By Allan Yanitski from the April 2015 Edition
We spend our winter months in Manzanillo, Mexico. So a good neighbourhood restaurant is mandatory. The first few years we walked by this restaurant that featured a huge grill open to the street near the Soriana Mall in Salagua. The faces inside were all locals, and the restaurant was usually always full.
One day, we decided to risk what we thought was street vendor food (Code for Canadian and USA paranoia). We were the only non-locals there. The menus (two large posters) were hanging on opposing walls. Using our broken Spanglish to try figure out what the different tacos were made of, we decided on the large arrachera Especial tacos.
After we placed our order, the table was promptly filled with an assortment of homemade (as in made at the restaurant) condiments including such items as frijoles, fresh chopped sweet onions and cilantro, huge sliced radish, banana peppers, limes, and a couple bowls of salsas. The meal also included a dish they called Sexy Nopales (sliced nopales cactus mixed with thinly sliced strips of tomato, red pepper, and sweet onion strips) along with crispy tostadas.
The tacos arrived a few minutes later, and we were pleased to see a 7″ diameter tortilla filled with cheese and arrachera (skirt steak strips that had been marinated then grilled). We filled the taco with different condiments and we were hooked.
On our way out of the restaurant we watched the ladies as they handmade the tortillas in a wooden press and placed them on the grill as the orders came in. The tacos sold for 55 pesos each and were a meal.
Fast forward five years and the first place we go to for a meal after we drop our suitcases in the condo is over to Don Julio’s. The large tacos now sell for 70 pesos, but this is a bargain for all fresh ingredients. The restaurant has expanded to include a lower floor and they are in the process of adding a second floor. During the day (until 6 pm) they offer seafood dishes from the attached Tacos El Pargo restaurant. I recommend the Taco de Cameron Especial (the same as the arrachera taco but with shrimp instead of beef).
If you are able to eat prior to 6 pm order 1 mini especial arrachera taco, and 1 mini especial shrimp taco. It will set you back 72 pesos, but the shrimp taco comes with another assortment of condiments including, spicy pickled cucumbers, Mexicana salsa ( fresh and mild ), coleslaw, spicy creamed guacamole, and a shrimp broth with a few shrimp at the bottom of the cup.
In all the years my wife and I have dined here, we have not experienced any stomach problems. Now I know that should not be an issue worth mentioning in a restaurant review but when you first enter the restaurant, you may have reservations about entering. Continue on in, you won’t be disappointed.
Speaking of reservations, they are not required.
My wife maintains that this is her favourite meal in Manzanillo. It may be the fresh ingredients, or it could be because the food tastes great.
On hot days, I recommend sitting in the lower level, as it is cooler there.
To summarize, a lot of expats and snowbirds now eat here. It is not like our first time there, when we were the only non-local patrons; they have now printed menus in English.
The cost for a meal is going to be around $6.00 to $7.00 a person not including beverages or tip. If you choose some of the seafood dishes expect to pay $10.00 to $12.00 a person. If you like ceviche, they offer different types for take-out (the take-out includes different types of tostadas, limes, sauces, and avocado).
Seafood and ceviche is served until 6 p.m. daily.