Saturday, November 26, 2011

Eating in Veracruz

Seafood, of course, except for breakfast.

On Thursday I had lunch at one of the beachfront palapas on the rather shabby beach next to the aquarium. (I'm not a beach person, so I didn't seek out the good one, further out in the adjacent town of Boca del Rio, a separate municipality but for practical purposes an extension of Veracruz.) These restaurants all have similar menus, so I chose the most crowded one. I had a crab cocktail and pulpo (octopus) a la Veracruzana, both respectable though unspectacular. I always find Mexican cocktail sauces much too sweet, so lime and chile sauce were added liberally. Any seafood dish called a la Veracruzana, which you can find at many Mexican restaurants in the U.S., features a sauce of chopped tomatoes and onions.

One of Veracruz's most famous seafood restaurants, Villa Rica, has a branch at the Gran Hotel Diligencias, right on the Zocalo (main square), where I happened to be staying. I started with an order of shrimp empanadas which may well have been the best empanadas I've ever tasted. For my main course I chose the fish filet stuffed with mixed seafood. This too was quite good except for the fact that it had a white sauce which seemed to be mayo based, which is really not my cuppa, or even my copa. In Veracruz you can get many things stuffed with seafood: fish filet, crab shells, pineapples and coconuts. I washed my dinner down with a dark Bohemia beer and finished with a Herradura Anejo (anejos are the cognac of tequila). This was my Thanksgiving dinner. I'd save the turkey for Yucatan, where it's a staple of the local cuisine.

The next day I had lunch at a food court that's full of stalls selling seafood dishes of all sorts. At one of the stalls I had camaron enchipotlado (shrimp in a chipotle sauce), picante y muy delicioso.

For dinner I tried a place that I had scouted out earlier, but which turned out to be somewhat disappointing. I ordered the stuffed crab, not realizing that it would be pretty much the same stuffing I had the night before, only not as good. Still, the owner/waiter was really nice, and after dinner he brought me several small alcoholic batidas (shakes) on the house, a guanabana and a mango.


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