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Apr 11, 2002 03:10 PM

restaurants in Cozumel

  • s

Can anyone recommend any tasty spots in Cozumel? I'd love to hear of any hidden gems.

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  1. I was going to ask the same question.I am visiting Cancun in an "all inclusive" and intend to take a ferry to Cozumel and spend the day. I would love to know where to go for a fantastic lunch!

    1. Hey, Parrot. Your reply to Stuart is to a post from 5 years ago! I hope he is still alive- and well-fed!
      Great that you plan to spend the day in Cozumel- this gives you the chance to escape the infestation of cruise shippers that wander within a few blocks from the square in San Miguel where your ferry docks. I highly recommend that you rent scooters ($20 everywhere) and do the loop on the ring road around the south end of the island (then it bisects the island back to San Miguel where you began). A small palapa restaurant called The Paradise Cafe (a.k.a Bobs Marley Cafe)just around the southern tip has the best conch ceviche anywhere, cold beer, hammocks right up to the beautiful waters' edge with open ocean waves crashing against ironstone with beauty and energy you will remember forever. The windward side of the island is awesome.
      If you stay in San Miguel, I recommend Plaza Leza, in the middle of the south side of the square, where you can eat outside in comfort. Good queso fundito, fajitas, real 'ritas (they squeeze limes, many places use mix)The conch is usually very good. A block to the east of the square, on the corner of 10th avenue (aves run n-s 5-10-15 from the Malecon; streets are e-w 2-4-6)is La Choza, with authentic mole and pebil preparations. Good, but you'll be in and out in 45 minutes. Plaza Leza you can lounge all afternoon because you are guaranteed to meet neat people and you can't have just one 'rita there. Bobs' Marley bar then Plaza Leza while you wait for the next ferry would be a quinella winner.
      good luck, Veggo

      10 Replies
      1. re: Veggo

        Can I ask you to write my memoir? Your descriptions are say the least! I will try your reconmendations...and I'm sure I will be pleased. Thanks Veggo!!

        1. re: Veggo

          Veggo: I am going with my husband for a week in Nov to Coz. your recs above sonds great1 Any more for great dinners? Love off the beaten path places...great views/ambience and awesome food is a must (two foodies recently married in their 30s)...great people. Thoughts? what about Playa Del C if we go for a night? Thank you!

          1. re: ljero

            ljero, I just returned from Coz/PDC and I would like to be of assistance to you. I can be much more focused if you can provide a little more information about your lodging in Cozumel:
            1) hotel or house? 2) all-inclusive or not? 3) in San Miguel, or north, or south of it?
            A full day in PDC out of a week will be very pleasant. (You may want to do it twice!) Ferry is hourly, (couple exceptions), crossing time is 45 minutes, fare is 220 pesos round trip. You can comfortably walk to a full day of neat places in Playa, from the dock there.
            I have posted a lot on Playa, and some of the places posters seem to rave about I think are unremarkable, but if people had a great time there, that's what it's all about.
            I have re-read my posts from the last 7 months and one update I strongly advise is to rent a jeep in Cozumel, don't do the moped thing. Cozumel has done a great job of rebuilding and maintaining the roads since hurricane Wilma, but changes to the windward coastline and highway there are still happening, and I had a bad tumble on a section of road that probably was undermined on a very recent tide. Conditions are nearly all safe and beautiful; I had one of those one-in-a-hundred.
            Where Wilma sheared nearly every treetop to about 15 feet, the almond trees (los almendros) are the fastest growing to develop a new canopy. You will notice their beauty.
            Are you divers?

            1. re: Veggo

              vego, I have been seeing the posts for cozumel and playa del carmen. I will be going there in may with my family and would like to hear more of what you have to say about this destination, we plan on going several times to playa but will be staying in cozumel. we would like to go diving and also to the ruins. we enjoy good food especialy if it is freshly made.


