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Good Eats in ZIHUTANEJO (Mex)---long

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Good Eats in ZIHUTANEJO (Mex)---long

rabo encendido | Mar 25, 2005 11:53 AM

I'm in a tight race with my fading memory in collecting these thoughts. Please excuse the occasional slippery fact or mangled term.

Five days removed from a weeklong sojourn to what must be one of the closest manifestations of paradise on our fair planet. This seaside enclave's culinary offerings were, of course, central to the experience. A geographic breakdown:

PLAYA MADERA/CENTRO

HOTEL BRISAS DEL MAR---where ms. rabo and I stayed. Food at the beachfront bistro is somewhat middling. Good cocteles and fish mains, but the wood-burning oven is not the harbinger of fine pizza one would hope for (undercooked pies, wilting under pounds of cheese). All non-chow aspects of the hotel, however, were wonderful.

TAMALES ANY---Extraordinary. As name would indicate, terrific tamales, in addition to the best sopas I've ever sampled (and I hail from LA, where good Mexican food abounds). However, the true highlight here is the pozole, a Guerrerian specialty. Large, steaming bowls of fiery broth (green or white), chock full of chicken and hominy, served with all the fixin's (chicharron, avocado, chile powder, and, yes----MESCAL!) . The stuff of dreams.

TACQUERIA LOS PAISANOS---Family run tacqueria: Dad chops up meat on a large log, daughter helps assemble tacos, Mom dishes out salsa. We hit this place up three nights in a row (after copious tequila intake) for four tacos de lengua and four tacos de tripitas (they kept running out of tacos de sesos, much to our chagrin). Fantastic stuff, with the crispy, charred tripitas, doused in a hot, peanut-based salsa, a particular favorite.

VIVA MEXICO---Our only truly indifferent meal in town. My pulpo a la mexicana was shrug-inducing, but ms rabo's fajitas en res was really quite bad---tepid, overcooked, stringy meat, the whole shebang rather flavorless.

PLAYA LA ROPA

ROSSI'S---One of the last places at the south end of the beach. Damned good huevos rancheros.

LA PERLA---Right in the middle of all the Playa La Ropa action. Ms. rabo and I split what we think was a rather large skipjack ("atun" was in the description somewhere), butterflied and grilled in what appeared to be a deep purple chili rub. Limes, frijoles, arroz, and homemade tortillas. We ravenously assembled some truly outstanding fish tacos. Gracias, Don Francisco!

LA CASA QUE CANTA---Our splurge dinner. This hotel, perched on Playa La Ropa's Northern cliffs, is one of those places that is so exclusive and sterile, you could be anywhere in the world (namely, back home in the States). High prices, exquisite service, and the setting/ambiance can't be beat. The food, however, was quite unremarkable. In retrospect, skippable.

BARRA DE POTOSI

PALAPA LAS BRISAS---By far and away, our best meal of the trip. Barra de potosi is a good thirty miles south of Zihua, a humble cluster of shack-like eateries at the South end of the ginormous Playa Grande. Said eateries our owned/operated by fishermen, their families hovering over hot stoves in the back kitchens. We literally watched our lunch being hauled in from the sea, and a half hour later were noshing on tiritas (skipjack again, thinly sliced and given a bath of lime juice and red onion, eaten raw a la ceviche) and two large huachinango frito (deep fried red snapper). Ripping the chunks of crispy, juicy fish flesh, depositing them in thick, toothsome, fresly patted corn tortillas, throwing on some shredded cabbage and salsa, and dribbling a little lime juice on the whole concoction---positively outstanding. The buzz from this incredible meal, served up in this humble, remote palapa, lasted until----well---the writing of this post.

Pardon the length here, but it just goes to show that in addition to the million reasons to visit this part of Mexico, delicious food should be high on the list, and is really just about everywhere. My post-vacation depression still holds strong.

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