There is nothing worse than a tourist attraction. When I am abroad I want to go where the locals go. What is the point of eating and drinking some concoction that has been custom tailored to the tastes of an unenlightened invader. I seek out the places that fulfill the essential role of nourishing the locals with soul food reminiscent of their childhoods. The kind of place that is greasy, but in a good way. A good friend of mine, Alejandro Pedro Medina, was born and raised in the Yucatan and he knows his Mexican barbecued meats. I asked him one morning where he recommended for carnitas, the Mexican version of pulled pork. He suggested a restaurant on the main strip downtown... I then clarified my request. "Where do you take your family for carnitas?" I asked. Oh what a question...
Next thing I know, the six of us (yes, Jeremias also came along for the ride) were packed into my parent's rented four seater, sub-compact Dodge. As we navigated the alleyways and neighborhoods of real Cancún, my excitement and hunger for barbecued pork flesh roasted in its own succulent, fatty juices became insatiable. We were not on the mainland of Mexico for five minutes before we arrived at the Holy Palace of Pork. Mi Ranchito is a small, family run barbecue joint that is just close enough to downtown to be easily accessible by bus or taxi, but still far enough away from the Zona Hotelera to avoid being corrupted by arrogant tourists and the greedy proprietors that usher in their company. Mi Ranchito is the perfect undiscovered gem in a town filled with cliche excuses for dining establishments such as Senior Frogs and the shockingly disgusting Hard Rock Cafe.
We met Alejandro's lovely girlfriend and soon the ordering commenced. While they do sell tacos, we were not interested. Our savvy hosts knew better... So we began ordering kilogram after kilogram of rich porky goodness. A kilo of sortido (half pork meat, half crispy pork skin, all chopped and mixed together; my personal recommendation), a kilo of pork carnitas, and of course a kilo of barbacoa. With the legs of our white plastic lawn table beginning to bend under six pounds of glistening pig and lamb meat, we began to stuff the flesh into fresh corn tacos, sprinkle chopped white onions and cilantro as if it were pixy dust, carefully added a fiery dollop of Mexican chili sauce, before finally indulging into bite after bite of carnivorous Mexican history. Wash it all down the traditional way, with a cool glass of agua de horchata, a sweet drink made of rice and almonds, and you have a truly memorable meal. Mi Rachito is located right at the intersection of Calle Nichupe and Calle Abeja. For the best pork in Mexico, Mi Rachito is clearly the kosher choice...
*A version of this article was published on worldlyeats.blogspot.com on May 18, 2009
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