Only having tried Mexican food a few times in greasy commercial American places, I was reluctant when my friend recommended a Mexican restaurant in Soho. However when we walked in to ‘Wahaca’ I knew that the half hour queue would be worth it. After chilling in the Tequila bar, our wait was compensated by the rapid ‘Mexican street food’ idea of the upstairs service. I chose from the variety of smaller dishes listed before me on my table mat, and before I knew it I had tacos, tostadas and quesadillas before me, accompanied with sweet potatoes- fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside- divine! I enjoyed nibbling at the assortment in the laid back environment… just as Mexican should be. The experience was great- no greasy nachos, nobody shouting ‘Tequila!’, just good (and reasonably priced) food! http://www.wahaca.co.uk/
So, having a completely altered view on Mexican food, news that we were going to this Central American escape on a family holiday couldn’t have come at a better time and I couldn’t wait to see what delights this exotic country had in store for me…
Leaving the commercial and Americanised Cancun, we chose to venture a bit further afield to the more laid back ‘Caribbeanesque’ Tulum. On arriving, passing cabaña after cabaña (wooden beach huts) with occasional glances of the most beautiful beach I had ever seen, I knew we had struck gold!
Our car pulled up by the side of the road and we were pointed down a narrow passageway in the direction of the sea. Dragging our suitcase with difficulty through the sand we came to a lovely boutique hotel Coqui Coqui, reminiscent of a Mayan ruin itself completely made of stone with tiny stone stairs leading us to wooden doors welcoming us to our casa (home) for the week.
Considering we had been travelling for the best part of 48 hours and that it was midnight English time, all we wanted was good food rápido (fast)! We were directed three doors down to a beach hut for authentic Mexican fajitas with guacamole and frijoles (refried black beans). With risk of pointing out the obvious, it was so much better than any Mexican place in England- the fajitas are so much lighter and the limey guacamole is very tasty. The backdrop of a beautiful white beach and turquoise sea wasn’t bad either!
I am now half way through my holiday and have stuffed myself with fajitas, burritos, tacos galore… and guacamole… lots of guacamole… I could write pages on the food I have tasted here but instead I would like to point out a few highlights- those meal times which have stood out because of their ambiente un poquito especial (special ambiance)
Zebra: our favourite beach bar serving the best fish tacos of the holiday- beautifully cooked light fish with a large helping of the ever present guacamole! Wooden painted tables amongst the palm trees, swing chairs and an abandoned wooden bar made for a perfect beach eating experience.
Casa Jaguar: On our way to find a recommended restaurant we stumbled upon this little haven. The decor was literally out of this world like an outdoor hippy den amongst the trees from which all sorts of knick knacks were hanging. They cooked our whole white fish in the stone oven make it extremely soft, light and full of aromas of the oven. Served on a concoction of mango, avocado and tomato this was one of the tastiest dishes of the holiday!
Hemingway’s: On strolling along the beach one day, we found this beautiful, brightly coloured beach hut and we decided to book in for that evening. What made this restaurant so special was its feel of a rustic family home (they were actually Italian, so no Mexican food, however it was a nice break from all the guacamole!). There were only half a dozen tables, all brightly painted wood, with a tiny bar and sitting area and a kitchen that we could spy into- again, just like a kitchen in a family home! Chefs wandered backwards and forwards into la cocina (kitchen) with a lobster in tow one time, nests of freshly made tagliatelle the next. With no menu but a blackboard, adding to the low key vibe, we were given the choice of fish or pasta. My mum and I chose tagliatelle mariscos (seafood) which came in a huge bubbling paella dish. We fished around in the tagliatelle with a light and sweet tomato sauce to find lobster, calamari, crab and the biggest prawns I have ever eaten! All four of us were scraping out the last bits until there was nothing more! Washed down with the sound of the sea in the background and a real Mexican Tequila Sunrise, it couldn’t have been better- our favourite so far!
Only half way through the holiday so plenty more to try and plenty of recipes to jot down- I am on a mission to find some authentic local dishes! But that’s all for now… buenas noches (goodnight)!