Mark and I set out on Thursday for the "blessing of the rivers" near the Broken Bridge and found out that construction abounded. We treaded through muddy streets, hopping over electrical wires and manholes in search of the big celebration. What we found was a group of water worshipers paying homage to the river. Mark and I listened to the chants and decided we probably didn't belong; we simply weren't dressed for the occasion.
Hunger pangs set in and so we climbed the steps to Todos Santos and checked to see if the restaurant was open. It was at that "ify" hour (a quarter to twelve), so we were only slightly disappointed when the hostess said, "We won't be open for another 15 minutes." As we walked out the door with a sigh, the hostess followed us (begging us to come back in). "We can seat you now," she chimed.
There's nothing like having an entire restaurant to yourself (and I do mean we were the only ones there). That can only mean two things: we were the first customers of the day or it wasn't a very good place to eat. But as I looked around at the well-appointed tables with real cloth napkins and the server with his crisp white shirt, we decided to stay.
When I opened up the menu, I gasped! The prices were a "little" steep (more like gringo prices). While the waiter wasn't looking I snapped a picture of the menu. I'm not sure if you noticed or not, but they snatch that menu away from you fairly quickly, so after I captured my picture we ordered! One of the least expensive things on the menu was pizza ($13.00). Our server explained that it was grande and he was right! Twenty minutes later they served the pizza on a wood plank and it was huge. I had half a slice and Mark had two slices (the rest went into a doggy bag).
It reminded me of the Sicilian pizza that Mark's Nana used to make. For no extra cost you can add five condiments free of charge. We ordered "jamon, queso y champiñones" (ham, cheese and mushrooms). Our server was attentive, but not to the point of "burping us."
Our drinks were served with lots of ice and lime (just the way I like it), and since there's a panaderia on the premises we were served bread with three condiments before our pizza. Yes, it was a bit of carbo loading, so I headed off to water aerobics afterwards so the bread didn't have time to settle on my hips. Our total bill came to $18.00 (including drinks).
Just as we were leaving another couple entered the dining room, so we essentially had the entire place to ourselves. Would we eat there again? Most definitely, but we would probably do the "uno para dos" thing. Mark and I often split meals and have enough to bring home. We got two more meals out of our pizza!
It's definitely not the cheapest restaurant in town, but the river view, ambiance, service and quality of food was worth it.
We have some time before we head to the coast, so we might try out a few more restaurants that we don't normally go to when we're "working." Mark and I usually have the $2.25 almuerzo at El Tunel when we're teaching, but this was a nice surprise and made up for the disappointing "River Blessing." However, I did hear that El Paraiso was where the big celebration took place.
So if you're looking for something different with great brick oven pizza, check out the restaurant at Todos Santos at Calle Larga y Varga Machuca.
Unitl next time...hasta luego!
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P.S. I just got word that the documentary film on expats is nearly complete; I'll let you know the air dates for television soon. It was filmed the day after we returned to Cuenca after Dad Pombo's funeral. Needless to say it wasn't the best timing for us! The film will document how foreigners view Ecuador.