Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Notes from abroad: San Cristóbal de las Casas

In some ways SC de LC is a poor man's version of both Oaxaca and Antigua. And yet, la neta is that this town possesses a number of things that we lack down here in Guatemala's former colonial capital.

Foremost amongst these is an excellent Lebanese restaurant, run by — yes — real Lebanese people.

In fact my waiter at Arez turned out to be a former resident of Baker Street and the chef had worked for seven years at Beirut Express, one of my favourite middle-eastern eateries on Edgeware Road. This was the last meal I had in Mexico and it was undoubtedly the most mouthwatering. (The rice dish was a particular treat.)

San Cristóbal certainly isn't the gastronomic hotspot that Oaxaca has become (or indeed Campeche), but there appear to be a number of enticing middle-ground dining options, combined with a lack of both waste-of-space pretentious nonsense (such as Nicolas) and the overly touristic presentation of comida nacional in Antigua.

This is surely a factor of the city's comparatively larger scale. Antigua might have better bars and nightspots, but it lacks the everyday live music scene and the sheer exuberance of the locally-resident merrymakers in San Cristóbal.

The latter city can also boast cheaper típicos, a very well-stocked and not too exhorbitant wine shop called Super Cava (and let us not forget Ron Fandango at $2 a litre), fully predestrianised shopping streets and a certain amount of authentic guerrilla chic (take it or leave it...).

A complete set of my snaps can be viewed here.

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