This is a cut and paste from a pre-Hurricane post, so not sure if it still applies, but:
For authentic Mexican - You really have to go to downtown Cancun. Not much on the hotel strip, but try JC Capitan - it's hidden away on the lagoon side, south, near the El Manglar marina. It's a small, thatch-roofed hut. I always order the fresh grilled fish just off the boats. Try the mero (grouper). In Downtown Cancun, El Cejas in Mercado 28 serves great ceviche, empanadas, cockteles, and grilled seafood. The langoustines à la plancha are excellent. Only open during the day. There's another similar restaurant in the market recommended by a local that he said was just as good, less well-known and so less expensive, but we wandered around and never found it. Another recommendation that we haven't got to yet for authentic eats were the cantinas around the bullfight arena, and the vendors after sundown at Parque de Palapas (a park in downtown cancun where locals meet to listen to live music).
In the touristy Hotel Zone, the closest we came to traditional Mexican (good tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, ceviche) is La Placita. Friendly service, good margaritas, and great sunsets (on the lagoon side).
Upscale - Our favorite restaurant is Puerto Madero on the Hotel Zone, where we eat every time we go to Cancun. I'd suggest reservations. It's an Argentinean steak house and seafood restaurant. Two dishes I always order are Camarones a la Guajillo (sizzling shrimp in a cazuela with garlic, guajillo peppers, and orange rind) or a similar dish (forget what it's called) made with shrimp and octopus. You also can't go wrong with the fresh-caught fish of the day just simply grilled with garlic and oil. Obviously they have great steaks too, excellent tableside Caesar salads (which were invented in Mexico), and a nice wine list. Beautiful restaurant on the lagoon overlooking a marina.. Nice sunset views too and beautiful outdoor eating area. A little info at link below.
For a splurge - you can't beat the Club Grill Jazz and Supper Club at the Ritz-Carlton. Three fantastic meals. Also had a very nice meal at Laguna Grill.
Hope this helps, but again, we haven't been back recently.
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