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La Paz: The Dining04:52 AM -- Thu April 7, 2005

The Dining
Don't read this if you're the type who doesn't want to look at peoples' vacation slides (i.e. normal) - it's not anything interesting
I'm just sharing it because this was my first time ever outside the U.S.! It was all news to me.

So, the most important thing I do on vacation, and the one I spend the most time thinking about and doing, is eating! Mmm, food!! So here's my restaurant review of La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico (please pretend you see accent marks on the letters that should have them - inserting them would be a serious pain):
  • Isadora's - The only place we ate at more than once, outside of our hotel. This is a slightly hidden little place, a half-block in from the boardwalk. We mostly went to places on the boardwalk. We ate breakfast here twice, ordering the exact same thing (omelet for me, quesadillas for the lady), and it was just really nice. Nobody there spoke any english, and they were really patient and friendly, and tried to help us, but I don't think they were real familiar with dealing with english speakers - they just ripped along with rapid-fire spanish, and big words, and I tried to keep up! On our second visit, she actually gave us a Cliente Frecuente card for 10% off our next visit. We wanted to come back for it, but it was closed the one chance we had after that. It was too bad, we wanted to try their dinners. Felt welcome there! And it was real cheap too.

  • Hotel Mediterrane Cafe - This was the little cafe in our hotel (Check it out). We had breakfast there twice, and it was good. Our hotel was the least Mexican place in the whole city - for breakfast I had a croissant with scrambled eggs in it! It's run by a Swiss guy and a Mexican, so logically, it's a Greek-themed hotel. Nothing fabulous, just a little, kinda overpriced cafe (just what you expect at a hotel!). But I have to say I really enjoyed what I got when I ordered "Cereal". It was in fact a bowl of some good cereal (Total maybe? Something like that, I liked it), but covered with a huge heap of various fruits, and the milk was on the side along with a little bowl of plain yogurt. So I was dipping spoonfuls of fruit+cereal into yogurt before I actually got down to normal cereal. Yum!

  • La Pazta - This is the restaurant attached to our hotel. It also is the least Mexican restaurant we visited. It's good. And very very expensive. We also ate here twice (oh yeah, and then came back even once more for a snack, just so Sol could get the Pomodoro salad again, which she was absolutely crazy for). It's pretty much a pasta place, with a variety of weirdly international stuff going on. Very nice place, but expensive.

  • La Fabula - A pizza place! We got two personal pizzas, happened to show up on 2 for 1 day, which was nice. The waitress here was really nice, one of the few who really joked around with us a little (but spoke no english). It was okay. Definitely better than the pizza I got in the LAX airport before our trip! We also got fries (wanted nachos, but they were out), and the ketchup they gave us was funky... it was much sweeter and paler than normal ketchup. I'd say it was actually more like sweet & sour sauce.

  • La Concha - A restaurant on Tecolote beach. Nothing special. Actually, we later ate at another restaurant on Tecolote as well, which was also nothing special (except for creepily awesome service at the latter place, which I cannot recall the name of). Neither was bad though.

  • La Terraza - We breakfasted here, and it was good... I got to have pancakes, and Sol had an "omelet azteca", which was an omelet with chilaquiles in it (kinda like tortilla chips, with some tomato salsa goo). But it was definitely for the turistas - it was in another hotel, and everybody spoke too darn much english.

  • Cafe El Callejon - Basically a sports bar, with a large open-air component. We liked it a lot, and both tried things we had never heard of (the waiter was really cool and explained what huaraches are without a word of english). I had enfrijoladas, which it turns out are enchiladas, but where the 'chila' part of enchilada means some sort of chili-based sauce, the 'frijola' part of enfrijolada means beans. So instead of red sauce, it was covered with beans. Really good, though I think I'd rather just have enchiladas. Sol got huaraches, which is sort of like a really thick corn tortilla, with stuff heaped on top. Stuff in this case included her (and my) first ever taste of nopalitos - cactus bits. She liked them! A good place.

  • Mall Food Court - Hey, when in la Paz, you do as the locals do... hang out at the mall! No, we only went to the mall once and got some great stuff to eat in our room (including donuts! Yay!). But we did get to experience what the food court is like in another country. Pretty similar, just more mexican food. I had the world's tiniest gordita (more like a delgadita!), but to be fair it was only 7 pesos, so it was kind of a matter of me not being well informed. You're supposed to order multiples, I think, kind of like White Castle. Sol had a tostada. It was fun. I really enjoyed the grocery shopping part the most. There was also an arcade which we sadly didn't play at. Consisted mostly of Japanese versions of games.

  • El Dragon De Oro - You can't go to Mexico without trying the chinese food, right? Actually, it was surprisingly good. We just had chow mein to share.

  • La Divina Uva - This was the outrageously expensive super hot super tourist night spot (greek restaurant actually) that some guy accosted us to go visit while he was standing in front of a completely different restaurant. He gave us a paper that would've gotten us a free margarita. But we ended up actually going for breakfast for no particular reason and discovered that it's rather reasonably priced at breakfast time. I got french toast! YUM! It was actually really nifty and unique french toast, very artistic. This was the site of our only vegetarian accident - even though we had previously looked up molletes to discover they had no meat, at La Divina Uva, they are covered with hot dog bits. Seriously, hot dog bits. Upscale indeed. So she had to peel those off, but she got to try another thing she'd never tried, molletes. They are a bolillo roll cut open, with frijoles and cheese on it. Pretty basic concept (apparently so basic that they felt the need to throw hot dogs on). In addition to this stuff, we shared a big old plate of assorted fruits, which was just awesome. There was lots of fruit involved in a lot of meals, and it was always good. One more fun note on this restaurant - when they ask you if you want to sit inside or out, don't make the mistake we did. A restaurant that's built right on a low pier down by the water... you want to sit inside. The view isn't as spectacular, but your table won't be utterly covered with tiny ocean-flies. Oh, it was so disgusting. I did love the food, though!

  • El Oasis - On our last night, we ate here, after having ignored the calls of the guys trying to pull us into it as we walked by every single night previously (in fact, the Divina Uva guy was standing in front of this very place). What did get us in? Live music. It drew Sol like a magnet. Let that be a lesson to aspiring restaurateurs - live music brings the people in. It was a great finish to our trip. We had the music going, a really friendly waiter who I discussed yesterday, a really good meal, and I got to enjoy that whole Tacos De Queso fun and feel like I was really communicating.
The dining irony of our trip? El Quinto Sol, the only vegetarian restaurant in the whole city, the only restaurant I was sure we had to go to since before we even got there, was the one that we never found a chance to get to. We kept trying though! We were going for sure on our last night, only to discover it's not open Sunday nights. Guess we have to go back to La Paz. Besides, we still have our Cliente Frecuente card from Isadora's!
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