In Love With Amor Tropical
By Amy Waeschle
Welcome to Paradise
After a hard day of surfing, nothing beats a comfy chair with an ocean view and a refreshing, handcrafted beverage. The first time I visited Amor Tropical, a little expat haven on Mexico’s Pacific coast, I almost missed it. But the telltale baa-ing of a baby goat told me I’d found the right place.
I stepped inside the big metal barn doors to an expansive, flat area with cliff-side, sunset views. Boho-style, colorful chairs and chunky wood tables of all sizes were clustered comfortably throughout the space, and Christmas lights strung from poles gave the spot a festive, chill vibe. Natalie Clark, an expat going on 11 years, greeted us (as did Hermanito, the baby goat) and within minutes, we were sipping from drinks that were as gorgeous as they were tasty. Clark’s business partner and husband, Rodrigo Vanzuela, dreamed up the cocktail menu as well as designed the actual bar, an ancient VW bus painted with wild, bright colors that blend in beautifully with the serene surroundings.
Bursting with Flavor
My mojito, bursting with fresh lime, a hint of honey, and crisp mint, was the best I’ve ever tasted, served with chunky ice, my favorite, a touch usually ignored in the tropics. My husband’s drink was a pineapple-lychee fruit combo with a kick—Serrano pepper and a dash of black pepper—a perfect choice with our simple, satisfying meal of beef tacos and veggie quinoa bowls.
I first fell in love with Amor Tropical two years ago when it was just a tiki bar on the beach a walk away from our favorite hotel, Hacienda Eden. Clark, a surfer, started the Beach Bar because she loved the idea of creating community smack dab in front of one of the area’s best waves. She and Rodrigo drove the barely-running VW bus from Zihuatenajo and within weeks, turned their rented strip of sand into one of the area’s hottest hangouts. “We were only open for cocktail hour, but people didn’t want to leave. I would have to call for a pizza delivery because they were hungry.”
If it’s Fresh, it’s on the Menu
That’s when the pair knew they were on to something—their customers needed food! But they didn’t want to set up another surf taco shack, no matter how chic. After a summer helping another beach bar start their business in nearby Saladita, they were ready to return to Troncones. They found a new home for the VW bar, with easier street access plus a better setup for serving food. They created a menu inspired by Clark’s love for Balinese food culture and dream-worthy Instagram posts. “I didn’t want fussy food, and I didn’t want it to be the same thing every day.” So they created a spin on the popular rice or quinoa “bowls” concept using unique flavors combined with fish and veggies. “If something looks good at the market that day, we throw it on the menu. I love being flexible that way.”
My grilled fish bowl long since inhaled (did I already mention that surfing is hard work?) I lounged in the comfy, laid-back chairs and watched the sun melt into the sea. Hermanito, who had just finished off his bottle, cavorted in the tall, dry grass. While I was too content to get out of my chair to join him, I was definitely with him in spirit.