You know you’ve found the right place when it’s time to check out and your wife says, “I don’t want to leave.” So, you stay another night, only to hear the same comment the next day.
Villas Carrizalillo north of the central Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca is that place. Perched on a point overlooking the small cove and beach of the same name, Villas Carrizalillo is the creation of Amy and Ed, two American expats who are beginning their tenth season as hotel/villa/restaurant owners in Mexico.
We could go on and on with superlatives, but let me sum it up: great location, terrific architecture, comfortable rooms, lovely gardens, killer views and outstanding service.
You’ll come for all of those things. However, you’ll stay for the food. Their restaurant, Espadin, is fantastic! Espadin is a variety of maguey which is considered the best for quality mezcal.
Anyone who knows us, knows that we live to eat. During a three-night stay, we didn’t eat anywhere else in Puerto Escondido, because they knocked us out with the first meal. We looked at the menu and wanted to order six things, but showed restraint and only ordered three: the beet/jicama/queso fresco salad; a chicken breast with a creamy wild mushroom sauce and poblano rajas; and a robalo fish steak in an adobo sauce.
The menu was created by Chef Patricio Sandoval, a native of Mexico and owner of the popular Mercadito restaurants in the U.S. He trained the kitchen staff and they don’t just go through the motions – the food is superb.
The meals are not fancy and the preparation is never fussy, but the ingredients are always fresh and the cooking is simply creative enough to be interesting. We had eight meals in three days and we cleaned our plates every time. In addition to the items already mentioned we ate (in no particular order): three taco plates (the shrimp with a tomato/habañero puree was the best); calamari with a great chipotle aioli; guacamole; huevos rancheros and huevos divoricados (the best I have ever eaten and I used a spoon to clean the plate); ceviche (mahi mahi with mango, pico de gallo and guajillo chiles); and a pecan pie that would have made any Georgia native swoon.
The two-level palapa restaurant is perfectly situated for watching the beach, the surfers, the passing dolphins and the sunsets. Considering all of this and the high quality of the food, the prices at Espadin are extraordinarily reasonable.
We can’t wait to go back. I think there were one or two items we didn’t order.
Have you been to the coast of Oaxaca? What was your favorite spot?