Mérida, Yucatán — Five years ago, before dining options had become so vast, a tourist venturing into the Centro would hear just a few restaurant recommendations: La Casa de Frida, the brand-new Rosas y Xocolate and Rescoldos would most likely be among them.
Now, in a city where we’re more accustomed to reading about new restaurants appearing, we’re sad to see one expat standby shut its doors. Rescoldos, the beloved wood-fired pizzeria and Mediterranean bistro, serves its last moussaka on Saturday, July 2.
The owners will still be “creating delicious food,” according to their Facebook page. Expect to see them at the Slow Food Market on Saturday mornings and Randy Miller’s Farmers Market in Chelem on Monday mornings (when the market resumes in September). The chefs will still cater private parties, “and you can even order our delicious cakes and pies and, of course, our ETERNO Kombucha.”
Canadian owners Jake and Rae Ann Van Vliet opened Rescodos in a restored colonial house and patio on Calle 62 in March 2009. But before that, Rae Ann ran a food business, ” I Make It You Bake It,” out of their apartment kitchen. Jake had attended school to be a chef and a bartender and Rae Ann always had a deep passion for cooking, so goes the story on their website: “They turned their old cement water cistern into an authentic Pompeii brick wood fire oven, the centerpiece of Rescoldos, which by the way, means burning embers in Spanish.”
They made a great first impression. By the end of their inaugural year, Yucatán Today reported: “Every single item on the menu is prepared fresh each day with home-grown herbs and the best quality ingredients. Their wood fire oven is not only used for the melt-in-your-mouth pizzas, but also for their house garlic bread, and fire roasted tomatoes, red peppers, and other veggies. Jake is the master of the wood oven and has perfected it to a fine art.”
In reply to one well-wisher on their Facebook page, they replied recently that “it wasn’t an easy decision.”
They close at a high point. As of today, and despite the influx of culinary talent since 2009, Rescoldos remains in the Top 20 of Mérida restaurants on TripAdvisor.
“One of our favorites in Merida,” one visitor wrote in February. “Really great service and friendly staff. Over the past couple of weeks we’ve tried the tzatziki, calzones and pizza. All dishes were flavorful and cooked perfectly. You cannot leave Merida without visiting Rescoldos.”