Los Mestizos in Izamal, Yucatán

If you’re ever trekking around the Yucatán, Izamal is a cool little place to visit. It’s a short, half-hour ride, eastward
from Merida. Izamal is Mexico’s “Cuidad Amarillo” as most of the buildings are painted in vibrant shades of yellow.

After a couple of hours touring the sites, our guide directed us to one of his “favourite” lunch spots. His suggestion seemed a bit lacking, menu-wise, so we wandered up the road in search of some authenticity. We came across Los Mestizos, a small family-run establishment. Seeing “Comida Regional” quickened my pace considerably. Before I knew it, I was enjoying one sensational dish.

The entrance is pretty cool. The interior, however, is one of the most colorful spots I’ve ever seen.

A visual overload, verging on psychedelic!

Izamal is also known as “The City of Hills“. The “hills” in this completely flat region are actually ancient Mayan ruins located in and around the town. After clambering up and down the hills, a few local beers seem in order. Customarily, when alcohol is ordered, complimentary botanas are laid on.

Alongside tortilla chips we were given a variety of salsas. From a mild salsa verde to an incredibly spicy habañero salsa as well as a smoky chipotle bean dip. An assortment of pickled veg was the perfect antidote.

Second course…Sopa de Lima.

This was well more than I expected. More often than not you’d get a bowl half this size…the appetizer version. In this case there’s a load of shredded turkey with still-crunchy tortillas in a quite rich, lime-infused broth. The spoonful of red-hot salsa and a sprinkle of cilantro brought it all together nicely.

When they brought out hand-made tortillas, I knew we were definitely onto something good. It’s not often your tortillas aren’t pulled from a plastic bag.

Queso Relleno’s got some history. Back in the day, the Dutch unloaded a big ol’ boat of Edam and Gouda on the Mexican coast. It was an instant hit. The rich scooped out the soft, creamy innards and the poor got the waxy rinds. Being ever innovative, they made, amongst other delicacies, this incredible dish.

They take a two-pound Edam, hollow it out then stuff it with pork picadillo…a savory mix of ground pig, capers, raisins, clove & cinnamon with some garlic and chili. After steaming awhile, it’s cut into wedges and slathered with a duet of salsas. The Crema de Harina (Corn-flour cream) is made with a deep, full-flavored chicken broth, nice and salty. The Salsa Roja is simple, spicy and has enough tartness to cut through all the richness. The combination of flavors works so well…full-on palate-widening flavors. Really good, earthy, home-style cooking.

Los Mestizos is an unforgettable place that made the journey so very worthwhile.

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