Monday, December 23, 2013

Don Cuevas' Favorites of 2013

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.
I have never been very inclined to write "my favorite whatsit" type lists, but I am in a rare mood, and so I will highlight the best, (in my opinion) of restaurants, foods and hotels we have enjoyed in 2013.

Best restaurant, Morelia

Top prize: Parrilla y Canilla
Casually elegant, cool atmosphere, attentive but unobtrusive service, top quality meats, salads and wines. The terraza is a fine spot to dine on nice days. My review.

La Parrilla does steaks right

Second Place:
 La Plazuela del Bosque (Cuban) restaurant
Very casual and relaxing restaurant amidst the hubbub of Morelia Centro. The Banquete Cubano is the best meal deal in the city, for $180 pesos, you are brought numerous small plates of savory Cuban foods.

My review.

This is only the second half of the Banquete

Best Restaurant, Pátzcuaro

Top Prize: Mariscos La Güera (matriz)
Generally reliable seafood place with good service, reasonable prices and immaculate hygiene. Not perfect, but consistently good on average
(I haven't reviewed La Güera in a long time. One is overdue. But here are photos.)

Ensalada de Mariscos
Ancas de Rana al Mojo de Ajo

Second Place:
Lupita's, in their new location. Cuesta Don Vasco Quiroga, Pátzcuaro, uphill on the right from the Plaza Grande.

Nice Mexican cuisine with only gentle surprises. Tacos de camarónes or de pescado are good, as are breakfasts. Avoid the ultra dull Ensalada de Pollo. Photos

Chilaquiles Campesinos

Best Mexican Restaurant, Mexico City:
Nico's México. Avenida Cuitláhuac 3102, Colonia Clavería, Delegacíon Azcapotzalco.

By far the best in exquisitely prepared traditional Mexican dishes. For the serious aficionado of upscale Mexican food, but without egotistical chef pretensions. Expensive. Review
Cerdo en Adobo de Antaño Nico's

Best New Restaurant (Italian, steaks, pasta, pizza, sandwiches): Macelleria Roma. Calle Orizaba 127, Colonia Roma Norte. Moderate.

Wonderful, casual restaurant serving very good steaks, pizzas and pastas. Lunch special, soup to dessert, $140 pesos. We haven't tried their creative sandwiches. This is one place to which we'll return repeatedly. Review.

Vitello Tonnato Macelleria

Favorite Street Food, Colonia Roma Norte: Super Tacos de Guisados. Calle de Puebla, between Calle Orizaba and Calle Jalapa.
Fresh, highly varied, tasty, cheap, hygienic, can't ask for much more than that. Review

Best Hamburgers:
Top prize: Hamburguesas Richard's.
 American style, small but delicious hamburgers, served with Mexican condiments. The fresh cut French Fried Potatoes are not to be missed. Cheap. Old review.

Colonia Roma, Mexico City:
Hamburguesas a la Parrilla. Corner of Calle Colima at Calle Morelia.
Bare bones burger stand, cheap, super fast, tasty, nothing but burgers with your choice of fresh condiments, bottled sodas. Old, old review. (revisited November, 2013 and they are as good as ever.)

Top prize: Cafe Santina, Paseo del Palmar, between Calle Los Cocos and Calle Los Mangos, Zihuatanejo.
Pizza with that Neapolitan crust and flavor. Food only to go. Review.

Pizza: second place, Macelleria Roma. Lushly beautiful toppings.


Mexico City: El Cardenal. Rich, elaborate classic Mexican almuerzos in an Old School Tie settingExpensive. Review.

Zihuatanejo: Fonda Doña Licha Doña Licha's homestyle cooking. Cheap, tasty, satisfying, clean. Review.

Pátzcuaro: Gran Hotel Restaurante and Fonda Mamá Lupe.
Omeletes Poblano or Florentina recommended at Gran Café; at Mamá Lupes, Enmoladas.

Best Barbacoa de Borrego:
Top Prize: Grutas de Tolantongo, Tolantongo, Hidalgo (Sunday mornings only) Review.

Second place: El Hidalguense, Colonia Roma Sur (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays only) Review.

Best Bakery, Bread and Best Bakery, Sweets. UNDECIDED

Best Hotel:
 Top Prize: Hotel Del Parque, Matehuala, SLP. Review.

Hotel Del Parque=Comfort

Second Place: Hotel Embassy, Calle de Puebla 115, Colonia Roma Norte, México, D.F. Old review. The hotel is better than ever, prices have scarcely risen, if at all, and the wifi works!

Best Mercado: Pátzcuaro? Ixquimilpan? Undecided.

I welcome your comments about these and your favorites of the past year.


jennifer rose said...

MadamMorelia, as she was tabbed in a comment to a link within this blog post, concurs with the selection of Morelia's first and second place winners.

