October, 2004
Driving from Austin to Oaxaca, then over to Guadalajara in my Nissan Quest continues to be one of the most exciting highlights of my life. Preparations began months before my departure.  
Start with a trip to the Library.  All road trips begin with a “brush-up” on the language.  Browse the library’s  catalog and check out every CD or tape before purchasing one good lesson.  Some audio lessons include the “lisp” for speaking in Spain.  Vocabulary in Spain is different than Mexico.  Listen regularly to the one you like.  
 Check out every guide book on Mexico and compare the listings.  Frommers has great daily tour suggestions for most destinations.  Their Restaurant listings are good, and their hotels seem to be on the low end of the budget.  
My favorite guide books are Lonely Planet Mexico, which lists many suitable hotels and restaurants, many places in Mexico.  Moon Handbooks offer regional books, including a must get,  Oaxaca. 
Guia Roji offers the best road maps of Mexico, including separate state and city maps.  I use an online-only group in my neighborhood in Austin.  Same day mailing and they stay current with new editions.   

Dollars & Pesos: Prices are in  pesos because the dollar is fluctuating so much.  In 2004, the peso was around $11.20 to $11.40 most of the time we were in Mexico.  A price listed as $112 (pesos) was around $10 US.  $250 pesos are about $22.30 US.  
Using ATM’s, found everywhere in Mexico, offer the best exchange rates, especially if your bank has an affiliate in Mexico.  Bank of America’s affiliate is Serfin and found in nearly every town.   There is no ATM charge on my bank account.  Most towns have “cambios” to change dollars.  Traveler Cheques are difficult to cash and offer the lowest exchange rate.  Changing dollars can also be done at Mexican banks, but the lines are often long.  
Don’t forget to call your bank card and credit card companies, informing your arrival and departure dates in Mexico.  Banks don’t like to see NEW charges in foreign countries.  
On the US side of the border at Laredo where I35 enters Mexico,  notice the MONEY CHANGER on the left hand side and change your dollars into pesos.  Nothing is guaranteed in the money market, but the rate at this drive-thru  is usually good.  

I had made most of the hotel reservations in advance.  It’s much easier to cancel a reservation that try to get into a full hotel.  Suitcase packing had begun the month before and the night before my early departure, the sandwiches were in the Fridge.  
Excitement was very high that first morning. Even though I had driven in from Louisville, KY two days before,  I was ready to drive as far as I could safely get.  

Laredo has many motels, including every chain hotel in America and reservations easily be made in advance.  Check online at your favorite motel. Staying here allows you to drive across the border first thing in the morning to get your visas and car papers.  

Nuevo Laredo:  Check guide books and look for new hotels being built on the highway out of town.  Staying here allows you to get car papers that night.  Zoom out of town in the morning.  Never, never, never drive at night! 

18 Mile Drive (from the Texas border) is the final check into Mexico. At this immigration and customs check, drive your car into the checkpoint and get either the red or green light for inspection.  I get GREEN most of the time, but the one time I got RED, it was like any inspection in Mexico.   They poked around the trunk, noticed I was carrying 20 pounds of “Bread Flour” to my friend in Patzcuaro, shook their heads, and slammed the door shut.  
Another time, the Guards asked me, “A donde va?” or “Where are you going?”  I thought they said “Que vieja buen,” or, “Have a safe trip!” After stuttered “Gracias,”  or “Thanks,” I drove off.  More head shaking!  We were driving into Mexico! 

El Rancho  (ph#011-52- -824-245-7100 from US or 01- -824-245-7100 from Mexico) is half-way between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey, exactly 99 kilometers (or 61 miles) from either town. It is a rather large, new complex of an excellent buffet restaurant, small fast food stalls, and a new hotel.    Phone in advance for room reservations since low cost of $39.00 (US dollars) for one to four persons makes this place popular.
I usually arrive around breakfast for the buffet and know that I am NOW in Mexico.  Huge, chilled, platters of fresh papaya, pineapples, orange slices, several melons, and even sliced kiwi, in season.  Pitchers of fresh juice tempt me into a collision of savory, sweet tastes.    
Order from a list of many Mexican breakfasts, get a number, and take your try to the table.  The live music is not too loud and provides more reminders of exactly where I am traveling.  Floor to ceiling windows brings plenty of Big Sky Country into the room. 
SUBWAY SANDWICHES (a friend referred to them as “grim”) has recently opened and Pemex Gas with spotless toilets make this place a must for travelers.  I love the long “first day drive” and mention “in between” towns and visits on the trip home. 

San Luis Potosi 
It's about an 11 1/2 hour drive from Austin  to our first stop.  Starting early, we drove the entire day.   I am always so hyper and ready to “Get the hell out of Dodge.” 
We stay at the Sands Motel, [$500-single, $550-double] (ph#011-52- -444-818-2533) just past the downtown turn-off for the Mexico City highway.  Notice the large park with pool in the center of the Motel and just a $30-p cab ride.   It’s a twenty minute walk to the Zocalo but be prepared to run (for your life)  across the Freeway Access road.  On second thought, take the cab!  

The location is perfect since it is on the road out of town. Luscious gardens surround a pool and we can park in front of our room.  Guide books list many other room choices. 

We dined at the restaurant La Virreina,  Ave. Carranza 830.  This converted hacienda, rich with history, was the first gourmet restaurant in San Luis.  Paintings from the Old World (Spain, of course!) lurked in the shadows of the walls.  We had stepped into elegance. 
We were the only ones stepping.  Gringos eat early, between 7 pm and 8 pm, while most locals eat their dinners around 9 pm to 11pm.  
Most meals were $90 to $160-p ($8.00-US to $14.50-US) and included salad, Antojitos, a delicious variety of fresh rolls and several salsas.  Setting is elegance, with linen tablecloths and napkins with crystal chandeliers above the tables.  Serving is formal, always “Serve from the left and take from the right.”  

Next time we may try another restaurant, El Gran Via, Ave. Carranza 560 (Alta Cocina Espanol) This restaurant is not a converted hacienda and the art on the wall is not from anywhere except the future.  A modern Jazz quartette played in the back dinning room. 
Meals are $120 to $180 and most tables were occupied.  This is a very lively restaurant and a new hotspot in San Luis.

Pedestrian malls, or Peotones, stretch around the central San Luis, making downtown driving a nightmare.  Sleep on the outskirts and take a cab into this delightful, non-gringo, Mexican, capitol town.  You will not be the first gringo in this capitol town, but you will probably be the only one that time. 

San Miguel de Allende – In 2004, About 10 miles out of San Luis, we turned south, off the freeway,  and took back roads through San Felipe and Dolores Hildago to San Miguel. We careened the 2 1/2 hours around National forests and small Mexican villages.  Heavily used, primitive bike trails, followed the roads for most of the 122 miles. 

