Puerto Penasco Stories and Tips

Dining in Rocky Point

Lily's Restaurant Photo, Puerto Penasco, Mexico

Dining options in this seaside resort feature seafood, of course. Shrimp boats flocking the harbor allude to the regional specialty. Restaurants wedged between souvenir shops lining the malecon all offer shrimp prepared this way and that: foil-wrapped, boiled, breaded, coconut fried, Hawaiian-styled, steamed in fruit juice, brandied, and on and on. And if you like shrimp, then great for you. You'll be in gastronomic heaven during your stay. The shrimp is reportedly fresh and delicious. Even the shrimp cocktail, served in a sundae dish with fresh tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, and onions, is to-die-for!

If, however, you don't care for shrimp or happen to be allergic to shellfish, like me, then your choices are somewhat more limited. Most restaurants do offer one fish dish (tilapia, flounder), one chicken dish, and a sampling of traditional Mexican fare: enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos and tacos. Being in Mexico, and a huge fan of Mexican food, I was disappointed with the generic fare most places served, apparently in an attempt to tone down their selections for an American palate. Where were chilis, flavor, complexities, spice?

Bored with their bland Mexican food by day three, I ordered a chicken entree at The Point. Everyone else at my table gushed over their shrimp concoctions while I bit into my chicken all santos. Succulent breast meat stuffed with spinach, cheese and almonds and wrapped in bacon melted in my mouth. How ironic to admit poultry was my favorite meal on the coast.

I did enjoy a similar entree at Lily's across the street–stuffed flounder, minus the bacon. Sides were broccoli and rice. Both restaurants advertised their use of purified water in all food preparation. Dining with our young daughters, we played it safe and only ate in those establishments. Kid's menus were nonexistent. Prices were high ($9-$14 per entree), food was generic, but nobody got sick.

So, Lily's or The Point?
Menus were fairly similar. As far as service went, Lily's won hands down. Our waiter promptly brought us chips and salsa while we perused the menu, quickly replenished margaritas, beers or lemonades, and brought us our food in half the time it took at The Point. Prices here were less expensive, and the bathroom sanitary and clean! We sat upstairs quite comfortably on the covered porch in this bright pink building facing the sea.

Across the street, a wooden boardwalk leads to a orange structure cantilevered over the ocean. Inside The Point diners can sit inside or outside on a wide covered porch on the second level. Views of crashing surf and brown pelicans are great. Just be prepared for a chilling wind, and a wait. Lunches both days took two hours each. Our waiter brought us one small basket of chips to serve six people, and never bothered to refill them or our drinks. He only had three tables, yet took forever to take our order, bring us our check...I won't elaborate on the disgusting toilet that hadn't been flushed in days. Apparently a lot of people used the sole basin during impatient waits.

Next door, the Fish Market restaurant buzzed with activity, and plenty of people were eating in snazzed up versions of street-side taco stands. Next time I'd venture out of my safety box, especially now that I've learned there's a book Gringos Guide to Rocky Point to consult. Just maybe I'll get lucky and find an equivalent to Obregon's El Contijo. One can always hope.

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