Monday, December 21, 2020

Happy Holidays from Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico (My 'Healthy Living and Traveling in Mexico' Newsletter)

 Celebrating Life in Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico

Celebrating Life at Don Pedro's Restaurant
Happy Holidays from Sayulita, Nayarit, Mexico!

I hope you and your family are well.

Jon and I are happy to be back home in Sayulita, where we are thankful to live in a little piece of paradise in the heart of the Riviera Nayarit. Though the pandemic is still spreading, we are finding ways to safely celebrate life. Life is short--we celebrate often.

       Last evening, we celebrated life at Don Pedro's restaurant, beginning the evening with a delicious Tempura Crab Sushi roll. Our main course, filet mignon with scalloped potatoes and sauteed vegetables that we shared was the best we've had in Sayulita, cooked perfectly, and split for us in the kitchen! The staff at Don Pedro's takes great care of us. (Yes, it's one of our second homes.)

       Every week or two, we head to Don Pedro's beach and rent two lounge chairs and a sun umbrella for 200 pesos ($10.00 U.S.) We celebrate life by having lunch and doing some boogie-boarding. We're grateful to have this big wave pool three blocks from home!

     Thank you for reading my books and blogs.
Terry L Turrell, Author

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Vallarta Botanical Gardens--We Can't Get Enough!

What a Delightful Place to Take a Fresh-Air Walk!

The Blooming Orchids Change Each Time We Visit
     We typically visit the Vallarta Botanical Gardens once or twice a year at different times of the year to see what is currently blooming. We always look forward to their delicious fish tacos and Margaritas at the restaurant in the Hacienda del Oro.

     This year we decided to attend the Thanksgiving Event and it was wonderful! We made our dinner reservation for 4:00 in the afternoon so we had time for a walk through the gardens beforehand. Our stroll in the fresh jungle air and sunshine was delightful, a perfect way to work up an appetite for their delicious turkey dinner. Masks were required, but once we were distanced from others, we could remove them and breathe the floral garden scents.

Signs Say, "For Your Safety, Don't Touch the Plants"
This Flower, Imported from Africa, is Toxic
     The orchids that are blooming change each time we visit. We always spend the most time in the Rhododendron House where many orchids, hanging baskets, Tropical Rhododendrons, and other tropical plants are artfully displayed. Signs posted throughout say "For Your Safety, Don't Touch the Plants", as some are toxic.

Our Lady of the Garden Chapel
Beautiful Stonework Path Up to the Chapel
     Our Lady of the Garden chapel, previously the family chapel, is now used for weddings. I enjoy sitting inside for a few minutes of peaceful reflection and prayer. The beautiful stonework path up to the chapel is worth seeing.

The Pineapple Garden Accented with Coleus Plants
One of Many Varieties of Exotic Coleuses 
     We could hear the river flowing over rocks down the hill and decided to hike the Rio Path down. On the way, we passed the Pineapple Garden accented with coleus plants. We had never seen this garden on previous visits, so it might be new, and we found it very interesting to see pineapples growing. I fell in love with the many varieties of exotic coleuses on this trip.
The River At the End of Rainy Season
View of the Back of Hacienda del Oro from the River Path
     In November, it’s the end of the rainy season so the river was still flowing well, adding a musical sound to our walk. Some people were playing in the pools near giant boulders upriver, but it looked too cold for us to dip our toes in. On the way back up we caught a view of the back of the Hacienda del Oro and hoped we would get to dine at our favorite table on one of the balconies overlooking the valley and the river.

     We strolled through the butterfly garden looking for the newly arrived Monarch butterflies. The butterflies arrive at their roosting sites in this area of Mexico in November and remain during the winter months before migrating north again. We thought we saw a Monarch, but he flitted away so quickly we couldn’t be sure. It was time to browse in the gift shop for glass hearts to hang in our garden at home and then check in for dinner. Our stomachs were growling in anticipation of turkey, dressing, gravy, and pumpkin pie.
Wood-burning Oven Where the Fresh Bread was Baking
We Did Get to Sit On the Balcony Overlooking the River!
We Were Entertained by the Golden-Cheeked Woodpecker
     Dinner was delicious, the pumpkin pie with sweetened whipped cream was exquisite, and the setting was perfect. The hummingbirds and woodpeckers entertained us and the sound of the river drifted up to our table. We enjoyed the water gardens and giant coy on the way out and then rested on a bench in the Vallarta Conservatory of Orchids and Native Plants. 
One of the Water Gardens Viewed from the Hacienda
An Orchid Inside the Conservatory
     The staff was extremely helpful in calling a taxi to pick us up. After we each had two Margaritas with our dinner, it was great to relax and let someone else chauffeur us to our Airbnb condo in Puerto Vallarta. Even the drive along the ocean is a pleasant experience. 
     I wonder what will be blooming next time we visit the Vallarta Botanical Gardens.