Quinta Loreta Motel [ph#011-52- -415-152-0042] ($500-double, $410-single) 
While never staying here before, this landmark was the first place I ate in San Miguel in the late 1970’s.  I wanted to return, and it was easier than I remembered. Driving into town only took a few turns to parking in front of our room.  Luscious gardens  with fountains offer a great respite from the hustles of shopping.  
And shop you will!   As you drive under the arches of the Motel, notice the sign announcing the middle entrance to the Artisan Market.  Go up the market to the next street and notice the bigger, food market.  Across the street are tortilla makers and candy stores.  Strolling down the craft market steps to the next street, and one of the best shopping areas in San Miguel.
We were comfortable in the plain, immaculate rooms with marble-tiled bathrooms.  Garden flowers bloomed everywhere. Restaurant in middle offers good, fresh breakfasts and a lunch comida that I first enjoyed 25 years ago.  Make room reservations early since they can easily be changed.   

Bugambilia, Hildago #42, claims to be first restaurant in SM, opened in 1945.  The chicken with Plum Sauce has been severed for years. We tried snacks one afternoon.  Chunky Guacamole, with cilantro, tomatoes and onions, was served with thick, brown tortilla chips.
Sopa de Azteca was a heavily aromed chicken broth with tomatoes and chilles, served with strips of tortillas, avocados and cheese.  The Sopa de Huerta was a classic, chunky, vegetable soup with an abundance of mushrooms.

Mama Mias, Umarian 8, 3/4  of a block from SW corner of Jardin, is a very popular night club.  But the fun starts in the morning with a lavish Breakfast buffet ($80).  Comfortable center courtyard offers a pleasant place to have lunch or dinner, specializing pastas and pizzas, but serving delicious steaks and seafood.   
A variety of entertainment, food and atmospheres can be found in the restaurant, several bars and disco.  The rooftop bar at sunset offers fantastic views and acceptable Margaritas.  No peanuts or snacks were seen,  although the staff was secretly scavenging a delicious looking pizza a chef had over-made.

Tio Lucas, Mesones #103, claims to be “The Best Meats” in Mexico.  
This Steak House is always busy. And the layer of greetings went from a boisterous “hello” from the owner, who was seeing satisfied friends depart; then, the matre de, helping us with a table that suited us; waiter brought us menus; bus boy filled our water glasses; bar waiter brought Trav’s beer and TWO margaritas, the happy hour special; when we turned back, the salad chef had served us complimentary tortilla chips (“totopos”) and a bowl of guacamole salad.  
While known for their steaks, soups and salads, we split one order of chicken fajitas.  We noticed that the nearby table of four split two steaks and one salad for two.  We could not finish one order of fajitas.
Three different salads are made at tableside by a salad chef.   Cesar, Roquefort, and Watercress are “for two” but there is enough salad for four guests.  The chef expertly blends, chops, crushes and stirs variety of ingredients, with choice of greens. 
Happy Hour at the is as popular as the restaurant, offering the same delicious margaritas, also served two at a time. The half-price guacamole and chips was on most tables, but the big hit were the bowls of chile pepper peanuts.  A small, Blues Band was setting up as we departed.  
Next door is the home of the best pastry and chocolates in Mexico.  Across the street is Theatro Peraltro, the restored old theater in San Miguel.

Hecho en Mexico, on Zacateros Street, north of the Instituto Allende,  was opened by a young Mexican, who previously lived in the USA.  His menu is sprinkled with gringo food, like fabulous hamburgers and mandarins orange salad,  while offering Mexican flairs to chicken in chipotle sauce or fajitas.  
A friend prefers the steaks and calls Hecho en Mexico the best in town. Opening for lunch, this restaurant stays open late.    I loved everything about the restaurant, from the interior cactus garden to the wide choice of salads and fresh margaritas.  Snappy service by cute waiters keeps this place jumping.

This charming town is named for the nearby mineral water springs.  When driving, it's a perfect stop, just 2 1/2 hours from Oaxaca.

Hotel Mexico, [ph#011-52- -238-382-2419 or 0019], ($500 double, $450 single) is located at the intersection of the street into town and the street going out of town.  Casa Cantarranas, at the northern edge of town, at the Springs, offers the tops in resort retreats.  But I prefer to stay in the city center. Our hotel is an old converted hacienda with huge lot of free parking,  several clean swimming pools and many fountains.
When driving into town from Puebla, keep a sharp eye open on left side of street for the “HOTEL MEXICO” parking sign,  just past the large, red ADO bus station sign on the right.
Turn left, before the sign,  into a vast parking lot and unload suitcases there.  Front of hotel is not convenient for unloading car. 
When I first started traveling to Mexico 40 years ago, I requested bottled, mineral water by asking for a “tehuacan.” This is another Mexican town where I felt like the only gringo around.  Unfortunately,  The Museo del Valle de Tehuacan remains closed from the 1999 earthquake. 
We were starved and didn’t discover the best restaurants until later in the evening.  Casa Vieja, 1 Pointe Street, one block west of the Zocalo, is the nicest looking in town, but there were two across the street which were close ties.
We ate great chicken enchiladas  at La Lonja, the SE corner on the Zocalo. Don't let the neon lights frighten you, they mix a mean margarita.

Hotel Kaiserlautern had a huge breakfast buffet ($750), but we ate at our hotel.  It was the most popular breakfast in town, with local families were enjoying chilaquiles with cream.

It was a beautiful 2 1/2 hour drive from Tehuacan through the mountains to Oaxaca City. I know we were near the border of Oaxaca when I noticed the Pipe Organ Cactus, a beautiful border marker for my favorite state.   Late summer, early fall is the rainy season in Mexico Everything is green, fresh and lush.

Hotel Trebol, [ph#011-52- -951-516-1256] on Flores Magon Street at Colon Street, across from the Juarez Market.  One block from the Zocalo, in the heart of Oaxaca,  traffic is a factor. Rates are $700-double and $450-single, with cheaper weekly rates,  making it a bargain for the single traveler.  Double park at corner and unload suitcases.  Secure parking is a few blocks away.  
This is a newly converted hacienda with fresh rooms and a charming staff.  Street-side rooms are larger and cooler, but street noise is a factor.  I prefer inside rooms with views of the patio and fountain.  

Terranova, on the SE corner of the Zocalo, was our first stop for a meal in Oaxaca. I think the food is the best sidewalk cafe on the Zocalo, with exceptional good service.

