Does GFS Contributor C.C. do nothing but travel? Today she shares an unexpected find from a trip to Mexico: crazy good Italian food on the beach.
C.C. gets on the Google and finds one of those rare travel spots, a place so remote you feel as if it’s all your own: Isla Holbox (pronounced “hole-bosh,” Mayan for “black hole”), a small island off the Yucatàn peninsula that is safely removed from the craziness of Cancun by a distance of two hours by car and 45 minutes by ferry.
This laid-back fishing village has no cars—everyone drives golf carts, accompanied by their cute happy little dogs (no unfortunate mangy mutts here). There are no buildings over two stories high. And the beaches are gorgeous and windy for the kiters. The island is renowned for whale shark watching from May through September, but alas, C.C. and B.F. went before May.
Parts of the island are a nature preserve where pink flamingoes flock and rays scoot under the clear water. There are no ATMs on the island, but there are mosquitoes. People on Holbox don’t speak English particularly well, and apart from “dos cuba libres, por favor,” C.C. and B.F. don’t speak Spanish. This being Mexico, they knew not to drink the water, but they had no idea they’d discover such spectacular food—namely, Los Pelicanos.
Unequivocally the best place to eat on the island, if not in all of Mexico. C.C. and B.F. dined here five nights of their ten-day trip; the food was that excellent. And how could it not be? This three-year old restaurant is run by the charming and ever-smiling Alejandra and her super-chef husband Luca, who kiteboards by day and turns out gourmet pastas, fish, and carne by night. Originally from Como Lake, these two are living la dolce vita on Holbox and running a fantastic restaurant with impeccably attentive and pleasant service.
Best. Steak. Ever: an Angus cooked with butter that was so huge, tender, and perfectly seared medium rare that B.F. threatened to order a second one at the same dinner! (C.C. discouraged this in favor of the chocolate dessert and a promise to come back the next night, which they did.) Other stand-out entrees (for C.C. and B.F. did not eat steak every night) included a sage butter, cheese, and spinach ravioli.
C.C. and B.F. also could not help but stuff themselves repeatedly with appetizers like melon carapaccio with lobster medallions marinated in gin sauce. Yes, gin sauce. Heaven. There was also much excitement over the Caprese exotica, a classic tomato mozzarella. Los Pelicanos is worth the trip to Holbox for its own sake.
Buena Vista Grill
When C.C. and B.F. weren’t swimming in steak and butter at Los Pelicanos, they ventured to the more traditional Buena Vista Grill down the street, which has the well-deserved reputation of best ceviche on the island. There, C.C. was served a platter of ceviche that truly defined the phrase “bounty of the sea,” overflowing with pescadero, camarrones, calamari, and lobster.
When C.C. could not finish it all, even with B.F.’s help, she felt just a tiny bit responsible for at least a half a percent of the world’s over-fishing problem. But it was worth it. B.B. had a delicious Mexican style of prawns and bacon in butter sauce that C.C. couldn’t help but steal when he wasn’t looking.
And how was the kiting? B.F. fared well, cruising back and forth and doing heroic jumps along the reef-free shore. C.C., on the other hand, was secretly relieved when the wind on the final day of her lessons was just too gusty to continue despite the excellent instruction.
Admittedly, she is also disappointed that she wimped out, but you know, perhaps this means she will have to return. And that may not be a bad thing because, as B.F. said, there was not a bad meal to be had unless you count the airport food.