              1. re: miguelcueva

                I didn't make it to Cozumel last week; I was way overcommitted with the golf tournament and events in Playa.
                A poster who recently stumbled on "Playa Bonita" restaurant on the windward side of Cozumel while in search of "Bobs Marley Bar" (aka Paradise Cafe since Wilma) was right on. The conch ceviche was so good I bought the t-shirt on the last trip.
                I have not yet dined at La Cocay in Cozumel, said to be very good, because I stubbornly only eat Mexican while in Mexico.
                Now, the ruins. Go to Coba, west of Tulum. It is the tallest Mayan pyramid, and you can still climb it. Spectacular views over the Yucatan canopy, in every direction. The Tulum ruins are totally roped off and you feel like you are being led around a petting zoo and you can't pet anything. The pyramid in Chichen Itza is now off limits. Climb Coba, while you can.
                Diving is far better on the Cozumel side; that is the Palancar reef. There are about 5 really good sites in what is called "Palancar Gardens". Punta Sur and Maracaibo are deeper wall dives that require advanced certification. The most fascinating dives in the Yucatan are the caves; e-mail me if you are or want to be cave certified, or if I can be of additional assistance.
                You will be able to rent a car in Playa for a day trip to Coba, and you will will pass my favorite restaurant, Cueva del pescador in Akumal.
                Buen provecho!

            2. re: ljero

              All of these suggestions I agree with, La Choza, La Mission, Casa de Denis (in the square is a hit with my family)...I've been going to cozumel for over 12 years and love it!! There is one place I don't think I've seen mentioned on the boards and it's a place i never go to cozumel without's on the windward side of the island (the rocky side without hotels) called Coconuts. It's not on the road and if you're not paying attention you'll drive right by it. It's just south of Mescalito's (KILLER margaritas) which is on the northeast corner of the road that runs around the island. you will probably see a bunch of cars parked on the side of the road (DEFINTELY get a car and not a moped, my family and i dug three college kids out of the ditch along the road one year, it was bad) and a small yellow sign that says COCONUTS. Climb the hill. The views up there are unsurpassed on the entire island. the margaritas are huge and some of the best i've ever had. i dream about the shrimp quesadillas 364 days a year. plus there are 2 awesome dogs, Vanilla and Margarita who will be your best friend. Be sure to go at lunch though, they don't have electricity (or didn't used to) and close after sunset (of course this also means they only take cash, not even traveler's checks. and it's not expensive but it's not cheap either but so worth it). So it's nice to get there early, settle in with a view, a margarita (or 2 or 3) and watch the water. i like the setup there too because there are small palm trees between the tables so it also gives you a small sense of privacy. (watch out for the waiters though!!! ;-) you'll know what i mean when you go....ENJOY!!!!)

            3. re: Veggo

              Thanks for the info, just got back from Cozumel and had the most amazing shrimp ceviche and Oaxacan chicken mole from La Choza on your recommendation, it made my trip.

            4. Coconuts is my husband's favorite. The cerviche is wonderful as is the view. I also like La Choza. I need some grilled fish places. we are leaving Saturday.

              4 Replies
              1. re: BarbaraM48

                Best bet for the best grilled fish will be Sunday (family day for locals) at Palancar beach or San Francisco beach. Grilled redfish with the pebil trimmings (achiote, cebolla, chiles, tomatoes). Both areas are becoming extremely mercantile in warp-speed. The windward side (Bob's Marley, Playa Bonita, Coconuts) is currently being brought electrical service with federal assistance after hurricane Wilma. Get it while you can, the condos are coming.

                1. re: Veggo

                  For those of you familiar with La Choza Restaurant, does anyone know what that sauce is they serve with tortilla chips? It almost seems like a queso dip but it is much lighter and served room temp (but doesn't thicken). My girlfriend and I want to know how we could make it or even what it is- this dip was incredible.

                  1. re: sqza

                    hello sqza. I just got back from Cozumel this week and after staying there for the month of June, that also was one of my big questions! My Cozumeleno friend told me that the "queso dip" is actually...wait for it...Mayonaise and olive oil whipped together with chipotle peppers and some seasonings (salt and pepper?). Since I've been home, I have yet to find chipotle peppers in my local stores to chop up for it. Until then, I can't wait to try this concoction. I can't believe it's not cheese.

