Tag Archives: food court

Inside the La Isla Food Court – OnThai

At Merida’s second-newest (the newest being Via Montejo) monstrous shopping mega shopping mall, complete with a let’s-turn-Merida-into-Miami artificial lake, there are some shops now open and the food court is fully operational and worth a visit. The Critic is talking about La Isla at Cabo Norte.

It is a strange food court, in that all the locales, with the exception of a few at the entrance area, are owned by the same company, Distrito Gourmet. They all look alike: lots of black backgrounds with white lettering and yet, at the same time, different. There are tacos, sushi, Thai, steaks, pastas, but they are all under the same company umbrella. This was the info provided by one of the employees when asked why the sushi person was in the taco place and vice versa. Also, you can see the same company-labeled drinks in all the countertop refrigerators, like horchata, piña con chaya etc as well as the usual Cokes.

Speaking of those drinks, do not have the piña con chaya drink as it is quite horrendous, so artificial tasting that you might as well be drinking Fabuloso. The horchata is much more palatable. And if you do, notice the ingredients labels on the plastic bottles. Here are some photos so you can reach your own conclusions (it’s probably not even legal to have this lack of information on a food product but the Critic knows nothing about such things) regarding what’s in that drink:

That’s right, the ingredients are: water. Notice that they are also free of protein, fats and sodium. No sugar either. OK.

Anyway, back to the food.

The Critic and MiniCritic decided on Thai at OnThai for something different than the usual boring tacos. The one employee commented that he was the only one who had been trained in Thai cooking and was therefore working 12 hours a day, every day. Every day.  No days off. How a probably successful company (and the owners are probably doing very well thank you) can exploit an employee this badly in 2018 is beyond the Critic’s imagination, but again, what does he know about Mexican labor laws which look great on paper but are completely ignored in real life.

Back to the food.

The Critic ordered Pad Thai and the Mini-Critic a rice dish. As it turned out they were exactly the same: same ingredients (Mini-Critic chose shrimp and the Critic chicken) same sauce; they even looked the same. So much so that it wasn’t even worth it to take a photo of the rice. They were very tasty though and the Critic would probably go back to try something else from the limited menu of available items (about 8).

Hilarious non-related observation: there is a lifeguard watching the artificial lake.

Enjoy the photos and excuse all the ranting!

A pastry and dessert shop

Something healthy looking

Something Spanish

Pad Thai

Was it good? Yes!

 

Asadero Grill, Gran Plaza

In the food court of the Gran Plaza, where the Critic found himself yesterday feeling hungry, there used to be a Subway sandwich shop, where the sandwiches were bland and the employees wore plastic gloves to protect themselves from germs as they handled both money, utensils and food with those same glove covered hands. But, RIP, Subway, because they just weren’t making enough money or the rent was too high or they ran out of plastic gloves or something; the thing is they closed and well, we shouldn’t beat a dead horse.

Why is the Critic even mentioning the sandwich shop? Because in it’s place, a new and exciting food option was opened to the public, something so novel that it deserves a mention here. Ladies and gentlemen, Asadero Grill is serving up tacos. Yes indeed, tacos; something the Gran Plaza hasn’t seen before if you leave out La Parrilla and Los Trompos who are there in the old section of the food court plus Sport Tortas and Tacos and Arrachera Grill (plus yet another taco place that opened just recently) across the way in the new section. In their efforts to provide more culinary diversity, the Gran Plaza folks have decided that since people are lining up for tacos when the mall is full, why not allow another taco restaurant to open?

The Critic is not going to get into the whole mall exclusivity thing which means about as much in Mexico as the constitution of many modern countries ie nothing, but concentrate on the usual, nit picking critiques he has become so well known (and loved) for.

Someone mentioned that the nachos were good, and since the Critic has tried the nachos at Los Trompos, this seemed like a good place to start. A combo, featuring those nachos along with a refillable refresco and a mini styro bowl of frijoles charros (a bean soup for the unenlightened) will run you $64 pesos or about 5 dollars USD. You get 300 grams of meat; either bistek (beef) pastor (marinated fatty pork) chicken and something else. You can combine two meats if you like. The Critic ordered pastor and bistek, got a plastic cup and a number and waited a few minutes for the order to come up.

Once the Critic had his tray, with the salsas and the onions and the lime wedges and the soup and the nachos and the plastic cup and the cutlery and the napkins, he sat down to enjoy this giant Mexican lunch.

The thing that strikes you about Asadero is that it seems like an exact copy of Los Trompos, a well known and very successful operation that has restaurants in strategic locations around town and in the malls.  Asadero has everything on their menu that Trompos has, including pizzas and stuffed baked potatoes. All the tacos and combos are there as well. The thing is, their prices are lower and this is bringing in the crowds, apparently.

Back to the nachos. These are the deep fried thick corn chips favored here, bathed in a rather earthy tasting black bean sauce, with a tasteless melted cheese, and covered in meat; chunks of bistek on one side, strips of pastor on the other. Somewhere in between is guacamole, along with some tomato slices and pickled jalapeno pepper slices. In other words, an exact copy of Los Trompos nachos, down to the placement of the tomato slices in the corners of the rectangular plastic plate!

Comparing the two, the Critic would say the Trompos version is a little tastier; the pastor meat and the refried brown beans are more flavorful. But the cheese is tasteless in either version and the salsas, which should be good, thick and zesty in a taqueria, are always disappointingly watery and bland.

Both make excessive use of disposable plastic and Styrofoam – their plastic cutlery is identical and useless for cutting or picking up a chunk of meat – and it is truly phenomenal the amount of garbage generated by not only the taco places, but all the restaurants in the food courts. Perhaps that will be something for another article in the future.

On a scale of Wow to Ew, this one rates Whatever.

GoGreen – Merida Eats Healthy

Again the Critic finds himself in the Gran Plaza mall and the Critic is hungry but has absolutely no desire to subject his digestive tract to:

  • the calorie-laden punishment of those nachos
  • reheated calorie-laden deep fried KFC chicken that might or might not actually be reheated
  • calorie-laden Dominos pizza (how do t hey survive in that mall?)
  • calorie-laden Burger King items that Michael Pollan insists are not really ‘food’
  • sushi of dubious quality that might actually kill you

What to do? How about GoGreen?

GoGreen just opened their Gran Plaza mall location about two-four weeks ago (they have a store on Montejo, near the Burger King fountain, which is a landmark a Yucatecan will understand, as its real name has long ago been forgotten) and it presents a fresh, healthier option to all those tacos in the food court. Come to think of it, they should rename the food court to “Tacos… Y Algo Mas” … a common and popular name choice in Merida because it covers your main selling point but leaves the door open to other stuff as well.

The Critic ordered the Buffalo Salad, which has barbecue shredded chicken, celery, lettuce of course, carrots, all tossed with a ranch dressing. The small salad, picture below, costs $61 pesos, or about 5 dollars at today’s exchange rate. Some people will recoil in horror at this price “SESENTA pesos” they will exclaim, covering their mouth with their hand as if the salad was going to jump in it and then they would be obligated to pay, “estan LOCOS”. This is the usual reaction to a price that is somewhat beyond the norm for a product that obviously is of better quality than the norm.

In any case, the salad was cold, fresh and attractively presented. GoGreen is an excellent mall choice for everyone tired of the same old fast food franchises and all those tacos.