Showing posts with label restaurants. Show all posts
Showing posts with label restaurants. Show all posts

April 27, 2009

The $99 banana split

$99 banana split, El Progreso, Honduras
The $99 banana split

Remember the $74 banana split? Inflation has struck. It now costs $99, a 34% increase in two years!

Actually that should be L.99 (lempiras, the monetary unit of Honduras) or about US $5.24, a big rip off it seems to me since they make these little tiny scoops of ice cream, not the regulation size I remember from the old days back in the US. I still don't know why they use dollar signs on one side of the sign and lempira signs on the other. This photo was even taken in another city (El Progreso) so I guess it must be store policy.

How about L.309 for a half gallon? That is US $16.36!!! Please. Ben & Jerry's it is not. Needless to say, my initial excitement about the Baskin Robbins opening in La Ceiba has gone by the wayside. When I want good ice cream, I'll make it at home for a lot less cost than this. I don't mind paying more for quality but I just don't like to feel ripped off.

Baskin Robbins/Dunkin Donuts, El Progreso, HondurasWhile I'm ragging on Baskin Robbins/Dunkin Donuts, let me ask you...Is this what your Dunkin Donuts sign says? Shouldn't this read, "Coffee, Bakery & Ice Cream Place"? I really need to know this as it bugs me.

While there are usually customers lined up for the donuts, sandwiches, and coffee, it seems that a lot of customers must agree with me because I rarely see anyone in line for ice cream.

store landscaping, El Progreso, HondurasWe do like the Dunkin Donuts and the coffee drinks. And I like the pretty landscaping outside, though it is way overplanted. They will be removing half of these plants within a couple of years. Only one of my sago palms would fill this entire bed and this little spot has three. Where these are planted, they are going to cover the entire sidewalk and one parking place before long. That is one thing I can say about the US food franchises − they generally have at least a tiny spot of pretty landscaping outside.

By the way, I was severely chastised for taking a photo in the store. :-/

April 25, 2009

Playa Taty's burger

Playa Taty's burger, La Ceiba, Honduras Restaurante Playa Taty's burger. No need to say more. Blogged by request of El Jefe. ;-D

Related articles:

Playa Taty's Restaurant - A must do

By the way, Playa Taty is no longer open for lunch but the restaurant is open 7 nights a week now. Go! You must go!

September 20, 2008

Menu chuckles

Menu chuckles, La Ceiba, Honduras
I couldn't find 'fetushini' in the Spanish dictionary, but I really appreciate the way that Spanish words are pronounced the way they are spelled. There is no mistaking the pronunciation with this spelling, unlike 'fettuccine.'

Menu chuckles, La Ceiba, Honduras"Potato Soup.
It's of potatoes"

'Nuff said.

Menu chuckles, La Ceiba, Honduras
"Ask about our Saco Moco salsa that burns on the entrance and burns again on the exit."

These are from a Honduran "Mexican" restaurant that was one of our favorites. Sadly it is now closed.

August 1, 2008

Restaurant review: Kabasa?

Kabasa? restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasKabasa? restaurant, La Ceiba, Honduras

Kabasa? is a Garífuna seafood restaurant. According to a Garífuna friend, 'Kabasa' means something like "What's up?" or "What's happening?", hence the question mark at the end. I'll leave the question mark off in this review. By the way, when pronouncing it, the accent is on the last 'a'.

Kabasa now has three locations, San Pedro Sula, to which I've never been; Sambo Creek, nice atmosphere on the beach and breezy; and La Ceiba, which we recently tried for the first time.

Kabasa, La Champa, Sambo Creek, HondurasI've been to Kabasa in Sambo Creek, on the beach about 30 minutes outside of La Ceiba several times. It's also known as La Champa, 'champa' being the local Spanish word for the palm-frond roof. The food is good and plentiful, though at the Sambo Creek location, a lunch or dinner in an almost empty restaurant has taken two hours or more. The service is nice enough, though slow.

The La Ceiba restaurant had moved recently but with only a bit of trouble, we were able to find it in Barrio La Isla. If you are going north toward the ocean on the stadium road (by the estero), turn right on the second street after the stadium (God only knows what the name of any of these streets are). Go straight about two blocks. You should see the restaurant sign on the corner on the left hand side. See the photo at top.

