This past weekend we had a very nice visit to Valladolid. It was our first trip there so we really aren't experts but following were our food experiences.
We had read great things about Naino so on our first evening in Valladolid we walked the few blocks from Hotel El Meson Del Marques to the restaurant. The food was original and very well prepared and the price was very fair. But while the service was friendly and very attentive, the food came out of the kitchen at an excruciatingly slow pace... like 2 ½ - 3 hours slow. Towards the end of the meal, we met the owner/chef who had just walked into the place after having taken his first night off in over a month leaving the kitchen in the hands of his sous chef. I felt bad for the guy. Everybody deserves a night off now and then but IMHO, the next time the chef takes a night off, he should give the sous chef another set of hands in the kitchen to better avoid the delays we experienced.
Despite those delays; on the night we ate there, the food was good enough that we would probably give it another try on our next visit to Valladolid but only if the chef was in the kitchen that night.
We were served:
Unlimited non-alcoholic beverages – Jamaica (Hibiscus tea), Horchata (Sweet Cinnamon Rice Milk), Tamarind
Tomato soup – very clean flavors
Bruschetta with soft cheese and papaya puree - delicious
Peanuts – not normally a part of the set but comped to hold us till the main was served
Roasted pork – tender slices in a nice sauce with vegetables
I was almost asleep by the time dessert came and at the moment can’t recall what it was.
The total price before tip was $120 pesos per person for the 4-course set or at the current exchange rate; just over $8.
We had a terrific dinner at Taberna de los Frailes
Sopa de Lima – very clean flavors.
Grilled watermelon with a mozzarella type cheese – a dish we were not familiar with but plan to try and replicate at home.
Cochinita Pipil – excellent quality, huge portion and significantly less greasy than many others I’ve tried. The owner told us that they not only roast the whole pig in banana leaves, they use the juice from the stalk of the banana plant in the marinade.
Dzotobichay - tamale stuffed with pumpkin seeds and wrapped in the leafy Yucatan green Chaya. This is our favorite vegetarian entrée in Yucatan restaurants.
We noticed a distinct difference in the tortillas from what we are used to seeing in Quintana Roo and asked the waiter if they were making them in house. He said it was the only item they serve that wasn’t made in house but that they buy them twice per day from a local baker and that in Yucatan, they do not use masa harina in the recipe but rather corn meal that has not been treated with lye. Very moist.
We tried a sample of MAYAPAN Anejo, a locally produced Agave (tequila like) product made with “artisanal techniques”. I was glad to have tried it but to be perfectly honest; I still plan to fill my alcohol import quota on our flight back home with my old favorite Centenario Anejo. We enjoyed a reasonably priced Chilean Carménère with our meal.
This is not a budget meal but given the level of service, the atmosphere and the quality of the food, really not outrageous either. I would say a good value for the quality.
Taberna de los Frailes is located at Calle 49 #235 / Next to the Convent of San Bernardino de Siena, Valladolid 97780, Mexico / +52 985 856 0689
The guest breakfast at Hotel El Meson Del Marques included coffee, fresh orange juice, toast, a very nice fresh papaya jam along with packaged butter & jams and a choice of 5 or so traditional Mexican egg dishes. One morning it came with a side of fried banana slices and the other with really nice pan-fried potatoes. The setting around a central courtyard is lovely and the service was good. Coffee refills seemed a little slow but that’s probably more a comment on our own personal need for morning caffeine than a fair criticism of the service. The servers were very friendly and the food was good. I did think it was a little odd that all the male servers wore hair nets while none of the female servers did. There must be a story behind that.
We also had lunch one day at the hotel and took the opportunity to try the Longaniza, a semi-dry smoked sausage that is a Valladolid specialty. I liked the flavor a lot but it was a bit too dry and very rich. As I was eating it the feeling came over me that if I were to finish the entire very large portion that I would probably be fighting heart burn for the rest of the afternoon so I uncharacteristically left about 1/3 of the sausage on the plate.
Our other main at lunch was a pollo pibil. The flavors were there but the chicken was not cooked to the fall of the bone texture that we expected. Not bad but not great either. But we did love the squash blossom creamed soup that we shared as an appetizer. That with some bread, a hunk of cheese and a nice wine would have made a great lunch.
Our bus out of town was leaving at 1 pm on Sunday so on our way back to the hotel to pack up we stopped in at Las Campanas to pick up an order to go for the ride. It’s located on a corner across the street from the central plaza. As I sat watching people walk down the sidewalk while waiting for our order I noticed the beautiful old entry doors. Even though it was a take away order, the waiter who took my order was very friendly.
As the bus neared Tulum, we opened our lunch bag and were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food. We had a club sandwich, which came with French fries, a Torta Hawaiiana (pork sandwich with pineapple, mushrooms and other vegetables) and a mixed fruit plate.
We were the envy of the ADO.