If a Mexicana were to open a “diner” in Ajijic, Josy’s would be it. The building construct even has the shape of what we expats know as the classic compact diner, long and rectangular. (Note: Early 20th Century food-service trucks or wagons with “walk-up” windows took prepared food to remote, rustic workplaces; later truck designs were inspired by rail cars with the same function.)
Diner means casual dining at its most casual. This doesn’t mean the food is plain and forgettable. It means you’ll find a laid-back setting offering proudly prepared food, often by the owners themselves, comparable to anything served in higher-priced establishments. This is true of Josy’s, Josy being the owner-operator as well as your chef and server. It’s a casual atmosphere for guests making simple, last-minute dining decisions or looking for workaday, satisfying food served in a pleasant, clean environment. (This means that gringos in folksy dress, – yes, even those in that chic combination of short pants, crocs shoes and a straw cowboy hat – would not be conspicuous. It’s that accommodating and forgiving.)
Josy’s menu is packed with standard diner fare, except that it also offers every imaginable Mexican breakfast, all at purse-friendly prices. Within only four months since its opening, it appears from my well-worn menu that Josy’s earned a good-sized following. After the famed truckers line-up at a roadside restaurant, the next best tell-tale sign of a great informal eatery is the well-worn menu. You’ll find it at Josy’s.
While Josy’s menu had some elaborate dishes like rib eye and pork chops with trimmings, her offerings were primarily standard breakfast and lunchtime fare, both Mexican and American. I had pancakes with fried eggs, because I arrived at a brunch hour. For real hotcakes to stand out and hit a mark way above ordinary, they need to be fluffy, not spongy, and light but hearty and always hot. Nothing worse than cooled hotcakes. Josy’s batter was right on, and if such a simple dish can be presented with panache, Josy achieved it. My partner ordered the fish and chips. It was clear Josy also understood the mojo behind this British favorite: fleshy fillets dredged several times through light batter for a thin coating, dried so that the batter stiffened a bit and then placed in the hot oil. The result was a delicate golden brown crust, with moist, flavorful whitefish inside. The chips were home-cut and good and authentic enough to be wrapped in newspaper.
Josy’s is in Riberas linked to Puritan Poultry, just east of S&S Auto on the north side of the Carretera.
Unlike the classic, all-night diner, hours are limited. Josy’s is open only until 5 p.m. So Josy aims for great breakfasts and lunches or late afternoon brunch and early dinners. It’s not far-fetched to say that casual diner food is the closest thing to eating at home minus the work.