Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Long Goodbye

As predicted, yesterday was devoted solely to recovery with very little drinking except a few beers on the beach. Today wasn´t a lot better. My friends had a 10:00 P.M. flight and had to leave for the airport. They wanted to spend their last day on the beach, and who could blame them? The weather was gorgeous. I did manage to wander down the beach a bit and hit:

321) The Beach Cafe

The Beach Cafe is, surprise, right on the beach. The bar itself is on the second floor and has a great view of the beach and bay. The bar extends quite a ways on both sides of a small semi-circular area manned by the bartender. The bar extension to the right is open-air and uncovered. The extension to the left is covered by a tile roof and a dark-green vinyl awning. The bartop is smoothed cement with decorative little stone chips embedded in it. The front of the extensions is made of decorative reddish stone blocks with patterned openings. The front of the circular area is white cement with 2 light-blue quarter-moons with faces, a yellow, smiling sun, and a number of dark blue stars. A beer cooler stacked with cans of coconut milk and various canned fruit for making frozen drinks stands behind the bar.

The whole place is done up primarily in lime-green and lemon-yellow paint with a few orange touches downstairs. The wooden bar-chairs are painted lime-green. The fairly large deck behind the right-hand extension where we were sitting is tiled and has two large orange umbrellas shading a couple of tables. The three sides of the deck not facing the bay were lined with dark-green and white plastic chairs. Behind the left extension it is much darker because it is covered and there is a television. Last year I watched the super-bowl there but was in the bathroom for the Janet Jackson incident. No matter, I saw it about 100 times on the various news shows that felt compelled to repeat it while simultaneously criticising how inappropriate it was.

I had a Negro Modela

Progress is slowing but hopefully will pick up a bit next week. 321 down, 679 left to go.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Saint Patrick's Day

Way, way too much recreational drinking today. Green tequila jello shots on the beach started us out, then more beers on the beach, homemade green frozen margaritas, shots of racillia, and repeat visits to bars. Not good. But I did manage to hit one new one.

320) C.O. Jones

This bar and grill has only been open for three weeks and has been closed for the last three days because the manager had food poisoning. Not a ringing endorsement for the place and I probably won't be eating there anytime soon. There culinary specialty is cheesesteaks.

This used to be a Japanese restaurant and a few of the trappings are still around, lanterns out front and red-fringed light pulls. They have a nice wood topped bar but with a fake-brick front. Kind of tacky. The bar rail is a thick pipe. Above the bar is a nice ornate wooden wine rack supported by wooden columns. There are dark wood shelves behind the bar with mirrored backing. Wooden barstools with light-tan vinly cushions. It has a very nice patterned tile floor, kind of an Aztec design. There is a mirror on the wall to the right of the bar that has a multi-colored tiled frame. The walls are whitewashed and there are a few brick arches.

I had a Pacifico and we all headed out to do some serious damage to ourselves at bars that cannot be counted because they are repeaters.

320 for the year and 680 to go.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A Bus Ride

The weather wasn't the greatest, not good enough for hanging out on the beach but good enough for a bus ride.

316) Mi Ranchito

We took the bus to Boca de Tomatlan, a little village just past Mismaloya. It sits on the mouth of a river that is pretty low this time of year but quite large during the rainy season. Mi Ranchito is one of about three or four bar/restaurants sitting on a little beach. Waiters for the various restaurants vie for your attention and business. The beach used to be much larger but still hasn't recovered from the hurricane a couple of years ago. They have built a primitive bulkhead. Two guys with wheelbarrows were digging up sand from the small delta at the river's mouth and hauling it up to backfill behind the bulkhead. Another three guys were picking up cement blocks and loading them into a small fishing boat to take further south along the bay.

Mi Ranchito had a little wooden-plank bar sitting under an orangish clay-tile roof. The top of the bar was covered with a dark-brown vinyl. Behind the bar are a couple of plain wooden shelves covered with green, yellow, and orange patterned cloth. The attraction of this place is the relative seclusion of the beach and the numerous plastic chairs and tables covered with brightly covered tablecloths that sit on the water's edge under small palapas. This is a good place to catch a water taxi to smaller secluded beaches that cannot be reached buy bus or car. Boca de Tomatlan is as far south as you can go on the bay without using a boat.

The weather wasn't very cooperative, a bit of sun, then clouds, and too chilly to just hang out. We decided to take a bus further up into the mountains.

