By Jennifer Kramer
It’s difficult to not feel enchanted by life when you’re dining under a 200-year-old oak tree in the middle of the Valle de Guadalupe. Watching the sun set over the vineyards and casting a glow over the world as you dine on delicious food, it’s easy to feel entranced by this magic hour. The wine doesn’t hurt, either.
Now open for its third season, Javier Plascencia’s summer pop-up Animalón has garnered well-deserved attention for it’s inventive food and unique setting. Located on the same property as Plascencia’s beloved campestre-restaurant Finca Altozano, Animalón offers a more intimate and exclusive atmosphere and a menu featuring the best and freshest ingredients of the region, prepared in a thoughtful and well-crafted manner.
Chef Oscar Torres is back again this year for a second season as executive chef. He’s creating dishes like seared octopus so tender you can cut it with a fork, and poached cheap medications drugs lobster from nearby Puerto Nuevo prepared with chileatole. The food is beautifully presented and sophisticated while still being approachable.
Diners can choose from a three-, five-, or eight-course meal. A vegetarian option is available. No à la carte option is available this season as it has been in years past. The tasting menu will change on a monthly basis and will always feature fresh, local ingredients.
New this season is The Lounge, an outdoor bar area just adjacent to the tree where guests can sip on gin cocktails before their meal and linger under the stars après dinner as the evening wears on. There’s also currently a photo exhibit by local photographer Cintia Soto.
Animalón is open starting at 5pm Wednesday through Thursday and starting at 2pm Friday through Sunday. The restaurant will stay open until late fall/early winter, weather permitting. Reservations can be made on the Animalón website.