Sunday, June 05, 2011

Really in the middle of nowhere, then some.

As I mentioned a few days ago, we made a day trip to Paracho for a guitar excursion. While on one of the back roads and I mean back road, we passed a old hacienda which has been transformed into a modern restaurant with spacious grounds, parking lot and a large playground area where you can park the kids while the adults sip on their favorite beverages and sling the one-upsmanship stories like locals seem to enjoy doing.

The interesting thing is that the amount of cars that were parked at this place and the vast expanse shows that this place can be a hopping joint filling a minimum of 400 to 500 seats.

Unlike Patzcuaro, Ziracuaretiro which is a much smaller town, sports 3 decent places.

This is one of them. Since this was a Saturday and around 4 in the afternoon the lunch crowd was diminishing as we took our seats in one of the dining rooms.
On weekends it seems that they have buffet service, during the week they have a pretty diverse menu with items such as steaks, fish and chops of pork and lamb. I noticed that their menu also included one of my favorites, frog legs which not every restaurant includes on their menu.
Perhaps on a later midday trip that will be one item I will try.

Another distinguishing fact was that they had valet parking. That indeed is an interesting concept, especially in Mexico where trust is an issue to whom you hand over your car keys and contents of your vehicle. On the other hand, based on the clientele and ranching attitudes in these parts, swift justice from the cars owners may keep those ideas at bay.

We ordered a few Don Julio Margaritas and enjoyed a few minutes relaxing after driving for several hours on secondary roads for our days journey. Then it was time to look at the buffet line.
One must come hungry to enjoy the wide variety of items that are offered at several manned stations. Being so late in the afternoon, I was going to try and limit my loading of the plate, even so, there were just too many things that I gave up on that notion.

Returning on a weekend will definitely be more advisable, my perception that it would take at least 2 return trips to be able to adequately test their full selection.

With a dozen or so salads, a fresh fruit station and seeing the dessert station, I totally missed the station where they prepare and grill seafood, meats and chicken to your order. I did notice especially decent looking brochettes of shrimp, as they were passing carried by a waiter, but it was too late, my fill limit was close to it's maximum and there was still the dessert station to conquer.
After a few minutes of pause, we did save room for dessert which had several visually appealing dishes, the flan and pastel con tres leches was especially good which required good will power not to return for a second portion. The sliced fruit was also excellent,much better than the fruit I am able to buy at our local markets for some reason.

All in all this is a nice place that I have not seen anything to compare to so far in the region. The price for two sets of DJ Margaritas and 2 lunches with coffee including tip set us back about 500 pesos, which for the experience and quality was well worth the expense.

The place is well suited for parties both intimate and large, a perfect place to spend several hours with drinks and friends. I did notice many tables simply buying two or three bottles of their favorite booze which they would consume at will.

The place is located on the back road between Ziracuaretiro and Uruapan. It is actually easier to get to if your take the autopista to Uruapan and double back towards Ziracuaretiro on the back


Anonymous said...

I like that place. Have not been in a while and did not know they're doing the buffet on Saturdays. Before, it was just Sundays. I prefer to spend less and order from the regular menu, but they did not ask me.

Most of the customers, I would wager, come from Uruapan, which is only about 15-20 minutes away.

There was another branch of this restaurant in Uruapan, but it has closed.

Gotta get back over there. It's a fun and tasty place to go. Superior by far to that "La Mesa" joint in the same town.

-- Felipe

Anonymous said...

that place sounds great! i love tres leches-flan too but as you know i have several recipes for that. my son and his girlfriend, who now live in TN visited us the last 4 days and one of his meal requests was cuban food-black beans, rice, tostones, pork chops and of course, i made a flan.

did i tell you we're moving to nagoya, japan? heading out on the 17th for a househunting trip and will move around the 3rd. week of july. really looking forward to it as it will be our 3rd time living in japan.

guess my trip to patzcuaro is going to have to wait a few years.

take care, and oh, i like frog legs too. last time i had them was in hong knog-they're not exactly a typical dish in the northwest.

teresa in lake stevens

Tancho said...

Felipe, I will have to agree with you about the other two place. They are ok, and both places have great ambiance, but the menus are very limited. This place is exceptional.
Teresa, Wow, Nagoya is a long ways away. How long are you going to be there? I have always wanted to go there but never made the big decision. I had an employee that went there and loved it! Well, I am sure we will still have an extra bedroom for your next trip to Patzcuaro.
Your menu sounds great, my wife makes tostones and a multitude of other dishes with Plantain, in fact there is one roasting right now in the small toaster oven....

Don Cuevas said...

When we ate at Los Arcos (the restaurant you are describing, Tancho.), we found the food to be just "o.k.", with the exception of the Setas Al Ajillo. Maybe we just hit it on the wrong day, or the wrong time.

OTOH, we have been to La Mesa de Blanca 4 times within the span of a year, and have enjoyed it every time. I will say that there were some minor variations in quality on one occasion.

We also found that the service at La Mesa was more personal and warmer than that we received at Los Arcos.

I have one final comment, and I hope that you take it in the friendly spirit in which it's offered: when you or some other blogger can't recall the name of the restaurant, or tell what you ate, it considerably diminishes your reviewer credibility.

Buen provecho,
Don Cuevas

Tancho said...

Sr. Cuevas, since this was our first time at Los Arcos I could have been there on an "up" day, were all conditions were right for a good meal. As I mentioned it was buffet style so no dishes were individually prepared as they are at the other two places. I will try Los Arcos mid week and report how ordering items of the menu fare. And as far as not remembering the names of the places that you have fondness for, it was simply being extremely lazy, and since the writing was already lengthy, I simply didn't want to add two more sentences to list their long and difficult names, figuring I would misspell them or leave out parts of their monikers. If I recall I did mention our dishes when I wrote about them before and a week or so ago. They are good restaurants with snappier service, perhaps because every time we have been there we were one of the few couples that were there. I hope that explains our omission of their names, and no offense taken.

Jerry L said...

One nice thing about restaurant in Mexico, the ones that are off the beaten path, they have lots of expanse for dining rooms, parking etc. Old Haciendas that I have visited are beautiful, especially in Mexico City. Have you been to Hacienda de Las Morales?
I can just imagine living in that splendor centuries ago.

Don Cuevas said...

Tancho, thanks for the explanation...of sorts.

I'm amazed you were able to write "Ziracuaretiro". For me, it's so challenging, I created a text macro to do it easily.

Hasta pronto,
Don Cuevas

Tancho said...

Sr. Cuevas,
Me Too, I won't tell you my secret for how that transpires.