Kabasa restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasThe entrance is very nice. They have a nicely landscaped outdoor area with umbrella covered concrete tables and benches. In the center is a very large covered patio area with lots of seating. An outdoor bar is in this area as well.

Kabasa restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasThe inside area is air conditioned (but thankfully not too cold). It's quite large and includes another bar area. Tables and chairs in the patio area as well as inside are wooden, which is a nice change from the plastic chairs and tables in so many restaurants. One wall is covered with this beautiful under-sea mural and various forms of artistic painting brighten the interior. It looks like they would have no trouble handling large groups for dining either inside or outside.

Roberto was our waiter and he was pleasant and efficient. I was disappointed (for blogging purposes) that four of the six in our group ordered the Sopa Marinera, which is one the Kabasa's specialties. I can't blame them really, it is delicious. I was just hoping to get photos of more items from the menu.

Kabasa serves all the usual soft drinks (L.15), beers (L.20-35), and mixed drinks, as well as tall, icy glasses of naturales: lemonadas and other fresh juices (L.20-30). Some of us had the lemonade which was nice (not too sweet − always a risk here) and others had jugo de toronja (grapefruit juice). One person ordered a second grapefruit juice, so it must have been good.

Kabasa restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasThe menu is extensive, but often not everything is available. Every time I've been to Kabasa, the small and medium pescados (fish) have not been available, only the large or extra large. Sometimes they have crab legs and sometimes not. The fish (L.110-200), shrimp (L.174-204), conch (L.139-180), and lobster (L.500-600) can be prepared several different ways. (Divide by 20 to get a rough approximation of the prices in US dollars.)

The menu includes several combination seafood platters for 2, 4, or 6 people (L.600 to 1,700). If you are not a seafood fan, Kabasa offers grilled meat platters including chicken, beef, chuletas (chops) of both beef and pork for 2, 4, or 6 persons at L.400 to L.1,000. Individual meals of beef, pork, or chicken, meal-sized salads, and a children's menu are also available.

The prices are typical for a nice restaurant in La Ceiba.
In US dollars, most main courses prices range from $8 to $10, with lobster and a few other specialties running upward of US $25. Menu prices do not include 12% sales tax (15% on alcoholic beverages) or 10% gratuity which will be added to your check.

Fried fish, Kabasa restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasLa Madre had pescado empanizado (fried, breaded fish) and I had caracol in mantequilla (conch in a lightly garlic flavored cream sauce). Both came with an iceberg lettuce and tomato salad, yellow rice with veggies, and french fries. We both requested a substitution to tajadas (sliced, fried unripe plantains) instead of the fries and received a look of approval from the waiter.

Conch is garlic cream sauce, Kabasa restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasMy caracol was rich and tasty in the cream sauce, and most importantly, very tender. The sauce was not overly garlicky which sometimes is a risk. Everything was good. Even the salad dressing (no choice − only the ketchup/mayo mixture was available) was not watered down to a liquid form as it is in so many restaurants.

Marinera soup, Kabasa restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasThe sopa marinera (seafood soup) is one of their most popular of several soups (L.129-240). It's called the "I can't decide" soup because it includes shrimp, lobster, fish, mussels, calamari, crab meat, and possibly more. I would estimate that there was close to a pound of seafood in the soup. The coconut broth was the best and richest that I have tasted − and I've tasted a lot. It was a tad too salty, but oh so flavorful. Soups are served with a side of white rice, tajadas, and a lemon wedge. It is customary is that the person squeezes a little lemon in the soup and adds the rice to their taste as they eat the soup.

Kabasa restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasWe had one little glitch. My caracol in mantequilla somehow turned into an order of fried shrimp when it arrived. Roberto remembered my caracol order as soon as I mentioned it and went back to the kitchen. I was hoping that he had just picked up the wrong plate and it was still sitting in the kitchen but no such luck. So once again, I (the reviewer!) sat for 15 minutes or so while everyone else ate, while they prepared the dish. I couldn't tell you how many times this has happened to me. Oh, well. I would have eaten the shrimp rather than waiting but I didn't think to tell that to Roberto soon enough. The important point is that there was no arguments about who was mistaken.