I had a Pacifico before heading out.

317) Centro Botanero el Banjo

We took the bus quite a way up the mountain to the small town of El Tuito. The sign says the population is 3,500 but it appears to be much smaller. I suspect that is because much of the population lives not in the little town itself but out in the farms and ranches that surround it. We walked around a bit before finding this place on the street one block off of the main drag. There is a little cement building painted white with a large, dirt-floor area surrounded by a wooden fence. There are a number of white plastic Corona chairs and Pacifico tables. The jukebox is in a padlocked iron cage secured to a cement slab.

The small wooden slat bar sits in a back corner up against the small cement building that houses a very small kitchen. On the wall behind the bar is a painting of three Mexican gentlemen quaffing beverages while seated at a small round table. Next to that over the buildings doorway is a painting of a horse's head with pink mountains and a waterfall in the background. The limited menu was also painted on the wall. The waitress spoke no English but seemed pleased that I was writing about the pictures. Perhaps she, or someone she knew, painted them. The waitress also liked our digital camera and after we showed her how it worked she took pictures of us. I don't think they get too many tourists stopping into their place.

There wasn't much more to see in the town and the busses only ran every hour. We made it back to the town-square just in time to catch one heading back.

I had a Pacifico.

318) Teo's

We took the bus back down and stopped off just before Mismaloya. There are a couple of restaurants there, El Set and John Houston's Night of the Iquana. These are both located near the remnants of the sets for "Night of the Iquana." The filming of this movie is what put Puerto Vallarta on the map. Neither of the places were open yet because we got there too late for lunch and too early for dinner.

We took the somewhat steep cement steps (at least now there is a railing) down to the beach and stopped at Teo's. There are a lot of little bar/restaurants on this stretch but this was the second one we came to and the waiter did a good job of encourging us to "check it out." It a concrete slab about 25 feet by 25 feet elevated above the beach by yellow concrete posts. You climb up a brick staircase to get to it. Large Canadian, Mexican, and American flags were blowing in the breeze. Half of the slab is covered by a red vinyl awning with a Coca Cola logo. Behind the slab is an orange concrete structure with the typical tile roof. This houses the small kitchen and a small curved bar covered in brown vinyl that had a large diamond shaped pattern. Framed montages of happy customers adorned the walls. The tables and chairs are the typical white plastic ones supplied by Corona. The tables were covered by pale green tablecloths with white, fringed tablecloths set diagonally on top. The drinks the women ordered each came adorned with large, bright-red hibiscus.

I had a banana daiquiri

319) Ramada Miramar

Heading down towards where you catch the bus back to downtown Puerto Vallarta and down a dirt road behind the huge Mismaloya Hotel, you come to a small wooden bridge across a small river. Here you find a truly delightful place that is in no way associated with the Ramada Hotel. It sits on the edge of the river and is surrounded by lush foilage full of birds and butterflies. The river itself had numerous birds of various types either stalking or swimming about. You would never guess that you are within a stone's throw of a crowded beach and hotel.

Crossing the bridge you go up a small staircase and enter a red-tiled deck with two levels. The lower half is open air with the back half covered with a red tile roof. Bamboo railings surround this part of the deck. The elevated part, where the small bar is, is covered by a large palapa. Green iron railings surround this area. The lower deck has mostly the same white plastic tables you see and chairs you see everywhere but covered with bright tablecloths. Ours was orange. There was also one large wooden table with ornate wooden chairs that was covered by a nice white lace tablecloth. The tables and chairs on the upper deck are wooden and covered with the same bright tablecloths. The bar itself had a white marble-like top with a bamboo front. Simple wooden shelving behind the bar held the liquor supply. More montages of happy customers adorned the walls. Flags draped one wall.

Only one of the women ordered a drink here, that Chinese woman was getting a little tipsy so she settled for bottled water. The one drink came with a nice white hibiscus though.

This is a very nice place and if you ever get to Mismaloya I would urge you to seek it out before heading to the numerous places on the beach.

I had a frozen margarita and we caught the bus back to town. We stopped at a couple of places when we got back, Steve's and Sweeny's (where we had excellent meals as well), but they were both repeats.

