GREAT DEALS ON MEALS
Part of the fun of going to Mexico is experiencing the excellent food. Water is no longer a problem (Manzanillo has modern water filtration plants), and food is prepared under sanitary conditions.
Usually the only sicknesses we see here are alcohol poisoning (too many tequila shooters), dehydration (drink lots of water, folks), and overdoing the hot salsas (chiles in all forms are natural laxatives). We've heard it all before: "But at home I can eat hot salsa all the time!" (Ours is NOT the same!)
Remember that Manzanillo's climate is different than what you're used to. Do everything in moderation, from food, to alcohol, to sun. Food is safe to eat and water is safe to drink. Manzanillo (and Mexico) is a lot more civilized than you think.. Act civilized when you get here and don't O.D. on sun, margaritas, and highly spiced food!
For the past 12 years the authors have chowed-down regularly at the following eateries. There are so many others that are equally tasty, but aren't on the list. When you eventually fall in love with Manzanillo, and decide to live here, as we did, you can try them all out. Today, even corner taco stands cover the plates with a sanitary plastic bag, and take money the same way. Locals are much more aware of sanitation than you think. It is taught in the schools, and in the public hospitals. No one wants to get sick, nor do they want tourists to get ill.
There are also many fine, higher-priced restaurants that aren't mentioned here. You can find them in the "Restaurants" section of the website. Even if you are on a tight budget, you may want to splurge on a special meal on your last night. (The prices are really no higher than the U.S. or Canada.)
A word on seafood: Due to the depletion of the ocean's resources, seafood is not as plentiful as it used to be. It will not be inexpensive in Manzanillo. Whenever seafood is mentioned below, it is the least expensive seafood that we have been able to find. Of course, if you rent a suite, you can buy your "mariscos" at any local market and cook your own. You will save about 40%.
Also remember that alcoholic drinks in Mexico can be as expensive as your meal, and can double your restaurant bill. Don't expect all tequilas to be cheap, just because they're made here. Some tequila shots can run you $10 or more. Don't ever ask for the best tequila in the house without knowing the price.
In most of the restaurants mentioned below, you can bring in your own water or juice if you have a personal preference. When you ask for water, if it is served in a sealed bottle, it is not free. If you request water from a "garafon," (a 5-gallon water bottle containing purified water), it is free. Ice in all restaurants is purified. Many people drink water right from the tap. Manzanillo's water comes from wells, is processed through treatment plants, and is potable. It just doesn't taste good because it is chlorinated. That's why most people (even Mexicans) prefer bottled water.
DOWNTOWN MANZANILLO FOOD SPOTS:
BAR SOCIAL: One of the oldest bars in Manzanillo, frequented by local businessmen and politicians. Offering live music and free snacks (botanas) from 2-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Pay for your drinks only. Located on the corner next to Roca del Mar Restaurant, and across the street (kitty-corner) from the municipal building (Presidencia Municipal) on B. Davalos.
RESTAURANT ROCA DEL MAR: Popular, reasonably priced restaurant with sidewalk tables where you can watch the action. Varied menu with prices from $2.50-6.
CHANTILLY: One of the most popular restaurants in town, probably because of its varied, inexpensive menu, with great Mexican food dishes and breakfasts from $1.50 to $3. Try a fresh fruit liquado (fruit of your choice blended with milk and ice).
HOTEL EMPERADOR: Tiny little restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel, with menu and prices posted on the wall. Usually crowded because the food is cheap and tasty. On B. Davalos 2-1/2 blocks west of the municipal building.
FOOD STALLS: More than half a city block of breakfast and lunch counters offering tacos, tortas, fish soup, fish dishes, menudo, posole, chicken in mole sauce, and other typical Mexican dishes. Prices from $1.50-3 for lunches; shrimp from $4. Go early. By about 11 a.m. the heat from all the grills get the place pretty hot. Corner of Cuauhtemoc and Fco. I Madero.
MERCADO: The downtown mercado, called "Cinco de Mayo," is located on Cuauhtemoc and Cinco de Mayo. Fresh fruit and vegetables, seafood, and other items are available. The market opens at 8 a.m. Early morning is the time to get the best selection, and it's cooler, too. The market goes on for a city block, and also offers items such as pottery and piņatas. To get there, get on any bus that says "Mercado" on the windshield.
HOTEL ZONE "ZONA HOTELERA" RESTAURANTS:
EL CAPORAL: This is a very popular "botanero," which means that it's a great place to come to get free "botanas," or snacks. It opens at 2 p.m., and different types of Mexican food is brought to your table--free. You only pay for drinks., soft drinks being $1, and beer running $1.80. The first show starts at about 4:30, and features live music, dancers, comedians, a live band, and Mariachis during intermissions. Each week there's a new show. Ladies circulate around the tables selling raffle tickets. A dart is thrown at a spinning wheel with 18 numbers on it. At the beginning, raffle ticket prices are higher. A $5 ticket wins you $60. Later in the day, the raffle ticket price drops to $2, winning $26, or $1, winning you $13. Odds are 1-in-18. This place is hard to find, but worth at least one trip for an afternoon. There is a second show at 7:30, but by then, most of the free snacks are gone. Located on the east side of the highway down an alley between the Sol deposito and the SIX convenience store. about a kilometer north of the Las Brisas traffic circle. A place where the locals go, which means it's reasonably priced (depending on how much you drink), and lots of fun. The shows are suitable for the family, and though it looks a little seedy, it is really a very special part of Colima's culture. You won't find botaneros in other parts of Mexico.