For dessert, the menu offers traditional coco candies, as well as a dessert of the day (supposedly). We didn't ask what was available as the main course portions are huge and very filling. In fact, if you eat lunch there, you might not need to eat dinner later on. The menu and prices are the same for lunch or dinner, as is true with all of the La Ceiba restaurants that I've been to.

Kabasa is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays) at the San Pedro and La Ceiba locations. The Sambo Creek restaurant opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 8 p.m (9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays). All three are closed on Sundays. Their menu warns that all items are prepared fresh and to allow a minimum of 30 minutes preparation time.

Everyone enjoyed the food and the La Ceiba restaurant very much. We were in and out in little over an hour even though the restaurant had quite a few customers. It was a good choice and we will be going back. I appreciate the effort the owners put into the landscaping and decor. It has a nice atmosphere and judging by the crowd at lunch, I imagine that it must get a good crowd on Friday and Saturday nights.

We've also had good food several times at the Sambo Creek location. We've taken friends and they have enjoyed the short ride through the country to get there as well as the opportunity to see the little Garífuna village of Sambo Creek. A taxi ride could be expensive (comparatively) unless you take one of the collectivo taxis or negotiate a rate in advance.

Kabasa restaurant, Sambo Creek, HondurasSitting under the second floor champa (palm frond roof) by the ocean is always nice. This restaurant has some interesting wooden chairs and stair railings which you can see in the slide show below. Plan on spending more time if you go to the Sambo Creek location. I don't know why, but it always seems to take a long time there.

Kabasa? receives another one of those rare La Gringa recommendations!

To view more photos of the food and La Ceiba and the Sambo Creek Restaurants, enjoy the slideshow below:

May 16, 2008

El Fogoncito, La Ceiba

El Fogoncito, La Ceiba, HondurasColorful El Fogoncito

Update: It appears that every restaurant that I recommend will close down. This one did, too.

Another new restaurant has come to La Ceiba. El Fogoncito, a Mexican chain restaurant, opened recently. We tried it out − and will wonders never cease? − we'll be going back. That alone is high praise from La Gringa for Ceibeño restaurants. :-)

coved ceiling, El Fogoncito, HondurasI love the way the restaurant looks from the outside (photo at top). It's huge and it's colorful. So many of buildings in La Ceiba are dirty white or bare concrete and moldy so just looking at this restaurant tempted me to try it. This photo shows the coved ceiling about our table.

chips and hot sauceHere is another wonder: They serve a teensy-tiny bowl of chips with two types hot sauce before you order. Just not done in La Ceiba. Restaurant owners would be too worried that you would order a glass of water, eat their chips, and then leave. Not only do they serve "free" chips, but the waitress brought us a refill without us even asking! For a minute, I thought I was in Texas, except that the chips were thick and way too greasy.

Fogoncito menuThe menu consists of lots of tacos, some seafood and chicken dishes, and lots of big meat plates − Hondurans do love their meat. I was a little offended by the Gringadas section, which consisted of chicken fingers, beef fingers, and hamburgers. What? No fish sticks? (Oh, you know I'm kidding, right?)

Since they don't have unsweetened tea, I ordered the te de jamaica (iced hibiscus tea), which comes with refills, although I was a little concerned that it would be too sweet for my taste. But it was fresh and prepared pretty much the way I make it. El Jefe ordered the horchata which was very good but a little heavy on the cinnamon. No refills on the horchata, though.

burritos, Fogoncito, La Ceiba, HondurasI chose the burritos which were the closest thing to the Tex-Mex food that I miss so much. I just had to rock the boat again and ask if I could have burritos mixtos (one pork and one chicken). The waitress looked a little concerned and said she would ask, but a split second later she was back with my mixtos.

fajitas, Fogoncito, La Ceiba, HondurasEl Jefe ordered fajitas mixtas. He was disappointed with the quantity of meat but they were good, as were my burritos which were really stuffed with meat and cheese. The beef and pork were a little too salty for my taste, but I liked the chicken.

El Jefe only took one bite of the guacamole and declared it to be old. I reminded him
that he's just not going to find guacamole like La Gringa makes in any restaurant. He said, "You got that right!"

