Tuesday, January 22, 2008



When we arrive in a new town I seek out restaurants in the same manner in which I peruse covers at a bookstore: completely falling hook, line and sinker for a pretty exterior. So when we took a day trip from San Pancho to Sayulita, we made a quick sweep of the town, zeroing in on Lupe. With its minimal, art-filled space, Lupe is the kind of restaurant that I fall in love with at first sight.

Fortunately the menu at Lupe backs the restaurant's beautiful facade. Heirloom recipes that have been handed down for generations and carefully collected by owner Upi Viteri, are handcrafted from scratch daily. Only the freshest seasonal ingredients are used to create this lovely menu of authentic regional Mexican cuisine.

Amuse Bouche: Ricotta and parsley taquitos

Maize Boats - 65 pesos

Handmade maize sopecitos with shredded chicken, lettuce, tomato, avocado and a cilantro herb sauce. Like chicken tostadas, only dreamier.

Tortilla Soup - 55 pesos

Hands down one of the best soups I've ever had the pleasure of devouring. I literally licked the bowl clean.

Mole de Lupe - 150 pesos

Chicken breast in a black Oaxaca mole sauce, served with almond rice and hand made tortillas. Now John was the one to lick his plate clean.

Shrimp and coconut rice - 150 pesos

Light and refreshing, the shrimp left just enough room for a fresh churro on our way home.

Since it was our last night in Mexico when we finally made it to Lupe, the meal had that rich, end-of-trip romanticism about it. Over incredible food we reflected on everything from how much snow we'd have to shovel in our driveway to where our next travel adventure will be. By the end of the night one thing was certain: another trip to Sayulita would be a must, if only to dine again at Lupe.

- Katie

Jose Mariscal 12
Sayulita, Mexico

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Restaurante Las Palmas


We arrived in San Pancho late in the evening and famished, with nothing on our agenda other than food and beer. We quickly found both at Restaurante Las Palmas, located right on the small town's sandy beach. As we dug our feet into the sand we chowed on everything from enchiladas to fish prepared in banana leaves, and huge plates of shrimp and fish ceviche. Many beers were consumed as we took turns visiting the surf, and at the end of the meal we were shocked to find that our bill for a group of 12 amounted to a mere $15 USD per person.

The following morning we were back at Restaurante Las Palmas, this time in search of their plastic lounge chairs (and admittedly, more beer). As long as you keep the drink orders coming, Restaurante Las Palmas will let you take up residence on their beach chairs, and we were more than happy to oblige. But eventually beer leads to hunger pains, and thus we were able to sample a few more incredible selections from the menu:

Octopus prepared with garlic

I'd thought plates of food like this only existed in my dreams. The octopus was the perfect texture: not too rubbery, not too soft. Now as for how it left my breath, that's another matter entirely...

Steak Fajitas

John devoured these tasty fajitas in between margaritas.

House Specialty: Guacamole

I am not a guacamole fan myself, but the aficionados in our group tell me this version, with cucumbers, takes the cake. The cucumbers gave it a fresh, clean taste, complementing the texture perfectly.

The view from Restaurante Las Palmas

Directions: Head straight to the beach in San Pancho from the "city center" entrance. Las Palmas will be on your right hand side. Have some of the ceviche for me!

- Katie

Monday, January 07, 2008

Mar Plata


While San Pancho has plenty of amazing local food and seafood, one thing the tiny fishing village is short on is sparkling wine. Given my affinity toward the bubbly, I was ecstatic to arrive at Mar Plata for Christmas dinner to find a wine menu complete with sparkling wine, prosecco and even a bottle of champagne or two.

Bubbles aside, Mar Plata is stunning. Perched at the top of a winding hill at the north end of town near the Costa Azul resort, the restaurant looks like an abandoned building by day. At night the walls are rolled open, allowing the ocean breeze to seep in. Rusted metal lanterns hang from the dark sky ceiling, and we were seated at a long aqua table that looked like it had spent years in the sun. A soundtrack of everything from St. Germaine to The Cure danced with the night air.

Seared tuna salad with arugula - 110 pesos (Approx. $11)

The greens were a little too soaked in olive oil, but the dish was worth it for the ruby chunks of tuna alone.

Smoked marlin salad with soft shell crab and caper dressing - 135 pesos (Approx $13.50)

John's never met a caper he didn't like, and this dressing was no exception. After a long day of margaritas on the beach he also appreciated the reduced effort required to enjoy crab soft shell style, sans the shucking.

Seared tuna with tomato emulsion - 165 pesos (Approx $16.50)

I ask you, have you ever seen a piece of tuna like that for $16.50? I certainly had not. The emulsion was more mild than I expected, but again, take a look at that hunk of tuna...

Outside skirt - 310 pesos ($31.10)

Definitely one of the more expensive selections on this reasonably-priced menu, but John is worth every penny. The steak had a refreshingly "beefy" flavor, which we attribute to it being grass fed beef. And after a week chock full of seafood, John found that a steak the size of Texas was a nice change.

Chocolate Cake with vanilla ice cream - 70 pesos ($7)

For the sake of variety, I suppose it is a good thing we went to Mar Plata at the tail end of our trip. Otherwise, I have a feeling I would have been tempted to go back every night in order to indulge my need for bubbly.

- Katie

Mar Plata
Calle de Palmas 30, Col. Costa Azul
San Francisco, Mexico
Closed Mondays, and also closed Aug-Sept

Saturday, January 05, 2008

La Bottegga dei Sapori


It has been so long since we've blogged that I momentarily forgot our Blogspot username and password. One visitor to The Gourmand Syndrome even asked if we were on a food diet. However "diet" is a word that is certainly not in our vocabulary; in reality, an over-committed schedule over the past two months has been our excuse. What better way to rejuvenate, and get back into the blogging spirit, than spending eight days in San Pancho, Mexico.

San Pancho, also referred to as San Francisco, is a tiny coastal fishing village in Nayarit, about 30-40 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta (PV). The town is a perfect hideout for anyone needing a little R&R and a lot of time focused on eating.

Upon our arrival in San Pancho we quickly stumbled upon many culinary gems, including La Bottegga dei Sapori, a cute Italian bakery owned by a sweet, hippie couple from Milan. Each day (with the exception of Sunday) La Bottegga dei Sapori offers up incredible treats, such as fruit tarts, profiteroles that will make you cry with joy, and steaming hot slices of pizza for 20-22 pesos each. I personally chose to start each morning with a piece of their pizza con olives for breakfast.

Pizza con olives - 22 pesos (approximately $2.20)

The owners of La Bottegga dei Saproi are so gracious that when we inquired about a cake for a friend's birthday, they quickly created a jumbo version of their profiteroles for our group of 12. On our last day in town I picked up a piece of the pizza con olives for the road, and nestled it on my lap as we made the car trip to the airport in PV. I forced myself to keep that slice of pizza wrapped in foil through the lush, curving jungle roads, until the traffic began to slow, and the signs for "Senor Frogs" became abundant. The slice was cold, but delicious nonetheless.

Stay tuned for more excerpts from San Pancho, including fresh tortillas, taco carts, and even some fine dining. (No diets allowed.)

- Katie

La Bottegga dei Sapori
Calle America Latina #7
San Pancho, Nayarit
01 (311) 258.4392
Open Monday through Saturday
E-mail: kia.anto@libero.it