An Old Journey to Quiroga

In going through my old travel journals, I came across photos (taken on my first digital camera at what is now a miserably low quality!) and a journal entry that describe a fabulous restaurant, Restaurante Bar Atzimba, in the Michoacan town of Quiroga. It was 2001, and we were on a driving tour around Lake Patzcuaro. We had stopped at many of the small villages along the lakeshore during the early part of the day to look at their craft specialties: furniture, pottery, basketry, masks. In Quiroga, we were on a quest for leather. While wandering through the streets and market of town, the charming entrance to Atzimba restaurant beckoned to us in the middle of the hot afternoon. We were, by then, in much need of food and refreshment.

Restaurant Atzimba Entrance, Quiroga

Entrance to the restaurant

The entrance corridor was lined with potted plants, inset with art deco tiles on floor and walls, and painted with a riotous array of Mexican color. High ceilings were supported by the typical wooden beams of the heavy colonial architecture of the interior of the country.

Walking into the dining room, our senses were assailed–delightfully so–with the vision of a wildly tiled staircase flanked by neon-colored and geometrically-patterned walls that threw sparkles into our eyes. Wow!

Restaurant Atzimba Entrance

Atzimba staircase

Looking up and around, we saw richly hued vintage glass light fixtures and yet more color, even on the ceiling. The dining room was empty of customers but populated with closely fitted ultra-heavy hardwood tables and chairs, each slung with a tablecloth as brilliant as the floors and walls. The planters that stood in the dimly lit corners of the dining room were also riotously painted and artfully decorated with sparkles and mirrors. Our senses were overwhelmed. Would we every be able to eat in a place like this? But, how could we not?

Sitting down, a waiter languidly took our drink orders and presented us with menus. He left us alone for several minutes to study our meal options, which was quite fortunate because we were emitting somewhat gutsy exclamations, making all sorts of weird noises of wonder as we examined the decor and our surroundings. Could anything be more fantastic?

Well, yes, and it was the menu. The translations of the food offerings were just stunningly entertaining as the general atmosphere:

  • Mean white fish (Pescado blanco mediano, or medium white fish)
  • Rice soup with dashed egg and banana (Sopa de arroz con huevo estrellado y platano / dry rice soup with fried egg and banana)
  • Order of beast filet fried, roasted, rancher, or to the Mexican (Filet de res frito, asado, ranchero, o a la Mexicana / beef filet fried, grilled, ranch style, or Mexican style)
  • Lace-bobbin bread (bolillo / bread roll)
  • Candy bread (pan dulce / sweet bread)
  • Fish broth with a kid fish (Caldo de pescado con un pescado chico / fish broth served with one small fish)
  • Trout with 1 wet of garlic or to the natural (Trucha al mojo de ajo o al natural / trout with garlic or plain)
  • Mass order with a chicken and soup piece of rice (Orden de mole con 1 pieza de pollo y sopa de arroz / mole with 1 piece of chicken and rice)
  • Termagant Soup (Sopa Tarasca / Tarascan-style soup)

Even the bar list had us in paroxysms, as many of the brand names were translated instead of just being left as is:

  • Rested Horseshoe (Herradura Reposado, a brand of tequila)
  • Hunting Tequila (Tequila Cazadores)
  • Founding Brandy (Brandy Fundador)
  • Mescal of the Saw (Mescal de la Sierra, meaning mescal from the hills, but sierra means saw as well as hills)

In all our wonder and excitement over the visuals of the installation and the nuances of the menu translation, I did not record, nor do I remember, what in the world we ate or if the food was any good. Someone else will have to report on that aspect.

Although we haven’t been back to Quiroga or to Restaurante Bar Atzimba since, I believe it is still open. I have no idea if they have updated their menu descriptions, especially now that English has become much more widespread in the more rural areas of Mexico, or if the interior decorations have changed much. I can only hope that the restaurant preserves its special and colorful personality. One day, I will go back!


Potted plant, Atzimba Restaurant

Potted plant, Atzimba Restaurant

Light Fixture, Atzimba Restaurant

Light Fixture, Atzimba Restaurant