Cafe Magana

Cafe Magana Restaurant


I lived in Lake Chapala for four years and past it many times on the bus. I never bothered to stop and check it out until a friend raved about it to me one day as we drove by. He said that the food was delicious and they had a large book exchange. That was enough information for me to make a special trip to Riberas del Pilar, just east of Ajijic. I had quite a surprise.

It is easy to spot, right along the carretera on the lakeside:

  • Riberas del Pilar Hidalgo #100.
  • Phone number: 765-2919
  • Web page:

I read three books a week and I watch a DVD every night on my computer. I don’t have a TV. I have to get books and DVDs often to replace the ones I have already enjoyed.

When I walked into the Café Magana I couldn’t have been happier. There was a delicious smell coming from the kitchen that immediately made me hungry. The biggest surprise was the size of their book exchange. It looked like a second hand bookstore. All the walls were lined with bookshelves, stuffed to the gills. They were also organized. There was a section for Mystery Books, Romance, Horror, Science Fiction, Novels and Short Stories and even one on Mystery Blood and Guts.

I quickly decided that the Café Magana was to become my hangout. I love bookstores and they are hard to find here. I only know of one small one in Ajijic and it isn’t a place where you can sit down and read. All the books are new and are for sale there.

For the next two weeks I was at Cafe Magana every other day. If I arrived before they opened, I always found people waiting for the sign to change from Closed to Open. There were always people eating their delicious lunches and chatting across the tables.

As I was pursuing one book section, a man started talking with me. He said he and his wife have been living here for seventeen years. His wife nodded in agreement. She seemed to be used to his friendliness to strangers. He said, “When we first came here, the expats were usually either running from the law or the IRS.”

We all laughed at how much things have changed since then. No longer is this a hideout for expats in trouble.

The best thing of all with the books and DVDs is that you bring one and take one. It is a straight across trade. You can’t buy the books and DVDs but you can keep on exchanging them. You never run out of books or DVDs to exchange like used bookstores where you have to give them two to get one back. I was pleased. There are many interesting books on the shelves. They are also in good condition.

The owner is Jeffery Rafferty. His menu reads like one of the books on the shelves. There are four pages with dishes listed on both sides of the pages. When I first looked at it, I was overwhelmed by all the choices. I love good food and I have a hard time making decisions. I spent a long time looking through it.

Jeffery started out with a take out BBQ stand in Bucerias. His food was so popular that people demanded tables and chairs and it quickly turned into a thriving restaurant. He started the Café in Bucerias in August of 1996. He was there for ten years. Then he moved to the Lakeside area and started another take-out stand, selling BBQ Ribs and Chicken. His sauces are delicious. Soon he was asked to supply tables and chairs at this stand. Six years later he has the thriving Café Magana Restaurant.

Jeffery is originally from Manchester, England. This is a quote by him from his menu.” If you like our work, tell all your friends. If you don’t, just tell me. I will fix it. I run a tight ship and I’m Jeffrey.”

I can see that he runs a tight ship. The kitchen is clean. Everything in the restaurant is clean and organized. He is friendly and the service is good.

He has perfected his BBQ sauces. Here is a list of the different flavors: Ginger, Garlic, Chili, Smoke, Apple, Tamarind, Pepper and Orange. He also sells these BBQ sauces by the bottle for 62 Pesos.

He has an interesting way of serving his main dishes. They come in XL, or XXL. If you buy the XL you get one side order. If you buy the XXL you get two side orders.

The side orders are: BBQ Beans, Garden Peas, Coleslaw, Potato Salad, Baked Potato, Mashed Potato, and Chips/fries.

I am not going to list all of the meals. You will have to check them out for yourself. But here are a few of my favorite: Deep Fried English Style Fish ‘N Chips, Fish Tacos, BBQ Beef and Chicken Sandwiches, Meatloaf, Roast Beef and Chili.

Prices are very reasonable. The dishes are large enough for two people but he doesn’t allow you to split the meal. You can take the leftovers home.

He serves four different desserts. He also has a bar for alcoholic drinks.

Jeffery also has a Quiz Night at five p.m. on Thursdays. It is a giant Trivial Pursuit. The flyer says, Terrific fun, terrible prizes. Definitely time to:

1. Gather up a team, 1-6

2. Choose a daft name.

3. Reserve a table.


Happy Hour drinks and Free Onion rings; to fund the Book Exchange, the cost is 1oo pesos per team member.

It sounds like a lot of fun. From my encounters with Jeffrey, I can tell he knows how to enjoy life. His enthusiasm is infectious.

Hours are from noon to seven p.m. everyday except Sunday. Phone number: 765-2919 Web page:

If you want to know more about the area, we are here to help. You can contact me in the comments below and either I or one of the Access team members will be glad to help you and answer questions.

By, Evelyn Walker

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