Two restaurants I've been watching and not going to for a while now. Both of them on Aquiles Serdan between Bravo and Allende.
The first one called itself jarrock cafe, a Spanish spelling of Hard Rock Cafe. We called it the paintbrush restaurant because the entrance was decorated with kitch including used brushes strung on a line with bright paint still coating the bristles. Never did get around to exploring the pace and now it is too late. It has become a still kitchy art and gift gallery.
The other restaurant in the block between Rosales and Allende is the restaurante familiar Paisa. They must be doing something right, because the restaurant does not look like it did when I first noticed it over a year ago.
The sign announcing the fact that one can eat here is now professionally painted instead of the hand lettered whiteboard. Vines now completely cover the mesh delineating the property, making for a lush looking and cozy dining space. The low palapa roof has been braced in places where it used to sag and the beer distributor has favored them with their best silkscreened white resin tables.
When I walked in, a woman in jeans and a denim shirt embroidered with the restaurant logo greeted me. Told her "just one today" and she asked me if the one was to be a pacifico or corona.
The dining area is raked sand, twelve tables under the palapa roof, two televisions and an ice machine. Autographed soccer jerseys on hangars adorned the poles supporting the roof. The kitchen was semi out of sight. Another person dressed similarly to my server slouched at the table closest to the telly.
The menu, laminated trifold, started with breakfasts and lunches. Eggs, french toast, molletes (beans and cheese plus guacamole sometimes on a split hard roll) and tenderloin tips prepared a number of ways.
There were also steaks, fish, seafood including aguachiles and campechana. Oh, and of course, beer. Plus limonada and refrescos, malteados and coffee. The tabletop setting included five different bottles of salsa--two hot, one for fish, one worsestershire sauce and one more but can't remember.
After I ordered my filete de res en salsa albañil and a limonada I settled back to watch the movie on tv. While waiting, I munched on some totopos and roasted tomato salsa. Salsa good, totopos straight out of the bag. The beef was relatively tender and bathed in a sauce that included bacon and strips of serrano chiles. Some limes to squeeze over the plate would have been nice.
Speaking of plates, these were high fired china plates. Not fancy but not the dreaded melamine. The tortilla basket had flour and corn/flour tortillas.
Decent meal, probably more fun with a group rather than a single diner, glad I finally stopped in.
Paisa, on Serdan between Rosales and Allende. Breakfast and lunch.
I invite you to click on the title for someone's definition of the word paisa. I had nothing to do with it.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
When arriving in or leaving La Paz via local bus the common point for all routes is at the bus station on Ocampo at G Prieto. If you are still hungry after your trip or want to fortify yourself before you travel and want other than street vendor offerings, one casts about for the bus stop restaurant.
In this case, restaurant Girasol fit the bill, being directly across the street from the bus station. I am not implying that the place has anything to do with the transportation hub, but nothing else can logically explain its reason for existence.
I've passed by many times but never had the luck of finding it open until last week. The painted hours of operation and the propaganda painted on the entrance wall indicate breakfast and lunch, open from 8 until 2. I arrived about 115 to find the door open.
The place itself is small with room for two tables plus a soda cooler(empty and warm), tv on the wall and the efficiency kitchen area. There was one person dining alone when I arrived who got up and carried her unfinished plate to the kitchen and greeted my by informing me mole or enchiladas were my only choices that day, daring me to stay and eat.
"Enchiladas please" in my best spanish to the cookserver. Looking around, I appreciated the loving care someone had taken to decorate the interior with the bright and welcoming sunflower.
Garlands of sunflowers lined the 3/4 wall creating a bathroom out of the tiny interior space, plus a sunflower calendar and a spray of flowere painted on the wall. A plastic sunflower placemat was brought over from a rack over the sink and placed in front of me along with sopa de fideos and a plastic pitcher of pink agua, a glass and knife and fork rolled in a napkin. Next came the roasted tomato salsa plus a lime wedge and a spoon for my soup.
Three warm tortillas delicately scented with detergent from the dishtowel tortilla cozy completed the first course.
The chicken enchiladas (three pulled chicken tacos covered with an enchilada sauce and rayed with crema) and rice with peas came on a brown melmac platter. I declined the dessert, paid the 40 pesos for the comida corrida, thanked the lady and allowed her to finish her interrupted meal in peace.
Girasol on Ocampo at Prieto across from the downtown bus terminal. Hours vary.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Don't you just love old hardware stores? wandering down aisles that time forgot and coming across some treasure and saying to your partner, "gee, I didn't think they even made those anymore"
We just had a delightful lunch at Cafe kika on Isabel la Catolica between Degollado and Reforma. It's on the right hand side of the street. So you can find it easier, because believe me, you really have to be looking to see it even if it has been there for twenty-eight years.
The owner operator cook chef doesn't bother with a menu anymore. Breakfast of eggs any style or tortas, quesadillas, hamburgers or whatever, and the comida corrida. The breakfast is 25 pesos and the comida is 40.
The food is prepared on a gaffers and satler 36 inch range (I didn't know the even made those anymore) and the dishes were mismatched white glass plates. The silverware had bakelite handles. There was of course a tv playing but wonderfully, the back patio was full of trees and bushes. Songbirds provided background music for our dining pleasure.
If the place ever regains its former popularity there might be trouble, but we had prompt tasty service cooked to order. The soup was tomato broth with elbow macaroni--a comida standard by the way--and the postre was lime jello.
What made the meal stand out was the old fashioned look of the place, almost seedy but it tilted towards the nostalgic side. That and the flourescent green salsa. Okay, I am serious about the salsa being really green, but I am also serious when I say I was impressed with my pescado veracruzeño. Yellow rice, very nicely sauteed (probably mojarra) fish with a touch of oregano and a tomato and peppers or was it nopal sauce over the fish. Tasty!
And the jello came in a chilled bowl.
For all you folks who think they know how a magician does his tricks, wrongo! It was not jello preportioned and kept in the refrigerator. Yes, the jello was kept in the refrigerator, but the bowls were too, and he filled the bowl with the jello in our sight. That, and the jamaica wasn't too sweet. I'd go back.
Cafe kika is on Isabel la Catolica between Degollado and Reforma.
- The Bread Guy
- La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico
- Before gaining control of my life, I created pastries for some cool places in California: San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, Brix Restaurant in Napa and The Lodge in Sonoma. Now I am the chef/owner of Pan D' Les bakery in La Paz. My personal favorite is the Multigrano loaf, full of crunchy seeds and a nice chewy crust.