Not a bad day and at 319 I now have only 681 left to go. Looks like I should easily make my 325 before leaving Mexico but I suspect there will be a lot of repeaters tomorrow, St. Patrick's Day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

A Gay Old Time

Kind of a gloomy day so we didn't do a whole lot except a bit of shopping. We stopped back at El Casa Tequila for another delicious margarita, had great ribs at El Torito's, and a sunset drink at the pool. Then we headed out to hit a few places.

313) Portugol

Right next door to the packed Senor Frogs is this large, almost cavernous, bar that caters primarily to Mexicans. While they have velvet ropes and bouncers at Senor Frogs, this place is almost always empty. Only four people in there when we arrived.

The nice wooden bar looks to be about 50 feet long and has a few semi-circle protrusions so you can fit in a few more people. Only 5 bar-stools though so it must be a stand-up kind of place. On the other hand there must have been 30 ashtrays. It does have a bar-rail for resting your foot. The front of the bar is red cement. There are large mirrors behind the bar with shelves for the liquor and glasses. There are also white kitchen-type cupboards with glass doors holding more glasses. Mexican artifacts and an old sewing-machine sit on top of the cupboards and the shelving above the mirrors. The remainder of the back wall is stone.

There is a pool-table and a working dartboard that was getting some action. The flooring is nice dark-wood planking. There are several blue-wooden tables with blue-wooden chairs with light-wood seats. There are two pillars a couple feet in diameter with a circular table-top built about waist-high for setting your drinks on. There were two jukeboxes but only one was playing (seems reasonable) and two televisions that were sitting side-by-side and both playing the same soccer game. There were a number of flags against the back wall but I only recognized the ones from the United States, Canada, and Mexico. I am guessing one is from Portugual and maybe one from Brazil because the place nextdoor, a steakhouse with no bar, is named Brasil.

This is a really nice place and for the life of me I can't figure out why Senor Frogs is always packed with lines waiting to get in and this place sits almost empty.

I had a Pacifico.

314) The Ranch

This is the back bar to Club Paco Paco but has its own entrance next door to El Toritos and across the street from Senor Frogs and Portugol on Carranza. The entrance to Club Paco Paco is on Ignacio L. Vallarta. Once again I prevailed upon my friend Sandy to do the honors:

The bar resembles a lunch-counter at a deli. Red ceramic tiles, top and front. The walls are blue cement. There is a spiral staircase that leads to a catwalk above a cage, or jailhouse at the backside of the dancefloor in the next room and from which you could get a good view of whatever show goes on later in the evening. There is spot-lit disco-ball hanging above the middle of the dancefloor. There are small, high tables with seating for two lining the walls on the side of the dancefloor. Two televisions hang from the ceiling for showing videos. There is a large painting of a nude hanging on the wall. Clay shingles hang above the catwalk and give the dancefloor the appearance of being a separate room. The dancefloor itself is black and white marble squares. On the side of the dancefloor opposite the tables is a rustic wooden staircase leading up to a second level. At the turn in the staircase is an old saddle slung over the railing.

My take on the place was that it was kind of like walking into a deli and then, if you walked into the next room, stepping into a set from 'Deadwood.'

I had a Corona and off we went.

315) La Noche

Blue flickering torches on Cardenas drew us into this elegant place. It had a nice wooden topped bar built on glass-bricks that were lit from behind with a black-light. The entire place had red walls. The back of the bar had a large, arched mirror with clear plastic shelving holding the liquor and glasses. The black-light from behind the glass-bricks gave the area an interesting glow. There were candles in brightly patterned margarita glasses sitting on the bar. On the end of the bar closest to the doorway was a large, free-form, reddish-orange glass candle holder that glowed from the light of the candle within. At the other end of the bar and in front of the doors to the restrooms were several tall mauve and lavender pillars with mexican turtles, armadillos, birds, etc., sitting on top of them. These are the toys that you buy from street vendors that have bobbing heads (the toys have the bobbing heads, not the street vendors).

There is a very large black wrought-iron chandelier with blue glass shaded lights hanging overhead. Several small lava lamps on the walls, kind of like lava lamp night-lights. The place was jammed with nice low round blond wooden topped tables and comfortable Sweedish style blond wood chairs that were quite comfortable. The floor was just cracked cement with a glass squared step that led up to a small alcove that held two small round tables and sofas on three sides. This was occupied by two young gentlemen who really should have been looking for a hotel room. The snacks were nice, pretzels and cheese.

