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Cancun dinner recommendations

We've just booked a trip to Cancun for a 5 night stay at the ME by Melia in February. We plan to eat a few meals at their restaurants (Silk and Salt) and would appreciate recommendations on menu items at both of those places, as well as other restaurant recs in Cancun.
We don't plan to rent a car so we'll have to cab it to restaurants that aren't in walking distance, so please factor that in. Would appreciate anything from local dives to formal restaurants.
We honeymooned in Los Cabos and loved the authentic Mexican food there, and while I'm sure the local cuisine may differ on the east coast of Mexico, we hope we might be able to find some similar options. We're really not picky with cuisine though so if you have other recommendations, please share. Thanks!

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  1. well i can't really comment on cancun itself, as i stayed on isla mujeres(seemed like cancun was just a resort-like las vegas), but if you had a chance to get over to that island(which is amazing!) i'd highly recommend super taqueria on the main strip.

    1. I just spent a few days there right after new year's and I've been blogging about a few places (http://gourmettravel.blogspot.com/)...
      Cancun though is very touristy and very expensive, that's my main gripe about it :P
      I do recommend the food at La Destileria (across from Plaza Kukulkan, from hotel zone to here was $9 cab. I don't remember where the ME is, sorry).

      Also tried the Crab House and found it to be so so, kinda disappointing since they were out of their local crab (which was what was recommended to us)!!! I haven't blogged about it since I wasn't so excited about it.

      1. I'm sorry but I can't help but laugh at people who claim that Cancun is touristy. There's no question that cancun has its tourist traps and they're very big and obvious. My suggestion is forget the rental car, forget the cab, and except for one restaurant I say get the hell out of the Hotel Zone. Most of the places in and around the hotel zone are extremely americanized and very touristy, I suggest you take the bus down to el centro and just wander around, get lost and have some fun. Trust me the area is very safe, my cousin and I were wandering around at 3am down back alleys and we had no problems. One of the restaurants I really like in el centro is La Parilla, you'll have to get walking directions but it's very good, another good place for slightly cheaper is called El Pescador. The ONLY restaurant I recommend in the hotel zone is Captain's Cove, it's more expensive but extremely tasty and very good, I suggest the lobster enchiladas.

        3 Replies
        1. re: hungry_fox

          I agree, you must leave the hotel zone for good food. I learned this too late, after a handful of high priced mediocre meals I ate at La Parilla, it is the only restaraunt I can recommend. I was not impressed with Captains Cove. I had the Lobster Enchiladas and if it wasn't for the distinctive fishy/ iodine tast, I would swear they forgot to add the lobster. We also had some great fresh fish during a snorkeling tour on Isla Mujeres, but that was not really a restaraunt, you have to go on the tour. The snorkeling was $20 and the lunch was $5. By far the best deal we got on our vacation.

          You do not need a cab, take the bus for $0.65, its much more fun.

          1. re: hodgsond

            Hodgsond.. Do you happen to know the name of the snorkeling tour or who to contact for the tour on Isla Mujeres?


            1. re: amberiobrien

              They attack you like pirhannas as soon as you get off the boat. I rode the boat from Turtle Beach, I think? (Tortugas) I'm sorry I do not remember the name of the tour, but the office is in the same place as the boat dock.

        2. one restaurant i have never seen mentioned is a fish place in plazacarocol. ican't remember the name but it's good. we stay in the neighborhood and walk over a couple times during our stay. it is accessable from the lagoon side of the plaza, and also from the upper level inside.
          they always have fresh fish, prepared a number of ways, and sauced very lightly. the drinks
          are good , and the prices are fair. it's not a top place in the hotel zone, but very good just the
          same. i'm really bad with names but, this last year we found a place right in front, and across
          the parking lot from carocol; directly across the street from plaza la fiesta. it's an outdoor
          steakhouse serving choice US meat in an argentine style. i had a 10-12oz. filet with a very
          good chimichuri for $18 american. and great margaritas 2 for 1 for, i think, $5. again, just
          a place for the average joe. good food, fair price! have fun in cancun

          1. Hi Cancun has some very good restaurants I have been 8 times happy to share my favorites by food type.

            First I wll cover the steak house scene. Seems to be a huge influx the last few years in Cancun. The top 3

            Harry's ( http://www.harrys.com.mx ) It a very good steak house for Cancun similar to chains in the USA like Capital Grill etc. located across from the Ritz Carlton.