                    1. re: meechy

                      You shouldn't have difficulty locating La Costena or San Marcos canned chipotles in most grocery stores; 7-7.5 ounce cans. I can almost guarantee you will over do it on your first try. I am of the belief that a 7 ounce can of chipotles is all the back-up power a nuclear submarine needs under the polar ice cap for a few months.

              2. Just got back from a wonderful week in Cozumel. We stayed at an all inclusive but managed to have a few much-needed meals outside the resort. Had a light lunch between dives at the restaurant on Palancar beach. Fresh, large portions of guacamole and good chicken tacos but the service was particularly slow. As per chow suggestions, we tried La Choza for dinner. Our table shared the chicken mole, the chicken with spicy yucatan black sauce, and beef and chicken/shrimp fajitas. Although the mole was pretty tasty with an excellent bitter flavor, we found every dish to be extremely oversalted. The yucatan sauce was a salty, watery pool surrounding the chicken and the fajita meat seemed to be done with some sort of chile powder rub. Each meal came with a starter soup - either fish or chicken noodle. The chicken soup was decent and the fish soup slightly better. The restaurant had a nice, casual atmosphere and was packed by 7:30 with both locals and tourists (friday night).

                We had a memorable late lunch at Coconuts on the east side of the island. We started with the day's special, jalepeno poppers, which I found to be overly cream cheese,y but they're not really my thing. We had the chicken quesdillas (plate of 3), the conch ceviche, beef fajitas, and beef nachos. They also brought out an extremely hot salsa accompaniment. Excellent food, beautiful view on a cliff overlooking the ocean and delicious, strong margaritas.

                Definitely worth the trip.

                11 Replies
                1. re: foodio

                  Nice report on Coconuts. you probably noticed that concrete power poles are being set across the 24 KM media highway, which will improve restauturants' capabilities. (e.g. ice machines, but still no potable water on the windward side). But when the power is completed, the condo's will be next. Que lastima.

                  1. re: foodio

                    Just got back from the island yesterday. Coconuts and bob marley's are such american tourist traps. Menus in english, frozen shrimp, etc...Coconuts is NOT a hidden jem. (i don't consider something that had five signs, it's own dedicated parking lot and 3 guys outside waving you into the parking lot to be "hidden" Better off trying the fish place just south of coconuts that is on the beach and filled with natives. Excellent conch ceviche and grilled snapper.

                    1. re: hobokenhound

                      HH, that would be Playa Bonita. The windward side is not New Jersey, and tourism is their lifeblood. Shrimp are all from Veracruz and have been correctly frozen. Conch is fresh and is a wonderful local delicacy. For an area that does not yet have electricity, I think all 3 restos there do a great job. Coconuts is the only location on a 23 mile island that has an elevation above 17 feet, with a great view. I hope your trip was otherwise satisfactory.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        Certainly will agree about Coconute---nothing hidden and , in my opinion, certainly not a gem. If you like touriss only places, this may be for you. If you want to eat right on the beach and have the freshest seafood, go to the nearby Chen Rio. Here you wil find locals and tourists--and its packed with locals on Sunday.
                        Another favorite of my Mexican friends (so I go a couple of times a week) is Las Palmas. Lunch specials on the blackboard for 50 pesos or less as well as a large menu selection. All delicious.
                        For good prices and great tacos, pozole, guacamole, etc., another local favorite is Otates. Long hours here.

                        1. re: Bobczm

                          Las Palmas does my favorite breakfast before diving - huevos motulenos and a beautiful plate of fresh fruit. Do you remember the *original* Joe's Lobster?

                          1. re: Veggo

                            Does anyone know about a little place that serves fresh baked bread in every table and wondeful black beans with every entree? I went to this place 30 years ago and i still remember the flavor....maybe this sumer i´d go back if the restaurant is still there....

