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Feb 27, 2007 06:01 PM

Cozumel eats

Can someone recommend a couple good non-touristy places to eat in Cozumel. We'll only be there for a day. Thanks.

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  1. Did you happen to find anything worth trying in Cozumel?

    7 Replies
    1. re: h2o

      As someone who has travelled extensively in Mexico I have to be brutally frank that I do not think there is any outstanding restaurant in Cozumel. I'd love to hear of one if there is!

      1. re: bronwen

        I have spent over 100 nights in Cozumel on dive trips over the last 19 years, and I eat quite well there. The poster's request for "non-touristy" is almost impossible because everything is tourist driven. A few of my favorites:
        La Choza- avenida 10, 1 block s. of the square. Good mole, seafood, soups. Very authentic, broad menu, daily comida for locals, too. Chairs are upright and not conducive to lingering/drinking, so I eat a good meal and run.
        Plaza Leza, on the middle of the s side of the square in San Miguel. Very comfy chairs for slurping margaritas (they squeeze limes all through the day- no mix). Very good caracol al mojo de ajo (grilled conch with garlic), queso fundito. Excellent spot for people watching and repartee with other divers.
        Las Palmeras- freestand building on the malecon by the dock. killer breakfast- huevos motulenos, tocina, fruit plates you want to photograph, fresh juices.
        Bob's Marley Bar (sic) -palapa bar just past the southern lighthouse on the windward side. Best conch ceviche anywhere. No electricity on that part of the island, but they lug everything in every morning with lots of ice. Palapa tables in the sand right in front of spectacualr waves crashing on the ironstone, with enormous energy and beauty. Shaded hammocks for the slothful. (often me), and snappy service.
        San Francisco beach- about 8 kilometers s of San Miguel- whole grilled fish Yucatec style is a delicious thing of beauty. Weekends one will observe tables of locals feasting on a platter holding a 2 foot redfish with all the trimmings.
        The old timers miss the original "Joe's Lobster" which morphed from resto to live-music nightclub while you ate garlicy tails and baked potatoes.
        The good old days were very good, but it's certainly good enough for me to return- tomorrow! (Blue Bubble no trouble)

        1. re: Veggo

          Thanks so much. We're only there for a day but will try out a few places. Can't wait for ceviche on the beach!

          1. re: h2o

            I returned from Mexico yesterday. The conch ceviche at Bob's Marley Bar is as good as ever. Wilma took away a lot of sand, so you have to wear shoes. But the sand always comes back.
            A couple having lunch near me was enjoying a grilled dorado from the morning catch that could hardly fit on the dinner plate.

        2. re: bronwen

          La Cocay do not know the address but it is the finest and is off the beaten path. owned by two Americans and the food has always been very good when I have been. All of the others are generally.........well you get the point. Beach restaurants and the like are not my speed........ THE wineman

          1. re: wineman1

            La Cocay relocated to calle 8 norte between avenidas 10 &15. Graceful dining (not mexican), french Canadian proprietors. 10 minute walk from the square in San Miguel.

            1. re: Veggo

              Darn Veggo Your a helpful guy but Kathy and Gary Klien are from New York........Stephan who used to own La Cocay was from Canada but that was at least four years ago when it changed hands......and they have added some Mexican twists to their menu.......still I believe the best restaurant in Cozumel. Wineman

      2. Veggo - by posting you have definitely made my wife and I happier (we are going to Cozumel with extended family). Is there anything else in Cozumel that scares off tourists but locals love? thanks again.

        6 Replies
        1. re: c4saunders

          What a kind comment- you have brightened my day. I will never have a tenth of the knowledge of Mexico that Eat Nopal and Cristina have, but Mexico has had my love and loyalty for a long, long time.
          Have a wonderful vacation.

          1. re: Veggo

            La Cocay sounds like a must and the recs are wonderful. I am curious what you recommend if you crave some local flavor with refrieds and such????

            1. re: mommy3esq

              La Choza for authentic Mexican is the best I know of within an easy walk from the square in San Miguel. It predates my 19 years as a guest. And we are at last approaching the cooler (?) season when hot fish soups and caldos are practical, and they do them well.

              1. re: Veggo

                Perfect - We'll definitely hit La Choza for fish soup and authentic cooking. We do appreciate the guidance!

              2. re: mommy3esq

                FYI... if you want local flavor you will NOT be having refrieds. Black Beans (a particular native variety) are the norm in the Yucatan... they are typically served soupy or as a strained paste... and the best tend to have a citrusy / smokey flavor in them (I have been told some cooks add a bit of Sour Orange & Roasted Garlic to them).