While they offer Sandwiches made with sliced bread,  I prefer their baguettes with chicken, ($450) served on a large roll and filled with chicken, lettuce, tomatoes and onions.  Trav sampled the delicious Tortilla soup ($350) and we shared a guacamole with chips, ($250.)

El Meson is a buffet restaurant at the NE corner of the Zocalo. The lunch and dinners ($540) are 1argely unimaginative. The spaghetti with sliced- wieners has frightened away many travelers.
However, the breakfast buffet ($520) is perfect for me.  Huge platters of fresh papaya, several melons, pineapples and other seasonal fruit are next to large pitchers of fruit juice.  Several yogurts and milks are for the granola and cereals.
The hot side of the buffet changes daily and often hourly. When eating breakfast alone, I prefer sitting at the café bar.   I am memorized by the cooks scrambling several dozen eggs at a time or steaming gallons of Oaxacan tamales, the traditional Mexican breakfast.    
Corn mesa is spooned into banana leaves, then filed with a dark mole sauce, usually with chicken, wrapped, bundled and steamed to perfection.  These tamales go quickly, so don’t miss them.   
I gorged on the fresh fruit, filled up on granola and yogurt, and took taste samples of the remainder of the buffet.  I skipped the tripe, but love the taste of  scrambled eggs Mexicana and a side of red, terra-cotta-bean-pot, pinto beans. 
A new addition this visit was a woman making fresh memolitas.  These start with a hand pressed tortilla placed on a hot grill.  The edges are pinched up, like a single pie crust, and various ingredients are added while it cooks.  My favorite was the nopolitas (cactus slices) and onions.  All delicious, but I will return for the plates of fresh fruit.

El Catedral 
This long established restaurant is one block north of the Zocalo on Garcia Vigil and Morelos.  This year, while my back was turned, they combined their lunch (comida) and dinner menus.  As drastic as it sounds, it is a blessing is disguise.  
The Flor de Calabaza Sopa (Squash Bloosum Soup) was not on the evening menu.  This is the highlight of the menu, with squash blossoms, corn off the cob, poblano chile slices and Oaxacan cheese, in the lightest, cream broth imaginable.  It was the best soup I have ever inhaled.
Another favorite dish on the menu was the Chile de Agua Relleno, (Stuffed Water Chiles)  a rare, seasonal, mild, chile pepper, filled with Oaxacan cheese and chapulines, (sautéed grasshoppers.) The stuffed peppers are dipped in a light, egg batter and fried.  The Zapotec Indians believe that if you eat chapulines, you will return to Oaxaca.  I personally have never known it not to work.
Tlayudas are only found in Oaxaca and do not miss them.  Women sit in the markets, selling and chanting, almost singing, “Tlaaaaay, yuuuuuu,  dhaaaaaas.”  These are large, tortilla-style, flat bread and usually served like a pizza.  Too much for one person to eat, these are covered (pizza-style) with refried beans, sauce, and Oaxacan cheese. Or, like pizza cafes, dozens of  other varieties.  
We had breakfast here a few days later and was not disappointed.  Hot, memolitas were served with a basket of sweet rolls.  We had the combo breakfast ($450) starting with fresh juice or fresh fruit, choice of eggs, choice of bacon or ham, refried beans, potatoes and coffee or tea.
Don't miss their Sunday lunch buffet, but arrive early, around 1 pm.  This Oaxacan treat is different every week, specializing with seasonal favorites, like Chile Nogales or Cabrito Mole. 

Asador Vasquez is considered the best restaurant on the Zocalo.  The second floor area is also the best viewing around.  I always make reservations for our window table, but they were not needed early (7 pm) on a off-season weekday. We ate in a nearly empty restaurant.  Mexicans, as well as Europeans, dine late.  
However, all window seats were taken when we strolled past a few hours later.  I am convinced that Mexican restaurants like the idea of getting the Americans “out of the way” before their loyal customers,  frantic rush starts.   During high season, make reservations or expect a long wait.
I always start with the best margaritas in the world. Next came a basket of fresh breads with herb butter.  The soups and salads are good, but, with an entrée, too much for me to eat.  
The Chuletillas de Cordero, a lamb roast, Basque style, is mild flavored and cooked to perfection.  Ask for a “papas al horno,” (baked potato,) instead of the “papas fritas,”   or fried potatoes.
Travis had the Milanesa al Roquefort, two herb-breaded, cutlets that are lightly sautéed in olive oil.  The plate was crowded with a melody of perfectly steamed vegetables. 

Hostal de La Noria, two blocks from the Zocalo on Calle Hildago, is very popular with travelers.  Tour groups keep the place busy.  

There were no combination breakfasts with everything by the plate.  I go here for fruit salad with yogurt and granola, a meal in itself.  
Travis noticed almonds, pecans, peanuts, sesame, pumpkin seeds,  and grains, all toasted to perfection and mounded over six, fresh, seasonal fruits: papaya, bananas, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple and the unusual pear slices, $420 [$3.75 US].
Egg dishes were served with typical refried beans and the highly unusual, stewed tomatoes, a dish I have never seen in Mexico.

La Musica de Octubre  (Music of October) offers many cultural events around the city of Oaxaca.  They seem to attract a great venue either before or after the famous, Festival Cervantino in Guanajuato.  
The grand Theater Macedonio Alcala was nearly destroyed by the 1999 earthquake and recently reopened after five years of reconstruction.  Our first night in town offered the African Dance Company from Brooklyn, NY.   Four men and three woman performed ageless dances to ancient rhythms and modern jazz, ending with gigantic movie images of the American civil rights movement projected on the dancers.
Later in the week we attended a Piano and Violin Recital at the Santo Domingo Cultural Center. We found the last seats and enjoyed a rainy evening of Saint-Saens, Brahms, and Debussy.  
Later in the week, L'elisir  d'amore, ”The Elixir of Love,” was also at the Theater Macedonio Alcala.  This Italian, comic opera was perfectly performed by the Mexico City Opera Company, with all the emotions of love and passion of the original production.   

El Che is the best Argentine steak restaurant in Oaxaca. I have eaten at both locations, and each has reasons to return.  I usually eat at the central one behind Santo Domingo church at  Cinco de Mayo 413.  It's in a newly restored hacienda. (Isn't every place in Mexico?)  Fung Sua is not correct with long, marble dining room, and cavernous echoes.  Lighting is too bright for the white marble and things can go amiss. Food, however, is no affected.  
Friends recommended the original, Reforma Street location with a smaller menu, not offering seafood nor baked potatoes.  This deficit is off-set by the excellent service anointment setting.  
 Both restaurants immediately served several sauces, one a mild, red chile mixture and the unusual, Chimichura sauce.  This green treat consists of chopped parsley, garlic and olive oil and served  with warm bread.
Most tables were sampling the Empanadas Argentines, appetizers filled with your choice of meats.  Friends recommended them but I am limited to two courses.  We chose the Roquefort salad for two, made tableside with about a dozen ingredients.  Salad cart was rolled to our table with huge bowl of Roquefort cheese.  Cream was first added to break-up the chunks; olive oil and parmesan cheese were blended for correct texture;  I lost count of next ingredients, but noticed Worchester and Soy Sauce.
We each devoured filets, mine with mustard sauce, and Trav's with mushroom sauce.  Steaks are served with delicious home fried potatoes.
Service was excellent, but, like the other El Che, all steaks are cooked very “rare,” Waiters will gladly warm your steak.

