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El Arco de Nicholas

Address: Jocotepec-Chapala Carretera before San Juan Cosala
Hours of Operation: Daily 12 p.m. - 11 p.m.

Directions: From Walmart head west on the Carretera towards Jocotepec. Past Los Sabinos and Lago Encantado there will appear on your left a succession of restaurants along the lakefront. El Arco de Nicholas is the first of these restaurants. Parking is available in front of the Restaurant, and valet parking across the highway.

First Impressions

El Arco de Nicholas clearly appeals to families with children. The décor features  larger than life replicas of circus animals and a playground for young children located near the entrance.

A long path leads to the open dining room situated on the water, with a few tables positioned between the lake's edge and a large pool. We arrived early, just after the restaurant  opened on a crisp Saturday afternoon. We were seated immediately and given menus, in Spanish, and the waiter brought us a glass of the house red wine, which was surprisingly good.

Popular music played in the background and there were two televisions tuned to soccer on either end of the dining area. The restaurant seems to be a popular place with parents of young children, as every family that was seated during the time we were dining had several small children.

Even the bathrooms are labeled "ninas and ninos" and sport shorter than normal toilets and a large changing table.

It was too breezy to sit next to the water, but fortunately the dining area is enclosed by glass which protects diners from the January breezes off the lake.


The waiter brought a plate of packaged totopos and saltines to the table, but no pico de gallo or salsa, only bottled hot sauces. This was a disappointment since other places along the river serve salsa, bowls of sauces and even pico de gallo before ever taking an order.

The menu is limited when compared to offerings from nearby restaurants that provide customers with a book of options.  A variety of fish and shrimp dishes are on the menu, as well as steaks and chicken. There is also a small children's menu.

The second page of the menu is filled exclusively with liquors and beers. We began with an order of shrimp empanadas. They were served fresh, a large corn tortilla stuffed with chopped shrimp, tomato sauce and vegetables accompanied by a side salad.

We decided to order to shrimp. My companion ordered Camarones 4 Quesos (4 cheese shrimp) and I ordered Camarones Coco (coconut shrimp).

The dishes were served with French fries, garlic bread and salad. Presentation was beautiful, as you can see from the pictures. The French fries were crispy and hot and everything looked delicious except for one problem.

The Shrimp Coco was prepared using small shrimp that had been butterflied before cooking, meaning that the result was overcooked and very tough. I was able to eat only a few of the shrimp, the rest were so hard and tough that they were unedible. Too bad, since the mango sauce was delicious.

My companion thought his meal, 4 Queso Shrimp, was better than mine, though when I tasted it I thought that the shrimp had not cooked long enough and the cheese sauce was cold. 


The dining room at El Arco de Nicholas is pleasant and right at the water's edge. The background music was too loud, making it hard to have a conversation, and I was distracted by the televisions featured prominently at either end of the dining pavilion. 

There were children everywhere, as El Arco is tailored to appeal to families. I love children so was not bothered by the noise or the frantic activity, but be forewarned that this is not a place to have a romantic lunch or quiet conversation.  The wait staff are very attentive and the service from the kitchen is fast, though not as careful with preparation as I would expect of a lakeside seafood restaurant.


The price of our meal was $610mx for four glasses of wine, 2 shrimp meals and an appetizer. The price is comparable to  other lakeside restaurants in this area but the quality of the food is not. The waiter did not offer us coffee or dessert at the end of the meal, another disappointment.

Our Recommendation: ***

If I had guests with small children, I might take them to El Arco de Nicholas for the ambience which is welcoming to families with small children. However, I would probably order a hamburger, which looked delicious when it came out of the kitchen, and not shrimp.  The food is adequate, at the very least. But, this restaurant is not as good as several of the other restaurants on this stretch of high end, seafood restaurants.

This post first appeared on Lake Chapala Restaurant Guide, please read the originial post: here

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El Arco de Nicholas


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