Part of traveling and bucket lists, I believe, involves eating local food off the beaten path. Don’t get me wrong, every once in awhile, I have run into a McDonalds or a Starbucks in a foreign country. But it’s usually to see the difference between a Starbucks in the states and one in Italy.! But, I feel no trip is complete until once or twice at least, you avoid the tourist restaurants and try something authentic.
When I was living in Playa del Carmen, I very rarely ventured across the sea to the island of Cozumel. I figured everything I needed was in Playa – beautiful beaches, the reef, great food and nightlife. In fact, the few times I had been to Cozumel it was ony for a few hours. Sometimes, I felt it was too touristy when all the cruise ships were in town. Other times, I felt it was more like a bedrooom community, and therefore, too quiet for my tastes.
But then a few of my friends moved from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel. Early on, they would come back to Playa and visit which was fantastic.! However, after awhile, I got the feeling, they needed a little more reciprocity from me for the friendships too continue. So one day, I hopped on a ferry to Cozumel for the day. To cross the Caribbean, it costs about 155 pesos one way or $13 USD; so, a total of $26 for the round trip. I met my friends at Starbucks, of course 🙂 We exchanged all the amazing stories that had happened to us since our last visit and laughed.! A lot.!
Eventually, we got hungry. Since I was catching the last ferry back at 9pm, we had plenty of time to eat. My friend S. promised me that they were going to take me to the best restaurant in Cozumel. I have to admit, I was initially doubtful. We walked a few blocks and ended up on Rosado Salas #198 entre 5 y 10 Cozumel. We were at ‘the little house of Indio’ or La Casita de Indio 333. Once I saw the restaurant, I was extremely doubtful.!! hahaha….But I was about to be pleasantly surprised.!
Indio is the proprietor, chef, host, and all around welcome committee for La Casita de Indio.! He is at his family owned restaurant all day long unless he is running errands for the restaurant. Sometimes you can also find his wife and kids at the restaurant. Indio is gregarious, super friendly and a great storyteller.! He treats all of his customers like friends and family who are simply stopping by his house for dinner. The atmosphere is casual and fun, while the service is fantastic.!
That first night, my friends introduced me to Indio and he warmly greeted me.! He brought over a menu, but also let me know that he could make anything for me that I desired. All I could think of in that moment was how much my father would appreciate Indio’s restaurant. My father hates menus and almost never orders off of them. He just tells the waitstaff what he wants and lets them figure out what to call it and how to charge him. Indio’s place would be perfect for my dad.!
My friend S. recommended that I ask Indio to make me a seafood plate and so I did. When it arrived, I stopped talking. It was delicious.! A warm plate of fresh grilled shrimp, scallops, and octupus arrived accompanied by rice, beans, and tortillas.! Of course, there were also salsas. I moaned while I was eating because the food was so tasty and fresh.! My friends were happy that I was enjoying the meal and that the restaurant had lived up to their praise.
At some point, Indio sat down with us and told us about his time in the military, the states and his family. He asked questions about me and my time in Mexico. It was a great experience. One that I began to repeat once a week. So I went from being a girl who almost never went to Cozumel, to one who went weekly. Of course, my friends had something to do with my visits, but so did Indio’s food.!! hahaha…
Indio will also cook any fresh fish or lobster that you bring him to your liking and specifications. However, you can also order straight from the menu. My personal favorites include tacos, ceviche, tamales, and amazing breakfast burritos. La Casita de Indio is economical, authentic, and delicous.! It is also a popular hangout for both locals and expats. So if you are interested in trying less touristy places and being a part of the local flavor, then Indio’s restaurant is it.!
The night before I left Mexico, I stopped at Indio’s restaurant with my friends for dinner and to say goodbye. Before I left, Indio reminded me to sign the wall in his restaurant and so I did 🙂 I was a little sad to leave, but I knew I would be returning one day to sample more of his home cooked cuisine.!
While the restaurant is a little off-the-beaten-path, two blocks from the waterfront, it is completely worth it. And if you want authentic and think you can handle authentic, I dare you to add his restaurant to your bucket list and try it..!! And while you are there, let me know if you can find my comment on the wall.! Small hint – it’s near the kitchen 🙂