Jul 26, 2007

El Payaso Seafood Restaurant - San Felipe, Yucatan

As you may have read in the neurotic foreigners blog, the Critic had the pleasure of accompanying him on his outing to Rio Lagartos/San Felipe and while it was a great disappointment to learn that one could not sit down in the municipio of Temozon to enjoy a smoked meat taco, the trip was enjoyable enough.

The restaurant in San Felipe, El Payaso, was recommended by a friend of that neurotic foreigner as being a good choice for seafood. As he said, what else are you going to eat in San Felipe? Hamburgers?

The place was deserted when the Critic's party entered, with the family sitting at a plastic table near the kitchen. When asked if they were serving food ('tan abiertos?) they responded affirmatively and got up to start working.

Along with the soft drinks, the smallest family member brought over some small platitos with the usual botana (pre-meal snacks) common to the typical Yucatecan beachfront seafood eatery. The Critic only tried what seemed to be cazon entomatado, (shredded shark meat cooked with tomato which gives it a pale red color) since he stubbornly refuses to become enamoured of the idea of the mayonnaise-based options placed before him.

The lunch was simple: a seafood soup, breaded filet of fish (empanizado) and fish filet in garlic (al mojo de ajo). The soup was served first and after waiting an eternity, the other dishes made their way to the table as well. The fish was fresh though - the waiter crossed the street and came back with the fish in a clear plastic bag and showed everyone that it was indeed, fresh boquinete.

The Critic's opinion is that El Payaso is really nothing special in the world of Yucatecan seafood offerings - nothing worse or better than what one would find anywhere on the coast.

Out of 5, this restaurant gets a 3.

Jul 11, 2007

La Tradicion Yucatecan Restaurant

This month, yet another Yucatecan restaurant reviewed by the insatiable and ever-critical Casual Restaurant Critic! This is, after all, what you are after, isn't it? Yucatecan food?

La Tradicion is located between San Fernando and the MegaComercial, on 60 street. It is completely air-conditioned except for some tables on the terrace where you could theoretically smoke those stinky Phillipine-made Marlboro cigarettes you bough in Molas on the way back from Sotuta de Peon.

Being as it is July, and the heat is unbearable, the original choice for lunch, Colonos, was discarded and the Critic's group decided on La Tradicion, which the Critic had heard or read about somewhere.

Chef David Cetina was at the door to welcome the party and soon all were seated at two tables - real tables with real chairs, not the cheap plastic ones - and had menus in their hands. After ordering drinks (micheladas, horchatas and jamaicas) a waiter arrived with a small plate of refried black beans with tortilla chips and another with codzitos for snacking while the appetizers arrived. The beans were not only good, they were hot, a real first since at most restaurants they are served luke-warm. The codzitos were crunchy and smothered in what seemed like a home-made tomato sauce. Very good.

The appetizers arrived soon after; crispy longaniza de Valladolid and delicious papadzules. In fact, the papadzules were so good that more were ordered almost right away. The temperature was excellent (hot) and the tortillas fresh, the sauce tasty. And the tortillas were thick and hand-made. Nothing like a fresh tortilla, filled with crunchy/chewy longaniza (a kind of thin flavorful chorizo) with some nose-watering, tear inducing chile habanero salsa.

Then the main course - panuchos and salbutes were ordered along with the now-obligatory Critic signature dish, queso relleno. At first sight, the Critic was alarmed by the apparent small size of the bowl of queso relleno set before him, but that fear was soon allayed with an abundance of fresh tortillas which seemed to make the dish last for hours. It was delicious. While the Critic's better half commented that the cheese wasn't the requisite Gouda (or Edam) the Critic didn't notice and happily devoured his queso.

Afterwards, for the sake of investigation (and to further complicate an impending attack of sever heartburn later) flan and crema espaƱola were ordered for dessert. They were creamy and delicious as well.

The rest of the menu looked very good as well. At the table next to the Critic's party, a family was enjoying what looked like a very authentic-looking and generous portion of puchero de tres carnes, a typical Yucatecan platillo which you can't find that often these days.

The bill? $800 pesos without tip.

All in all, La Tradicion was a pleasant surprise. The Critic would highly recommend it to both locals and visitors alike.

On a score of 1-5, La Tradicion rates a solid 4.5!