Downtown Delights

May and June means one thing to the tourism industry in Yucatan… It is a time to be endured. Few visitors shop in the boutiques, sleep in the hotel rooms or eat in the restaurants. This is when those of us who live here need to show our solidarity with the local businesses and support them as much as we can.

My great friend Jo and I enjoyed a wonderful meal at the charming Italian bistro “Il Café”, around the corner from our college. The  wind (not breeze… WIND!) swept down the “Callejon del Congreso” and made us feel that the rainless 42 degree C. day we’d survived must have been a bad dream. It felt so cool and refreshing. The perimeter of the outdoor eatery is edged with basil plants and the fragrance coming off the green herbs seemed intoxicating.

And what about our meal? Delicious…. We shared a lovely Mediterranean-style salad and then Jo had Vegetable Pasta and I had Carpaccio. All of it beautifully prepared and presented by a personality + waiter.

For those who don’t know where the “Callejon del Congreso” is… It is the “walking street” that stretches between 60th and 58th Streets – between 57th and 59th Streets. “Il Cafe” is not the restaurant where the music is played right beside the Peon Contreras Theater but the one a little further down (green sign – beside an artisan store). By the way, the guitar melodies played at the other place are pleasantly audible at “Il Cafe”…

                                              (Los nonos… the determined owners of  “Il Cafe.”)

I rarely “plug” places but I don’t want this place to close!  Do try “Il Cafe”, you’ll love it… and tell the delightful owners that you read about their restaurant on my blog! I told them I would mention them and I want them to know my words were not empty…                                                                 

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Downtown Delights

  1. Reg

    Have to agree with you, Joanna…this place is a hidden gem in the vast sea of restaurants in Centro Merida! It is the place to eat after the symphonies on Sunday (even though they are not held at Contreras these days)!!! The pasta al scoglio is incredible, as is the salmon carpaccio. The staff are so very personable…Highly recommended…reservations are available…

  2. You’re so right, Joanna–We’ll all cry if they close. So thanks for your plug for supporting local restaurants, and businesses as well.

    I was recently ordering a computer item from a small, out-of-way place which could obtain a particular item for me. I was amazed, in all this heat, that they did not have all the fans on! But I suspected, as well, that they probably could not afford it. Similarly, I remember an other superb restaurant which I returned to on a Monday, only to find it closed. Soon afterwards, they were permanently closed. I was sorry that I’d not returned there earlier.

    Thanks as well to, Lee, who noticed the “forlorn waiter.” — it’s not just the owners that lose when we don’t patronize, but all the staff.

    • I am very encouraged by the sensitivity that many have shown towards the precarious economic situation of our n eighbors. We all live in the same community and it certainly is important to help one another. As you point out Alinde… it isn’t just restaurants – all small businesses and their employees are particularly vulnerable during this (latest) financial crisis.

  3. We’ve eaten there several times, it was very convenient after the symphony when it was still at the Peon Contreras. Excellent food and great service, I’m glad you gave them a review.

    • THank you Jonna. Yes it seems a shame that such hard working people are having such a difficult time… And of course, they are not alone. I hope we can all keep thist in mind to get out and support the local businesses. If we don’t, they’ll close and then we’ll cry because there are not enough good restaurants!

  4. Paul Rounds

    La Dulce and I always enjoy eating here. My favorite item is no longer on the menu but they still fix it for me. It is a cheese ravioli in a creamy gorgonzola sauce with nuts.

  5. Jeanne

    We eat here all the time between October and April. It’s a great restaurant. The only chef who knows how to cook fish in Merida! If you order ahead, they have the best tenderloin in the world.

    • Thank you Jeanne, I’m glad you enjoy “Il Cafe”… the food is excellent. Bbut in my opinion, there are also other good seafood chefs in Merida…

  6. Lee

    We walked past there last Thursday night and it was entirely empty. The restaurant looked so inviting, but we had already eaten at Amaro. I felt so badly for them, and for the forlorn waiter standing around. I’m glad you liked it and are giving them one of your rare plugs.

    • That’s right Lee… we were the only table all evening. I hope that people who are out looking for a sweet place to have dinner (or breakfast or lunch) will stop by. I know you’ll enjoy your meal… and remember, there are lots of other fine restaurants in the same situation right now…

  7. Jan Morgan

    Yes, it is one of the hidden jewels!!

    • Exactly… it is a HIDDEN jewel. Tucked away at the end of the “Callejon del Congreso” it isn’t exactly front and center… but it’s worth hunting for!

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