While the Casual Restaurant Critic is a meat lover (and dairy and fish and and and) some members of the Critical Family are vegan, and so, with a resigned sigh and little hope of a decent lunch, the Critic and the Family had lunch at the well-known vegan restaurant Numen, in northern Merida. The result was a mixed bag. Some good food, some OK food and some food that was quite forgettable.
The best option was the tacos al pastor, which is a local favorite and Numen has created a vegan option of this classic. Don’t ask, don’t tell is the Critic’s motto when it comes to what is actually in the vegan version, but it was tasty and satisfying. If he came back, the Critic would definitely have those again.
Most forgettable dish? The pozole. Pozole is a rich broth with all kinds of meaty juices and in this case, it was sliced mushrooms and hominy floating in a barely salted broth that was really quite watery. Not satisfying at all, ITCO. In between was the Critic’s dish, a pasta with tomato sauce, which he could have made at home but was tasty enough and the Critic devoured it down to the last spiral of fusilli.
Some photos will illustrate that the dishes are beautifully presented. The service was average, not horrible, but not particularly gracious or charming either.
Tacos al Pastor, vegan style
Torta de Empanizado, which was sort of a bean paste, and not great at all
Pasta w Tomato Sauce and vegan “cheese”
The accompanying fries were the best part of this empanizado torta
Not having had any sustenance beyond the usual New York model breakfast of coffee and a cigarette, the by-now cantankerous Critic was driving to his pay-by-the-hour office at Alexandra’s when another luxurious plaza (not particularly luxurious, tbh) called Plaza Luxury – really, you can’t begin to fathom the local fascination with all things purportedly luxury – beckoned with its multiple culinary options ranging from the brand new Okana poke bar with its high-tech and line-up inducing iPad ordering system to the old-school Merida classic Siqueff to the restaurant the Critic finally ended up in: Chill Akil.
There’s the Lexus dealership, the Prada flagship store, and the Bugatti watch shop. And the Ya Abrimos store of course
Once the loud family discussing family relationships at the next table had departed, the famished Critic was able to enjoy his classic chilaquiles rojos in relative peace and quiet while perusing CNN’s latest fake news on his iPhone.
These chilaquiles are really good, with lots of ‘stuff’ on top of those tortilla chips and they aren’t all soggy either, which is a nice touch. The red sauce is good, the chicken is good, the queso fresco is good, the onions and radishes are fresh and there are hot sauces and mild sauces (2 and 2) to add if you feel the dish lacks vim and vigor.
The restaurant is probably crowded in the morning with Moms and gym types who like to get up early, but the Critic had his breakfast at 2 PM thank you very much and had the place to himself. The A/C leaves something to be desired and it is uncomfortably warm in spite of the unit blowing all it can. Note: there are two air conditioners upstairs, but these were off.
Good service and plenty of parking available. You will also find a really nice high-end stereo shop in this plaza for your home theater installations in that new old colonial you are restoring.
Worth a second visit, ITCO.
Location: Plaza LUXURY (look for the Teslas, Ferraris and Jaguars parked outside) or just look at the map on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chillakil/