Reina, Fogoncito, La Ceiba, HondurasOur waitress was Reina and she was wonderful. Very attentive, friendly, and always with a big smile. This was my second photo of Reina as she was displeased with the first. She said it made her look too fat, which it did because of the angle of the shot. She liked this one better.

Even if I didn't know, I would have guessed that this was a chain restaurant. With very few exceptions in La Ceiba, only chains teach their waiters and waitresses to smile and .... well, do the stuff that most people expect waiters to do. As you can guess, Reina got a tip above and beyond that 10% added to the check.

Fogoncito, La Ceiba, HondurasEl Jefe asked which of the several desserts on the menu were available, just because that is what you do in La Ceiba. It saves a lot of time and heartbreak. Reina looked at him with surprise and said "All of them!"

cheesecake, Fogoncito, La Ceiba, HondurasEl Jefe had this huge piece of cheesecake. As you can see, I am not yet a professional blogger as we had already started attacking the cheesecake from both ends before I remembered to take a photo.

tiramisu, Fogoncito, La Ceiba, HondurasI ordered the tiramisu. It was just okay. A little too wet and spongy, with a flavor that wasn't exactly coffee, but something else that I couldn't place. Next time I'll try the brownie sundae.

bar, Fogoncito, La Ceiba, HondurasSome of the prices seem a little high for what you get, but overall, it was good, it was something different from the myriad of restaurantes tipicos, and we'll definitely be going back. I want to go on a weekend night when they have dancers who dance on this long bar.

March 2, 2008

Restaurant experiences in La Ceiba

Snake bar, La Ceiba, Honduras
In the restaurant business, you gotta have something: Good food, good service, nice atmosphere − preferably two out of three. Annoying service really ruins a restaurant experience for me. We don't expect fast service, even if we are the only customers in the restaurant. We don't even expect particularly friendly service anymore. What I really dislike is when we are treated as if our being there is just a nuisance.

Applebee's, La Ceiba, HondurasOne of my favorite stories is the time that we spent almost two hours in Applebee's (where the waiters are trained to be friendly) and never heard the sound of our waitress's voice. She walked up to our table with a glum look on her face, pencil in hand, and
dejectedly stood there waiting for us to say what we wanted. She brought the drinks and later barely slowed down to plop the food in front of us without a word.

Afterward we waved her down to order dessert. She gave us an annoyed look and walked away without even a nod as an acknowledgment that she heard us. The check was similarly handled with sour looks and without speaking, by which point I couldn't help but giggle. She was behaving like a small child who had just been given a time-out. She was going through the motions but
clearly wanted to let someone know that she wasn't happy about it.

Being a really good waiter is a talent, but I believe that being an adequate waiter only takes a little common sense. I realize that most waiters in La Ceiba probably don't often or maybe ever go to a quality restaurant and haven't been exposed to excellent service, but I look at it as just treating a customer the way you would treat a guest in your home. That should get you by. A little common sense and a simple smile goes a long way with us.

In our 6 1/2 years in La Ceiba, here are some of the experiences that we've had. Sadly, some of these experiences are the rule more than the exception. Sometimes it's the cook's fault, sometimes it is the manager's policy, but most often it is just the waiter:

The waiter serves the main course and takes everyone's empty glasses away. Then he rushes off out of sight before anyone can order another drink, much less asks if the guests want another. (Mango Tango, Applebee's)

La Palapa Mexicana, La Ceiba, HondurasIn a slight variation, waiter picks up everyone's empty glasses, takes a drink order from one person at the table, and immediately leaves without asking if anyone else wants to order a drink, too. (Expatriates, La Palapa Mexicana, Gallo Pinto, to name a few)

The menu states that a certain item is included with a meal but NEVER serves it, tells you that they are out, or that it's too expensive, and doesn't substitute or reduce the price. Prints new menus months later and STILL includes the items that they are NEVER going to serve you. Hey, if you can tape over the prices when you raise them, you can tape over the items that you aren't ever going to serve to the customers. (La Palapa Mexicana, Luna Gaucha)

Waiter serves one or two people at the table and brings the food for the rest 20-30 minutes later. (La Plancha, La Palapa Mexicana)

Pupusa Universitaria, La Ceiba, HondurasWaiters serve the main course and never returns to the table until you flag them down to get the check. Never asks if you want another drink or dessert. Never ever asks if everything is okay, how is the food?, can I get you anything? (Well, just about every restaurant falls into this category!)