                            1. re: Veggo


                              Know anything about places to eat Costa Maya or Majahual? I'm hearing there are places along the beach but they sound a bit tourista, We're rebooking our cruise to Cozumel that got cancelled due to H1N1 and Costa Maya is also a port stop. Thanks.

                              1. re: crewsweeper

                                I wish I could be helpful with current info, I have not been to Majahual since everything there was totally destroyed by hurricane Dean in '07, including the ship dock. I understand it was rebuilt and reopened last winter.
                                Everything there is there to cater to cruise tourists, so yes, it will be touristy. Before the ship dock was built, not 100 people lived there. It is an unusually remote location for a port of call, and not within easy access to any archaeological destinations. It is not too far from Chetumal, the capital of Q. Roo, and there is fierce competition, jealousy, and political muscling to capture some of the cruise traffic that has been Cozumel's monopoly for years. The only other deep water port on the Yucatan mainland is Calica, just south of Playa del Carmen. If your ship stops there, there is a lot to do/eat on a short stopover.
                                You will find some snorkeling tours and beachfront restaurants for a good fish meal, for sure. And everything will be brand new! The forest canopy is gone, including all the old banyan trees. The almond trees (almendros) are the fastest to recover. I understand the Chinchorro reef fared OK. The Chinchorro reef is vast and is an incredible habitat for reef dwellers, so a fresh lobster meal or a boquinette should be easy to come by and quite delectible. I would target those two as the best local food. The reef is shallow for miles, and I shudder to think of the damage to come from the 22' deep ship channel that was cut through it, and how it will alter currents ant tidal changes.
                                Enjoy, and I wish I could be of more help.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Thanks. And I appreciate the travelogue info. The reef sounds fantastic.

                                  1. re: Veggo


                                    We were in Cozumel last week. Did Playa Bonita for lunch, as we were driving around the island. Great cerviche! Not there long enough to try Kintas. Next time, maybe.
                                    We were also in Costa Maya. I took a cab to Majahual and went to 100% Agave, which is one block west of the malecon just north of the soccer field. Small thatched courtyard type of place.
                                    Owner's name is Fernando. Nice guy. He has an extensive menu, with lots of seafood, but with his chips and fiery salsa rojo, I only had room for the taco lechon. With marinated red onoins, it was very good, just moist enough on its on. Also got to sample a couple of beers we don't get in the US, Leon Negra and Montenejo, a clara brewed in Yucatan, I think. Fernando has some excellent tequila which doesn't need lime or salt and should not be wasted in a margarita. If you're down there, stop in and tell him I said hello.


                                    1. re: crewsweeper

                                      I've been to Cozumel many times but learned of two restaurants from Chowhound that my husband and I just loved. El Turix, run by a woman (the cook) and her husband was just excellent. She creates Yucatan food in a home-like atmosphere. The restaurant is not downtown, but it's worth the walk or the short cab ride. (Calle 17 and Ave. 20 near a church and square.) The fresh fish was just wonderful. Her quesdadillas were the best I've ever had, altho this is not a typical Mexican restaurant. We ate there 3 times because we enjoyed it so much.
                                      The other restaurant I enjoyed that was recommended on Chowhound was Especias. It is located downtown - on Calle 3 Sur between Ave. 5 and 10. It is upstairs and there is a small balcony. The Thai shrimp was terrific. Everything here is also fresh and delicious.
                                      And if you want non-Mexican, our favorite is Chi - an Asian restaurant over-looking the water (you can sit out on their balcony) that is also on Calle 3 Sur but up a flight of stairs. The food is very fresh and the last time, 2/3/10, the Kong Pao Shrimp was terrific.

                      2. One more thing about El Turix - they are not always open, so it is best to call early in the day (987) 87 2 5234 to let them you want to eat there. Our hotel called them for us and there was no problem. And the big church the restaurant is near, is, I believe, San Cristobal. This restaurant is well worth the visit.