Sunday, June 26, 2016

What we ate in Guadalajara: Anita-Li

Some go to restaurants for the food, some go for the decor and ambience, or the view from the revolving dining room; others go for for fun and entertainment. Anita-Li clearly falls into the last category. One meal does not prove much, but our tentative conclusion is that Anita-Li is a great place for drinks in a festive and kitsch ambience, but serious, well prepared food may be elusive.

It is obligatory to note that the name, "Anita-Li", is a palindrome for "I Latina", an earlier and closeby mother restaurant from which sprang the naughty young Anita.

Where the decor of Allium is spare and lending itself to appreciation of the highly nuanced food, the hyper-kitsch decor at Anita-Li sets the tone for a meal of over-the-top drinks and an unrestrained hand with the seasoning.

Anita-Li Dining Room and bar
Blackboard menu specials continue the informal tone
Let's have a look at the printed menu, this one of entradas.

Fun food awaits you at Anita's
You can look at the menus in more detail here.

We had first seated ourselves in the semi outdoors dining area (reserved for smokers) but moved inside due to the low level of buzz but greater warmth outdoors. The outside dining area lacks the kitsch decor of the inside one, and after all, that is part of the appeal of the restaurant.

We started off with a Chilcanita Peruana coctel, and exotic blend of spirits and fruits. It was quite good.

Chilcanita Peruana
Our first course was a blackboard special, Tacos de Soft Shelled Crab. It's becoming evident that we are crab fans. The tacos were the best thing we ate at Anita-Li. The dishes that followed declined in appeal.

Soft shelled crab tacos
Doña Cuevas ordered Sopes Cantineros, which proved to be an unfortunate combination of pork belly and octopus on cakes of masa. The two meats both were texturally similar, and the overall effect was of heaviness.

Sopes Cantineros
A pause, and another cocktail, this one even better than the first, A "Lupe Reyes", a fantastic drink combining licor de chile de Zaragoza with grapefruit and soda, dressed with fresh raspberries.

Lupe Reyes Coctel
Sra. Cuevas decided to hold at that point, but I gamely charged on, ordering Camarones Asados Thai. This was a dish which tends to demonstrate the flawed execution of "Asian - Mexican Fusion Cuisine", as sometimes practiced in Mexico.

Camarones Asados Thai. That's chipotle aioli squiggled on top.
The large, grilled, spiced shrimp were very good. But underneath the shrimp was a sort of salad of thinly sliced cucumbers and strips of chiles Jalapeños, in an aggressively acidic and terribly salty jus. It was inedible. I was instantly reminded of similar heavy handed seasoning in Asian fusion dishes we'd had at Aquiles Terraza in Morelia. Read here.

We decided not to try our luck with dessert. Besides, we were full.

In conclusion, it was an interesting meal in a fun room, with American Rock classics blaring on the sound system, but the food was poorly done, with the exception of the Soft Shelled Crab Tacos and the grilled shrimp by themselves. The cocktails were excellent, especially the Lupe Reyes.


Food:  6
Service: 7  Attentive, a little pushy, but not obnoxiously so. English is spoken.
Ambience: Garage sale in Asia
Cost: $$$$ La Cuenta, por favor.
Rest rooms: the men's was clean and cute, with a small garden view.

Av. Inglaterra 3100, Vallarta Poniente, 44110 Guadalajara, Jal., Mexico

Tel: +52 33 3647 4742

Opens at 1:30 p.m.

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