One of the best parts of taking a vacation to another country is being able to be immersed in and experience another culture. A huge part of any culture is undoubtedly the food, that is and has been for centuries, a part of the staple diet of most living in the area.
Mexico is no exception. While you can still find everything from McDonald’s to Hooter’s depending on your location in the Yucatan, the best and cheapest food you will find while vacationing in paradise is by far the authentic Mexican that can be found in myriad of little restaurants scattered about.
One such restaurant in beautiful Playa del Carmen is local hotspot, El Fogon, everything one would expect to see and experience in an authentic Mexican eatery.
The food is exceptional yet simple. Cooked and prepared as true traditional Mexican food with authentic flavor like you’ve never experienced. The portions are generous and a taco will set you back no more than 80 cents, and are great company with the $2 cervezas or maybe a margarita. The restaurant is open-aired with basic tables and chairs that create a classic ambiance, with the mouth-watering smell of soon-to-be-ready meals wafting through the air.
El Fogon is especially renowned for their tacos al-pastor. Deeply marinated thin slices of pork that are piled high atop one another with an iron rod through the middle to form a compact cone shape, appearing very similar to way donair and shwarma lamb are prepared. It is then slowly cooked on a brick fire vertical rotisserie, giving it a smoky, exceptional flavor as the marinade sauces fully soak themselves within the meat and the juices rise to the surface. Once the al-pastor on the outside is cooked to perfection, it is sliced off and placed in home-made tortillas with added onion, cilantro and a slice of pineapple before being placed steaming hot at your table.
And that’s just the beginning, then there is the salsa, of which you have three choices; the green salsa (the hot one), the red salsa (the medium one) and salsa Mexicana aka pico de gallo. Pico de gallo is by far the favorite of almost all who eat at El Fogon. Made from lime, tomato, onion and cilantro, however simple it sounds, you will never experience such amazing flavor from any other salsa. Although since it is largely prepared as a mild salsa, you can add the other salsas to give it a little more kick. Nowhere else in the world will you experience the savory delight of tacos al-pastor seasoned with pico de gallo. A huge favorite of Mexicans, even those now residing in foreign countries will often speak fondly with nostalgia about the taste of tacos al-pastor accompanied with beer and friends.
For those lucky expats from the US or Canada currently residing in Playa del Carmen, this is regular place to eat on a weekly basis (or daily or you’re like myself) and a place that every vacationer should experience lest you miss out on one of Mexico’s truly incredible taste sensations.