                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  A bowl of frijoles charros at El Pastorcito in Playa del Carmen, (30th ave, 3 blocks north of Constituentes) is a meal in itself on a cool day. Piping hot, with smoky bits of bacon, ham, and pork, with black beans, onion, and diced chili's. EN has me hoping I catch a cool day there next month.
                  The strained paste is sometimes a breakfast side dish, with a little crumbled cojito cheese. A little fresh habanero sauce really perks it up. The paste is essential to huevos motulenos and rancheros in the region.

          2. We just got back from a week spent on the island of Cozumel... And from a foodie's perspective, there is indeed much tasty food to eat there!

            We were led to many of these places by this webpage:

            Note: Some of the eateries no longer exist. But don't fret, we have tasted enough of these places to give you a low down of where to eat!

            La Choza:
            Out of all the restaurants recommended, the place to most likely encounter turistas from the cruise ships. It's incredibly jarring to hear gringo tourists cockily ordering fajitas (!!!), but despite it, it's got a great ambiance and the best limonada (limeade) I had while our stay (fresh, bright, lively, and not too sweet!) We had the chicken mole and the stewed pork... yum.

            Lobster House:
            Lobster isn't my favorite food, but oh my god! The lobster is so incredibly fresh and tasty that I almost didn't mind that it was served with melted margarine, the buttery spread readily available on the island. Actually, it was the best lobster I ever had. They keep the tails on a bed of ice by the matronly cook. You pick a piece and it gets weighed, and voila!, the price of dinner is calculated.

            After day 5 of eating Mexican food, I was becoming a little weary of the diet of tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime, and fried corn chips. Manati's was a welcome change of pace. More cosmopolitan fare, the seafood pasta was astoundingly delicious. I had ordered the garlic shrimp, initially turned off by the thought of seafood in a cream sauce, but I ended up devouring half of my spouse's plate. I normally think of cream sauce when the weather is cold and the air chilly, but even in the evening's humid warmth, the cream sauce was light and perfectly highlighted the fresh seafood from the island.

            I also recommend their chocolate torte. It uses Mexican chocolate which has a depth that I
            really loved.

            Santa Carlos:
            THE BEST FOOD ON THE ISLAND! So good we went there twice.

            Difficult to find, but well worth the search. Total local hang out. We had to walk through the kitchen to get to the dining area in back. Right from the street you can see the kitchen replete with the headless body of the snapper just caught that morning. Among the best cooked fish I have ever had in my life.

            Instead of chips and salsa, they bring you chips and a little of their fish ceviche. Now having had a lot of ceviche that week, I can tell you, the proportion of the basic ingredients of lime, onion, tomatoes, and cilantro makes a lot of difference. Their ceviche was so amazing, we could have just eaten that and left happy. But we also had the breaded fried fish (my spouses favorite) and I had the grilled fish. It was so good, I had to go into the kitchen to find out how the hell they made the dish. And like I said, we went back and ate there as one of our last meals on the island.

            Hope this helps!

            3 Replies
            1. re: m_and_a

              Can you provide your best street/avenue coordinates or nearby landmarks for Santa Carlos? Gracias.
              EDIT: I found it on line; avenida 50 entre calles 3 y 5. Definitely beyond walking distance for the cruise shippers. I look forward to checking it out.

              1. re: m_and_a

                Thank you everyone for the tips! We had two wonderful meals on Cozumel that were a welcome change from cruise-ship food. I was happy that despite being a 100% tourism place, Cozumel is still Mexico if you ignore places like Senor Frogs.

                We ate dinner at La Choza and loved the sopa azteca, shrimp a la veracruzana (so huge and full of flavor), and chicken mole poblano. Unfortunately they were out of the yucatecan black sauce that night. The margaritas were huge, powerful and delicious.

                This was Feb 1, 2008...we were confused and couldn't find Bob's Marley Bar. I assume that it is now called Rasta Bar, very close to the entrance to Punta Sur? Anyway, for lunch we drove maybe ten miles further up the east coast of the island (gorgeous) and stopped at the Playa Bonita restaurant (a small group of palapas, cocktail menu painted high on the inside walls) where we had fantastic ceviche mixto, everything fresh and perfect, the best Mexican ceviche I have had (sweet sweet conch, squid, fish, shrimp). The grilled shrimp with garlic were awesome, too. Love Superior beer! I miss Mexico. Must return soon!!!

              2. I don't even normally post on this site, but just wanted to say that we just spent seven nights in Cozumel -- five of them at an incredibly tasty taco place called Machete (5 Ave Sur.) They haven't been open long, but they have sublime tacos (I recommend the pastorcita, which includes both pork AND ham) and guacamole, and the nicest waiters on earth. Go! I cannot recommend them enough.