Waiters bring the appetizers and the main course at the same time. (Applebee's, La Palapa Mexicana, Expatriates, Quinta Real Hotel) Tip: Order the appetizer, keep the menu and don't order the main course until the appetizer is served.

Will take 20 minutes (no exaggeration) for a drink to be served; an hour and half for soup. (La Palapa)

Serves side dishes or main courses family style with no utensils for the guests to dish them out at the table. Yuck! (Arrecife's, Snake Bar)

While you are busy talking with someone, maybe even with your fork still in your hand, the waiter comes by unnoticed and removes your unfinished plate of food or half empty drink without saying a word or asking if you are finished. (Applebee's, La Palapa Mexicana)

Snake bar, La Ceiba, HondurasWaiters continually reports "no hay" on everything you select from the menu without checking. Later on, you'll sometimes see someone else served the thing that they told you they didn't have! (Snake Bar and too many others to mention)

Waiter acts like you are trying to get away with something for nothing if you ask for a little mustard for your hamburger instead of the ketchup, mayo, onions, etc. (Expatriates − but then brings a bowl of mustard that is big enough for 12 people; all the fast food restaurants)

Waiter gets your order wrong and then argues with you that they did not make a mistake. Not only will they not ever just say that they are sorry but will argue about it at length! (La Palapa Mexicana, most of the fast food places)

Menu, La Palapa Mexicana, La Ceiba, HondurasWaiter doesn't serve everything that is supposed to accompany your meal. Argues with you that, no, you aren't supposed to get "xxxx," you cheapskate! Concedes and serves it to you only after being shown the menu. (La Palapa Mexicana, Applebee's)

The cook serves bad (as in old, wilted, burned, or spoiled) food and then the waiter argues with you that it is really fine and that's the way it is supposed to be. (Long list here, too.)

Waiter serves ice cold meat on the nachos − not cooled down to room temperature, but ICE COLD like directly from the refrigerator − and then argues that that could not have possibly happened. Since the waiter disappeared in the back for 30 minutes after serving it, we finally had to go ahead and eat the evidence. (Applebee's)

Most restaurants will serve cocktails with or without alcohol for the same price. Sometimes will serve cocktails without alcohol and will insist that there really is alcohol in them. (La Palapa Mexicana)

La Palapa Mexicana, La Ceiba, HondurasIn an empty restaurant (except for unimportant you), the waiters turn up the television or music so loud that you cannot converse with your guests. (Quinta Real Hotel, Arrecife's; these are restaurants that don't have blaring music all the time)

The manager calls a 45-minute long staff meeting of ALL of the waiters at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night! What the heck was he thinking! (Applebee's)

The restaurants mentioned are some of the nicer restaurants in town. I don't expect any more than to have the food plopped down in front of me at the hole-in-the-wall places, but I do expect better at these restaurants. We have dumbed down our service expectations to an incredibly low level, but still things happen which continue to surprise us.

We've just stopped going to some of these restaurants as a result of the aggravation. If El Jefe wants to argue with someone at dinner, he always has me and he doesn't have to leave a tip! ;-D

Cesar at Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasI blame the poor service on the fact that most La Ceiba restaurants now automatically add a 10% tip (the traditional tip rate in Honduras) to the bill and from what I hear, that entire 10% is rarely given to the waiter so they have no incentive to do better or "sell" more. We give an extra tip when the service is good, but it is rare except at Playa Taty's Restaurant.

Restaurant owners: Are you listening? Your help needs some training and supervision! You may have trained them, but while you are at home or hiding in your office, they aren't doing what you told them to do. And speaking of hiding, why don't the managers or owners EVER come around to check on the customers? It could be very enlightening. A little bit of your time might help you to spot the employees who are driving away your customers.

I've read a long time ago that the tourist association in La Ceiba was planning training classes for waiters and others who deal with tourists. Some tourist business owners recognize the problem but don't always know what is going on when they aren't looking or just don't know how to motivate their employees. I don't know if the classes were ever held but it definitely sounded like a good idea to me and something that should be done regularly because of the high turnover.

