Trouble in Paradise at Ernesto's Good Grub PV Original Location
“Go to Outback if you want ribs!” my knowledgeable and sophisticated Mexican friend advised. “Barbecue is NOT Mexican.” But what does she know.
Actually, probably a lot. The only restaurants serving good bbq that I have ever found in PV are both run by American ex-pats. And one of them is losing its touch.
That one is, sadly, Ernesto’s Good Grub, Original Location, off Francisco Villa at Milan, one block in, catty-corner to the (defunct) Versailles Theater. All-you-can-eat ribs at Ernesto’s has been a tradition for years for us. There was nowhere else I’d go on a Thursday night. Even when we discovered that the premium charged over normal weekday non-illimitada orders wasn’t worth it, unless you were likely to eat more than a rack and a half, the sheer fun of the highly charged atmosphere was not to be missed. Jackie, one of Ernesto’s two daughters, flew around the place singing out “More ribs?” and everyone was happy. Though Ernesto’s doesn’t smoke its ribs, the sauce is unique, and only Mrs. Ernesto can make it, he says. My best guess is that it contains molasses, Worcestershire, and a few hundred other things. It is not tomato based, but dark and very sticky.
Last year (or was it two years ago?) Ernesto opened a branch for one daughter in Nuevo Vallarta. This did not have a deleterious effect on the main one; in fact, the absence of some of the FTs staying out there was quite welcome.
But this year, Jackie got her own restaurant too, in La Cruz. Those two are cannibalizing each other, and both are having a similar and very noticeable effect on the original. But it’s not just the lack of customers, though being the only customer on successive Sunday nights in December was startling and depressing as was having them close the doors at 8:30 on a Thursday night. The volume, lower by an order of magnitude, seems to be causing a change in the preparation methods. This is compounded by the fact that none of this year’s wait staff speaks much English, though 90% of the customers are English-speaking tourists. And my requests for well done (in Spanish it’s ‘dorado’) were ignored, or not understood, though last year there was no problem. It seems like they're just grilling to order from a frozen state. In fact, I was served bloody ribs, the last time I went there. Even that could be considered an oversight, or at least easily correctable. But people in our parties have got sick, in several, uh, ways, several times, including me, and after a whole lot of analysis, we can only attribute these incidents to Ernesto’s. SO that is that, though we’ll see what happens next season.
(The other, Epoca, is reviewed separately on this Board).
"Well done" in Spanish is 'bien cocido'. As a previous poster wrote, *dorado* is a kind of fish. *Dorado* also means 'golden brown', in kitchen parlance.
If you want your french fries double-cooked and really crunchy, you order them 'bien doradas'. If you want your meat well done, you ask for 'bien cocido'.
There seems to be some difference of opinion as to whether when speaking of tacos al pastor, 'dorada', 'dorado', or 'bien cocido' would be most appropriate. We were told, again, speaking of tacos, to say queremos la carne dorada (sic), and we carried it over to Ernesto's to the ribs and the fries too. They knew exactly what we meant. I am SO sorry that I offended the sensibilities of vallarta-insider.
On two recent Rib Nights, Ernesto's Original was SRO.
I posted this to Tripadvisor Jan 6, 2011:
If you read my chow.com review of Ernesto's a year ago, you might have decided not to try it. I'm glad to say the 3 Ernesto's restaurants have seemingly evened each other out, and the Original, on Milan off Francisco Villa in PV itself, is as good as ever, though, still not as crowded or jolly. The wait staff has improved and there are typically enough customers (40 or whatever) to provide a festive atmosphere. Rib night has really improved. Instead of the single rack for 170 and the ayce for 190 as it was last year, (apparently Jackie was just nice to me by giving me 1.5 racks on normal nights; it's definitely a single), ayce is now 150! Now that's a deal.