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Comida de Los Dios

food of the Oaxacan coast 2001 Update by John Williams.
see the 2002 update
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Over the years, I've plugged La Pampa Argentina as a great spot for steaks quite a few times. I was disappointed to hear most of my ex-pat friends in Huatulco tell me that the quality had fallen off dramatically in the last five years. I had every intention of trying it on my recent trip, but unfortunately ran out of time. So until I get back down to try it - or one of you good people send in a review - I'll refrain from recommending it.

So where do you go for a great steak? I tried Los Portales. I ordered the rib steak. It had a great flavor, but the same tenderness as very old beef jerky. Brook & Rick from Agua Azul waxed poetic about the steak at Oasis. We went to the new grill location next to Panaderia Alejandro - across the street from the original locale. Brooke had told us that she ordered a Chateaubriand and got a really good filet. But I've always thought a steakhouse should be judged on its T-bone, so I ordered that - and got a ribsteak, good flavor but beef jerky consistency.

I must add that this was the ONLY disappointment at Oasis. That same evening, Edie ordered the Sea and Turf skewer and felt that it was the best meal she had on the trip! They also did a darned good job on Enchiladas and a mixed seafood grill on our other visit to Oasis. They just didn't have the cuts of meat quite figured out.

The best meal I had during our too-brief stay came from a place called Marisqueria El Pata. If you take a right coming out of the old Oasis, take another right at the next corner, go one block, and look accross the street you should find it. Edie and I split the Pina Relleno de Mariscos. Half a pineapple was hollowed out and filled with a delectible mixture of fresh seafood and smothered in cheese. Damned good eats! Edie also had their Guacamole salad and liked it. Rick and Brook joined us for dinner that night and had good filets of fish. The jarrita de limonada was a good thirst quencher as well.

Marisqueria El Pata, in La Crucecita

Pollo Imperial gave its usual generous portion of rotisserie chicked with charro beans and plenty o' pasta and ham salad at a very reasonable price. Those of you who have tried Pollo Imperial know it as a consistently good spot for Mexican-style roasted chicken.

Sabor de Oaxaca is still a "must eat" place. The special Oaxacan platter has a bit of everything, including a great mole sauce - if you like mole. Their tamale is great; the enchilda fantastic; and the chile relleno is perhaps the best I've ever eaten. (Brook disagrees. If you stay at Agua Azul, she will tell you how to find a street vending woman in town who SHE thinks makes a better Chile Relleno!) Unfortunately, the carne asada was a bit overwhelmingly spiced. All in all, try it once. It's a bit pricey for La Crucecita, but still really cheap compared to a fine restaurant back home. I hope that someone will get the opportunity to review the Oaxacan-style food served at Dona Tomasinas upstairs on the Zocalo above the silver shop corner. It smells good - I just ran out of time.

The most pleasant surprise had to be the pizza at Bar La Crema. I am notoriously hard to please when it comes to pizza. I've had the best; Morty's Pizza King in Austin, Texas in the 1970's - and have never found another
Pizza oven at Bar La Crema, in La Crucecita

pizza that matches up. Due to the difficulty of getting good Italian-style cheeses, pizza in Mexico has always been an automatic disappointment. In fact, up to this trip I'd had but a single good pizza in more than thirty years of Mexico travel. That came from a man from Detroit who briefly had a restaurant in Barra de Navidad before he borrowed a bunch of money from people in the expat community, stole one of their cars, and then disappeared! But all that has changed. Bar La Crema has such a good pizza Edie and I kept going back for more! Lalo uses a heavy cream instead of the usual bad cheese - it sounds wierd, but ya gotta try it! He will tell you that the real secret is a wood-fired brick-and-adobe beehive oven he's brought in. Whatever the happy set of circumstances, it works! Try the Special "La Crema" and see if you don't agree!

There is also a happy ending to my search for a decent T-bone - but once again from a surprising source. I wanted to show Edie Puerto Angel-Zipolite-San Augustinillo-Mazunte, and we stopped at La Choza in the Roca Blanca section of Zipolite for a meal. The waiter brought over a freshly-caught Huachinango (red snapper) and a gorgeous, well-marbeled T-Bone! I glanced over at the grill, and grinning behind the woodsmoke was none other than Sergio himself, the proprietor! So with a nod, we ordered what the waiter had brought to us. What a good decision! The steak was medium-rare and melt-in-your-mouth tender! And you could tell that the snapper had been playing subacquatic predator around the rocks below the lighthouse that very morning! Gooooo-ood!

Zipolite Beach

I do recommend that everyone venture out of Huatulco at least once during your stay. A run to Zipolite to frolic with the Euro-hippies can be a great break from the resort community scene. You may find yourself having so much fun you decide to do the Zipolite discos that night! While Zipoli has the better location, Bar La Puesta is right around the corner from La Choza and I've always preferred both their music mix and their crowd. Or you may be having so much fun even without the disco that you just can't drive back to Huatulco without sleeping a few hours. Don't hesitate to get a room for the night - or at least til you come down or sober up! It's cheap and could add to your longevity. And again I'll put in a plug for Sergio and the folks at La Coza. You and your belongings will be safe there. I can't say the same for everyplace in Zipolite. But Sergio runs a tight ship.

Now a note for you Zipolite denizens who may have gotten into this column out of curiosity. Zipolite is everything you've heard regarding a cheap place to sleep. But the restaurants are NOT particularly cheap. At some point during your stay, you will be going through Puerto Angel - either buying stuff at the "supermarket" or passing through on your way to Pochutla to go to the bank or bus station. Don't hesitate to stop in at Cafe Tio Chilo's over by the post office. Say hello to (in descending age order) Eva, Parti, Eva, Freddy, and Pati. They will sell you a hamburger or hot dog or torta cheaper than anyone else in the area. And if you happen by while the older Eva is cooking for the family, you may be able to buy a comida corrida at a VERY reasonable price. Tell them I sent you and give them my best!

La Choza beachfront restaurant
Rooms at La Choza

If you're in Puerto Angel after dark, right around the corner from Tio Chilo is a caseta alled Cosina Oriental, GREAT Tlayudas. It's right on the corner in front of the pier. Below Hotel Soraya. Again, a big money-saver from Zipolite prices.

And anywhere you see a big chunk of meat and pineapple turning on an upright rotisserie, be in in Huatulco, Puerto Angel, Pochutla, or Zipolite, don't hesitate to walk over and say "Tacos al Pastor, por favor!" Go for the cilantro and try the sauces. Street-grunting at its finest!

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