People don't come to La Ceiba expecting 5-star service, but on the other hand, most people do expect that their patronage will be appreciated at least a little. All that marketing of La Ceiba as a tourist town and the friendliest city in Honduras where everyone smiles is being tarnished.

PS: I've heard that La Palapa Mexicana, which you read mentioned so many times above, is closing down. Could it be that the good food and nice atmosphere just couldn't compensate for the bad service?

January 9, 2008

On the road to shopping again

grocery finds, San Pedro Sula, HondurasMy goodies from San Pedro Sula

Subtitled: It's Christmas again at La Gringa's house!

temporary bridge patched with sheet metal, HondurasWe made another pleasant trip to San Pedro Sula again last week. The second in two weeks. We had a bit of a scare in that the river where the temporary bridge was located was really high and fierce. The sheet metal covering holes in the temporary bridge didn't do anything to reassure us.

building a bridge, HondurasYou'll probably laugh at this, but we opened the windows and unhooked our seat belts for escape purposes just in case. As we were passing the bridge we saw that the scaffolding around the new part being built had washed away. We breathed a sigh of relief when we were on the other side.

We got to San Pedro late, as usual. Darn! Sears only had one of those towels that I wanted and I couldn't find a yogurt maker. Other than that it was a great trip. I just couldn't take take photos in the stores as we were pressed for time. I'm not sure if they would allow it but I didn't even ask. I can tell you that for the most part, the stores looked just like in the U.S.

We were thinking of buying a flat screen television. Before you start thinking that we are extravagant, our main TV is from 1991! It's been resurrected three times by a Honduran repairman, but the picture is dark and not very good. We ended up not buying one even though Diunsa had some good sales prices. Oh, I guess it is still extravagant since the new one probably won't last 17 years like the last one. That's probably why we didn't buy it. Maybe they will go on sale again this summer.

grocery finds, San Pedro Sula, HondurasI bought some fabrics − there is a ton of sewing in my near future − and a lot of groceries. We went to Los Andes Commissary for a quick look for whole wheat flour and found all the stuff in the photo above, plus more that I forgot to put in the photo.

There are things in these photos that I have not seen in six and a half years! Fillo dough! Spring roll wrappers! Dill relish! Scallops! Dill! Semolina flour! Bread flour! Frozen peas! U.S. export quality rib eye steaks! Can you tell I'm excited?

Most exciting find of all: I found this 5 lb. bag of wild rice for L.149 (US $7.88). Compare that with the 4 oz. box in La Ceiba for L.162 (US $8.57)! That is just evil. El Jefe had never seen black rice before and was pretty skeptical. He liked it, though, and I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't ask me to cook it for his family some time just to shock them.

My refrigerator and freezer are both stuffed to the gills. I was going to make some whole wheat bread today until I remembered that there is no room to store it in the freezer.

I'll be going back to that store at least every couple of months, for sure. I didn't even buy everything I wanted just because I was worried about having space for it. Some of the things I bought aren't things that I pine for or even think about, but when I saw them, my mind said "I WANT THAT!" Polish sausage, Italian sausage, Oscar Mayer hard salami were some of those things.

The La Ceiba grocery stores have been out of real Parmesan cheese for at least 4 months. Honduran Parmesan cheese smells like dirty tennis shoes and that Kraft powdered stuff is unacceptable. I have found canned chicken broth here but the last time was in 2006. I do make my own but it's nice not to have to all the time.

Oh, I was dancing for joy in that store. Now I have to go look up those recipes that I've been skipping over because the ingredients weren't available.

To top off a good shopping day, we stopped at Tre Fratelli's, an Italian restaurant for dinner. I had smoked chicken ravioli with a basil-jalapeño sauce. Yummy-spicy! El Jefe had a mixed seafood fettuccine which was really good also and came with a ton of seafood. A lesser man couldn't have finished the whole thing. ;-P We were served some homemade bread which I swear tasted exactly like my homemade herb bread. I also had my first chocolate mousse in 7 years. It was like a long-awaited sexual experience. I still get shivers thinking about it. Tre Fratelli's gets two thumbs up from us.

