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Best of the Yucatan?

Hi all!
I am planning on visiting Cancun for a wedding...now Cancun is not my ideal vacation spot, so I'd like to spend 7 of my days eating my way through other parts of the Yucatan.

Do you guys mind giving your input on your favorite eateries or eating towns in the region? I have a stomach of steel so don't hold back on any hole-in-the-wall/roadside recommendations!

I'm planning on checking out Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Merida, Valladolid, maybe Belize (depends on time constraints)....and anything off the beaten track--if there's anything left.


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  1. There are a lot of active (and inactive) posts that cover everything south from Cancun- Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Pamuul, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal, Tulum, Bacalar. You can´t take a rental car into Belize. Eat Nopal is the unqualified expert on Merida and Campeche- he may chime in. Check the posts and follow up with add´l Qs. You can e-mail me at my profile address. I´m in Playa now and eating like a feral hog. I´ll only get to half of my favorite restaurants.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      thanks for the info...i just may harass you in the very near future

      1. re: Veggo

        Our Vancouver family of 5 are spending a couple weeks in P.Aventuras with grandparents. Would love suggestions for simple tasty local fare that are anywhere around P.A. to provide our 3 youngsters (and ourselves) some memorable flavour...<br>

      2. I vote for a day trip to Isla Mujeres! Take a taxi or city bus to Puerto Juarez ferry dock. Fare, last I knew was 70mp RT. Arrive in IM approx. 20 min. later, & eat your way around the entire Island. Picus is steps N from the dock, wonderfully fresh seafood. Venture in a bit to the downtown area & there are loads of places, Miguel's Moonlite(just love him), Cafe Cito, French Bistro. N of the dock there is Jax(more tex/mex), Sergio's Playa Sol,(beach food, but good). Rent a golf cart & go to the colonias & follow your nose, or get a cab & ask them where they would go. There are loads of new places since I last went 2 yrs. ago, but I will be there in May!!!

        1. Just back from 2 weeks in Tulum where we found some great food, though we had to search hard for it, even with some help from locals. Along the beach, we found a lot of mediocre, relatively expensive chow, so well worth the trip to town if eating is important to you. 3 places you really shouldn't miss!

          1. Oasis--Unfortunately, we did not find this place till the end of our stay, because it was sadly the only great seafood we encountered. But was it ever phenomenal! We started with octopus quesadillas and conch quesedillas. Then moved on to a couple of platters of shrimp in a delicious garlic sauce. Then a fisherman walked in with a couple of fish he had just caught, so we had one deep fried in oil, also with a garlic sauce. Just smelling it cooking we knew we were in for something special and were we ever. We all agreed it was the best fried fish we had ever had, and this coming from experienced travelers and a couple of food professionals. Oasis is hard to find, but worth the effort. Turn right at the second street after the 1st traffic circle and go back 5 blocks. Address--- Calle Tunkul. Tel 9841141818.

          2. Tacos al Pastor--The frenetic ambiance of this taco stand was as good as the food. The tacos that gave the restaurant its name are special. Pork spins on a vertically rotating spit (like a Gyro) with a pineapple above dripping into it as it cooks. The pork is sliced off and put on a tortilla which you take to the fixings bar. A deal at 8 pesos per taco. Try their empanadas and other great stuff. If you can, sit at the counter and watch the women in action. Pastor is on the main road, on the west side of the street near the Weary Traveler inn.

          Tacoqueto--The family that runs this comes from Chiapas and serves the cuisine of that region. It is definitely nothing fancy, but authentic, tasty, reasonably priced food. No menu--you just go look at the 5-6 pots they have on the stove and choose what you want. We had a great chicken mole, but our favorite was meatballs in a tomato-chipotle sauce. Comes with rice, beans, tortillas for about 35 pesos a plate. Located on the east side of the main road at the far (south end) under a palapa.


          3 Replies
            1. re: on the fork

              Had a fantastic lunch at Don Caffeto in Tulum. Sufficiently noisy, crowded, fast-paced, and authentic. The sopa azteca was very good, having just the right amount of spice and acidity (lime juice). In addition, the large bowl of pickled jalapenos, heads of garlic, carrots, and serranos were unbelievable as were the house-made tortilla chips. The chiles rellenos were light, fluffy, sufficiently spiced, and filling. I stayed at a local all-inclusive, but was 'jonesing' for a little culinary adventure, since the food at my resort was mostly mind and palate-numbing. It's on the ocean side of the street in Tulum Town proper near a Honda dealership.

