In case anyone turns to this blog as a source of up to date information on Merida, let me start by saying that as far as Merida goes, we are all safe and well.
There is, at the time of this writing (9:50 AM on Tuesday, August 21st) some light wind with occasional gustiness if that is a word, a little rain and there are clouds overhead. No fallen or uprooted trees, no flipped cars. Nada.
Hurricane Dean has decided to explore the area around Majahual, where it came ashore and is now travelling across the peninsula through Chetumal and will pop out somewhere on the Campeche side and then revisit Mexico around Veracruz.
Now I just have to find a place for my trunkful of bottled water…
Win Fa is one of the first of many Chinese restaurants that have been invading Mérida lately; they have two other locations besides this food court option.
If you are in the mall, Win Fa is a good option; there are real Chinese people in charge out front and in the kitchen and the food, while repetitive after a while (the Critic eats there frequently enough to know) is generally – and consistently – good.
If you should get a chance to peer into the kitchens back doors, there are several restaurants that you will never eat at again! Among the acceptable ones, Burger King, Win Fa and Los Trompos for tacos.
At Win Fa, there are two types of fried rice, with chicken or with shrimp and several hot ‘entrees’ to choose from. The consistently better tasting are:
- the grilled chicken or pollo a la plancha, which is just that, chicken seasoned with a light dose of 5-spice powder and salt. The downside is the saltiness which will leave you dying for water about an hour after eating, as well as the inclusion of chicken skin, which is floppy and not too appealing;
- the pineapple chicken also known as pollo a la piña, chicken chunks breaded and covered with a sweet and sour-y pineapple sauce; this is tasty but try to get it when they are refilling the steam table container from the kitchen as the breaded part loses it’s crispiness from sitting in the sauce;
- Szechuan pork, with lots of vegetables and plenty of spicy kick.
There are other options, including a chow mein with regular pasta noodles that the Critic finds unappealing, spring rolls (one roll counts as an entree) and lately, chinese steamed buns filled with pork or chicken.
A filling two entree platter with rice will run you 45 pesos while just one entree with rice will cost you 38 pesos. Drinks like tea and jamaica are extra.
And remember, you will require hydration later.
For a fast food place, this one gets 4 out of 5.
A short 10 minute drive along a narrow secondary road from Rio Lagartos takes you to the small seaside town of San Felipe. One is immediately struck by the enormous difference between the chaotic, undeveloped ugliness of Rio Lagartos and the ordered, colorful main street of San Felipe! While San Felipe is not the french riviera, you can see that there is someone, somewhere, concerned with keeping the town’s aesthetic intact.
Multi-colored wooden houses with fences, wide and clean sidewalks and actual planters with ornamental plants in them are what greet you as you make your way down the main street towards the beachfront.
Since the purpose of our visit to San Felipe was to find a restaurant, we looked for and found our destination, the El Payaso seafood restaurant. The Casual Restaurant Critic, who was along for the ride, can tell you all about it on his blog.
After a delicious seafood lunch, a short drive around town and then we were off to Mérida, this time via Buctzotz and the secondary roads that eventually lead you through Motul and finally Mérida, where we arrived 4 hours later. With the rain and the dark, it made for some hairy driving experiences what with unmarked road improvements and the occasional unannounced speed bump or tope, but we made it in one piece.