I had a Pacifico and we headed home but didn't quite get there without stopping for another beer at Sweeny's. Unfortunately this stop didn't count because I had already been there. Someone had ordered a steak and it looked and smelled wonderful. He said he always ordered it there and it was in fact delicious. I am putting this on my things-to-do list.

Not a bad day, three bars hit to bring my total to 315 with 685 left to go. There are two bars in the process of being built that might be done before I leave. Actually, they are bars being built into restaurants that didn't have bars before. I like to think they are building them just for me.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Another One Bar Day

Spent the morning on the beach, kind of a gloomy afternoon, went to eat dinner at Bohemio (great shrimp and meatloaf) and then headed out for an after dinner drink at:

312) Mi Cocina

Located on Venustiano Carranza on the corner of Constitucion is this largely open-air restaurant and bar. The bar itself is made out of fairly large stones (or fairly small boulders, depending upon your perspective) with a light-colored cement top covered with a light-tan linoleum-like top. I asked my friend Sandy, "Bob's" wife, to do the honors of writing up this place, so:

Strung over the bar there are three flags; American, Canadian, and Mexican. The wall behind the bar is a gold and orange washed cement with a single cement counter lined with glasses. The dining area is constructed of a grass roof supported by palm trees with randomly placed hanging lights constructed out of grape-vines to form bee hives. Towards the back of the dining area are banana plants growing out of holes in the cement. Next to the bar stands a cooler that looks like a Coca Cola machine. A supermarket shopping cart sits in front of the kitchen area. It is probably used when purchasing the ingredients for the days meals.

The restaurant sits on a busy street so you are innundated with the sound and smell of public transportation.

At approximately 9:00 P.M. fireworks went off that could be seen from the back-side of the dining area.

I had a Pacifico and called it a day.

Grand total of 312 bars, 688 left to go.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

A Penless Day

Well, actually the day wasn't quite penless, but sometimes a certain theme seems to run through a day as though it has a life of its own. The day started out with breakfast at Bob's Place. If you like your eggs benedict with no Canadian bacon but then, when you complain about it, getting two strips of regular bacon on the side, this is the place for you. The chorizo omelette had no discernable chorizo but was so heavily laden with jalapeno peppers that I broke a sweat after my friend gave me two bites to try. Anyway, on the way back from breakfast I stopped to use an internet cafe and my wife and friends continued back to our place. My wife stopped to chat with someone and my friends went up to change into their bathing suits to hang out by the beach. They were going to leave a note but discovered that neither of them had a pen. As a result one of them left a note in lipstick for me. And that is how it started.

Later we headed to the north side of town and just where the bridge on Vallarta begins to cross the river but still on the south side of town we ducked into:

307) Hotel Molino de Aqua Bar

This is a nice little bar tucked into the courtyard and pool area of the Hotel Molino. On the way to the bar you pass by two very large iron cages, one holding a somewhat subdued parrot and the other one holding some kind of a monkey (el mono). The bar is a square brick affair with a tan tile top. Two sides of the bar are for drinking, although there are only two stools. One side holds the liquor supply and the other side is the service area with the doorway to get into the thing. Around the top edge of the bar is a border of tiles with floral patterns. The top of the bar is covered by a peaked red-tile roof.

There is an adjacent outdoor eating area with palms and other trees giving it a lush tropical feel. The trees also insulate it from the nearby busy street so it is quite quiet and peaceful. The pool has a little waterfall and tucked beside it is a jacuzzi. There were a bunch of little kids frolicking about and having a grand old time. Right by the bar is a large clock on an ornamental post to remind you of the time. Seems a bit out of place in this setting. There were also a number of statues, wooden and stone, placed about the place.

I had a Pacifico and we crossed the bridge that we came to.

308) Bebo Tero

Before we got across the bridge we stopped to price some souvenir pens. They wanted 10 pesos (about 90 cents) but I convinced my friend to bargain them down. They wouldn't budge so we moved on without buying any. The saga of the pen, part two.

Bebo Tero is right on the Malecon up a narrow staircase behind a narrow door. I must have passed this place a couple of times and never spotted it. Luckily my friend has a trained eye (that and the fact that there was a guy standing outside encouraging us to go in). Up the staircase was a fairly large place with a somewhat bizzare decor. There were many paintings done in the style of Fernando Botero. If you are unfamiliar with his works, suffice it to say that his paintings are almost cartoonish depictions of very fat people. The paintings here were quite up to his quality but were very amusing. Everyone from Fidel Castro to Sylvestor Stallone's Rambo was represented. As you first come up the stairs there is a large, what looked to be paper mache, fat, scantily clad (draped in white gauze) woman with one breast exposed sitting on a park bench. A good photo opportunity if you wanted to sit down next to her. Also one of those things where you can stick your head through holes and have your pictures taken. This one had a fat Adam and Eve.

