Would you believe you can consume an unbelievably tasty hamburger at a hot dog stand for about $1.90? The woman cooked them fresh, toasted the buns, added a Kraft single, grilled onions, avocado, tomato, salsa, lettuce and a grilled jalapeno on the side (although that might have been extra and she just decided to let it go for the Gringos). Throw in a glass of agua fresca for 10 pesos, and you have a wonderful lunch for under $3.00 US and a much better culture experience than the places that cater to Americans.
We also have discovered several dishes we were unaware of. While Jenn was familiar with them, I had not had Chilequiles for breakfast. I’m now addicted, and fortunately Jenn can make them so I don’t have to eat out every time I crave them. We have discovered some treats, such as Tostilotes, which is small bag of corn chips cut open sideways, filled with salsa, corn, crema and queso fresco. You then eat it out of a bag with a spoon. We also observed something similar where a styrofoam cup was layered with the same ingredients, minus the corn chips, the corn for both dishes being steamed in large metal washtubs with a small fire underneath them, all typically on a large three wheeled bike.
I have had to google several items I’ve seen on menus, and there are still several dishes we have not tried, such as Gringas (if I’m reading right, it is a taco made with a cheese quesidilla – kind of like the burger we had in Portland made with grilled cheese sandwiches for buns), Hurrachas and several other dishes I’ve never heard of. I’m eager to try them, while continuing to enjoy the discoveries we have made. We have consumed more than a couple street tacos, and are curious about the Papis Rellenas some of the taco stands serve. They bake a potato in foil over their grill, then mash it up and stir on corn, carne asada, crema and queso fresco and serve it with tortillas. At the small table set up next to the grill, there were bowls of toppings to add, ranging from cucumbers to roast peppers, grilled and fresh onions and a variety of salsas. We have also tried some familiar sounding items that are much better here, such as the amazing $1 tamales we bought on the beach at the second stop of the Baja Haha, with a surprise green olive in them.
Sometimes it feels a little more adventurous than others. If I heard right, I ate a cow tongue hot dog a couple days ago, and it was beyond delicious. Jenn and I have both taken an brave approach to food, trying any little stand we stumble across and taking our chances with the consequences. So far neither of us have had disastrous results, either taste wise or stomach wise. I will admit we didn’t finish the cup of tamarind with peanuts she bought, it was unique and tasty but a bit strong after a few bites. The funny thing is I don’t think either of us have had a burrito, enchilada or fajita since we’ve been here. I’ll have to eat one just to see what the local version is like someday, but with so many new and unique choices it is hard to eat something that seems so familiar and boring.
Jenn and I did get called out yesterday on a food related incident. As we walked the Malecon to find a bookstore that carried a cruising guide for the mainland, we stopped outside of Burger King and were both reading a giant sign listing their combo meals, honestly just out of curiosity, not any desire to eat there. Suddenly we heard a scooter honking, and looked over to see Travis, the owner of the very popular with the cruisers establishment The Shack riding by. He called out to us “I know where you can get a better burger!” which is very true. While not 25 Pesos, The Shack serves up HUGE burgers, so big couples often split one. Coupled with their 15 Peso Happy Hour margaritas and 100 Peso buckets of ice cold Pacifico, this new business appears to be well on its way to becoming cruiser central. They encourage boats to sign their walls, and have an old mainsail hanging over the pack patio as a roof. While not active on busy nights, they also have a wood fired pizza oven, and are bringing in a chef so they can always have pizzas, not just when they aren’t too busy.
It is also interesting that La Paz has several Chinese restaurants, multiple sushi places (although the one we ducked into for a snack was a disappointment both on timely service and bland flavor), pizza joints, Italian and French spots. I’m sure there are other places we haven’t seen yet, and while we will sample the ethnic cuisine from time to time, I suspect the bulk of our eating out will center on exploring the Mexican cuisine.