Restaurant Quickly -- I am sorry to announce the demise of this Oaxacan landmark. Nearly all Guide books have it listed  as “a great place for sandwiches.”  
A few years ago, the place started looking shabby, restrooms stopped functioning, and the staff, soured.    But the food remained delicious.  Yesterday I noticed in its place an ultra-modern Apetito featuring  “Fast food, Coffee & Beer.” 

Marques de Valle Restaurant, on the north side of the Zocalo, is becoming on of the most beautiful restaurants in Oaxaca.  And the easily accessible restrooms are a designers dream.  Chairs have arm rests and are most comfortable while the banister separates the restaurant from the Zocalo.  
El Importador
 Since the earthquake in 1999, this corner of the Zocalo has been a boarded-up nightmare.  McDonald's tried to move in there last year, resulting in a protest that made the New York Times. It is now a beautiful outdoor cafe featuring Spanish dishes like paella  and typical Mexican dishes.  Inside is a sports bar with an oversized TV. 

Hotel Senorial --  A few years ago I mentioned that my favorite hotel on the Zocalo had fallen from favor. (I loved the loud, balcony rooms over-looking the park.)  The place is boarded shut with the staff stationed on strike, 24 hours a day,  in front of the hotel.
Lastly, the Cuban restaurant on Hildago Street has also closed.

Azul Restaurant,  eight blocks north from the Zocalo on Alcala Street at Humbolt Street and  was recommended by several friends. I had the Comida ($400) which was the lunch of the day.  Aguas (Waters) is always a fresh fruit drink and the lemonade was refreshing.
Vegetable soup was full with several squashes,  but I was disappointed with the chicken in broccoli sauce.  Sauce was delicious but the one chicken leg was meager.  Fortunately, Trav had the  Chicken with Cilantro sauce ($650)  and was enough to also fill me.  
The potatoes were the best part and tasted like they were pulled out of a beef stew. The two flattened chicken breasts were tough and the sauce was more parsley than cilantro, really unusual for Mexican dishes. 
Friends loved this place, especially the Stuffed Alvarado and we should give this restaurant another chance.  But not on this trip.

El Sagrario, on Alcala Street, in the block up fro the NE corner of the Zocalo. This multi-leveled restaurant specializes in pizzas, hamburgers, (chicken or beef) and “Kentucky Style chicken.”  The lunch buffet offers a wide variety of dishes.  
Our breakfast ($500) started with a basket of sweat rolls, breads and muffins. When we later got the check, we were charged $5 (a few cents)  for each roll eaten, one of the only places that did this. 
Next was a small plate of mixed fruit. Soon, a huge plate of food arrived:  scrambled eggs with bacon, a small tortilla cup filled with refried beans and chilaquiles, a pile of crispy tortillas covered in a mild red sauce and cheese.  One of my favorite breakfasts.  
Trav had the Sincronizadas, ($400) toasted ham and cheese between two tortillas.  Rather simple, since the dish is usually has synchronized layers of tortillas, eggs, ham and refried beans covered in sauce.  This is a very popular restaurant with the locals. (But don't look at the bad art on the walls.)

Street Musicians, Sellers & Beggars--
These humans approach you as you sit in the Zocalo or walk around Oaxaca.  Their job is to do something for money, mostly to keep themselves from starving.  
One response is the learn to say, in your kindest, sweetest voice, “No, gracias.” They will leave.  
I usually do not give to the begging children, nor the ones that approach me while I eat.  Keep all my single peso coins, (about 9¢) loose, in your right pocket. It is then easy to quickly reach into right pocket, grab a coin,  and be on my way. They are always grateful.
However, some of the beggars are truly desperate, since there are no social services in Mexico. I have seen much larger coins given to them.
I enjoy tipping street musicians, at least the entertaining ones.  The marimba players actually carry their huge instrument around the Zocalo and are my favorite. They are the sound of Oaxaca.
While sipping margaritas in the evening, I  always have my shoes shined, ($10) at least once a day.  
I have a problem with the Amber sellers.  I am no expert, but I think some of the small “all amber” beads are glass.  Others have said that at those prices, it couldn't be genuine amber. I once heard an Ugly American tell the sellers, thankfully, in English, that his “butt was made of Amber, too.”
The Oaxacan families selling shawls and clothing are reliable and very friendly.  They are hard working and my favorite on the Zocalo.

Restrooms-I proudly walk into any Mexican hotel to use their services. Most restaurants are also accessible.  Markets all have public toilets and charge $2 pesos, (17 cents)  while handing you a few sheets of a coarse, crude, toilet paper.  Always carry a packet of Kleenex and Handi-Wipes. Don’t be surprised if family restaurants or smaller bars charge $2 pesos to pee.  They need to make money.  

Cavendish- Corner of Garcia Vigil Street, a few blocks north from the NW corner of the Zocalo
 This English restaurant offers a choice of many Continental treats such as escargots, fettuccini alfredo, calamari, chateaubriand and beef stroganoff.  We noticed two other tables of travelers, including a couple who sat down seconds before us.  Both tables of customers were served, had eaten, and left before we received our soup and salad.  
Trav's gazpacho took about 35 minutes to prepare “fresh, from scratch,” and was delicious.   My mixed salad was tasteless with hard tomatoes, yellow lettuce and a Roquefort dressing so thin, it adhered to nothing, leaving a 1/2 inch of liquid in the bottom of the plate.
The aroma of my chicken Kiev arrived before the plate.  A large chicken breast rolled with a garlic butter and lightly sautéed. The scallop potatoes were perfect and the carrots, al dente.
The seafood curry had a delicious sauce and served with rice.  However, upon close inspection, the shrimp were about the size of pencil erasers, the fish diced even smaller and the fake Krab was over-cooked with no flavor or texture.
A friend later mentioned that eating at Cavendish is always a surprise, because,  when the food finally arrives, it took so long she had forgotten what she had ordered.  Service is painfully slow with the impression that the waiter could not handle the three tables. Table candles remained unlit.  The food was good, but I made the mistake of being hungry.
However, the heavens had opened and we were happy to be out of the rain.

