Chef Marcelino: Back!
Last December, Chef Marcelino fans didn’t know if we would have the pleasure of dining with him again. Faced with a big dip in tourism in San Felipe and ailing relatives on the mainland, Marcelino had to close his restaurant, El Balcon, in December. Many of you will be pleased to hear that he is back! We are not sure for how long, however, since he still has a commitment in San Quintin. If you haven’t tried Los Venados Restaurant just off of the Chetumal, around the corner from the Riviera Liquor Store, across from Copy Central, you are in for a treat. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Marcelino’s signature is hard to miss. Lisbeth ordered the fish fillet in a coriander sauce, while I sampled the fish fillet in a chipotle sauce. First course was a beautifully presented corn chowder. Delicious! Next came the fish with a cute “boat” of rice and an array of grilled organic vegetables–pea pods, asparagus tips, chili peppers, baby tomatoes, and Brussels sprouts. The sea bass was cooked to perfection and the sauces were creamy and flavorful without overpowering the fish. We would have loved to sample the desert–rice pudding with fried plantain, but, we were stuffed. Prices are close to what they were at El Balcon, but you’ll feel a small sting from the recent tax hikes. But, I wouldn’t let that keep you away. The atmosphere at Los Venados (The Deer) is the real “This is Mexico” piece that will bring a smile to your face. Owner, Elijio, had an old deer head trophy sitting around his last establishment (the liquor store next to La Vaquita) and decided to build his restaurant brand around it. In the main room of the restaurant you will see that trophy mounted in the corner. It is surrounded by columns painted to look like tree trunks, and the walls are almost floor to ceiling, panoramic life size views of herds of deer. But, it doesn’t stop there. Take a minute to go to the back room. Elijio, with help from family and friends has collected tons of lava rock and shells to create a floor to ceiling waterfall. He gave us a demonstration that left us shaking our heads and making us smile. The thing really works and is very restful sounding. Only in Mexico would you see such creativity and ingenuity! Fascinating.
If you haven’t tried Los Venados, yet, we recommend you do. Food is good, staff are very gracious (look for Lorena who used to work at La Palapa and Juanito’s at the Ranch), and the ambiance is…pure Baja Mexico. We give it a five cholla rating!