            Camblanche ( http://www.grupocambalache.com/cancun... ) This is an Argentiain themed steak house with a fairly large menu beyond just steak. I enjoy it while its not the best in Cancun for steak I have always enjoyed my meals here. It located at the Forum By The Sea Mall.

            Puerto Madero ( www.puertomaderocancun.com ) The same chain that owns Camblanche owns this place. Again an Argentiain them but modern and sleak inside with incredible sunset views of the lagoon. Steaks and seafood are top notch. This is my personal favorite in Cancun.

            Next Italian. Seems to be universal for restaurants all over the world. Cancun has some good places for Italian.

            La Madonna ( www.lamadonna.com.mx ) Located in La Isla Mall very good food with a dramtic decor. More of a tourist place but the location cant be beat.

            La Dolce Vita ( http://www.cancunitalianrestaurant.com ) Some people claim this is the best I didnt care for it however. I didnt dislike it I just have had better italian food in Cancun.

            Cennacolo ( http://www.cenacolo.com.mx ) In my honest opinion the best italian in Cancun beside Casa Ronaldi. Located in the Kuklucan mall.

            Casa Rolandi ( http://www.rolandi.com ) Locations around Cancun and surrounding area. VERY good food coming from New Endland and having endless italian restaurants (Federal Hill, Bostons North End) This rates highly.

            Finally Mexican and yucatan food.

            Labna ( http://www.labna.com/index.html ) Located downtown some of the best most traditional food in Cancun they have a sister restaurant owned by the same people La Habichuela ( http://www.lahabichuela.com/english/i... ) Both are excellent.

            La Destileria ( http://www.ladestileria.com.mx/cancun... ) If your looking for more traditional mexican. Not bad it is a chain but its good for what it does well and has a very good tequila selection.

            Thats most of the places in Cancun that I enjoy there are many many others I have eaten at (Club Grill @ the Ritz, Thai @ La Isla, MB @ Aqua) I hope they help and you have a great time in Cancun.

            1. Just wanted to report back to everyone...we had 5 dinners in Cancun:

              1. La Distilleria. We enjoyed the atmosphere and the monster margaritas. We also loved the quesadilla appetizer which we shared, however were not impressed by the main courses. I got a shrimp dish which was highly recommended by the waiter and they tasted like frozen shrimp which were thawed and sauteed. My husband got the chiken mole and found it to have a funny aftertaste (not like other mole we've had in the past).

              2. Thai: Fortunately we reserved a cabana and loved the intimacy and cozy atmosphere at this restaurant. The food was good, but definitely overpriced for the portion size. While I expect to pay more on vacation, especially in a more touristy area, I don't expect to pay more than twice what I pay at home. Our meal came to over 1000 pesos for thai food that is comparable to what I get in DC. Their signature drink (I forget the name of it but it's frozen with cocounut, pineapple, and strawberries) was excellent.

              3. La Habichuela: After reading a ton about this place on various boards and websites, I had high expectations. We loved the atmosphere of this place as we sat in the garden in oversized chairs. It reminded us of a place we went to on our honeymoon in Los Cabos. My ceviche appetizer was definitely the standout item here. It was a large portion and very flavorful and well-seasoned. My husband ordered conch chowder to start and expected it to be tomato-based and have a bit of a kick, like it does when we order it in Florida and Carribbean. Unfortunately his soup came out creamy and without a lot of conch in it. It was underwhelming and lacked flavor and texture. For entrees he got the Cocobichuela--their signature dish. The presentation was impressive and the seafood inside was flavorful. This was a huge portion! He enjoyed it, but still preferred my ceviche over it. I got the lobster-stuffed grouper in a guava sauce. Again, the waiter brought out a creamy sauce when I was expecting something fruitier. My fish was undercooked, so I ended up eating the lobster from the instide and left the remnants of the fish.