Casa Oaxaca-Constitucion 104, on  the south side of Santo Domingo church
I have never eaten at what is considered the “best” restaurant in town.  It is certainly the most expensive, but well worth it, I have been told..  A five-course complete meal is $350, excluding wine,  with main dishes around $180 to $250.  Reservations are required.

El Portal del Marques- under the Hotel Marques del Valle on the north side of Zocalo, is the most beautiful restaurant on the plaza.  The  restrooms are a designers dream and easily accessible for a quick break anytime.
(This restaurant thankly replaced the worst pizza cafe in Oaxaca with the loudest bands that seemed to play all night.)
The extensive menu offers a wide choice of Mexican plates, snacks, soups and sandwiches.  Prices are higher than the other outdoor Zocalo cafes, but they offer more food served, with beautiful ambience and comfortable chairs.  Cocktail prices are also higher, but I have been told they pour “doubles”  into the drinks.  
At breakfast, I usually take a pass on the sweet rolls, but this assorted basket was too delicious to miss.  The American breakfast ($700) and was the best on the Zocalo. Egg dishes were three eggs, with choice of crisp bacon or ham.  This breakfast consists of fresh juice and fresh mixed fruits, while constantly pouring coffee refills.   

Panaramica Super Cocina - 112 Panoramica Fortin Street
Walk west on Allende from Santo Domicgo Church, past Crespo Street, and curve left at the modern Old Folks Home. Continue west for half a block. Notice the blue concrete couch that my friend Marga painted.  Across the street is a tiny, take-out-only Cocina.  
Local artist Rosanna Diaz prepares a different meal every week day.  Opening at 1 pm, by 3 pm, nearly everything is gone.  
We were lucky enough to enjoy chile rellenos, watercress salad, shrimp and vegetables in a light cream sauce, scalloped potatoes with mushrooms and nopolitas, (cactus slices),  lentil soup with plantains and carrot cake or banana pudding for dessert.  For $28 pesos,  we were offered several selections for a 5 course meal.
One dilemma for travelers is that everything is served in plastic bags, requiring bowls, plates and silverware. Not the worse problem to solve.

La Olla Cafe-Galleria - 402 Reforma Street  (in front of the Las Bugambilias B & B)
Breakfasts were $40 to $60 and included a choice of fruit or juice, eggs or pancakes, refried beans, and whole wheat baguettes.  
They use locally grown, organic produce, when possible, and whole grains.  I enjoy lunch and dinner in the second floor gallery because of the mixed green salads offered.

La Toscana- 614 Cinco de Mayo, on the corner of Alaisa Street, near the Jalatlaco church,  and two blocks east of Parque Llano (take a cab because you will never find it.)
The striking Interior design of the restaurant along with the detailed food preparation makes this one of Oaxaca’s most exciting restaurant.  Along with the menus, we were served the most interesting selection of bread in Oaxaca, along with a tub of green cilantro butter and a tub of red, sun-dried tomatoes, jalapeno, cheese spread. The plate of Balsamatic vinegar in virgin olive oil remained untouched with such an array of flavors. .
The Lomita de Cerdo al Horno, (roasted pork) was served in a delicious sauce and a Caesar salad ($92)  I would have preferred the salad served separately and a rice or potato on the plate, but it was too delicious to stop eating. 
The Pahoa de Pollo (chicken) Saltimboca  with Prosuto ham with a side of  sautéed spinach with white beans and tomatoes ($88)  was tasty, but I would have again chosen different side dishes.  
We could not eat the Strudel de Platano y Chocolate con salsa de Rum (banana strudel) but there will be a next time at this Italian Restaurant.  Service was well paced.
As we were commending the food our waiter recommended one the many Camarones (shrimp) next time. Travis mentioned, “La Toscana was as good, if not better, than any restaurant in Italy.”

Los Cinco Hermanos - Pasteleria Frances Moderna-- Calle Hidalgo 1119 (4 blocks east of the Zocalo, on the north side of street)  (Open from 8 am to 8:30 pm)
This tiny cafe is easy to miss, but don't.  The chefs are two, young Frenchmen.  This small cafe only has three tables and three bar stools.
Specializing in pastries, this French cafe opens at 8 am for crepes and coffee.  Lunch meals offer several quiches, a different salad daily, and  several “specials.” 
The chicken curry ($45) was two, large chicken legs, smothered in a delicious creamy curry sauce.  A large portion of handmade pasta filled the plate, which I wanted to lick when it was empty.
The onion quiche ($50) was also flavorful, Trav was ready for several slices.  A mixed green salad filled the rest of the plate.
Several deserts were shared including a cream puff filled with chocolate moose, ($9) my favorite.  The  white cake ($25) had a delicious, fresh strawberry and nut filling with a light, whipped cream frosting.
Nine of the 14 deserts were a chocolate variation, some with both white and dark flavors.  Several fruit tarts were tempting, but we were full and satisified.  
Classify this cafe as “must return soon.”

Restaurante La Casona, at the Hotel La Casona del Llano, overlooking beautiful Parque Llano.  But don't look for the Parque Llano on a map because the real name is Parque Juarez. Locals call the park“llano,” because of the two, life-size, golden lions at each of the four corners of the park.
The restaurant has no combo breakfasts and the tasty plain rolls in the basket were free.  The top, sweet rolls were $7 pesos each, an extremely rare practice for a nice place like this.
The Fruit Cocktail ($30) was a plate of 6 different fruits, large enough for two.  The carrot juice ($23) was fresh. Egg dishes started with poached eggs ($23),  added meat, ($44) and omelets, ($47 to $71.)
Mexican bacon is always served crisp and the nearly raw bacon with the eggs was disappointing.  The lunchmeat style ham was much better.
Dinners on the front terrace are delightful and offered mostly steaks from $104 to $111.  The street noise on busy Juarez Street is an issue on the terrace, but not inside.

Oh La La...!  Indepencia Street in front of the Soledad Church at the ice cream market
It's claim is the only French coffee house in Oaxaca. The young, owner from France greeted us at the door.  Edith Piaf recordings and black & white photographs of Paris were a nice touch.
Our lunch started strangly,  with a glass, (not a bottle,) of flat sparkling mineral.  The cold, sliced baguette bread was like Bimbo bread without butter.  
Menu consisted of 7 salads, ($30  to $40) including Niçoise, 6 baguette sandwiches, quiches ($32-$40), Croque monsieur and Croque madame (with egg on top,) shrimp, rabbit and snails in pastry.  I noticed many crepes and delicious desserts.
The bacon, cheese, tomatoes sandwich was on a large, toasted baguette with a large green salad with vinaigrette dressing. Delicious!  Bread was totally different from bread in basket and very tasty. 
The boeuf bourguignon (carne de res en salsa de vino tinto) was a hearty stew of beef, bacon, carrots, and onions.  It was served with rice and slices of tomatoes provençal.  The portions were small, but so was the price: 65 pesos.  It is a good choice for a light lunch.
The owner suggested we return in the evening for a glass of wine when the patio tables are in place with interesting lighting.

