Our last stop in June 2017 after Finca Altozano https://www.chowhound.com/post/finca-... before crossing the border at Tecate for home was El Lugar de Nos. I was interested in this eatery having read about its esteemed female chef/owner, Mariela Manzano, http://www.mxcnas.com/mariela/index.html . I'd also heard about the Carne 84 Horas, the mix of lamb, beef and pork cooked for 84 hours.
On a Saturday evening, the restaurant was quite busy and we were lucky to get a table after a short wait. A bread plate was offered while we studied the menus. The heavy, damp rolls seemed underbaked and doughy. They were drizzled with basil oil and also a gratuitous shot of balsamic vinegar. This would become the theme for our meal.
Next up, one of the day's specials, a crudo of fresh scallops. Buried in caramelized (and often bitter and burnt) red onions and swimming in poor quality balsamic vinegar, the sweet scallops were ruined and rendered inedible by this treatment.
Then the Cesar salad . . . my friend tasted it and said, "Prepare yourself, this is unlike any Cesar salad you've ever had." The greens were wilted and soggy from sitting in dressing too long. And yet again, topped with bad balsamic vinegar. It's one thing to add a few dots to decorate the edge of a plate, and becomes plain craziness to add balsamic to every dish in ways that can't be avoided by the diner.
The plate of Tacos 84 horas was the saving grace of this meal. A combination of red meats cooked slowly with onions and spices for 3.5 days melded into a savory mouthful that was greater than the sum of its parts. Four tacos in crispy corn tortillas filled with the carne 84 horas and natural juices were accompanied by a side of salad greens. The greens were drizzled in bad balsamic vinegar too, but were easy enough to avoid.
I also liked my fresh limonada muddled with fragrant mint. But other than the beverage and the Carne 84 Horas, this was a weird meal and a disappointment given the reputation of the restaurant and chef. DiningDiva posted this mostly favorable report in 2013, https://www.chowhound.com/post/el-lug... .Maybe my experience was a one-off or maybe El Lugar de Nos is in decline. Other opinions?
El Lugar de Nos
Avenida Benito Juarez # 384, Colonia El Refugio
Tecate, Baja California
+52 665 521 3340
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