Sunday, July 19, 2009
Out of all dining experiences this one will be memorable for a different reason... It is the only dining place I will remember not so much for its food (not bad at all!) but predominantly for its fantastic ambience.
First of all, if you visit a country try to eat local food. Richie's Cafe serves Puerto Rican menu, so it is an educational experience. Most dishes are deep fried - absolutely not my taste, but once in a life time I showed some flexibility and tried it. And did not regret it.
Local produce comes in combination with a breathtaking view and excellent service.
Service included more than just knowledgeable and friendly waiter: when we made "not a perfect" choice of dishes our waiter treated us with his own selection of small bites at the cafe's expence. When a barman heard that Chris likes Russian vodka he treated Chris with a shot of vodka, also "on house".
Richie - the owner - was there all the time greeting people, chatting with them, creating homely atmosphere. By the way, he also does the vallet parking and driving customers to the nearest hotel, which is Rio Mar Beach resort in Rio Grande, not far from the famous El Yunque national forest. When a storm came and it started bucketing down (oh, yes, we experienced a real tropical storm - a sort of mini-hurricane, while we were there) - Richie was there mopping the floor. Modesty and ability to work hard always make a strong impression on me.
I don't know what is their secret, but they know in this cafe how to make people feel good, relaxed and happy.
If we ever come back to Puerto Rico Richie's Cafe will be in our list of things to do!
It is well known that there is no worst place to look for food than a place popular with tourists. The owners of restaurants in proximity of highly visited attractions (Del Duomo in Florence, The Ark de Triumph in Paris, The Opera House in Sydney etc) do not worry about their customers never coming back, because they don't come back anyway regardless of the chef's efforts, and normally customers get a dreadful meal at a rip-off price just for the happiness to see a great sample of architecture with a bad sample of food.
Today we experienced an exemption. Right next to the cruise ship pier in San Juan, Puerto Rico, which is one of the most overcrowded places in Puerto Rico, where a few thousand tourists leave the cruise ships and board them a few times a week may be, there is a small Mexican place Tijuana’s Bar and Grill. Surprise, surprise. The food was simple but very good, the service was good, the prices were good…