El Biche Pobre - Calz. de la República #600 (closed Tuesday) (two blocks east of Parque Llano)
Highly recommended by friends, this popular restaurant features Oaxacan food at its best.  There is nothing pretentious here.
We were immediately served a large basket of tortilla chips, and bowls containing red hot sauce, green hot sauce, and hot tlalpeño chilles, plus a mocajete full of guacamole.  A well prepared margarita was the perfect beginning. 
The Coloradito con Pollo ($58), a red mole with chicken, had more tomatoes than usual, and was tasty.  However, the Antojitos La Especialidad ($65), Special Appetizer Plate, had one good sized portion of each of the twelve appetizers on the menu.  It was easily enough to satisfy two people.  
The other Platillos Oaxaqueños (Oaxacan Plates) ranged from tlayudas, enchiladas, chapulines, salads, seafood, steaks, fajitas, and many chicken dishes.
Very fast service and friendly staff will bring me back.

Walking back through the Zocalo to my hotel, I came upon a woman carrying a basket of pralines on her head.  They were unusual, flavored with orange zest, and quite good.

Temple #409-A Garcia Vigil 
They have monthly jazz concerts, and beginning in January, concerts twice a week.

We joined our friends who had ordered Tabla Temple, (Temple Table), $95 for two. The huge platter had three kinds of cheese, olives, fruits and Spanish sausage.
The Sopa de Ajo, (garlic soup) had Cajon roasted garlic in a tomato/chicken broth, but less garlic flavor than usual in a Mexican garlic soup.
El Sandwich, $85, was a rare roast beef sandwich, with a tomato/onion sauce on a huge Ciabotti roll.   Dijon mustard on the side.  Melted Swiss cheese slices were across the top of the bread.  It is served with small sides of  potato salad and broccoli.  Very tasty.
  For dessert we had the homemade ice cream, $35, which was rich and flavorful..

La Biznaga, The Cactus, #512 Garcia Vigil, 1/2 block south of Carranza Street.

This open air restaurant is in a courtyard behind  an ulta modern art gallery.  The menu starts on one 10 foot chalk board and continues across the room on another 10 foot chalk board.  
Unique appetizers, like Flor de Calabaza Rellanos de Queso, distinct soups, like De Quesos,   (Three Cheese Soup) and various salads start the long list.  Our salad, the Del Valle, arrived over-flowing on a large dinner plate with shredded chicken, lettuce, bacon, walnuts and nopolitas.  It would make a dinner for one, but we chose to split it.  This decision still did not leave us room for the two appetizers we ordered to complete our meal.
Our order of Quesadillas arrived, three different flavors of tortillas, each filled with flor de calabeza (squash blossoms), rajas (sautéed onions and chilles), champinons (mushrooms), and Oaxacan string cheese.  
Our other choice was Cecina Enchilada, cooked salad,  contained cactus, chicken, sweet peppers, and onion in a delicate lime marinade.  Sides of fresh tortillas, refried black beans, and guacamole completed the course.
The chicken, beef, pork, and seafood dishes would have to wait for another visit.
    The lovely courtyard setting open to the stars, and light jazz music in the background, and the very modern interpretation of Oaxacan cuisine all combine to make this a very romantic place  The night we visited, all the other diners were young, sophisticated couples in love.

La Red - Seafood Restaurant, Colon Street, at Busramate Street, one block south of the Zócalo, opposite corner of the same block as Hotel Trebol.

All rooms,  on both levels of this  restaurant are always packed.  Off hours, one can get a table; dining times, forget it.  They have stanchions at all doors to control the hungry.  A  friend said with that many people eating, “fresh” is an understatement.  We were the only gringos!
We were offered oysters, octopus, calamari, huachinango (red fish), ribald, (fish), and jumbo shrimps.  Most choices were in a seafood cocktail, fried, sautéed in garlic, Veracruzana with  tomato, onion, red peppers, Provençal, same as above but topped with fresh cream, steamed, breaded, beer battered, flour battered (all three different), sherry sauce, adobados in a sweet and spicy mixed pepper sauce, unpeeled over salad, spicy chile sauce, cantonese style, and A La Diablo, in mozzarella cheese and chile. 
Our kind neighbor recommended the appetizer, Costalitos,  ($16) a fried flour tortilla stuffed with shrimp, octopus and sauce.  Also popular was the seafood soup.
Meals are served with rice and a large portion of steamed carrots, broccoli and two kinds of squash and a small bowl off fresh fruit in a yogurt sauce.  Service was prompt and the English menu carefully explained the many dishes.

Zócalo Sidewalk Cafes
Del Jardin-SW corner 
My favorite hangout at night.  The margaritas ($28) are tart, without sugar, and their peanuts are served with roasted garlic. (Ask for some with your peanuts.)  Food is good, especially the guacamole and chips.

La Caferteria-NW side
Cheapest margaritas and cocktails ($23)on the Zócalo, but too sweat for me.  Food not thrilling and mostly overflow seating when other cafes are full.

La Primavera-NW corner
This cafe is my favorite afternoon hangout because of my gringo friends from the Lending Library.  This popular spot has the best drinks and the food is very good.  Margaritas ($28) are large as are their glasses of wine ($23.)

Portal de las Marques-north side
The most beautiful cafe on the Zócalo.  Wrought iron banister is a great barrier from marauding street sellers and beggars.  The restrooms are beautiful and a designers dream.  
Travelers can use any restroom on the Zocalo, anytime and without asking permission, but this one is the best.

Hosteria de Antequera-NE corner

Very nice cafe, but usually empty.  Wait people present menus to strollers in an effort to get business, but it doesn't work.

Amarantos-SE side 
Another unpopular cafe.  In the evenings, a popular, female singer, with accompaniment guitar, attracts crowds with her romantic, Mexican torch songs.

Primavera-SE side
This cafe is the most popular eatery on the Zócalo and is usually very crowded. 

El Importador-SE corner 
This is the newest cafe on the Zócalo.  Since the earthquake in 1999, this corner of the Zocalo has been a boarded-up nightmare. 
McDonald's tried to move in there last year, resulting in a protest that made the New York Times. It is now a beautiful outdoor cafe featuring Spanish dishes like pealla  and typical Mexican dishes.  Inside is a sports bar with three oversized TV's. 
The only crowd was the night the Red Socks beat the Yankees for a place in the World Series.  However, only a few tables had drinks and no one was eating.

