leave your inhibitions at the door
That incredibly lousy dinner was on our first full day in Playa del Carmen. You’d think that it could only get better from there, right?
We had a couple terrible dinners at what appeared o be generally upscale restaurants. I won’t go in too many details, because let’s just say it was so bleak that Christmas dinner came from food carts we had earlier in the day.
Not exactly formal or festive, but at least we knew we’d be eating well.
I was determined to find one place that was up to my standards. I figured that the law of averages dictated there would be at least one. I know I was on vacation in a foreign country but, dammit, I was determined to have food at a restaurant that I’d actually go to here in the good ol’ USA. Was that too much to ask?
So I spent hours on The Google, triangulating between Yelp, Trip Advisor, news articles, and blogs to come up with a few candidates. Of course, Mexican Wifi speeds had more to do with how long I was looking rather than actual research. List in hand, I walked around for 3 hours visiting the places to see them in person.
OK, there may or may not have been a sausage break somewhere in there.
The winning restaurant was La Fisheria, a restaurant owned by acclaimed chef Aquiles Chavez.
I had never heard of him, but he has a couple television shows on the South American version of Food Network. He’s like the Latino Anthony Bourdain. That’s promising, isn’t it?
He also recently opened a La Fisheria in Houston. I’ve only had a one good meal in the dozens of times I’ve been down there, but opening an acclaimed restaurant in a major US city has to count for something.
And – he’s hipster!
That’s a picture of him on the wall.
I was encouraged that the décor and atmosphere was decidedly modern and minimalist, free of any of tackiness. One thing I saw in the Trip Advisor reviews were a lot of people with old white faces in their profile pictures complaining about how the place was loud.
PERFECT!! I’ve always loved places that are loud because of conversations (and not because of music). I find they’re usually full of energy and people enjoying dinner.
But first, some Jalapeno Margaritas.
What We Ate
Everything was fresh, had beautiful presentations, and bursting with flavor. Nothing bland here. In other words, exactly what I was looking for! And it also pleased the rest of the family, which isn’t always easy to do with fourteen people.
The octopus on potato chips was a great mixture of textures with a nice sharp citrus taste. The green ceviche was also outstanding. My octopus in guajillo was perfectly cooked, but maybe a tad on the salty side. But I wasn’t complaining.
It just goes to show that a good restaurant can be found anywhere. All you need is an incredibly horrid dining experience as a reference point, few options, fierce determination, and hours on El Google.