Lora Loka's in La Manzanilla.
Even though it would have been interesting to see my brother pull a John Brennan at the airport, we decided to head over to one of the most beautiful bays in the world -- Tenacatita.
If La Manzanilla did not have some of the issues it does, it would be a great place to live. Even a great place to buy a house. It was a La Manzanilla house that drew me to this area seven years ago.
But we were not in town to look at real estate. After all, we are a cibarious tribe. We were there to eat what Darrel believes is the best shrimp enchilada bake he has ever experienced.
And I cannot disagree with him. The dish is about as simple as a dish can be. It is just corn tortillas, salsa verde, cheese, and shrimp (for Darrel) or chicken (for me). It has to be in that sauce. Simultaneously piquant and smooth.
Whatever Lora does, though, keeps us coming back for more. Part of the lure is Lora herself. She always makes me feel as if I were returning home from a long absence. Plenty of hugs and kissing.
As we sat there eating our food, I started thinking what it is that makes a restaurant a pleasant experience -- for me, at least. It is not primarily the food. With the exception of Lora's enchilada bake, Darrel and I have prepared far better dinners on this visit than we have enjoyed at some of my favorite local restaurants.
And that was the key for me. Eating is a social event. Even though my cooking is far more to my taste than the restaurants I frequent, food is not my primary concern in eating out. Socializing is.
I enjoy meeting my fellow diners and sharing tales of the day. And I keep going back to some restaurants because of the service. I really like talking with the waiters. Finding out what is happening amongst my fellow expatriates and neighbors. Or how lives of the waiters are developing.
Essentially, I am a story harvester. And, perhaps, a story planter, as well. My writer's notebook is always filled with tidbits when I head home after dinner.
In order, then, I suppose I pick my favorite places to eat by:
- Whether it is a good place to socialize
- Whether the service is entertaining and attentive
- The quality and variety of food
- Maybe price -- if it is high enough to compete with my rent money
After all, I have to put that new basilic white tie outfit to some practical use.