There’s a story about the restaurant Tio Domingo that goes something like this: Over ten years back, the patrons of the restaurant so loved the place that, when they heard owner Salvador could not afford to keep it open and arranged to close, they rallied together at one last Christmas Eve fiesta there. As the party ended late that night and the farewell salutes were being made, patrons coyly and secretively filled a stray, empty bucket with cash as they left, lots of cash. From that evening on, by all accounts, Salvador, filled with gratitude at the bequest, found himself unexpectedly rescued. And, in felicitous reciprocation, he has continued serving the Ajijic public to this day.
Tio Domingo, still a modest venue, just west of Rio Bravo at the far end of Ocampo, serves a crowd of dedicated regulars. The draw for most is the same: a friendly, well-managed restaurant, a bounty of fine, satisfying mains, great value for money and plenty of parking. Our table for three was set in the middle of an invitingly compact garden center, Mexican through and through with saintly statues tall enough to hold our hats and chimineas at tablesides sheltering unimposing chickens and their brood. Can anything be more Mexican-casual?
Ordering was easy. The menu had a spectacular variety of house specialties, from bbq ribs, pork loin in a mushroom sauce, chicken in white wine and beef medallions in red wine or a cognac sauce. Plus, there were a number of fine shrimp dishes. Truly an array to suit every craving.
Two of us chose the beef medallion dishes, one with the wine sauce, the other with the cognac, each meaty and tender with a robust, flavorful sauce – and each with nicely prepared trimmings, including freshly made mashed potatoes, carrots and green beans. Our third at the table requested the whitefish. It came floating in a luscious white wine sauce with similar sides. Yes, standard fare, but delicious and with an enticing presentation. The house white and red were ordinary table wines, but fitting for the menu selections. We all shared a dessert you may not find elsewhere at Lakeside: Crepes Suzette. Salvador prepared it for us alongside our table: An orange liquor with a wallop of brandy and fresh orange juice blended over a fire produced a smooth, delicate sauce that soaked nicely into and over several tender crepes – the perfect finish to a splendid dinner. The tab for each meal barely exceeded 160 pesos (excluding the single dessert for three).
The generous servings at Tio Domingo and its well-known modest prices haven’t been affected by the changing crowds or the recent peso tumble. So count Salvador along with me and others, and in the admirable fashion of most economists, who haven’t a clue and don’t bother about exchange rate fluctuations.