Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Splendour in the Sea

Two Beaches, Two Restaurants near Ixtapa

Reviewed by Nancy Snipper

Eating by the beach
Ixtapa is an exquisite beach destination. There’s Playa Linda, Playa Ropa, Playa Grande, and of course the star Palmar Bay where all-inclusive resort hotels claim their prized, private spots. Umbrellas and abercas dot Palmar’s jeweled golden sands – reserved for these vacationers
But the best beaches for me are Las Gatas in Zihuatanejo and Barra de Potosí about 25 minutes away. Its natural lagoon creates a paradise cocoon for bathers, and the beach never seems to end.

Take the boat from Zihuataneo to Las Gatas and enjoy the views

In Las Gatas, the best restaurant for fish food, amazing drinks and Mexican meat plates is Arnoldo’s where they speak a little English (as the big wooden sign says).
 Owned by Sara, the 83-year-old widow and Laura, her granddaughter, this 70-year-old legendary bar and restaurant offers you a splendid menu of appetizers, seafood and more. It’s been around for over 60 years, and its popularity has never wanted. A parrot, music and total crazy fun fills this amazingly magical place.
Melaton, my affable, highly experienced waiter introduced me to Miami Vice. What a thrill! It’s a huge drink made with a mixture of pina colada, melon and strawberry, grenadine, tequila and more. It was so filling, I ended up cancelling my fish fillet order, but I did dig into the huge portion of my guacamole appetizer, followed by my shrimp teriyaki. Little shrimp were wrapped in tiny tacos. The sauce was light, non-greasy and ever-so tasty. The next day I returned to have another Miami Vice – this time – mixed with mango, and for the main meal – their tuna fillet in a delicate green coriander sauce. Crazy good! Thank you Maria de la Luz!  She’s the chef.  The experience was edibly addictive.
 I heard a great singer and guitarists jamming at the back of the restaurant. Before I knew it, I joined in the singing; the two guitarists insisted I not return to Canada. They were actually serious. They wanted me to join their duo. In that instant, a vision flashed before me. I had joined the pair – playing the tambourine as we all sang while strolling along Las Gatos Beach.

 Sensational snorkeling
I worked off my meal snorkeling in Las Gatas. As soon as you get out of the boat, you bump into Alicia’s rental place. A lively woman who never stops laughing, she takes care of you, ensuring that your flippers, life jacket and snorkeling mask are the perfect fit. Then, Ramiros, my guide signaled to me from the water – even put my flippers on for me. He makes sure you hold on to the float plank as he takes you into the coral to see the lovely fish. I loved it and was thrilled to see a lone trumpet fish with his long snout. Gliding under me, the fish was a rare sight, and I was hoping it would follow me. Off it went.

       The head of Christ

 We fed some fish, as we moved along to see the head of Christ – a 4-metre-tall statue at the bottom. Ramiro shouted through his mask: “La cabeza de Cristo” His arms stretched out to welcome us all. Still, I was more amused than inspired by this stone statue of Jesus which had been placed there by the government; but it’s a snorkeling attraction that all guides show you.  

The second time I went back, my sweet guide Ernesto dove downwards to catch a blow fish. He brought it up toward the surface for me to touch. It was neat to feel its bumpy bulbous protrusion.  Maybe Jesus did have something to do with bringing me this fish. After all, he was a fisherman.

Barra de Potosí is paradise found

Definitely stunning to visit is this great natural wonder. Swim, walk forever on the huge beach and get lost, but don’t miss eating at Nayitos – what a yummy winner! Owned by Leonardo Garcia and his wife Tommy Oregón, and run by their sons Yair, Julio and Sergio Garcia, the place is 30 years old. I was in heaven with their hammocks strung along the side of Nayito’s enormous covered restaurant that faces the waves and incredibly beach.
Yair suggested I go for their Pantera Rosa – a cocktail of coconut cream, rum, pineapple juice, carnation milk and grenadine. I also tried their strawberry daiquiri. Both drinks boast fresh fruit. They were outstanding – thanks to cousin Manuel who is so committed to the real fruit composition. He studied at a special bartending school In Acapulco.
Known for their quality marsicos (mussels) and more seafood, ribs, beef fillets and New York sirloin, (gotta see their menu to take in their fish choices), Nayito uses seven cooks to make it happen. I ordered cheese covered pasta and the chicken fajitas. Totally scrumptious. It’s true what Nayito’s menu writes: If you visit Barra de Potosí and you don’t eat at Nayitos’, it’s as if you never came at all. What a way to spend the day – swimming in a lagoon and eating exceptionally well!

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