Years ago we made many trips to San Pedro, but they were usually to buy construction materials so we would spend most or all of our time in ferreterías (hardware stores). Boring! Not to mention that to order, pay for, and pick up even a bag of nails in a hardware store takes about 2 1/2 hours. Each trip, I would make a list and plan to check out a grocery store or look for furniture or fabric stores, and each trip we would run out of time. Then after the house was completed, for one reason or another we couldn't leave it. Then for the last couple of years we've had car problems and were afraid to take it on a long trip. No more! Now it's my turn. I'm going back no matter what.

66F in HondurasWe feel like country hicks going to the Big Apple when we go to San Pedro. It's always fun. We often mention that we are from La Ceiba and people are almost always very nice. That fact sometimes helps us when we say that we have to drive aaaall the way back to La Ceiba tonight and could they possibly get something for us a little quicker? ;-)

After that was the long drive home. I offered to drive, but El Jefe said no. "What's the matter? Don't you trust my driving?" "Well, frankly, no, I don't." I laughed because that was fine by me! I wasn't looking forward to the long, hard drive late at night.

car seat heaterI turned on my seat heater for the second time in 7 years, covered up with a blanket (yes, it was a cold night!), and promptly fell to sleep for almost the entire trip. What a guy! It's nice to have a macho man around.

tilapia, wild rice, and peasThis was our first meal afterward. Parmesan-crusted tilapia with tarter sauce made with dill and dill relish, wild rice, peas, and an egg roll with plum sauce. Of course, it was way too much and El Jefe had the rest for lunch the next day.

December 26, 2007

Playa Taty's Restaurant - a must do

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasPlaya Taty's Restaurant on the beach in La Ceiba

Update, May 2010: It is with great sadness that I report that Play Taty's restaurant has closed.


If you ever come to La Ceiba, you MUST eat at Playa Taty's Restaurant! You MUST! I insist. I don't do many restaurant reviews, because there just aren't very many that I can recommend. I'm excited to be able to whole-heartedly recommend this one.

Playa Taty's is a new restaurant on the beach in the Zona Viva. We took our good friend blogger Katrina there for lunch Friday to "celebrate" (really to mourn) her leaving Honduras to return to the U.S. to get on with her life in the real world.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasRight off the bat before we even entered the restaurant, I was impressed with the new landscaping and the gorgeous bright tropical colors of the restaurant. It just looks like a beach restaurant should look, don't you think?

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasThe restaurant has seating inside, on the terraza facing the beach, and upstairs under the open air champa (palm leaf roof) also facing the beach. We chose to eat upstairs. The day was perfect − bright, breezy, comfortable temperature, and even the ocean was blue today. A sign of things to come...

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasCésar was our waiter and he was without a doubt the best waiter we've ever had in La Ceiba. Efficient, friendly, and a real charmer. He speaks Spanish and English and didn't give me that deer-in-the-headlights look when I spoke in my Texas-accented Spanish. We'll definitely be looking for César when we go back.

Pina Colada, Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasI ordered a piña colada in honor of the occasion and look at this thing! It was huge and more importantly, delish. El Jefe made a joke to the waiter that it was so tall that I couldn't reach the top of the straw and the next thing I knew, the smiling bartender brought over a bendable straw so I wouldn't have to stand up to drink it. We all had a good laugh about that. ;-D

The menu includes a variety of seafood, steak, pork, and chicken dishes with a Caribbean flare as well as some New Orleans style offerings. The entrée prices, ranging from around L.165 to L.300 (US $8.75-$15.85), are just a little higher than many La Ceiba restaurants, but still very reasonable. The steak entrées and steak-seafood combos are around L.400 (about US $21) and the lobster dishes are priced de temporada (seasonally). Which would you rather have: a blah meal with poor service at a bargain price or an excellent meal at a fair price? Uh-huh. Me, too.

The menu also includes three salads with seven different dressings, soup of the day, three sandwiches, and hamburgers. Most of the meal-sized salads and sandwiches cost around L.100 (US $5.29). Daily specials are available, and on Sundays, the restaurant offers prime rib.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasWe were so enthralled with the variety of the menu that we literally spent close to an hour trying to decide what to order. So, struggling between the nine appetizer selections, we finally decided on the coconut shrimp served with charred pineapple cocktail sauce and tempura conch appetizers to tide us over in the meantime. We weren't disappointed. Most of the appetizers are around L.100 (US $5.29), with the shrimp and lobster entradas being higher.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasMany of the platos fuertes (literally: strong plates; entrées) come with a side dish and salad. I ordered the shrimp and sausage jambalaya (loaded with shrimp and sausage and SPICE-EEE!) which did not, so I ordered a side salad for the reasonable price of L.40 (U.S. $2.11).

