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Chuck Bolotin of Best Mexico Movers – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Mel's Sunday brunch, AjijicThe restaurants in the Ajijic and overall Lake Chapala area are extremely good and extremely reasonably priced (perhaps 60% less than in the US).  And yes, you can get quite a bit more variety than Mexican food.  You can get several styles of American, Thai, Sushi, Italian, Greek, Chinese, Indian, Middle-Eastern, French, etc., etc., etc.
 
What you won’t find locally is very good steak.
 
I should note that the Mexican food here may be quite a bit different than the Mexican food you’re thinking of, if by “Mexican food” you think “Tex-Mex,”; a combination plate of beans, rice, hard-shelled taco and maybe a burrito.  And even for that, there is now a few restaurants offering this.
 
You will find ice cream shops everywhere, but the ice cream is less than great.
 
You can also eat “street food,” which is so named because you buy it from vendors on the street.  Usually, street food will consist of tacos, normally about 50 cents each.  (Three is usually enough for a complete meal.)  Many times, this food is quite, quite good.  And don’t worry; you won’t get sick.  One of my favorite type of street food is not a taco, but rather, “plato de verduras,” which is steamed vegetables, usually consisting of cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, a hard-boiled egg, a vegetable called chayote, and corn, if you want it.  I eat it “as is” with just a little salt and lime (what they call “lemon”), but most people pile on cream and cheese.  However you order it, it will cost you less than $1.50.
 
One of the more fun things to do here at Lake Chapala is to go out for Mexican buffet brunch on the lake.  White table clothes, waiters, on the lake, omelets bar, all the fresh-squeezed juices you can drink, deserts, probably 40 entrees, all for the equivalent of about $6.50 per person, tax included.  The picture above is for brunch at Mel's, which is awesome, complete with its own French chef.
 
¡Buen provecho! (Hearty appetite!)
 
Interested in moving to Mexico?  Visit Best Mexico Movers.
Magy Carmona of Magy Carmona at Lake Chapala Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Best Places in the World to Retire contributor celebrates his birthday at Alex's Pasta Bar with Chuck Bolotin and Jet Metier, Ajijijc, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe restaurants in Chapala and Ajijic offer good service, good prices, and good food. There are many people opening Argentinean and Italian restaurants because they see that all the foreigners go out, but there are just a few ones that stay. Many people try, but not too many of them succeed and keep their restaurants, so the restaurants that stay are confirmed to be good ones. These restaurants become places where you can find good food, good wine, and good service- ones that you will definitely go back to. 
 
In Chapala, I’ve noticed that Americans and other foreigners usually have their specific favorite places. When foreigners find a place that they like, they will be very loyal and go back on the same day of the week, at the same time, on the same table, with the same order. That’s what restaurant owners have to pay attention to. They should try to maintain the same level of service. 
 
We Mexicans, get bored, so we want to go to a newly-opened restaurant and see what they have. There’s a big possibility, though, that we won’t go back, even if we liked it, because there’s a new restaurant that opened, and we would want to go there instead. Mexicans like to move around, even when we have our favorite places. We are always chasing options. 
 
Some of the foreigners here in Chapala like the routine, and that’s something good to know. Almost all of the restaurants here in Chapala close on Tuesdays, except Adelita’s. 
 
There are a bunch of options in Chapala and Ajijic where you can get good Mexican, Argentinian, Greek, Japanese, Thai, and Spanish food. The restaurants I’ve mentioned are good restaurants. For example, there are two restaurants here that serve very good Spanish paella. There’s another with Greek options, and there are 2 or 3 very nice Italian options. There’s also a food truck with Arabic food, which is lovely, but it’s a food truck so you’d have to find it. I love it.  
 
(Best Places in the World to Retire contributor Mark O'Neill celebrates his birthday at Alex's Pasta Bar with Chuck Bolotin and Jet Metier, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Jeff Smith of DocTours – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Mexican food at restaurant – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingAjijic on Lake Chapala is one reason Mexico is the Best Place In The World To Retire. It’s also our home territory for medical tourism and a paradise for gourmets. Our Chapala riviera is less touristy than the beaches, border towns, or tourist magnets. Hence, when dining out, you're less likely to stumble upon a tourist-trap restaurant. Instead, many restaurants strive for a good reputation amid the large expat populace (largest outside America and Canada). And a goodly number have earned their five stars. Those restaurants offer good service, good prices, and great food.
 
Besides Mexican, you can enjoy cuisines from all over the world. Talented local chefs and emigres have settled in and around Ajijic and opened restaurants:
  • Argentinean
  • Brazilian
  • Spanish (yeah, paella!)
  • Italian (thanks to pizza, many to choose from)
  • French
  • German
  • Polish
  • Greek
  • Thai
  • Japanese (yum, sushi)
  • Chinese
  • Indian
  • American brew pub
  • Delis
  • Seafood specialists
Just recalling my favorite dishes that these international chefs prepare is making my mouth water! In addition, many of the settings are in lush gardens.
 
Also, the restaurants for medical tourists and bars serve savory wines, beers, mixed drinks, and non-alcoholic drinks, not to mention a convivial atmosphere.
 
Plus, a food truck offers Arabic food. At an outdoor barbecue, some Mexican guys roast the best chicken and other meats that I've ever had anywhere. Among the delis one is purely and originally organic.
 
