Browsing: Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres Restaurants- Blogged in 2022

January5

We are getting ready for our annual Isla eating adventure, in one month’s time. I was nostalgic reliving the amazing food that we sampled last year. Links to the Blog Posts are in the picture captions. Now don’t go salivate all over your phone…..

Blue Bally Hoo
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Dulzara-Argentinian Bakery
Geisha Valentina
Green Verde
Grill Garden
La Freida en Rosa
Mar Abismo-Delivery Only
Neal’s Irish Pub
Oceans Isla
Rinconcito Kahlo
Sabores by Posada Del Mar
Sardinian Smile
Tiny Gecco

Kath’s quote: “I’m on a seafood diet – I see food, I eat it.” ~ Dolly Parton

Love never fails.

Isla Mujeres Restaurant-Mar Abismo from 2022 by Sister #3

December23

During the pandemic a number of folks on Isla Mujeres started cooking at home and delivering food to people’s homes and hotels. On our spring 2022 trip to the island we decided it was time to take advantage of this new trend and tried out a few of these.

My favourite by far is Mar Abismo.

You could not meet a more personable man than owner Ponce. We had a nice chat when he delivered our lunch. He told me about his wife Irene’s love of cooking and that love shone so brightly as soon as I tasted her food.

When dining in Mexico I often order enchiladas. I love them and enjoy that everyone’s version, while similar, are just a bit different from the next. I have taken a few cooking classes in Mexico in an effort to improve my skills cooking this cuisine. I learned to cook molé in Puerto Morelos and enchilada Suiza in Isla Mujeres. Since then I have tried to reproduce them at home with limited success. Part of the problem is I can’t get the exact same ingredients in Canada as I can in Isla. And even when I am able to locate things like fresh tomatillos, they have traveled a long way to my grocery and don’t have the same beautiful freshness. Also, I believe that these slow cooked sauces take years of practice to perfect. They seem so easy to the masters that were showing me how to make them.

On this day we ordered chicken enchiladas from Mar Abismo. One in molé sauce, a smoky, dark, rich gravy featuring dark chocolate and roasted chilies. The other prepared Suiza style in a green tomatillo sauce with Swiss cheese and Mexican crema topping. These were by far the best versions of these dishes I have ever had. I think about them all the time and can’t wait to return to the island to order them again and have a little visit with Ponce.

Mar Abismo is only available by deliver only on Wednesday to Saturday mornings. Their menu changes from day to day and often features chiliquilles, omelettes, and a variety of egg dishes.

Kath’s quote: “He walked funny, like every step hurt him, but don’t let that fool you. You should’ve seen him run when it was enchilada day in the cafeteria.”― Rick Riordan

Love never fails.

Isla Mujeres Restaurants- Oceans Isla, by Sister #3 April 2022

December21

Lots of things have changed along Hidalgo, the main restaurant street in Isla Mujeres’ Centro area, in the two years since I last visited. Some restaurants have changed locations, some have closed and some new ones have opened. One of the new places I was excited to try was Oceans Isla. The restaurant opened in October 2020 and seems to be fairly busy. Not surprising considering it’s popular location. A great place to people watch over brunch.

We started our brunch with their Classic Frappe. We ordered the sugar syrup on the side which allowed us to control the sweetness level. This resulted in my favourite iced coffee of my entire trip, and I had tried a few.

The first dish we savoured was the Eggs Benedict with arugula and Gouda cheese. Those who know me know I am a bit of a hollandaise snob. I really dislike the taste of packaged hollandaise and a fresh made version with just the right amount of butter, egg yolk and lemon can’t be beat. Their sauce was just perfect. As were the skillet potatoes that were crispy and well seasoned. This dish came with a side of fresh cantaloupe, papaya, and berries. The perfect balance to the richness of the dish.

The Chef suggested we try the Ocean’s quesadilla. Scrambled egg, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, spinach, and bacon on a flour tortilla. Served with guacamole and morita chilli mayo. Morita peppers are jalapeños that are allowed to vine ripen to a bright red and once picked they are smoked like a chipotle. This made for a yummy mayo that would be tasty in just about anything.

We couldn’t resist sampling the French toast so we ordered a half portion. Still a huge serving. We had version served with cinnamon roll icing. It was melt in the mouth tender and full of cinnamon toast flavour and not cloyingly sweet. I think I might prefer it for dessert rather than brunch.

The restaurant is nicely decorated and our server Renee was very attentive and had perfect English. Turns out she had attended university in the US. The portions were generous and provided us with left overs for another breakfast the next day.

Kath’s quote: “Elvis is in the kitchen and he is making eggs benedict”!

Love never fails

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.

Tiny Gecko, Isla Mujeres 2022-Sister #3

May18

The day we visited the Tiny Gecko there was an unusual event taking place on the malecon. A twenty four hour run that started at noon that day and had participants running through the day and overnight until noon the next day. As we waiting for our table we watched in amazement as the runners, now six and a half hours into their run, trotted back and forth the length of the malecon. I would think if the heat didn’t kill you the monotony would. There were other folks along the malecon cheering them on, offering high fives, which along with the music from the Tiny Ghecko must have helped lift their tired spirits. 

When we were seated the band was mid-set and the energy level was high as folks finished up their afternoon cocktails. 

We were warmly welcomed by the attentive staff and chef Paulino came out to meet us. This talented Chef from the Yucatan has lived on Isla for more than 30 years and has been with the restaurant since it’s opening four years ago. As a matter of fact Tiny Ghecko boasts a non existent staff turn over since opening, which speaks to the unity of the team and kindness of owner and philanthropist Raguel Rodriguez. 

Our meal started with an lovely amuse bouche of fresh bread rolls with a drizzle of blueberry sauce, Parmesan cheese and grated garlic. A delectable combination of sweet and savoury.

The next dish brought to our table was fried calamari rings served on a delicate tomato sauce encircle with thinly sliced beets. The squid was tender and the batter light and crunchy. 

Next came the coconut shrimp. The best I’ve had on the island. So many restaurants overcook them but these were perfect. The shrimp were huge and juicy and the coconut batter was golden and perfectly cooked. Served with mango sauce along side Chef Paulino’s signature turtle shaped rice, the plate decorated with beet mayonnaise. 

Our final dish was squid stuffed with lobster, octopus, shrimp and fish resting on a bed of little potatoes and vegetables in a pool of spinach sauce. It was so rich and delicious we took half of it home for a feed the next day. 

So while I think Tiny Gecko is a great place for an afternoon or late night cocktail and music, you are missing out if you don’t make a point to dine on the extraordinary food. The flavour combinations are creative and the product so fresh and high quality. A testament to the talents of Chef Paulino and the Tiny Gecko team. 

Kath’s quote: “A woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unless it be lobster, salad and champagne. The only true feminine and becoming viands.”-Lord Byron

Love, that is all.

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