With the exception of general street and market scenes, taking photos of people in any foreign country is a very personal matter.  
Some people still think that taking photos is equal to taking their souls.  Others, like several gringo friends,  were having a bad hair day.
When I first met my friend, the beautiful lady selling shawls,  she charged me $10 pesos to take a photo.  She later told me she was having a slow day with sales and needed the money.
I tried for days and asked all the amber street sellers if I could take their photo.  They all said NO!  I even offered some cash, and the answered was always NO!
There was never an issue with photographing the musicians, but I left $10 pesos in their tip bowl.   They are, after all, singing for their supper.
Artists, like Josephina Agiliar, seem to love to have their photo taken and will move her art around to insure a good photo.  I always bring them duplicate photos on my next visit.  I enjoy bringing them small gifts or even lightly used clothing. 
Politely asking helps remove the “Ugly American-syndrome.”  
For the record, in Spanish, one does not “tomar,” or  TAKE a photo.  One “sacar,” or GETS a photo.  
Because I often travel alone, I hand my camera to strangers and say, “Saque un foto de me, por favor,”  (Please take a photo of me.)  They never object and I have gotten some great pictures.
We sadly departed Oaxaca and drove the 200 miles to 

Patzcuaro in 2004
This colonial village will take you back to “Old Mexico,” as my mother would say.

Posida San Rafael Hotel-
This converted hacienda is perfectly located on the north side of the Plaza Grande, Large Plaza.  Several reasons make this my favorite hotel:  parking is on-site, near thru room, and the price is only $340-single, $420-double.  And those were “high-season”  Day of the Dead prices.
Rooms are smallish and there is a new group of rooms in back that, for an unknown reason, has never been open.  The staff is friendly, there is a quiet, inside, public phone and my car is washed when needed.

El Patio- This restaurant is one of my favorite and next door to our hotel.  The fishbowl margaritas are a Patzcuaro legend and the best in town. 
A special comida is offered at lunch but we ordered off the menu.  We chose from appetizers, including several deep fried pork skins or refried bean snacks.
Many soups were offered, including, Tarascan, a thick chile, chicken and tomato broth unique to this area.
The chicken breast with bacon was also Cordon Blue with ham and cheese in the center. The chicken Milanesa was also tasty.
Dishes are served with steamed vegetables and flavored rice.    This hardy cooking is nothing fancy, but still a favorite.

Gran Hotel and Sidewalk Cafe-
Located on the north side of the Plaza Chica, the cafe is a local favorite, especially among the gringos.  
The hotel room I saw was a small, cubicle with a dark window facing a wall. It could have been anywhere. Rooms are $450-single, $650-double, with parking several blocks away.
Breakfast started with a basket of whole wheat rolls and frothing, café con leche, coffee with milk.  The papaya was the freshest of the trip.

Campestre Alemán Restaurante- 10 miles from Patzcuaro, on the road to Erongariquaro, is  a trout farm with a German restaurant in front.  Opening at 2 pm everyday, the trip around the lake is a delightful experience.
Taxis are about $50 to $80, but taking local buses is more fun and cheaper.  At the NE corner of the Plaza Chica, hope aboard any combi, a 10 passenger van, with STATION painted on the front window.  
They arrive about every 5 minutes and will take you to the old train station.  In a few minutes, board the second class bus to Erongariquaro. Tell the driver you are going to the Campestre Alemán Restaurante.   Sit on the passenger side for the best views of the lake.
If you are lucky to be visiting Michoacan in the rainy season, July through October, every field will be a riot of colors from the flowers.  Crops of purple Cosmos or fields of orange marigolds will startle you into nirvana.
“Eronga” is about 5 miles further if you want to visit a small lakeside village.  Flag down any bus named “PATZ” for a ride back into town, but buses stop at 8 pm.
The restaurant, Campestre Alemán Restaurante, is a trout farm and serves the freshest trout anywhere.    had been in a major slump until a new, German chef arrived at the end of summer.
As a stoke of generous, he started cultivating Shiitake mushrooms. In a dark, damp adobe building, 5 inch holes in oak stumps.  Spores are injected and the traveler reaps the rewards.
There were many vegetarian dishes and the Shiitake soup should not be missed.  Their sociality remains Truchas, and their trout is the “salmon” type.  
Specials-Trucha al Chipotle ($65)

served with warm german potato salad, carrot salad, and poblano rice

 special Puntas de Filete ($70) al Cilantro also served with grilled, baby onions.
Tampiqueña, ($95) a tenderized steak with a Veracruzana sauce.

Mistogo- #4 Dr. Coz Street 
NE corner of Plaza Grand, north 1/2  
Mi Tote Jazz Trio sang an evening of Duke Ellington music. Ciprio, from Zacatecus, played trombone, flute and a mean harmonica.  Singing was  Isabel, from Venezuela. who sang Ellington with the best interpretation of jazz I had ever heard.  Keyboards was a young woman from Japan.  The set ended with a song from their new album, Ensunlo de Venezuela, Dream of Venezuela.

large drinks, 

Huerta Colorines Restaurante (Colorful Forest)
 Continuing around the lake just past Quiroga, take the Morelia cutoff, and drive a few miles up the hillside.  At the top is the tiny village of El Tigre.  
The only thing I have seen there is a long row of about 6 restaurants, all joined together looking like one.  A row of restaurants has now started on the other side. Going east, the best is the last one on the left, or north side of the road.
We took the last table in the three, large rooms of double tables, each filled with very happy families.  Prompt waiters greeted us with menus and music started in the other room.

Casa Key
We ate several times at this popular Internet restaurant, a great place to check your email while waiting for your food.
For breakfast, our waitress informed us that they were serving chilaquiles, soft tortilla wedges sautéed in green chile sauce and sprinkled with cheese.  Included was my choice of eggs, crisp bacon and fresh orange juice.  Price was about $30, including Internet.

The lunch here is an all-you-can-ear buffet.  For 40 pesos you have a choice of soups, salads, vegetable dishes, and meats.  The vegetables included cauliflower, and a squash casserole.  The meats included pork chops and pork roast in two different sauces, plus beef steak and chicken in green mole.  Some local dishes were available, like coronas, a cheese-stuffed corn dumpling.  The price included dessert: flan, cake, or ice cream.  Everything was delicious.  Comida begins a 1:30, and by 3:00 or so, thanks for a large local following, some items are gone, so plan to go early and hungry.  They serve until 6:00.

