Playa Bonita – Camarones Deliciosos (Beautiful Beach – Delicious Shrimp)

I decided to spend the new year holiday on a holiday in Cozumel Mexico where I did nothing except; eat Mexican food, dive, read, and sleep.  While out on the boat for my first day of diving I met a young couple; Mike and Ellie who had been on the island for a few days already so had a chance to do a little exploring.  After talking with Mike and Ellie for a while they told me I had to drive to the other side of the island and find the Playa Bonita restaurant and bar for the best shrimp in the world.

A few days later I got into my rented late 60s early 70s rented VW Beetle convertible.  A rather simple car with; a 4 speed manual transition, no parking brake, hand crank windshield wipers (good thing there was no rain), windows that did not roll up any more, and nothing more than a speedometer on the dash.  I cranked up the car and hit the road at the top speed of about 100 KM/H (around 60 MP/H) and let the wind blow through my hair for the 45 minute ride in search of Playa Bonita.  As I cursed along coastal highway heading north along the western side of the island I saw an open style building approaching in the distance with Playa Bonita written across the roof, I had arrived and I was getting hungry.

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I parked outside the restaurant next to the obligatory gift shops and made my way inside to find a table and order some shrimp.  I found a nice table in the shade but with a good view of the Caribbean Sea and the Mexican flag waving in the breeze rising off the sea, sat down and started to browse through the menu (even though I knew I was ordering the shrimp).

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I decided to start off with a strawberry banana daiquiri  and a plate of guacamole while I relaxed with my book and waited for the shrimp.

The daiquiri  was the first to arrive, made with a blend of fresh bananas and strawberries a shot of rum and some crushed ice, the daiquiri really hit the spot cooling me off and refreshing my thirst (plus it was mace with fruit so it must be healthy right).

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As I was sipping on my daiquiri (I had another later) my guacamole arrived along with a dish of pico de gio and some home-made tortilla chips.  Pico de gio is nothing more than a salsa made from diced tomato, onion, and green peppers and while most restaurants will add a little of this or that to make it different (in this case there was cilantro and some finely diced jalapeno that I could pick out) but the basic is always the same and it is almost always good as it was this time.

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After loading a chip full of pico de gio and crunching down on the crisp chip and cool flavorful salsa I decided to turn my attentions to the guacamole.   Guacamole is usually a mix of mashed up avocado, diced tomato, diced onion, maybe some chili pepper, salt, various spices, and maybe a squeeze of lime.  The combination of these ingredients results in a creamy cool dip that is full of flavor and almost always leaves me wanting more.  Unfortunately the guacamole at Playa Bonita was a little flat tasting and seemed to be made of mostly avocado without much else.  It was still good but nowhere near the best I had on the island or else where.

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As I was munching on chips dipped in pico de gio and guacamole my grilled garlic shrimp arrived smelling fantastically of garlic.  I eagerly set aside my guacamole as the waiter placed the shrimp before me and it was all I could do to restrain myself long enough to snap a few pictures before I dug in.  After my pictures were taken I set me camera aside, squeezed a little lime over the shrimp, picked up the first shrimp, peeled it, and popped it into my mouth.  My taste buds were immediately drenched in flavors of fresh shrimp and grilled garlic.  With such a wonderful fresh taste It was no surprise Mike and Ellie thought these were the best shrimp in the world and I am inclined to agree with them.  Off to the side of the plate hidden behind and under the row of beautiful shrimp there was a side of rice, some steamed vegetables  and a small side salad (none of which even crossed my fork as I was too busy eating the shrimp).  After a few minutes of pealing and eating shrimp my hands were covered with butter, garlic, and lime juice so I started to reach for a napkin but I thought “no way I can waste all this flavor on a napkin” so I licked my fingers clean before reaching for the next shrimp.  Repeat this process a few time until I ran out of shrimp and sat back to enjoy the nice sea breeze while I craved some more shrimp.

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I sat there relaxing and reading for a bit and eventually suppressed the urge to order more shrimp then asked for the bill, and to my surprise the bill was accompanied by a complementary shot of tequila and a lime wedge which was a nice end to a great meal.  I sat around and read a little more letting the alcohol from the daiquiri and tequila work its way through my system before jumping back in my bug and heading back to my hotel for more relaxation.

I would defiantly return to Playa Bonita on my next trip to Cozumel which I hope is much sooner than later.

Here’s to happy eating

-erik

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