After the realization that except for fast food and clearly foreign originated food I barely have had food here that made me ecstatic, I revitalized my quest for good cuisine. Out of thought, mind, and schedule, there has not been much in that department to become enthusiastic about anyway, lately. Lately, venturing for more captivating sources of energy, or arranging such a composition solo, turned out to be nigh impossible, under ceteris paribus.
Through eon-old attachment of ‘elevated’ culture to the equinox and equinox to Easter, stress also rise to unparalleled levels in 3.5 months without a period of ease to weigh down one scale – but spring fever & pubescence weighing down the other. Needless to say, the day break came we grazed our way to and through greener pastures.
While the conceptual drawer of one of my greatest loves was mostly filled with chocolate the last couple of months, a greater and healthier variety claimed its rightful place. From Zacatecas to Guadalajara, I am happy to present the finest of El Cantera Musical, Los Dorados de Villa, El Itacate Zacatecano in the first part, and in the second part La Hamburguesería Central, El Cafeteria, and Birriería Las 9 Esquinas.
We got this tip from a Tourist Information stand guy, and when we arrived it felt like entering a big wine cellar. Although the TV’s hanging here and there are hard to escape in Mexico, the atmosphere, the dark, brick-red arches, and the kitchen pontifically situated – though not distractingly so – in the front of the restaurant; kitchen wares and vegetables decorating and crude products perfuming the pseudo-basement, I immediately at ease. Starting off with simple hard tortillas with sauce that you just cannot keep your hands off, with sauce that makes you regret every spilt drop; sauce that tastes like angel’s pee.
At El Cantera Musical, delicious Mole was served. Mole – a specific type of sauce, usually used to pleasantly suffocate beef, pork, or chicken with is usually provided a prefix that simply reflects its color. The complex recipe for the Mole – mostly based on distinctive chilies – requires it to be prepared in hours and hours beforehand. While plates like this are usually simply covered with meat, mole, and perhaps some rice, it is supported by fresh tortillas, spiced up vegetables such as peppers, carrots, and onion. Strength in its simplicity, it’s still a delicious treat. Besides me a dish steamed called Asado de Bodas (literally, “wedding roast”) – a dish primarily made at weddings (well…), made with pork and a sauce of chili pepper and chocolate. It actually mostly resembled the chili con carne sauce. Longing for some besides-the-regular beer, sadly you really have to find hipster-bars in Mexico to get that. Still very much worth the visit. They – luckily – did not seem to go easy on the foreigners in spiciness, raising our tolerance pleasantly but certainly up a notch.
Once inside it looks like what I would describe as your typical hoarder-60-years-in-the-same-home-grandmother decoración.
Dorados de Villa
The next night, it was time for a restaurant from the book, or la guia. A lot of good things were written about it, though finding it was a bit difficult as the doors were shut, no advertisement was shouting at us, and frankly, no odors were present to lure us in. Once inside however, luckily without needing an “always needed” reservation it looks like what I would describe as your typical hoarder-60-years-in-the-same-home-grandmother decoración.
Dorados de Villa is the place where simple Mexican dishes are taken to the next level, where the sauces are just a tad more magnificent, and where the price is right. Any price would do, though. The tortillas are made with a specific spice, turning the whole into a totally different thing. The cheese in it is delicious, suave, and perfectly melted. The newly met combination of beans, pork, pasta-like dough, and spicy sauce in a lasagna-like oven dish was perfect, just like the enchiladas on the other side of the table. How one preparation of a dish can lock a vision to being a mere greasy, overly creamy and too-simple-to-ever-be-a-rich-meal dish, the Dorados de Villa cooks definitely stretched the definition of enchiladas to something far more worthy than previously perceived. This is a restaurant you would tell friends about to “if they ever had a chance” (but never will) go to.
In my sheer happiness I could not refrain from shedding a tear of total contentment.
El Itakate Zacatecano
On our final night in Zacatecas, we almost opted to go to either of these two restaurants again. It was pretty late, however, and we noticed a cute patio of a restaurant just down the street that was still open, called El Itacate Zacatecano. For fun, just try to say that about 10 times in a row, quickly. I love Spanish, and the pre-Hispanic Mexican cultures definitely had a different idea about pronounceable words. The host of the night seemed to be fluent in English as demonstrated at other tables, but pleasantly kept to Spanish when we addressed him in such manner. The seemingly appetizing dish-names on the menu filled me with questions and fulfilling every tourist’s dream in this case, the chef offered to bring me a bit of this, bit of that, bit of everything. I am going to call upon my main witness to verify that close to finishing, n my sheer happiness I could not refrain from shedding a tear of total contentment. Orange-Nassauesk coloured refried beans with cumin and chili, enchiladas, Asado de Bodas, similarly spiced ground beef, and strange beet-derived lemonade. The rainbow of flavours presented in such a subtle way just cannot be beaten on any day, and I really wish that such “simple” restaurants were more amply available.
There rests our Zacatecas experience, we are moving on to Guadalajara. Cuisine, food, atmosphere, everything and more in the second part.
As always, thank you for reading.