We dined at Las Mercedes yesterday and it was a fine experience. I'd advised the host, Sr. Jesús Carranza, and the Chef, his wife, Sra. Luz María, that my wife and I would be celebrating our 41st wedding anniversary. They and our waiter, Pedro, went all out to make our meal a memorable occasion. In fact, we were the only diners from 2:30 to 5:15 p,m.
The setting is like being in a modern Mexican house' dining room. The view of the Guanajuato hills is pleasant. Above all, Sr. Carranza is a very good host, charming and engaing in a very friendly and informal way. The service is nearly perfect.
He enjoys explaining the origins of each dish and its ingredients. The menu is verbal, and we had several excellent selections among the choices. I'll detail the various dishes on my blog, but among the highlights were a starters of thinly sliced nopal, layered with smoked salmon and goat cheese, a dab of crushed black chile to one side.
My entrada was a cheese filled chile pasilla, wrapped in homemade flour tortilla, and crisped, baked with natas on top. Natas are something like clotted cream. It was good, but quite rich and buttery with a picante heart. I thought the appetizer of nopal and salmon was a better choice.
We were brought amueuse bouches of tiny, crisp envelopes, perhaps made from fried flour tortilla, filled with a cool black bean pico de gallo. We were also brought complimentary, small raspaditos (shaved ice) drinks of mezcal de la sierra with the juice or puree of xoconostles, a sour cactus fruit.
My second course, Sopa Negra de Cuitlacoche, was excellent, and overall, lighter than anticipated. My wife wisely chose a nice salad of mixed grees, sqaush blossons with herbe goat cheese, and a light tarragon dressing
My wife continued with the salmon theme with a perfectly cooked, moist fleshed salmon fillet, a little mound of very rich mashed potatoes, a bit of spinach and...I'll have to look at my photos to recall the details.
I chose a Chamorro de Cerdo en Caldillo de Frijól Negro, which was very good, but not my most favorite of my courses. It carries a lot of meat. I enjoyed it, the bean broth more than the pork shank, but it was too much to finish.
We regretfully we going to skip dessert, but Jesús, in his charmingly convincing manner, said that Chef Luzma had prepared a special Anniversary dessert. It was a small basket of good chocolate, filled with a light cream of garambullo, a variety of ripe cactus fruit. It rested next to half a small cake of a budín de elote or steamed corn cake. I liked the combination, expecially the corn cake, very much.
With a bottle of Argentine wine, Roca Valdivieso 2004; one bottled water, 1 cafe Americano and and 2 cafés express, the total bill was about $76 USD, apart from a well deserved tip to our waiter. I consider the meal a fantastic one, and a bargain by our standards.
I've uploaded and organized more pics on my photo blog,
Photos of Guanajuato food in general
Photos of Restaurante Las Mercedes
I've become aware of a few mistakes I made on my post on Restaurante Las Mercedes.
First, our host's name was Sr. Jesús *Cárdenas*, not "Carranza".
Also, some contact data could be useful:
Tel: (01-473) 732-7375 y 733-9059
Has been some years since I have been to Gto. The only really outstanding meal we had was at a lovely garden patio restaurant in the Marfil area. Hacienda de Marfil? Next door to Casa de Espiritus Alegres. At the time they were open only for lunch (but a lovely leisurely lunch setting). If it is still open, you might inquire about it. Otherwise, the restaurants at the time of our visit were not particularly interesting. We've had much better experiences in other places in Mexico.
I live in Gto. Yes, The Midi is good for Mediterranean food (the owner has been in Mexico for many years but born in Southern France) and just off the same Plaza San Fernando is an authentic small Japanese ;restaurant, Las Delicas, with a different Japanese comida corrida each day. For tasty Mexican food, La Torta de Sancho Panza opposite the Diego Rivera house is a filling, local favorite and depending on the day you may get something special like their pork in guajillo sauce. I also like the Venta de Toboso almost to the Cervantes Theatre. There's a new restaurant called Sazon Cervantino on the first floor (meaning upstairs) toward the end of Calle Alonso farthest from the Jardin and nearby on Juan Valle The Cerro de las Ranas is a quiet place Mexico Lindo y Bonito (or maybe Bonito y Lindo) is more expensive than the others I've listed but the food is good, indoor and outdoor settings pleasant, and service excellent, serves local and Yucatec food.
I also like the tosstadas de ceviche sold outside Embajadoras Market and the Consomme made from tomato, garbanzos rice and goat meat sold inside. Theree's also a woman near the back of the market who makes good chicken soup. The champurrado and tamales sold in the Pastita area at night are delicious too. I am a frequent patron of the fruit flavored ice creams near the beginning of Paseo de la Presa and if you go there you might as well go across the street to Callejon Pena Grande, walk up a few steps and then some tiled steps to the right which willl take you to a bakery that could be right out of medieval times. Buen provecho.
I forgot to mention that the fondas above Presa de la Olla are a favorite destination for Guanajuatenses, especially on a Sunday, with the enchiladas mineras (chicken, carrots, potatoes) a specialty. I ate at El Cerro de las Ranas today while the Mexico-
Costa Rica football game was on the TV turned up loud so it's not always quiet but the green walls make a cool contrast when the sun is beating down outside and there's usually something special as part of the comida, today a cold cream of avocado soup, lightly seasoned with chile and topped by slivers of ham.
Several of these restaurants have closed, including, alas Veronique's French restaurant in Plaza San Fernando. The Japanese restaurant Mitsu is still going strong. La Venta de Toboso, and the Sazon Cervantino no. New restaurants include a Russian restaurant on the road going to San Miguel and a Swedish restaurant next to VIPS on Sangre de Cristo. Believe it or not, Devlin's Bar on Positos serves a good and reasonable Mexican comida that includes a salad bar. At the corner of the Jardin where El Pinguis used to be, you'll now find La Bohemia, good for a late night bowl of soup after a concert or for the usual Guanajuato fare anytime.
Guanajuato is a very nice city, I went there in my honeymoon, but no remember restaurants, I believe we ate mostly in Fonditas, but some places you got to do is try the tour La callejonada! it is a walking tour with musicians! other go to the "callejon del beso" and for a tip , a kid will explain to you the story that happened in that place, also go to the Pipila Statue, the hippie market, Teatro Juarez, and about night clubs go to Guanajuato Grill, great place.
Enjoy it !
It's been over two years since I spent a month in Guanajuato. It is truly one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to. Unfortunately, all the places I ate at were reasonably good but none were exceptional. One place that put a lot of effort into everything was El Zopilote Mojado(the wet vulture). They do espresso drinks well (served with a complimentary cookie with their logo on it) and have a menu mostly of baguette sandwiches (about $5 us dollars). They have comfortable seating and fairly recent NY times.
Cafe Tal has some of the best coffee in Mexico. They roast on site. The owner used to be a violinist in the GTO symphony which plays in one of the three large theaters every friday they are not touring.
The vegetarian place near the university is also pretty good.
There is an Italian place (I don't remember the name) in a house on one of the hills overlooking GTO. The food is only pretty good but represents good value in a "nice restaurant" where you can dine for under $10.
There are nice reasonable places for commida corrida. I liked El Refugio de los Angeles much more then Truco Siete. Their servers were exceptionally kind and patient. (commida corrida about $4) . '
Have a good trip. I'm jealous.
When we last were in Guanajuato in the 90s, we liked getting breakfast at one of the fondas to the left of the Mercado Hidalgo. At the time, it was a 3-storey concrete structure.
Go with a sense of adventure, si on a bench around the open kitchen, and enjoy various guisados and tamales.