For several reasons, I don’t go out to eat too often down here in Mexico. The main reason, of course, is money. It’s just cheaper for me to cook at home, even if some of the restaurants in this area are quite economical. But there are a lot of places, particularly in the Ajijic area, that can run into [gasp] double digits. Yes, I’m poor and a tightwad.
Another reason for not dining out is that my friends and I love to do pitch in lunches, which means it’s even cheaper and more fun to eat at home. About once every two weeks, we come up with a main dish idea and then everyone who is not doing the main dish arrives with a complementary dish. Generally, this works out great. Our only real “failure”….and I use that term VERY loosely….arose from a misunderstanding early on about whether we were going to do lunch or brunch. I made chili con carne and my friends showed up with the makings for pancakes. But, you know, it was still good! We just used the pancakes and syrup as dessert after the chili. I feel that Karen’s friend Joyce [see previous post] would have totally approved!
But there are times when some craving takes over, or when two or three or four of us are headed east to Ajijic, San Antonio, or Chapala, and we eat out. We don’t choose the expensive places, and we generally order things that we can’t or don’t make at home, but I always feel slightly guilty about spending $8 or $10 US for lunch.
However, a few months ago, a little restaurant called Gloria’s opened up in the next pueblo east of Jocotepec, in El Chante. It’s off the beaten path [i.e. the carretera or highway], but my friend Kathi discovered it because she spends seemingly half her life on the road in either her RAV4 or her Morgan sports car. She always seems to find the coolest places first, and on the rare occasions that I’ve found a place she doesn’t know about, I gloat over it. [Okay, I’m poor, tight fisted, and egocentric. I know that….because I’m also exceedingly self aware. Did I mention egocentric?]
I’d been to Gloria’s a few times for lunch and always had something good for a reasonable price. But a couple of weeks ago, I met up with one of my sister bloggers from here at Lake Chapala [Pat Walker of http://mexicodailyliving.blogspot.com/ ] and drove into Ajijic to pick her up and take her on a tour of the west end of the lake where I live.
As we approached Jocotepec from the east, Pat mentioned that she was hungry and asked if there were there any inexpensive, good restaurants in Joco. It took me a minute, but then I thought of Gloria’s, and off we went.
It happened to be a Friday and, since the last time I had been to Gloria’s, she had begun having daily specials. The Friday special was barbecued ribs, served with homemade potato salad [a rarity in this part of Mexico], a kind of homemade Beanie Weenie, and garlic toast. So that’s what the two of us had, along with a good sized bottle of Coke for Pat and my dearly beloved and difficult to find in Mexico Dr. Pepper for me. The tab? $62MX a person…..50MX [for the meal] and 12MX [for the soft drink]. So, based on today’s pretty bad exchange rate, that’s $5.27US apiece for a FABULOUS meal.
I’m not just talking fabulous for me because it was good and didn’t cost a lot. I’m talking fabulous by pretty much anybody’s standards. Pat, who eats out often in the Ajijic area, said that she believed it was the best meal she had had in Mexico. High praise indeed!
In fact, it was SO good that on the following Friday, I insisted that my usual pitch in lunch crowd go with me to Gloria’s for ribs. I took one of them in my pickup’s cab with me and piled the other two in the back of the truck…..which always causes giggles and pointing amongst the local folks who are not used to seeing gringas in the back of a pickup….and away we went.
Shortly after the four of us had arrived and placed our orders, guess who wandered in! It was Pat Walker and two gringa friends of hers who had driven all the way out to Joco just to eat at Gloria’s. That’s how good it is!
And lest you think that this is a large place with a huge staff, you need to see some pictures of the place. Gloria’s Cafe has four tables….one of which seats three, one of which seats four, and two of which seat six. That’s it. Here are some pictures:
Yep, those are the “pantries” from which the magic springs. And here are a couple of pictures of the kitchen in which Gloria produces these miracles:
Yep, that’s it. Cooktop, a couple of toaster ovens, and a microwave. And yet everyday this woman produces the lunch specials, tamales, breakfast, and pizzas, among other things. I’m sure, however, that somewhere nearby Gloria has another kitchen. She often disappears into the bowels of her house behind the restaurant to scoop out things like the ribs.
Gloria does owe a debt of gratitude to her husband, Ishmael. He was a butcher in the US for a number of years and knows good cuts of meat. That’s how he’s able to come up with the basics for Gloria’s daily specials, which include spaghetti with meat sauce, fried chicken, milanesa de pollo, and carne en su jugo, among other things. Here’s Ishmael, your host:
And here is what makes it all GO, the lovely and talented Gloria:
So, when you come to visit me, we’ll be eating OFTEN at Gloria’s. And if you live down here now, I urge you to visit….particularly on Fridays for the barbecue.
Gloria’s is located in El Chante. If you are coming from the east [i.e. Chapala, Ajijic, San Juan Cosala] go past all the developments at Los Sendaros, over the two topes in El Chante, and begin looking for the outdoor cafe of Las Tortugas on your right and the development of Rancho San Jorge on your left. Immediately past Rancho San Jorge and across the carretera from Las Tortugas, is a street. Turn left off the carretera and go down the long block until the street deadends. Immediately in front of you, you will see Gloria’s.
Go! Eat! Enjoy!
And, Joyce, although I didn’t know you, this one’s for you!