La Providencia. Jewel of Zipolite.

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La Providencia; the Jewel of Zipolite.

When Fred and I first visited the Pacific coast of Oaxaca three years ago, we stayed in the little beach community of San Agustinillo. Several people recommended that we have dinner in Zipolite at La Providencia. A couple of people said, “You MUST go to Zipolite and visit La Providencia. Since Zipolite was only a 5 minute taxi ride away, and we are always on the lookout for a good restaurant, we made our way over, wondering if a restaurant in a beach town was going to be as good as it had been described.
On a little side street we found the gate, and when we entered we were greeted by Javier, our host. The room was beautifully and stylishly decorated, filled with artwork and comfortable furniture. The room, combined with Javier’s personality, made us feel more like we were visitors in someone’s home than in a restaurant.
The food was as pleasing as the room. As I am vegan, I was happy to find a wonderful dish to start with on the menu. Simply called “Tacos Vegeterianos,” the rapper is a thin slice of jicama rather than a corn tortilla. It comes with two delicious dipping sauces, and is filled with a medley of wonderful fresh vegetables. It is one of the most perfect things I’ve ever eaten. I have tried to duplicate it at home, but haven’t been able to get the nerve to slice the jicama with a mandolin. I am including a picture of this dish that I stole from their website. It is as pretty to look at as it is to eat.
The chef, Paco, is Javier’s partner, and is wonderfully happy to please a vegan. That’s one of the things that’s so special about these guys. They totally understand the concept of hospitality. Jumping ahead in this story about three years, last night on Christmas Eve Paco made a very special meal, which included four vegan courses that were sheer poetry.
So, after our first visit to La Providencia, we returned many times. We vacationed again in San Agustinillo and were very happy to see that it was still in Zipolite, and nothing had changed. Last winter we decided to take a trip to Costa Rica (instead of Mexico, which convinced us once and for all that Mexico is where we want to be), so we missed our meals at La Providencia. When deciding where we wanted to spend the winter this year, we decided to stay the whole time in Zipolite, and I contacted Javier (we had become friends on FaceBook) about a place where we should stay. Long story short, La Providencia has expanded, and now the restaurant is on the grounds of Las Casitas, a group of little houses up on the hill above the ocean also now run by Javier and Paco. Of course, that’s where we are spending the next three months.
The move has had no negative effect at all on the charming restaurant. The food is still wonderful, the service is impeccable, the drinks are good (they have a mescal from a local, small batch maker), and there is magic in the ambience.
Those of you who are friends of mine from Nashville know how much I loved Arnold Myint’s restaurant ChaChah. Very, very few places have that effect on me. It is more than any one factor–more than the food–more than the drink–more than anything I can describe. It is the way I feel when I walk in the room; the way I anticipate a return visit, and it eventually becomes about loving the people who work so hard to make dining food for the spirit as well as for the body. While these two restaurants are very different (and, as Fred would say, “Comparisons are odious”) I have to say the experience is wonderfully similar for me.
This morning Paco walked over to our casita with a great present for me; one of the bags they have on the restaurant website. As you can see, Javier and Paco have my number pretty well nailed.

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