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Posts Tagged ‘La Bocana’

Artist in ZihuaZihuatanejo is a bustling town of 120,000 in the state of Guerrero on Mexico’s southwest coast. It started as a sleepy fishing village, but it’s been discovered by tourism and sports fishing, and now it’s a lively spot, at least in the sunny winter months.  Here are my top ten favorite activities there (other than basking on the sand), recommended though not necessarily in order of preference:

1. Stroll the walkway on the marina, where fishermen display the morning catch, restaurants serve grilled seafood on the beach, and shops sell a thousand kinds of souvenirs, not all of them tacky.

2. Browse the Mercado Central off Avenue Juarez. It’s a huge covered market selling fruits, vegetables, honey, vanilla, meats, cheese, chicken feet, purses, shoes, clothing and much more. This is a glimpse of local life. Look for the Virgin of Guadalupe statue, and the tree growing through the ceiling. The nearby outdoor stalls along Los Mangos and Los Tamarindos are interesting, too.

3. Buy a fresh, sweet papaya the size of 2 footballs, right off the truck.

waterfront walk, Zihuatanejo to Playa la Madera4. Walk the curving waterside stone path between town and the next beach, Playa La Madera. It’s lighted and has inset benches along the way. There are lovely views of the bay and even a mermaid on a rock.

5. On Playa La Madera, sit at an umbrella table on the sand at La Bocana, formerly M.J. and Richie’s, and munch on their good guacamole and chips. Maybe include a cold beer with lime and salt, perfect in 80-degree weather.

6. Borrow, buy or rent a boogie board and ride the mostly gentle waves.

7. Dine well at Bistro del Mar on Playa La Madera. The food is expensive for this area but excellent, and the service top-notch.

8. Hang out on Playa La Ropa, the much bigger beach beyond.Zihuatanejo beaches This is the place for parasailing, jetskiing, and other water sports, and there are numerous hotels and worthy restaurants. The Tides and Club Intrawest are pricey, but the food is worth it.

9. Buy a souvenir from one of the vendors in the myriad stalls on Cinco de Mayo, at the north end of town. Mingled with a lot of junk and t-shirts are some beautiful things; I’m partial to the painted plates. It’s fun just to gawk at the array.

Eric Reid  guitarist, Zihuatanejo10. Learn where Eric Reid is playing guitar in or near Zihuatanejo and go to hear him. He is a terrific musician, a virtuoso.

A final extra: tip generously. These are hard-working people, and the economy is tough here, too. They appreciate it.

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Zihuatanejo Bay, on Mexico’s west coast, is scalloped with beaches.  Ours, Playa La Madera, is so small I can walk its distance, from one rocky outcropping to another, in less than 5 minutes. But it’s big enough to have clusters of busy hotels and 3 restaurants, and luckily for us, one is outstanding.

La Bocana, MJ & Richie's, Playa la Madera

Starting at the north end, we have our old hangout, MJ & Richie’s, now called La Bocana (still has the MJ & R sign though). Rafael, who ran the place for years, has left, which we lament because that sweet, friendly man always had something from his great jazz collection playing. The food is still good, though not as good as when Rafael was here (or maybe it was the music and his charm that made it so). The tortilla soup is bland unless you pour hot chili sauce into it, but chicken fajitas and grilled mahimahi are just right with a frosty beer. We sit at an umbrella table on the sand and lazily watch the beach action while we enjoy a Mexican lunch at a reasonable price. Plus the service is ultra-quick.

At the south end of Playa La Madera is La Rena Rene, serving tortillas, tacos, grilled shrimp, quesadillas–a full menu of decent, unexceptional Mexican food, in my opinion.  You’re right on the beach, though, so the setting and view are perfect.

Between the two is Bistro del Mar, connected to Hotel Brisas del Mar.  This is where we go when we want something special and are prepared to pay accordingly. The tortilla soup, served in a large, tilted bowl, is a rich red broth with crisp tortilla strips, avocado slices, cheese, onions, and sour cream. Mahimahi with shrimp sauce, Caesar salad, sweet-and-sour jumbo shrimp in tequila–they’re all wonderful.  This is as close as La Madera gets to elegance. We dine on linen-covered, candlelit tables under a swooping, tent-like roof, drink sauvignon blanc wine from Chile, and are served by expert waiters.  And because this is a beach, after, all, we have first stepped out of our flip-flops and washed our feet in the little pool set into the entrance steps.

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