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Sunday, November 22, 2020

Our Current Top 11 Favorite Restaurants in Sayulita, Nayarit, MX

 Some of Our Favorites Have Closed This Year

Sayulita's "Selfie Street" View from Ruben's Deli

     It’s time to update our list of favorite restaurants. Sadly, many of our favorites have closed during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown period last spring. But the village is coming alive again now that the restaurants have opened for dine-in service.

     I’ve listed our favorites in no particular order—they’re all favorites for different reasons and we rotate through them every couple of weeks. I’ve included each restaurant’s Tripadvisor link if you want to check their rating. Keep in mind that there are a few new restaurants we haven’t tried yet.

1.     Don Pedro’s Restaurant and Bar: (Tripadvisor Rating)

     Don Pedro’s is our first choice when we want good food, good wine or Margaritas, excellent service, and a great ocean view. We go there often and recommend this restaurant for people new to Sayulita—you can’t go wrong sitting in the restaurant for dinner, lunch, or breakfast. Once in a while, we rent two of their lounge chairs and a sun umbrella on the beach for a couple of hours while enjoying lunch and drinks near a great part of the bay, perfect for swimming, boogie-boarding, and Stand-up Paddleboarding.
Lounging Under a Sunbrella at Don Pedro's, Well Distanced
Chicken Provencale is One of Jon's Favorite Dishes

I enjoy the Mahi Mahi

Half Order of Pasta Puttanesca, Split in the Kitchen (We Share)
Jon Sprinkles Grated Fresh Parmesan On His Pasta

2. Don Juan's Sayulita: (Tripadvisor Rating)

Jon and Terry Share Don Juan's Mahi Mahi

     If you’re looking for an authentic Mexican restaurant, good food and drinks at a reasonable price, good service, and a pleasant dining room with good airflow, Don Juan’s is our recommendation. We enjoy the Don Juan’s Salad and Don Juan’s Mahi Mahi so much that we order it almost every time we go there for dinner, one order of each and share the generous portions. Everything else on the menu we’ve tried has been delicious as well. The only downside this time of year when the sun sets earlier, is that we have to drive our golf cart to the restaurant on the Punta Mita highway rather than walking. We haven’t been there for lunch or breakfast but have heard those menus are very good, too.

Don Juan's Mexican Restaurant

3.     Marcolino Pasta and Vino (Ex Mamma Mia): Tripadvisor Rating

Marcolino's Pizza

     When we’re hungry for Italian food and wine, Marcolino’s is where we go most often. We still refer to it as Mamma Mia since that was its name until recently. Though the name has changed, the delicious food and wonderful service have only gotten better. They expanded the size of the restaurant this summer and added a pizza oven. The pizza is very good, but we still often order our favorites, one Ensalada Rossi which the kitchen splits onto two plates for us to share, and the best Pollo Parmigiana we’ve found. We share one order of the chicken with Fettucine Alfredo as the side dish. Sometimes we change our salad order—their Ensalada Cesar is delicious with slices of fresh Parmesan cheese.

Marcolino's New Personalized Pizza Oven

I Love to Watch Them Make Fresh Pasta!

My Half of One Ensalada Cesar, Split in the Kitchen

4.     Tierra Viva: Tripadvisor Rating

     We go to Tierra Viva often, sometimes to watch American Football and have dinner on Sundays, sometimes for dinner on a weekday when it’s less busy, often for the delicious Eggs Benedict at breakfast, and many times we pick up an order to-go and dine on our fancy paper plates at home. The food, drinks, service, and food are always very good. The variety of menu choices is great, so we can enjoy this restaurant often and order something different every time. Their seafood is always very fresh, their sushi good. 

