Ajijic restaurant patrons: here’s an ALERT: if you often choose your dining spots on the basis of location, especially those of you who believe all the best restaurants are on the east end or in the center of town, you owe it to yourself and your Ajijic dining credentials to pay a visit to El Ancla (The Anchor) Restaurant Bar and Grill.
The venue has quite a lot to offer for the trip: exquisite freshly-prepared dishes, plus a trinity of patron must-haves, presentation, service and value. Add to these a clean, spacious setting and soft music and you experience an atmosphere that is inviting and intimate. There’s a modesty about the decor, but for everything else, El Ancla seems to get it right.
Here’s how it works: you drive a few minutes west out of town and you pull right up to the venue. There’s plenty of parking close by. And because you’re parking only meters away, you’re at your table within seconds. Dining can be indoors or out.
The menu is inscribed on a white board with a varied range of selections each day. Appetizers include mushrooms cooked in white wine, shrimp stuffed avocado, pear salad with goat cheese and clam chowder. Main courses are clearly listed under Chicken, Fish, Meat, Shrimp, and even Hamburgers (reputed to be the best at lakeside). No fancy names on the board. But the dishes and the food are definitely fancy, prepared and presented with a gourmet panache.
I ordered the mahi-mahi. It was fresh, and while I prefer it grilled to a firmer texture, this version with its buttery garlic sauce came tender and juicy. It sat on mashed potatoes and was surrounded with vegetables, pleasingly fresh, as well. One of my guests ordered the chicken breast stuffed with sauteed spinach, offered with either mushroom or poblano sauce. She raved from start to finish, even interrupting what I thought was one of my most interesting anecdotes when she insisted I taste her savory dish. I don’t think I ever did finish my anecdote. Another guest chose the shrimp in an aromatic garlic sauce. All arrived at exactly the same time and all temperature-perfect.
Other interesting offerings were a lamb arrachera and a shrimp and chicken shish kabob. Beverages weren’t on the white board, but they seemed to have a variety of wines and beers and even suggested Spanish coffee and Mexican coffee (with tequila) to top off what turned out to be a memorable three hour, easy-living luncheon.
I know the traffic these days is a nuisance because of construction. But El Ancla is just a few minutes out of town. Going west, you’ll pass Los Sabinos and continue for another 1/2 mile. On the lakeside, you’ll see the sign of the anchor. Or just ask your friends in the west end; first they’ll say, “you can’t miss it,” and then they’ll tell you not to miss it. A final alert: I’d call for reservations. (376)106-2011. Closed Sundays.