to prepare our entrees. Once we had a chance to digest while sitting back and enjoying the pedestrian traffic on Hidalgo, we were ready to explore again. Carefully considering the specialty recommendations, Sister # 3 chose the Yukatan Pork Ribs which were marinated in achiote sour orange and served with cabbage, salad and rice. When she raised her fork to tuck in, the tender meat simply melted away from the bones, it was that tender. The taste was pungent from the sour orange but made subtle with the other accompaniments.

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I was over the moon with my Poblano stuffed with beef, pork, chicken, raisins and apple and hugged with a goat cheese and nutmeg sauce.

I loved the anisette garnish making it as pretty to see as it was to eat. Even as I type this, my mouth is watering knowing that leftovers await me for lunch. I once hauled an electric frying pan to Isla with me. The good folks at Luna d’ Miel keep it for D and I and many of us are putting it to good use at Xbulu Ha.

The food, drinks and service truly made this a mountain top evening.

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

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Love never fails.

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