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“Steak!”

“Huh?”

I uttered the word so unexpectedly that Louise almost spilled her Cape Coddah.

“Steak,” I repeated. “Now!”

Visions of a thick filet over a charcoal fire almost surpassed the vision currently upon us of sunset over Banderas Bay (pictured above — another episode of sunset guilt).

“As in this very moment?” Louise asked. But she needn’t: I was already on my way.

And so it was that we embarked on another brisk walk to the Brazilian steakhouse up the road, home of the most sumptuous filets in the land. It’s a long walk — about 35 minutes — but it does wonders for the appetite.

(Did you hear that, all ye Mexican skeptics? We often walk 35 minutes along the back roads of rural Mexico, in the dark, without a gun, and have yet to be mugged. Lots of others do the same, on the same road, and when we pass we all say “¡Hola!“)

Our destination was La Caipirinha (Caipirinha is Brazil’s national drink, as difficult to pronounce in its native Portuguese as it is to spell), about a mile and a half up Avenue Fluvial Vallarta, past Costco in a neighborhood called Jardines de las Gaviotas, which sounds much nicer than it really is. If this restaurant was in an upscale Portland neighborhood it would be an instant success, among those who could afford it. (Video here.)

Louise heads for our table at La Caipirinha

Louise heads for our table at La Caipirinha

But this is Mexico. A good meal at La Caipirinha costs about ten dollars. The neighborhood is funky, the restaurant is humble, the service is congenial, and the steaks are cooked over an open fire no more than ten feet from your table. (Very few of the restaurants in Puerto Vallarta have walls. Most are open air. A fire pit within the confines of the eating area, while probably a violation of a bazillion American fire codes, is no surprise in Mexico.)

The fire pit at La CaipIrinha.

The fire pit at La CaipIrinha.

We ordered La Parrillada Brasiliena (Brazilian grill), consisting of two filets, two thick sirloins, two chorizos, four Castilla BBQ ribs, two chicken wings, pierna de puerco (pork shoulder), picanha (beef rump), frijoles (refried beans), arroz (Mexican rice), sauteed onions with chiles, potato salad, red cabbage coleslaw (we asked for the recipe), tortilla chips, and three dips. Whew! The cost? Two hundred fifty pesos (less than twenty American dollars) — for two.

Take that, Ringside!

Twenty bucks.

Twenty bucks.

After the meal we stood on the street (with a bag of leftovers in hand, enough for two more meals) chatting with the proprietor (who told us he gets his beef from Canada) while we waited for a passing cab. (A thirty-five minute walk after all that food? Not likely.) We’ve been to La Caipirinha many times; we vow to return every time we’re there.

And we do.

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La Caipirinha Red Cabbage Coleslaw
– Chopped red cabbage
– Sliced carrots
– Chopped apples
– Golden raisins
– Mayonnaise, sour cream, vanilla, and apple juice as dressing
…vary quantities according to taste and let sit for at least an hour. Serve with inch-thick Canadian beef filets and plenty of good company.

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