Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Beans In Isla Mujeres:Black Bean Soup & Smoky Charros Especial

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Beans! Frijoles!  ("FREE   HOLE  ayzzzzz!")
    Black beans are the beans of choice in Isla Mujeres. Whenever I cook up a pot of another type of bean and share them with my best friend, she invariably remarks how much she and her family enjoy "other" beans and says they oughta eat them more often. I send some home with her, and she reports her family made the same comment. Which makes me grin, since it happens every time. When I eat at their house, I can count on getting some tasty black beans.
     The other unusual thing, to my foreign notions, is the liquidness of  the beans in Isla. Sometimes it looks like you are being served the bean pot water. There is a surprising amount of flavor in that puree, which is lighter on your stomach, leaving room for the entree. At breakfast your beans may be served in a small bowl, like a tasty sauce. When I 
 decline mayo on tortas, I am offered beans as a substitute, as a paste smeared onto the bread, adding moisture and flavor to the sandwich. Mmmm, better!
    When you order a bowl of bean soup,  you will probably get a hearty dish. La Lomita restaurant is known for its bean soup. As with many local dishes, the garnishes are an important element. Their version of sopa de frijoles includes rice. Their toppings 
 vary, but alway include herbs, lime, and cheese. Both of these pictures are from La Lomita, which is located on Juarez, across from the Naval base. 

At Fayne's on Hidalgo, their menu says: 
"Sopa de Frijol: Cream of black beans with a shot of flaming tequila added at the last minute and strips of tortilla".
    Epazote is an herb that is commonly used to season beans, with the additional benefit of reducing their flatulent effect. You will see it growing in containers outside many Isla kitchens. It has a weedy appearance and a unique, wonderful flavor. It is available online as a dried herb, or sold in markets patronized by people from Latin America and the Caribbean.
And then there's Charro Beans!
Medinas Taqueria on Hidalgo are known for their Beans, and especially their "Frijoles Especial". Their beans are "Estilo Charro" (Charro style) which are pinto beans in a smoky sauce. In Texas they are also called Ranch Style, and menus may call them Cowboy Beans. Medina's most popular item is their pork "Pastor". For their Frijoles Especial, this delightfully charred, moist, marinated pork is sliced from the spit when ordered, added to their charro beans and topped with cheese. The garnishes and sauces are pictured here. 
I have heard that Monchi's has charro beans worth trying, with a good, smokey flavor, which they offer with pastor meat for another ten pesos. They are on the east coastal road south of Mango Cafe and they deliver.
I would recommend you try the bean soup or charros when they are  featured on the specials boards at loncherias and cocina economicas.

 Cocina economicas are small, family-run restaurants that feature home made daily specials, that usually include your beverage, at very affordable price. The beverages are usually homemade "aguas", like horchata or jamaica. They are patronized by locals and tourists alike, offering hearty, authentic local food in an intimate atmosphere. The handful of 
 tables are usually in what would be a living room, with the kitchen nearby, in sight. Women do the cooking and serving, usually family members. You may share a long table, and your fellow diners might wish you a happy meal by saying, "Buen provecho".  Downtown options include Susanita's on Juarez and La Negrita on 
 Allende. Juarez is the one way street between Main and Hidalgo, which is the pedestrian street. Allende is a short east-west street. 
Cocina economicas are loncherias that feature daily specials, with shorter hours and a less extensive menu, usually. The main meal of the day is eaten in the afternoon, and that is their focus.

  Downtown, the best known loncherias are 
Poc Chuc on Juarez at  Abasolo, pictured here.....

and the four restaurants that are side by side in front of the mercado, which is on the back street. 
They are Alexia & Geovanny, San Martin, Poc Chuc, and Tacos Tumbras .  The one across the street is currently closed.There are more loncherias inside the mercado.
Alexia & Geovanny, Left End of row.
Poc Chuc, Middle Right

Tacos Tumbras, Right End of row
San Martin, Middle left.

Sopa de frijoles negros = Black Bean Soup at the Mercado (Mexican Market) In Isla Mujeres
Charros=Ranch or Cowboy style (Pinto beans)
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  1. You're making me drool! All those delicious looking dishes..can't wait to get back to Isla & have more of the yummy food. I just got some epazote at Penzey's spice.

  2. Yummmyyy!! It all looks so good! I love beans and bean soup. It makes March seem a long ways away. Janet

  3. I know...I love beans! I am looking forward to an increased selection with the opening of the Chedraui. My Islena friend is intrigued by my "Chili"....tho I suspect she finds the celery odd...as do my Texan friends.