The bar itself was a small green cement thing with a wooden top. I don't expect it gets much use because the view is really great from almost every place but the bar. A narrow balcony has a great view of the bay and you can look over to Nuevo Vallarta where it looks like a major city is springing up. There is a small stage for live music and behind it was a large sun with the head of a masked Mexican wrestler in the center. There are lots of colorfully painted wooden tables and chairs and stools about the place. The walls are an interestingly patterned blue and there are bright green and red arches separate the two large areas of the place and there is one over the balconey as well.

I had a blended margarita.

309) Garbo's

After a nice dinner at El Dorado's on the beach (see an earlier post) we hit this martini bar. It was here I realized, that for the first time ever, I had forgotten my notecards and pen at home. Obviously, nobody else had a pen either. I ended up borrowing a pen from the hostess to take notes.

Garbo's is just up from the Kit Kat Club and has a somewhat similar ambience. It is a fancy Manhatatan type of place. The bar has a heavy dark marble top and a light cream-colored front. There were little candles on the bar and on the few tables in the place. There were lucite shelves on the wall behind the bar and a mosaic tile shelf below them to store the liquor. Nicely cushioned bar stools. There was a riser in the back with a black lacquered grand piano. Again, we were too early for entertainment. Overall the place had an art-deco feel to it. Hanging over the bar were lights with light-tan mottled plastic shades. There were two large sprays of bright-red "lobster claw" flowers. It is a fairly small, dark place. The backs of the bartenders tee shirt, as well as the tee shirts worn by some of the regular customer's, is that famous line "Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?" This was said to W.C. Fields by Mae West in the movie "My Little Chickadee." What not too many people know is that Mae West wrote the script for that movie.

I had a nicely made (read that as strong) gin and tonic.

310) Sama

This place is right next to The Palm, where I saw "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," and we hit the story of the pen, phase three. Nobody here had a pen that I could borrow for long enough to take my notes. As a result my wife and my buddy's wife had to search out a place that was still open that sold them. Luckily they found one and I now have a very nice, compact, Puerto Vallarta souvenier pen. They wouldn't tell me how much it cost. Enough with the pen now.

This bar is very small, maybe 20 feet by 20 feet, and has a very small outdoor seating area. The small bar had a black plastic top and a white front. The top had an overhang to it and held flashing lights. There were large, think 5 foot, plastic champagne flutes both inside and on the outside seating area that were made to look like the held brightly colored beverages. The outside seating area is really no more than a couple of tables and stools on the sidewalk. The barstools were bright red, plastic bucket-seat affairs that were really quite comfortable. There were multi-colored lights with cone-shaped plastic shades hanging above the bar.

There was a white couch against one wall with a large black-wood framed mirror above it.On the opposite wall were clocks set to Paris, Los Angeles, New York, and Puerto Vallarta time, in case you really needed to know what time it was in those places. There were classic MTV videos playing on the television and the sound system was really cranked up.

I had a banana martini and after my wife tasted it she and my buddies wife decided to keep it so I had to order another one for myself.

311) Dewayn's

This bar is on the street where I live, Ampas, right on the corner of Pilitas. It used to be the Papi Chulo Oasis until a few years ago. It is only a couple of blocks away from my place. It was very dark, lit primarily by candles and a few dim light-bulbs. The bar was a nice, massive, mosaic tile affair with a stone edging. The mosaic had inlaid glass bead palm-trees. Kind of New Orleans meets Mexico. The whole place had a very Mexican decor with Mexican blankets draping the dark-red walls. A lot of those Mexican doilies hung from the ceiling. There were Mexican cowboy hats hanging behind the bar and the bartender was wearing one himself. There were a couple of tables with chairs but not much else except a small stage. Behind the stage were yellow hard-hats hanging on the wall somehow evoking "The Village People."

I had a Pacifico and off home my buddy and I did toddle, or wives having left us after Santo's. Probably worn out from shopping for pens.

Not a bad day at all as I hit 311 for the year and only have 689 left to visit.