Those of you who have been around more than a few years may remember that my husband John and I used to publish a bilingual monthly paper, El Futuro (1995-2002). Although we had been coming to Puerto Peñasco for vacations for years, we didn’t go into business here until the 1990’s. It wasn’t till then that we began to discover the community we had never really paid attention to before.

We wrote articles about local restaurants and businesses, street names, Mexican history, nature, people. It was exciting for us to enter this unfamiliar, exotic, and delightful space. Our Mexican friends were generous with their hospitality and their information and forgiving of our imperfect Spanish. We tried to reciprocate by giving a verbal boost to them in our articles.

Now, many years later, the town has become familiar to us from long acquaintance, but every once in a while we experience that same magical thrill that comes from a peek into the workings of another culture and the nostalgia of recalling our former adventures.

It happened recently. We had come for one of our monthly visits and were planning a party to celebrate the birthday of our friend Romeo. For years he was our general manager, translator, bureaucracy navigator, and guide for El Futuro, and then a real estate agent with our real estate company, El Gato Negro. We call him our Mexican son.

I’d made a cake and a couple of side dishes. We intended to buy a roast chicken at Sam’s Club, but on our way there we went past Barbacoa El Rincon, a new establishment just a couple of blocks from our casita, at the corner of Avenida Colima and Calle Quintana Roo. John said, “Wait a minute. Let’s check that place out. We could have barbecue instead of chicken.” I said, “Why not?” So we turned around and went back.

A tall man was sweeping the walk in front of the restaurant. He told us his name was Gabriel and invited us to come in. The place was immaculate. Three small tables with chairs were set up in the main room, and a bar was built against the wall on two sides. From the kitchen behind we could smell delicious aromas. Gabriel and his wife Armida welcomed us and when we asked about the barbacoa, brought out a piece of meat for us to sample and a cup of a cold drink called Jamaica (pronounced Ha-my-ka). It was very good, tasted sort of like a mild grape juice. We were sold; we ordered enough meat and drink for ourselves and our guests, to be picked up later that afternoon.

Then Gabriel took us out back and showed us his smoke house and a roasting pit in the ground. He is obviously set up to do different variations on meat-roasting techniques and flavors. He told us that when he roasts meat in the ground he buries it with coals and leaves it for 8 hours. I want to try that.

Gabriel, whose last name is Gomez, was for years manager of an OXXO convenience store in Puerto Peñasco, and Armida was a cashier there. Then they decided to go into business for themselves and opened El Rincon a month ago. They have been married 23 years and have three grown sons. An interesting tidbit they told us is that her name is Gomez too, and her brother is married to his sister. So it’s Gomez-Gomez and Gomez-Gomez. Quite a family connection.

When we came back to pick up our order, we found that it came accompanied by fresh tortillas, a dish of hot sauce, a container of refried beans, and a plate with limes, onions, cilantro, and shredded cabbage. There was also a large pitcher of Jamaica, and they let us borrow some decorative clay cups to serve it in. The meat was tender and shredded, in a spicy broth. Our guests all loved it, and our party was a great success.

In the past, discovering a new place always inspired me to write about it, and obviously it still does. Thanks, Gabriel and Armida, and El Rincon, for the opportunity–and for the delicious barbacoa.

If you want to contact El Rincon, their phone number is 638-113-2878. You can also find them on Facebook.