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasThis is a real, honest to goodness salad of fresh, crisp, mixed baby lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, grated carrots and braised red cabbage with a choice of seven different dressings, none of them that watery mayo-ketchup mix that all La Ceiba restaurants serve. That alone is enough to bring us back.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasKatrina ordered the grilled conch and El Jefe ordered the grilled grouper with lime cream (photo). Both came with the house salad and yummy garlic mashed potatoes presented beautifully. In the interests of restaurant review investigation, of course I had to test everything that was put on the table, so I can say that it all was mighty tasty.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasPlaya Taty's had six different dessert selections, which is incredible in La Ceiba. The only other place that has that many is Applebee's but Applebee's dessert prices are double or more what these cost at Playa Taty's: L.40 (U.S. $2.11)! It was a really tough choice, but Katrina had the coconut raisin peanut brownie sundae which included the largest hunk of brownie I've ever seen, El Jefe had the banana rum cake, and I had the island lime pie. They all came topped with fresh whipped cream and all were outstanding.

A few things besides the food really pleased me!

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasThe waiter was very attentive. Both the waiter and Vander, the bartender (photo), smiled and were very friendly. (I checked with both of them: sure enough, neither are from La Ceiba! Vander is from the Honduran island of Roatán and César is from Tegucigalpa.) A good waiter adds so much to my enjoyment of a nice restaurant experience. Even the tropical shirts made me smile.

We received clean silverware with each course! Nothing new in the U.S. but it certainly is in La Ceiba.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasThe menu is clear and easy to read (in both Spanish and English). One of my pet peeves is menus with tiny ornate fonts and dark background images which seem to be the rage in many La Ceiba restaurants making them almost impossible to read in a dimly lit restaurant. Not only that, but we never heard "no hay" (there isn't any) a single time. In some La Ceiba restaurants, it is just easier and less disappointing to ask what they have instead of looking at the menu.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasThis may sound silly, but I was really excited about the presentation of the food and the colorful plates. If you could see the usual food presentation in many restaurants and the scratched, chipped and beige (or even throw-away plastic) plates, you'd understand.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasCésar also offered a complimentary sangria when I was struggling to decide if I could possibly finish off another Piña Colada. I don't know if he thought I was a real restaurant reviewer (because of all the photos and questions) and was trying to please me or if that is common for the big spenders. ;-) In any case, it was a nice and rare gesture!

Now, an additional test of any La Ceiba restaurant is the restroom. Will you have to rush home instead of lingering over drinks or dessert because you can't bear to enter the restroom? Playa Taty's came away with flying colors here, too. Soap? Cheque! Water? Cheque! Toilet paper, paper towels, and cleanliness? Cheque tres veces! (Check three times!)

We ended up spending 3 1/2 hours for lunch at Playa Taty's! And we enjoyed every minute of it. Katrina said it was a perfect way to spend her last day in La Ceiba and I couldn't agree more.

Playa Taty's Restaurant, La Ceiba, HondurasWhile I was there, I met the owner and chef, Carl Husbands, to compliment him on the food and especially on the service. He lamented about how hard it is to get good help. I sure hope that he keeps César and Vander happy because they are worth every lempira.

I told him that we enjoyed it so much that I would be recommending Playa Taty's to everyone I know and that I was going to write about it on my blog. He didn't seem too impressed ;-D, so, please, if you ever go there, tell him that La Gringa sent you!

I realize that any good restaurant critic would try a restaurant more than once before recommending it, so El Jefe and I plan to go back often. Who knows? We might go back tomorrow night − it was that good!

I have even more photos which you can view in this slideshow:

Try Playa Taty's! You'll be glad you did and please come back to let me know how you liked it in the comment section.

Just in case you are wondering: No, we didn't receive a discount, kickback or anything of that sort. I'm just happy to share this new discovery with you. I believe in supporting a so-badly-needed quality restaurant and wish Carl all the best success on his new venture.
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