La Travieza - Tapas Bar and Tequila Collection
I had wanted to eat at Querétaro's most popular restaurant, El Mesón de Chucho El Roto, but there was a long wait. The hostess suggested their new Tapas restaurant upstairs. I was escorted around the corner, up the stairs and to a window table with a view of the Plaza. The first of several bars had a small stage with a piano, but there was only music on the weekends. However, what stunned me was the top 6 feet of high-walled ceiling: the walls were lined with over four hundred different brands of tequila. "Could be more," said the hostess. The next bar was full of nicely dressed couples and businessmen.
The pianist from below could be heard through the floor length windows overlooking Plaza.
The menu was small but had a nice variety of tapas. Menu started with three salads, including a Caesar, US$6.30 and a "red tuna" sashimi salad for US$9.50. There were 2 steaks, a black peppered beef filet for US$7.30 and a salmon filet for $8.50.
The four baguette sandwiches ranged from grilled chicken breast with brie cheese, $7.00, to Serrano ham and cheese for $7.40. I had the Arrachera, a tender, thinly sliced marinated steak, sliced thin, and loaded with avocado, cheese and a chipotle mayo, US$7.00. The baguettes were small, but huge on flavor.
The tapas looked great and priced individual for $2.30 or "Special," enough for 4, for $9.40. The were the same ingredients as the other dishes: salmon, jamon, chicken and several others. I sampled the arrachera again since it was the most tender and flavorful I have tasted. The tapa was a sliced bread baguette, hollowed out like a cup, toasted, and filled, overflowing, with arrachera.
The 3 "Pinchos" were foot long grilled brochettes of either arrachera, $7.20, beef filet, $7.40, or grilled shrimp, US$9.20. The last page of the menu had a large selection of beer (including one without alcohol) and wine by the glass, ranging from $4.30 to $7.20.
The next morning, I returned to El Mesón de Chucho El Roto for breakfast. Unlike last night, the place was empty. Seems that most Mexicans don't have an early, full breakfast, but start their mornings with hot cocoa or coffee with sweet rolls.
The 6 "paquetes," or combination breakfasts were the standard choices and ranged in prices from $5.00 to US$8.40. Choices were from eggs, steaks and a sausage dish. All included fruit or juice, toast or rolls, and coffee or tea.
The dinner menu was so exciting, I must return to Querétaro just to eat dinner at El Mesón de Chucho El Roto. Here is small example of why I will return: Sopa de Habas con Nopales (US$4.00) was a bean soup with sliced cactus paddles and chile pasillas.
There was an entire menu section of Molcajetes, which are actually the traditional lava-stone bowls for grinding spices. These bowls are fired in a kiln-type oven, removed when red hot, and filled with sauces, vegetables and meats. The molten molcajete cooks the food as the bubbling bowl is brought to your table. The presentation is spectacular. Prices range from US$12.90 for chicken to $17.00 for shrimp.
Most of the seafood was on the daily specials and were available in season. Early seating is not problem, but by 8:30pm, expect a wait.