Last Saturday evening I had dinner at the El Cumbanchero restaurant with a number of friends, whom I will miss upon my move to Xalapa. From left to right, Ariel, Maria, Ana Belem, Federico, and Armando.
Ariel, Maria and Ana Belem operate the cocina economica from where Armando gets his lunch each day. Ana, Ariel and I had weekly language classes together and I have accompanied them on a number of excursions. Ariel Marie and Ana lived in Miami for a number of years until Ariel lost an arm in an auto accident which ended his truck driving career.
Federico operates the Cafico coffee shop, on Calle 58 just South of the Parque Santa Ana, where he roasts organically grown beans grown in Chiapas and Veracruz states and where Armando and I have coffee several times each week. Federico, whose sincerity is manifest in his ready smile, likes to talk politics and is a big AMLO supporter. When he’s roasting a batch of beans the aroma can be detected a half block from his shop.
Armando is my 89 year old Cuban American neighbor who has lived in Merida for 28 years and who increasingly requires assistance.
El Cumbanchero is owned by Ruben Gonzalez Jr., son of the famed Cuban pianist Ruben Gonzalez who performed with the Buena Vista Social Club, whose CD of the same name gained a Grammy Award. Ruben Gonzalez Sr. died a couple years back and now his Grammy and lots of other Buena Vista Social Club and other memorabilia is now on display in the El Cumbanchero restaurant.
Ruben Gonzalez Jr., also an accomplished pianist, and his group perform regularly in the restaurant. The food was nothing to write home about but the music and atmosphere definitely merit a visit. The place and its dance floor became filled to capacity, with folks waiting on the patio, by about 10 PM. The restaurant, located at Calle 39 and the Paseo Montejo is open from 7 PM to 2 AM Tuesday through Saturday.