              4. Harrys: We went here with the advice of the concierge at the ME. This was our favorite meal of our time in Cancun, although it was also the most expensive. I started with 1 lb of stone crabs which was a larger portion than I expected. This was my husband's first time trying stone crabs and he thoroughly enjoyed them. While I'm used to Joe's stone crabs in Miami (with their delicious mustard sauce), I enjoyed eating these with some lemon and cocktail sauce. He started with the wedge salad, which was a gargantuan portion (he only finished half), but he thinks this was one of the best salads he's ever had (and he always gets this kind of salad--with the wedge of lettuce, blue cheese, tomatoes, and bacon--whenever a place has it on the menu). For entrees I got a grilled lobster tail. The presentation of this was beautiful and the flavor from the grill gave it a nice smokiness that I'm not used to with lobster. My husband got the New York Strip, which was perfectly cooked medium rare and equally tasty. For dessert we shared a smore's concoction which we couldn't finish after such a large meal. The restaurant finished off the meal by presenting us with a large portion of cotton candy. Oh, and I have to mention that their bread is to die for--but don't fill up on it too much or you won't have room for your meal!

              5. Cenacolo: Also highly recommended by our Concierge, this meal was quite tasty, however we had to move tables after about 5 minutes since we were initially seated by the window and our table was covered in ants (my gripe about this is that later on in the meal I found an ant on me and on my purse and pointed this out to the waiter and he still didn't do anything about it--no free wine, no free dessert--nothing. At a lunch at Casa de las Margaritas there was a piece of plastic in my soup and they apologized profusely and brought out a free dessert as well). Anyways...back to the meal. We started with their version of eggplant parmesan which was the best eggplant parm I've had. It was great because it wasn't deep fried or oily, and it was a single layer of eggplant, covered in their delicious sauce, and a layer of mozzerella. This was served in a long rectangular dish and was more than enough for us to share. My husband also got the minestrone soup (I guess he still had that craving for a tomato-based soup?) which was good, but we've both had better. For entrees he got the lasagna, which was served similar to the eggplant parm--In the long rectangular dish. I thought it was tasty but a bit too heavy for me to eat as my entire meal. In addition, I do prefer lasagna the classic way (with layer after layer of pasta, meat, and cheese). My entree was the "spaghetti" pastas with lobster. This was a long linguini-ish pasta with chunks of lobster meat served in a lobster tail. The sauce was a flavorful tomato-white wine sauce. I would definitely get this entree again as it was one of my favorite eats from our entire trip. We skipped dessert as none of them looked appealing and we were stuffed from the rest of our meal.

              1. I really enjoyed my dinner at Thai (located in Plaza La Isla). Try to book in advance so you can get the 2 top (there's only 1) directly over the water. You will feel like you are in Thailand far away

                1. We've just returned from Cancun and enjoyed one of the Best Meals and settings in our travels at Harry's located across from the Ritz. Beautiful Setting on the water and especially if you get a table on the outside deck overlooking the water and beautiful water fountains. The food is impeccable and the service is fantastic. We had several of their dishes present in our group. Besides the Steak, beautifully prepared and cooked perfectly. The Lamb was perfectly grilled. The Prawns were enormous and prepared on the grill with lobster slaw as a side dish. Thai Restaurant located in the La Isla Shopping Center, was also a beautiful restaurant that specialized in Thai Food.
                  Be sure to ask for one of the Cabanas on the water. Unforgetable setting.