For breakfast or a pastry and coffee there are many tasty cafes. One run by genuine French bakers stands out. The cafes also provide WiFi for us wedded to our laptops. There so many to choose from, not just visitors but residents, too, keep themselves busy sampling them all. Locals go out so much that there are more restaurants per capita here than anywhere else in Mexico. Given the competition, the eateries are both better and their prices lower than in more visited cities. Indeed, you can leave the table with your wallet still stuffed, almost as much as your belly.
Bruce Fraser – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Jet Metier of Best Places in the World to Retire sampling a drink appetizer on the malecon of Lake Chapala, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe restaurants in Ajijic and Chapala are a little bit of an anomaly for Mexico. The quality is better and the prices are lower, especially when compared to what you’ll find if you go to the beach or tourist areas in Mexico, where you'll pay similar prices to what you'd pay up north.
 
There are some non-touristy areas where you could still get a pretty good taco for a reasonable price. In Guadalajara, for example, you pay more for a meal than you do in Chapala and Ajijic at the same quality restaurant.
 
Expats have kept those prices down. I used to run a restaurant when I first came down here to the Chapala and Ajijic area. It was one of my first forays into business.  They had no embarrassment about declaring that what we were charging was too much for the area.  People would come in and just say, "Your prices are too high."
 
( Pictured: a giant pig sampling a drink appetizer on the malecon of Lake Chapala, Mexico.  If you look closely, you'll see, Jet Metier of Best Places in the World to Retire to the pig's left.)
Gabriel Varela, MD of Gabriel Varela - Neurosurgeon – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Los Telares restaurant, Ajijic, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere are very many very, very good restaurants in Chapala and Ajijic. 
 
During my residence in our surgical practice, I lived in Mexico City, which is world-renowned for its food, as well as Guadalajara, which is less than an hour from here.  One of the advantages of living in the Chapala – Ajijic area is that it is so close to Guadalajara.  Because I travel so often between the two areas, for me, they are sort of one city. But also in Ajijic, we have very, very good restaurants, too, complete with international chefs.
 
We often go to Tango, right by the plaza, in Ajijic, and we go to Los Telares.  We have Italian restaurants here, such as La Taverna Dei Quattro Mori. There are many restaurants that are very good. 
 
For example, Tango has American cuts of meat with a very, very good chef. It’s also incredibly cheap. They also have wine. The level of the meal is very high.  The cost at Tango would be around 130 or 140 pesos (US $6-7) for a very good cut of meat.  If you want wine and desert, you’ll probably pay less than 300 pesos (US $15).  
 
(Los Telares restaurant, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Lee Steele – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Restaurant near the malecón in Ajijic – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingMy wife and I have been keeping a list of every restaurant we've been to in the Ajijic/Lake Chapala area since we moved here 3 1/2 years ago. We've now been to 118 different restaurants so far (not counting the numerous sidewalk taco stands). Most of these restaurants have been within walking distance of our house. We hadn't gone to that many different restaurants in the 25 years we lived in Phoenix. 
 
We return often to at least two-thirds of the restaurants on our list. We go most often to the restaurants that, according to my wife, serve the best margaritas. :-) 
 
There are still many more lakeside restaurants we want to visit! 
 
Buen provecho! 
 
(Pictured: restaurant near the malecón in Ajijic.)
 
Jerry Smith, MD – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
(Logo for Mi Pueblo Pizza, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.) – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingI’m very proud of this. We have international cuisine in Ajijic and Chapala because there are so many old retirees who don't want to cook and it is so cheap. The people go out so much that there are more restaurants per capita here than anywhere in Mexico, which I think is amazing. 
 
In Ajijic there are very few Mexican restaurants, although there are some very small ones that are mostly frequented by the Mexican locals and I guess some of the visitors from Guadalajara. This place loads up on Saturday and Sunday with Guadalajarans, who want to get out of the city. It’s very busy here on the weekend. 
 
We have practically every kind of restaurant here.  We have one or two Indian restaurants, two Thai restaurants, one or two sushi places, etc. We have a great Argentinean steakhouse where a 12-ounce rib eye cooked over wood costs about 250 pesos (US $14) and that would include two side dishes. It’s the most popular place in Ajijic.
 
At least once a week we all go to lunch after golf. We stop at a fried chicken place that has the best southern fried chicken. I would never want to go back to the States for southern fried chicken because this place is so good.  Also, for two drumsticks and a side of coleslaw, it’s 50 pesos (US $3). 
 
It used to be that you couldn’t get a decent pizza here. I remember the first time our kids came down to visit us they wanted a sausage pizza so we ordered one. It was a piece of dough with catsup on it and some cut up weenies. It was just horrible. Pizza was one of the things we used to miss and the first thing we’d get when we traveled back to the States. But now they have pizza joints all over the place. There’s a Domino’s 10 blocks from my house.   
 
(Logo for Mi Pueblo Pizza, Ajijic, Mexico, pictured.)
Thomas Hellyer of Lake Chapala Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Street food in Chapala, Mexico – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThe restaurants in Chapala and Ajijic are great. There are many restaurants here and they are of all flavors and persuasions. We have food from all over the world here. One of the quotes that I hear from expats is, “It’s hard to find Mexican food…” but there is lots of Mexican food here too. You just have to look for it because they are not in big box, Tex-Mex restaurants. Most Mexican food here in Chapala and Ajijic is sold in somebody’s garage or living room and with no sign but they have great Mexican food.
 
You can also get Argentinian, Italian, German, Thai, and other Asian food. We have lots of seafood, too. We have French bakeries, deli meat, etc. So we never have trouble finding good places to eat. The biggest problem that one would have in Chapala and Ajijic is making the decision on where to eat. It’s hard to decide whether to go back to the tried and true or try the new place that just opened up.
 
Restaurants here are very well priced too. They are very competitive with prices because most of the expats here are around for the long term or year-round residents so the prices here are not high like in the resort towns. The restaurants here keep their prices low in order to keep the people coming back.
 
(Street food in Chapala, Mexico, pictured.)

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