              1. re: chefpels

                Your description of the food at Don Caffeto is lovely. Your description of its location is why I no longer live in Q. Roo. ( But I'm re-thinking Bacalar )

            2. If you get a chance to come to Mérida, you will find good eating! I have a blog on the subject at http://casualrestaurantcritic.blogspo...

              Happy eating!

              1. I highly recommend a trip down to Bacalar, on the way to beliz from Cancun. It is on a beautiful lake and is hardly touched by tourism, if at all. But they have some great food for such a small town. My all time favorite is tacos all pastore at Christians Taqueria, but for breakfast go to Chepe's, he is also the mayor and makes a mean sandwhich, i forget the name of it but it has pork that has been cooked for an entire day. Amazing, and you can buy it by the kilo on sunday morning at the market (show up early, it sells out by 8:30 am). Have fun, I love it down there.

                1. There's a very delicious restaurant in Tulum playa called Hechizo - husband/wife team of an Austrian chef and a Singaporean pastry chef who met working at a Ritz Carlton together. I had a delightful meal there last month - really, better than a lot of the restaurants in Mexico City. It is not Mexican food, although there are a lot of influences, and it is somewhat expensive. They are open December - June and you need reservations. Highly recommend.

                  1. In Valladolid, don't miss the Caldo Tlalpeño at El Meson (a hotel with a lovely restaurant). The best smoky, spicy chicken soup you'll ever have. Unless they've modified their recipe, the soup comes with a whole chipotle, so you have to be able to handle heat. But, ah, what a grand heat!

                    1. Must go to Isla Holbox!!! Can take a bus from Tizimin to Chiquila. Then a 20 minute ferry boat to Isla Holbox.
                      This is a totally secret undiscovered island, and the beach is probably the best in the world!!!I have found the best and most affordable place to stay is at GOLDEN PARADISE HOTELS. It’s really cool because they have 3 different kinds of places. Their BEACH hotel, I stayed at one night, and literally was like sleeping on the water, and saw the most amazing sunset of my life.
                      I also stayed at their campground in a tent for like 10 bucks a night, and this was awesome!! The biggest surprise, (I am used to hostels), was the HOT WATER!!! Super clean bathrooms with these really cool lights wrapped around the palm trees.
                      The service was awesome, and thank god they spoke English. The owners answered all my questions and even gave me a free tour around the island on their little golf cart!!!
                      I highly recommend Isla Holbox, and I highly recommend Golden Paradise Hotels.

                      1. when you're in merida, please do not pass up the opportunity to go to la carreta cubana. it's a bit off the beaten path, so you may just get in a taxi and ask the driver to take you. it's one of those classic places where you order a beer and they bring you a platter of free snacks. a delicious and improbably cheap way to sample the local fare. my old boss is from merida and she pointed me towards this place before my trip last summer, and i felt like i'd died and gone to culinary heaven... for the price of a beer (no more than $2) i'd filled up on yucatecan snacks! i'll try to find the address for you, but i bet you can google it.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: reina_de_fideo

                          I would have to disagree with the choice of Carreta Cubana - while it is popular, I think there are dozens of places that will give you a round of little snacking plates with your beer that are better than this place. Try Heladios, a veritable Merida institution with several locations including one at the beach in Progreso, instead. I reviewed the Carreta Cubana II: http://casualrestaurantcritic.blogspo...

                        2. Take the ferry to Isla Mujeres, enjoy Olivia Tastes From the Mediterranean, owned by a beautiful Israeli couple and wonderfully flavored dishes from their Grandmothers recipes. Meats, fish and salad with such unique flavors, you will love it. They are closed on Sun-Monday, open for dinner from 5-9:30. They also have a website so you can see the menu. www.oliviaislamujeres.com

                          1. http://www.akumalinfo.com/restaurant.htm

                            La Buena Vida is a hoot, with good food and great drinks. Sit on the swings at the bar, or climb up the palapa crow's nest for sweeping sunset views. Located in Akumal...it's all gooood!