LA CASITA: A torta and hamburger place. What's a torta? For example, a torta cubana gives you your choice of milanesa (breaded pork, in this case), dorado (meat grilled), or adobado (meat grilled with a brushed-on spicy sauce) with ham, cheese, onion, bacon, green pepper, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and dressing inside a home-made bread roll. Sort of a Mexican-style sub. All that for $2.45. There are other types available, as well as hamburgers and hot dogs. Try the "Taco Loco" for $2.15. Very good. They deliver for an extra 30 cents, phone 334-1100 (to hotel zone or Santiago); 332-2223 (downtown Manzanillo).
TACOS LA SONRISA: Good cheap tacos, though service can sometimes leave a lot to be desired.
CARAMELOS: Good tacos of several varieties, open at 6 p.m. Just south of th4e Soriana on the opposite side of the street.
VAQ-VI: You would never know about this little gem, one block off the main highway on the south side of the Soriana store's side street Las Gaviotas. Tortas Ahogadas (Drowned Tortas) are cheap and filled with chopped pork. There are two types of sauces--tomato and hot--not kidding! Soak the roll in sauce and eat with your fingers. Open until 4, then closed until 6. After 6 serving oven fired pizzas.
RESTAURANTS IN SANTIAGO & SALAGUA:
CABAŅA DE GAUS: Great place for a good meal. Gaus speaks English and an explain the large variety of Mexican food on the menu. Everything is excellent, including the BBQ ribs, with a sauce made with U.S. ingredients. Open evenings from 7 p.m. At the Salagua stoplight, turn into town and go past the town square two blocks.
MARISCOS EL CAMARON: A very popular place with locals and Mexican tourists, so you know the seafood is good and very reasonably priced.. Here's some samples: Shrimp, octopus, snail or scallop cocktails $2.50, $4.50 and $6. Note: shrimp cocktail is served differently in Mexico. The shrimp is cooked in its natural juice, and is served that way in a glass. Avocado, tomato, onion and cilantro are added (or sometimes served on the side so you can add to taste). Tostadas with fish (ceviche), octopus or scallops are 50 cents each; with shrimp 70 cents. A tostada is a crisp corn tortilla. Tacos (soft corn tortillas) come filled with beans for 30 cents, fish for 50 cents, or shrimp for 60 cents. Located north of the Salagua stoplight about 3 blocks on the east side of Blvd. de la Madrid.
HORTENCIA'S: Specializing in "comida corridas" which is a luncheon special of the day for only $3. Includes some kind of meat dish served with rice and beans, fresh fruit water (delicious!), and dessert. Turn on Lazaro Cardenas (the Salagua Jardin street, go west 4 blocks, and its the cute little palapa-roofed restaurant shaded by a ficus hedge on the corner. Every day a different comida.
ROSALBA'S: The owner, Rosalba, also has 2 different comidas every day for $3.80. It includes soup, the main course served with a salad and rice, and dessert. It is usually not ready until 1:30. Every Friday, one of the comidas is fish. Excellent! Other great dishes are 4 chicken tacos with rice and beans for $2.50, or 4 chicken enchiladas for $3.80. The Mexican plate, with a chile relleno, quesadilla, guacamole, steak ranchero, rice and beans is $6, but will probably feed two. Fish tacos (tostadas de ceviche) are only 70 cents each. Located on the east side of Miguel de la Madrid Blvd. in Santiago just two doors north of the Pemex gas station. Phone 333-0488. Closed Sunday.
JUANITO'S: Manzanillo's most popular locals gathering place. John and Esperanza Corey and family have owned this great little restaurant for many years. Not only do they have an excellent varied menu, but they have very reasonable prices. Big screen TV for all sporting events, Internet cafe, telephone and fax service.
Every day they have a delicious comida corrida for $5. All breakfasts are from $2.30 to $3.50. The only place in town with cottage fries and home-made sausage patties. Cheeseburgers are only $1.70, and other excellent lunches are from $2.50 to $3.50. A great spot you don't want to miss! Located in Santiago, about 5 blocks north of the stoplight (where the Jardin is).
MEXICANISIMO! Very nice clean restaurant serving a variety of Mexican food at reasonable prices. On Elias Zamora (the street that runs parallel to the main blvd. Miguel de la Madrid), south of the Manzanillo fairgrounds and security complex (police station).
CARNITAS: Shredded, roasted pork, eaten in a taco. Order by the kilo. (Hint: a half kilo will feed 2-3 people.) Located next to the Burbujas car wash on Av. Manzanillo (Las Hadas crossroads street), east of Elias Zamora. Make sure you order "puro carnitas," or you'll get skin and other parts that aren't appetizing to foreigners.
TACO STANDS: Both the Salagua and Santiago jardins have an array of stands serving everything Mexican--from tacos to tortas. The food is excellent and prices start at 40 cents for a taco, and 80 cents for a torta. Order one at a time; eat as many as you want. You get to see the food before you order, so if it looks good, try it. On Saturday, there is a tianguis (open air market) on the highway in Santiago. Inside the tianguis, there's a stand that sells excellent pork tacos (carnitas). The market moves to Salagua on Sunday just behind the jardin.
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