We Enjoy Tierra Viva's Take-Out Sushi at Home

5. Achara Thai Restaurant: Tripadvisor Rating

     Asian dishes are the flavors that I've missed most living in Mexico, but now we have Achara Thai. This is the restaurant that we order delivery from most often (we always tip 100 pesos for deliveries regardless of the size of the bill—we’re so grateful that some of our restaurants continued to deliver this year). Their Crispy Spring Rolls are our favorite appetizer in Sayulita! Then we usually order Pad Thai (with a side order of their chili oil). The Chicken Satay and Green Papaya Salad are excellent also. Serving it on our fancy paper plates from Costco with a glass of wine, dining in the refreshing jungle breeze that wafts into our garden oasis while Bella, our doxy, waits for a bite of chicken and we listen to the sounds of our barrio makes it a perfect evening.

We Shared One Order of Pad Thai and One Green Papaya Salad

6. Barracuda: Tripadvisor Rating

     When Barracuda was a small taco shop, it was one of our favorite places to go for fish tacos. Once they expanded to a larger, nicer restaurant with a full dinner and bar menu, we were slow to warm up to it, but it’s now one of our new favorites. The food and drinks are very good and the atmosphere and entertainment on “Selfie Street” is an added bonus. We sit in the raised-level restaurant rather than at a street table to distance ourselves from the vendors and others walking by. The Ensalada Palmito was delicious—the kitchen split one order for us, and a half salad was a generous amount. The Molcajete was wonderful and appears to be one of their most popular dishes.

My Half of Baraacuda's Palmito Salad--Delicious!

The Entertainment on "Selfie Street" is Half the Fun

La Catrina on Selfie Street

7. Rubens Restaurant: Tripadvisor Rating

     We loooove Ruben’s, for sitting at the bar above street level at lunchtime, people watching on “Selfie Street” or for take-out. Our favorites are the Ruben Sandwich with fries or salad, the Turkey, Avocado, Bacon sandwich (unbelievably good!) with fries or salad, and the Ensalada China con Pollo (another opportunity to get my Asian-flavor fix). As a side note, Ruben keeps “Selfie Street” decorated with flags, flowers, and signs—we appreciate the beauty it adds to our downtown area.

8. Si Señor Sayulita: Tripadvisor Rating

     Si Señor’s is where we go when we want a nice view of Sayulita bay and the main beach with a more quiet atmosphere, including the sound of the waves lapping on the rocks and a gentle sea breeze. Their guacamole made fresh and to our desired spiciness at the table is delicious. 

9.  La Isla Beach Club: Tripadvisor Rating

     A beachfront open-air restaurant, La Isla is a quiet place to enjoy a view of the ocean. We usually order guacamole or battered, fried shrimp as an appetizer and Mahi Mahi Empanizado—always fresh and well-prepared. The wine is not top quality, but good enough. If you order your Margaritas made with Don Julio Setente tequila, and pay a little extra, they are excellent. Service is sometimes slow, but we go there for the soothing ocean sound and view and we're on Mexico time, so we're in no hurry.

10.     Alas Blancas: Tripadvisor Rating

     Alas Blancas beachfront restaurant has chairs and umbrellas near the ocean as well as a roped-off dining area with tables. We prefer the roped-off area at this time during the pandemic as it keeps the vendors away from the tables. I enjoy their shrimp tacos and shrimp cocktail. Occasionally they have a pork shank special that is delicious!

11.     Mariscos Purillo’s: Tripadvisor Rating

Mariscos Purillo's Streetside Restaurant
Purillo's Fried Shrimp Tacos--Delicious!

     We haven’t tried too many items on the menu at Purillo's because we are stuck on their delicious fried Shrimp Tacos (we order them extra frito, extra crispy) served on the best home-made tortillas in town. The spicy marinated onions are good and hot, just the way we like them, so don’t add too many to your tacos. The Agua de Jamaica is the best we’ve found in town. We have lunch at Purillo’s every week or two, but they are open for breakfast and dinner as well.

Other Restaurants We Enjoy

     As you can see, we lean toward restaurants on the beach—it’s one of the best things about living in a beach town. We also gravitate to restaurants with dining rooms and avoid taco stands where there is no running water or bathroom. Plus, wine with our dinner is important. We use some restaurants mostly for their home delivery service. Here are a few that we frequent and enjoy about once a month.

Coco’s Beach Club—Good Fish and Chips with a beach view from upstairs.

Prieto’s—For their delicious carnitas tacos.

El Metro Tortas—For their Milanesa de Pollo Tortas (request canned jalapeños to add)—we order to go and take it to the north beach for a picnic.

La Rustica Sayulita—For their home delivery of pizza and salad.

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Terry L Turrell, Author