With snowbirds and tourists trickling back to Barra de Navidad and Melaque, now seems the right time to provide a sampling of watering holes and restaurants to begin one’s coastal adventure. We’ll start with a few popular and friendly locales that feature good music, food, cold cerveza or a mojito cocktail or two.
Albatros Restaurant & Bar
Right on the Melaque beach, this relaxed four-year-old eatery and bar is owned by Exequiel Lazareno Ceballos, a native to the town who spent over a decade in California.
With an outstanding view of the ocean, this is the ideal place to sip a margarita and catch a sunset. The architecture is colorful and hip, with some well-crafted wood accents.
Here you can enjoy simple Mexican food with a Californian twist. The menu is varied but not overly long, including selections ranging from chicken wings to ceviche. You can listen to live classic rock, jazz fusion or reggae from Thursday through Sunday, starting at 9 p.m. There is a also dance floor to kick up your heels.
Lazareno informs us that is he putting together a second music festival in January or February. Last year’s event featured ten bands. No date is set yet.
Albatros Restaurant & Bar, Av. Cabanas 36 San Patricio, Melaque. (315) 355-5753. For more information and updates, see Exequiel Lazareno (Albatros) on Facebook.
For a romantic dinning experience, Vainilla Pimienta in Melaque is the one place in the area that truly stands out.
Owned by Chef Gabriela Ramirez Cabrera and her husband Juan Carlos Rincon, the restaurant opened for the season last Saturday in a new garden location. The grand opening brought out fans to enjoy Ramirez’s unique western-influenced, Latin/Mediterranean-style cuisine. The menu features favorites such as baby back ribs with a Jack Daniels bourbon salsa, and a dorado dish with a wonderful parsley clam sauce. The pork tenderloin with a rich red wine sauce is also an outstanding choice.
Ramirez does amazing things with her sauces and the Latin mole sauce on assorted dishes is something that must be considered when ordering.
The menu changes every night and the food is handcrafted based on the fresh ingredients available each day. Ramirez is motivated by her upbringing in Venezuela that she calls “the key to her inspiration and passion for a lifelong love of food.”
The restaurant gets its name from the combination of vainilla (vanilla) – used in Ramirez’s first love, pastries – and pimienta (pepper), a staple condiment of fine cuisine.
The pastry list includes specialties such as a homemade cheesecake made with goat cheese, assorted fruits and a rich chocolate torte. The house specialty in the drinks department is the exceptional mojito cocktail.
The restaurant has live music – usually classic rock or jazz – Thursdays through Saturdays, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Luna Y Coyote Sports Bar
This is a popular spot in Barra de Navidad to relax with a drink and listen to music. An inside bar leads to a pleasant outdoor patio area that accommodates live bands.
Live music is played almost every night and features everything from blues to rock. The bar has a happy hour and the specialty from the kitchen is pizza. (They deliver in the area.) The bar also has finger foods, including chicken wings, soul food and burgers.
Luna Y Coyote Sports Bar, Av. Veracruz 272, Barra de Navidad. (315) 109-5235. For more information, see Luna Y Coyote Sports Bar on Facebook.
Run, run, run
Several hundreds competitors took part in the 5K Ruta de la Carrera run in Barra de Navidad last Saturday. The winner in the men’s competition was Daniel Flu Chaire, and Maria de San Juan placed first in the women’s category. This is set to become an annual race held every November.
The Carrera Costalegre Melaque 10-kilometer and three-kilometer runs are scheduled on Sunday, December 14. Anyone interested in participating or helping out should contact Manuel at (315) 100-8211 or Roberto at (315)104-4072.
La Oficina Bar & Restaurant
This palapa bar and eatery is renowned for its great hamburgers and comfort food. Owners Aaron Colvin and Juliana Delayo have created a family-style, old Mexico vibe in a modern setting that is neat and well organized.
Live music is featured three or four nights a week and the restaurant has a reputation for booking classy bands.
La Oficina Bar & Restaurant, Av. Revolucion 41, Villa Obregon, Melaque. (315) 355-5982. For more information, see La Oficina Bar & Grill on Facebook.