We were in Izamal for the first time just over a year ago. One year later and we’re just as a captivated by the glowing yellow colonial architecture, the tranquil atmosphere (the lack of tourists post-Easter), the hot dusty narrow streets and, in particular, Restaurante Kinich, one of the best restaurants in the region.
I’ve written previously about Izamal but it’s important to remember what once stood here – pre-Conquistadores that is. There are a number of large Mayan structures still present right in the middle of town, including the great temple of the Maya Sun God, Kinich Kak Mo (Meaning: Macaw of the Solar Fire Face – see post from 2022) which incredibly has an 8000 m2 base and a volume of some 700,000 cubic metres – and on top of which sits a 10-level pyramid! Nearby is what remains of an enormous acropolis, Ppap Hol Chak, which was so vast that the Spanish had little choice but to build on top of (rather than attempt to demolish) the existing Mayan structure. As was their method, they used existing stone blocks, many with glyphs still showing, to create their own churches, including the Franciscan monastery, el Convento de San Antonio de Padua, which dominates today the site of the old acropolis. Completed in 1561 and with an enclosed atrium of seventy-five arches so vast that it is second in size only to the square of St Peter’s In Rome (big enough indeed for Pope John Paul II to hold mass there on his triumphant visit to Mexico). But, apart from Kinich Kak Mo and a few other smaller temple structures dotted around town (some wedged between houses), there’s little left of a great Mayan city, once one of the largest and most important of Mayan cities, founded between 750-200BC and continuously occupied right up until the Spanish Conquest of the Yucatan in the early 16th Century.
The vividness of the yellow painted buildings of Izamal (and they are ALL yellow), set against the big jet blue sky of the Yucatan is really stunning. I can’t think of another more intensely colourful place than here.
We’re in Izamal on a baking hot Tuesday for Ants’ birthday lunch, and onwards to a nearby Hacienda for the night. But first up, Restaurante Kinich which specialises in Yucatecan food. Kicking off with a cooling Margarita Yucatán, made with Henquen Sisal Blanco, Pineapple and Lemon Juice, Yatzil Habanero Liqueur and Frosted with Grasshopper (of course) Salt. For lunch Ants had the Poc Chuc Kinich, thin strips of pork loin, marinated with sour orange then grilled over coals, whilst I (of course) had the Cochinita Pibil, an ancestral Yucatecan dish also made with pork seasoned with sour orange, achiote and spices. Wrapped in a banana leaf and slow roasted for 24 hours.
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My mouth positively waters at your description of lunch. Deliciousness rules! A belated Happy Birthday to Anthony. Looking at the photos, the anthem of this town should be Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow”.
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