As we entered the Cenaduría Doña Raquel, a tiny abuela waved us toward a table by the open window. She wore pink, from her tiny athletic shoes all the way up to her sporty visor. With a welcoming smile, she provided menus, then returned to her chair, strategically placed in front of the fan and with a good view of the TV in the corner.
We searched out this tiny, family-run restaurant on a side street in Central Puerto Vallarta based on Lonely Planet’s recommendation to try the pozole— “You can smell the richness of the traditional Mexican basics served here from a block away. Friendly atmosphere and friendly prices.”
Our table looked out over the street, where the sun beat down and glinted off of car trim. A faint breeze stirred the warm air. It was a good place to set aside sunglasses and hat, and rest in the shade at mid-day.
The menu was simple, offering tostadas, tacos, and the pozole—a traditional Mexican hominy soup. The pozole options included chicken, pork, or “pork hands” (eek!), or the Pozole Especial, with a “triple portion of head meat”, in either the Grande or Chico sizes. The pozole chico was 50 pesos, or about $4.25 US.
Our abuela returned for our orders. In response to my halting Spanish inquiry, she went behind the counter and held up the grande and chico sized bowls. I ordered the regular chicken pozole in the smaller chico size, which was substantial.
We sipped Orange Fantas and nibbled chips. Within a few minutes, our lunch arrived. The pozole was heaped into the bowl in layers, hominy underneath, then shredded chicken, and crunchy shredded cabbage on top, swimming in a delicate red broth. The steam rising from my bowl was so fragrant that my mouth started watering.
Each spoonful was a combination of textures and unbelievably savory, with just a hint of spicy bite in the broth. I ate slowly, enjoying every drop, then settled back for a few minutes to just enjoy the perfect moment—Michael sitting next to me, the cool chair against my bare legs, the slow-moving people and cars outside, the honk of horns a few streets up, the rich scents of food, the Mexican soap operas on the silent TV.