Priscilla's Restaurant Internacional- at the Hotel La Mansión de los Sueños
Priscilla, a delightful expatriate with lots of fire engine red hair, had dreams (los Sueños) of opening the most elegant restaurant  and the nicest hotel in Patzcuaro.  She succeeded with both dreams and then opened a fabulous Spanish restaurant here, but that's another story.
We were given the choice of smoking or non, one of the few places in Mexico with the choice.  The crystal chandelier was as big as our table and the fireplace is roaring on chilly evenings.  At Christmas, I remember enough gold gilded angels to make even a flamboyant, interior decorator blush.
After ordering, we were treated to fresh, hot croissants and a good, but small margarita. Two young men arrived to sing Mexican Romantic songs, my favorite.
At some point stroll to the back of the hotel and glance into some of the open hotel rooms.  This is really a dream come true and we now have Priscilla, Queen of the Lake.

The Pechuga de Pollo en Salsa de Tres Chiles (Chicken Breast in Three Chile Sauces) was a split chicken breast with a sautéed mixture of chile arbols, cascabel and chipotle covered in a light cheese sauce and resting on a mild chile sauce.
 The steamed, mixed vegetables were eight, perfectly al dente, and fresh. Creamed, mashed potatoes.   Our meal ended with Crepas de Cajeta (crepes with roasred goat's milk caramel and toasted pecans) was worth the trip to Mexico.  Torte de Elote, served warm,

Sandwich & Friends
My choices started with type of bread:  Baggett, chapata or sandwich.  Next came choices of six cheeses, including gouda and cream.  Lastly, I  chose the meat:  York ham, Black Forest ham, salmon, roast beef, turkey breast, prostitute or pepperoni.  There were several “veggy”

Casa Fuentes-

La Fonda de San Miguel- in Central Historical district, #25 Donato Guerra Street, in the back of a long hall of coffee shops 
Taquetios- rolled tortillas with so little meat, the cow didn't miss the portion.
Guacamole Tabasqueño-($40) avocado with tomatoes, onion, green chile, cilantro and a touch of mango.
Molcajete del Mar-($95) pieces of fish and shrimp with celery, tomato, onion and 3 different chilles, served in a hot molcajete
Pechuga Aromatizada($80)- chicken breast marinated in herbs served with grilled vegetables
Ensalada "Del Huerto"-($40) salad of apples, carrots, nuts and special dressing
Ensalada "La Granja"-avocado, chicken slices, tomatoes, cucumber and slices of fried tortillas
Crema Gris- ($40) a light, cream of huitlacoche soup with pieces of fresh cheese, corn off the cob and white wine.
Margaritas ($37) are with three different varieties of limón, (lime) tamarindo, (tamarind) and jamaica (hibiscus flowers.)

Rio San Pedro- 
Doña Bety had chicken fajitas, steak and shrimp in a corn and chile poblanas in a huitlacoche and salsa morita served in a molten molcajete.  
Our vegetarian friend ordered Fettuccine a la Catrina with  al dente pasta, chile pasilla, mushrooms in a light butter cream sauce.  He asked them to hold the salmon. 
Shrimp dishes were with several garlic flavors, fried or diablo.

Ajijic-Lake Chapala
La Nueva Posada-Hotel & Restaurant = Donaata Guerra #9, at the end of a cobblestone street at the lake.
Large comfortable rooms
I stayed at this lakeside hideaway last year and fell in love with Ajijic.  The restaurant was so delicious, it was difficult to ear else ware.  
Only problem was Lake Chapala had been  really low and what little water was a quarter of a mile from the shore.  Last year, through the efforts of Mother Nature, Mexico City government, and a group of conservative minded local gringos, the Lake is full.

The crowded Garden Restaurant was also not a disappointment.  Menu had not changed, with the two course “Comfort” meal ($75) was very popular with .  We chose from Provencal Onion soup, Azteca Tortilla soup or a large House salad.
Second course offered English style Fish & Chips. Stuffed chicken breast, beef enchiladas, Quiche, Pork chops, Tenderloin steak or several pasta dishes.
My favorite, however, was the Oriental style Curried Chicken Salad.  An abundance of fresh pineapple, peanuts and grille chicken.
Poached salmon was heavenly.
The appetizer of Deep fried Zucchini Wheels and Ajillo style sautéed mushroom caps looked great.

Restaurente Terrazza Romana- Calle Victoria and Purcel Streets, overlooking Allemeda Park in the City Center.
I always hold my breath when turning the corner of the park for fear that my favorite restaurant has somehow closed.  It hasn't and I am once again pleased.  The aroma of the Focaccia bread greeted me as I walked up the stairs and a hot basket of it was on the table after being seated.  Perfect when drenched with the bottle of olive oil containing several, whole, dried, chile peppers.  A perfect touch of Mexico.
After a month of margaritas, a few glasses of merlot ($30) is perfect.  The Insalate Della Casa (house salad) is a large plate of mixed greens, sliced mushrooms and shredded carrots.
There was a long list of Antipasti including Prosciutto e Melon and Bruschetta.  The Minestrone soup is delicious, and I can guess that the Lenticchie is too.
There is an entire list of Pizze, including Gorgonzola, Pesto or seafood, but I prefer Le Paste.  Choose from nine kinds of pasta and nearly twenty  sauces, including Alfredo, Pesto, Puttanesca, and my favorite, Bolognese.
My first visit here, a few years ago, I was fortunate to meet the crusty, Italian, ex-patriot who settled in Saltillo and treated locals (and fortunate wanders) about twelve years ago.
Next time, I promise to try the Saltimbocca or the Scaloppe.  Or even the Tiramisú, but there is so much food and so little time.

Allemada Parque - A few steps from the restaurant is one of the typically beautiful parks that bless city centers in Mexico.  Around the outside of the park are numerous food stands offering treats like frozen fruits with yogurt, sausages wrapped with bacon, homemade potato chips, and one item I have never seen in Mexico:  Frito Pie.  Actually, their version of this Texas tradition.  Yes, a bag of corn chips is split open length-wise and scoops of chile are ladled in the bag and then topped with cheese.  Culinary happiness, even in Mexico.

Driving back: 
My friend was once asked “Que es su nobre?” or, “What is your name?”  He thought they asked, “What is your number?”  and answered “No tengo un nobre,”  in perfect Spanish, saying,  “I have no name.”   The armed guard quickly waved us on, while desperately shaking his head. 
2004 was a very good year. 

El Vaquero 
Tlaquepaque, Mexico
Drive to Oax

On October 7, 2004, Travis & I  took a 3000  mile drive from 
Austin to Oaxaca, to Patzcuaro, to Tlaquapaque and Austin!