See that delicious looking thing above? That, my friends, is a lonche. And that particular one was prepared by my blogger friend and dynamite cook, Leslie [http://www.lacocinadeleslie.com/]. Lonches, sometimes called tortas, are the Mexican equivalent of a sub or hero or po’boy sandwich, although they remind me more of the Cuban sandwiches which are so popular in southern Florida.
Served on bolillo rolls, normally grilled, you can find them filled with a variety of meats and vegetables, but the most common items here in Joco seem to be jamon [ham], queso [cheese], lechuga [lettuce], jitomates [tomatoes], and jalapenos. Other popular choices are arrachera [beef flank or skirt steak] and pierna [pork], as well as aguacate [avocado] or cebollas [onions].
Jocotepec, I’m sure you will all be surprised to learn [snicker], is not really one of the restaurant hubs of Lake Chapala. This is a blue collar worker type town and tends to attract working class expats, so most of us eat at home. We’re not a bunch of foodies looking for the next “happening” place.
Perhaps that’s why one of my favorite places here is only open on weekends. My guess is that the employees have other jobs during the week and that the owner [who, in his “other life” is a physical therapist] is wise enough to know that his clientele gets paid once a week, on Saturdays, and therefore the place is only open on Saturdays and Sundays, as you can see from the sign.
But he does a pretty good business anyway, even though he’s only open two days a week from 2pm until about nine PM. One reason for this is that the place is spotless!
It always gives the appearance of just having been scrubbed down. I’ve worked in a lot of restaurants in my life, and I can tell you from first hand experience, it’s hard to keep a place this clean. Particularly if your place is located on a very busy, dusty street in Jocotepec!
Another reason they get business is because the prices are right.
A nice large lonche will run you about 28 pesos [$2.03US at today’s exchange rate]. And a nice big glass of jamaica drink another 10 pesos [73US cents] more. And you get these lovely ladies to make your meal or serve you:
Another one of my favorite places to eat in Jocotepec is “the taco place.” I’m sure it has a name, but most of us gringos just say, “that taco place around the corner from the laundry” or “down the street from the bus station.”
And I think you can pretty much figure out what they serve. Yep, tacos. That’s it. Everything in the place costs 8 pesos [58US cents]. Doesn’t matter what kind of taco and doesn’t matter what kind of soft drink you’re getting…..8 pesos. It always makes me think of that old Saturday Night Live ongoing skit about cheeseburgers in Chicago at the Billy Goat Tavern. [And that’s not a bad thing.]
Your choices here are tacos, tacos, tacos, and tacos. No need for a menu. Oh, sure, the waiters rattle off what kind of meat you can choose to put in your tacos….but it’s always tacos.
But, oh, what delicious tacos they are!
For your eight pesos [times how many tacos you want], they bring you some limes, some cilantro and onions, and some salsa so you can ‘doctor them up’ to your own satisfaction.
And, trust me, these are not Taco Bell tacos! [Not that I don’t love those, too!] These are freshly cooked meat on freshly made tortillas:
Too much meat to even contain in your tortillas! Now that’s the way to serve tacos!
So when my friends Linda and Ric come down to visit later this year, we’ll definitely be dining at these places!