Steve Cotton said...

I fully concur with your two Morelia choices. But, that should not be surprising. We have the advantage of using the same talented guide.

Patzman said...

Thank you!

DonCuevas said...

We need to break out of our cautious habits and take risks more often. For example, our recent meal at El Parrillon de Tablada*, which was much better than expected (although not up to the level of Parrilla y Canilla). And, what about that new Korean restaurant, on Avenida Madero Oriente?

*A review of that new Argentine grill someday, when I have some photos, after a follow up visit.)

Don Cuevas

Felipe Zapata said...

Just a few weeks ago you declared a roasted chicken joint on the highway in Tzurumutaro to be the best restaurant in Patzcuaro. And now it's La Güera? Of course, naming the Tzuru chicken joint, which has basically one thing on the menu, to be the best restaurant in town was a bit absurd, even though its chicken is quite good.

No. 2 is Lupita's? You gotta be kidding me.

As for Patzcuaro breakfasts, have you not tried Huevos Tarascos at Surtidora? Yum, baby, yum.

DonCuevas said...

The awarding of Best Restaurant in Pátzcuaro to Pollos Asados was done in a moment of hyperbole, generated from the enthusiasm that comes from a simple, yet nearly perfect meal just consumed. But we do love it. Never had a pollo malo there, except early on, from an excess of salt. But now they know our preferences for no salt at the finish

La Güera is without any room for doubt, our Most Favored Marisquería; nay, Fave Restaurant in Pátzcuaro. Even La Güera has had a few weak spots and misses, but overall, meal after meal, it gives the most consistently satisfying performance. And the servers are good looking, which further enhances the experience.

The Huevos Tarascos at La Surtidora are good, but darkly brooding, a pool of picor. (Is that the egg dish with the corn kernels?) I considered La Surtidora for Best Breakfast, but I thought it time to give the Gran Café´a leg up, after I'd neglected to eat there for so many years.My breakfast came with fried potatoes! That is itself is unusual here. (True, they could have been fried browner.)

As for Lupita's, so, sue me. They don't have chopped liver on the menu, and overall, it's a pleasant place, but, in the end, a bit underwhelming.

The ratings fall off rapidly after Lupita's. But then, I have not eaten at every notable restaurant in Pátzcuaro. In fact, the general level of restaurant quality falls off gradually from Mexico City to Morelia and even more steeply from Morelia to Pátzcuaro.

Don Cuevas

PS: Note that I did not rate any birrerías or taco de cabeza nor menudo stands. Maybe in a future posting.

Tancho said...

Unfortunately Patzcuaro's restaurant quality and service
vary day to day like the clouds that blow over our beautiful mountains. Lack of
professional consistent wait staff along with the moods of kitchen staff stifle
any worthwhile consistent place to recommend. Your seafood pantry La Güera is
probably one of the more consistent and reliable joints in town. Although
nothing special, they do a decent job in a non fancy way to satiate anyone's
fried food cravings from oysters to frog legs.

We stopped expecting decent dining experiences here a while ago and therefore
are pleasantly surprised when one of our local places does provide a good
dining experience. Lupita's falls in the middle of a acceptable dining
experience and overall would probably qualify for the most consistent

In Morelia there are lots of well-established high quality places and certainly
Parrilla y Canilla would be in the top bracket as well as many other fine
dining places that command a higher average check total. (Villa Montana )

We are somewhat lucky that we can buzz over to Morelia to satisfy our white
table cloth cravings and will hope that one of these days someone will open up
something 2 steps above average from our casual eateries which festoon
Patzcuaro's streets......
Thank you for taking the time to write about these, you often give a glimmer of hope in a sea of sinking restaurants.

DonCuevas said...

Thank you, Tancho, for your well reasoned comments on the local restaurant scene.

I would quibble though with your description of Mariscos La Güera's offerings: beside fried foods, they aso have better than average seafood cocteles, ensaladas de mariscos, and one of the best (and simplest) of dishes, camarones para pelar. At La Güera, it's a classic example of
simplest is often best. Sometimes, the filete de salmón a la plancha is perfectly cooked, unfortunately, sometimes it is overcooked and dry.

You wrote:
"Although nothing special, they do a decent job in a non fancy way to satiate anyone's fried food cravings from oysters to frog legs."

To me, that's a great part of the appeal of La Güera.

Which brings me back to Felipe's critique of my review: what makes the Pollos Asados Al Carbón "El Tejaban" in Tzurumutaro is that they cook only one main dish, and that is adobo charcoal grilled chicken, and nothing more. Yes, you can get sopes there, but those are an after, or more correctly, a pre-thought. Better to offer one thing made very well than a menu of myriad mediocrity. I will try to do another post in which one dish specialty street food/taco stand type places receive the due recognition.