Cancun - High-End and Down-and-Dirty
My wife and I are heading to Cancun for a week next month and I would love to sample some of the best high-end places and local gems.
First off, I realize that we are not going to the epi-center of the culinary universe so I am prepared for what high-end means down there. Nevertheless, I'd love some recommendations on good restaurants in the hotel zone, at any hotels or on the main drives. Steakhouses, seafood, regional flavors from around the world...nothing is off limits and price does not matter.
Second, I am hoping some folks have had some success with smaller, local regional food as well. Again, I realize this region will probably not outdue other spots in Mexico but there must be a few places that have good,authentic food.
Thanks for the help
Actually Cancun has some great places to eat. You might have to excuse the spelling, but two places I would recommend are La Distilerilla (sit outside if you can) and my favorite for ambience is La Palapa (something). Just tell the cab drive it's La Palapa and its a tiny restaurant that sits on a dock over the lagoon. You have to go through a dumpy motel to get to it. It sits right on the lagoon is completly outdoors, and the owner goes to the fish market every morning and then decides what the menu will be based on what he buys. Pericos is a fun, goofy kind of place with non stop entertainment and action. The food is average but if you are in a silly mood, go there. I will have to get the name of another place as I don't have a clue how to spell it. I will try phonetically. La es sway la. It's the favorite of most of the ladies. For upscale, the is a fantastic steakhouse that will serve you more food than you can eat. It's an Argentinean steakhouse named Cambalache, but personally, I'd go for the suckling pig. They also have a Ruth Chris, but you can get that in the states. Try any of these, you won't go wrong.
Super Carne on Coba for great arrachera prepared by those who know how to do it, los regios.
El Asador, El Poblano or Los Arcos on Yaxchilan for straight up tacos, tacos al pastor, gringas, and 2 for 1 beer.
El Timon Jarocho on Lopez Portillo for seafood.
Emaro in Mercado 28 for Yucatecan antojitos.
The stand run by the women outside the bus station for great tacos in the morning.
The little Mayan man next to the ladies for freshly squeezed orange juice for 10 pesos and a huge fruit plate for 12 pesos.
These are, of course, all low end places. All food authentically prepared by authentic Mexicans.
And don't forget, Cancun is made up of people from all over the country and those who migrate there bring their culinary traditions with them. The Yucatec Maya were the first to migrate there and have, in my opinion, one of the more distinct cusines of Mexico though you can find restaurants all over Cancun that reflect the regions from which migrants came. It's a city of almost one million Mexicans and Mexicans like to eat out too!
Or El Fish Frittanga.
One of our favorites is La Habichuela, which is located in downtown Cancun (as opposed to the Hotel Zone). We've eaten there 3 times and have thoroughly enjoyed it each time. If you try it, make reservations and ask to sit outside in the garden, which is lit by little white lights strung through the trees...its really very nice. You can visit them at www.lahabichuela.com
I just got back from Cancun a few weeks ago. Here's my review of the restaurants I visited...
La Habichuela (Caribbean) – I was disappointed with the food, as I had heard great reviews about it. I ordered the Paradise Ceviche and their specialty, Cocobichuela. The ceviche was bland, and the Cocobichuela’s lobster, shrimp and little rice was drowning in the coconut curry sauce, which was too sweet.
Laguna Grill (Seafood) – I loved this restaurant. We ordered the shrimp tacos appetizer, which was fried but not greasy. I also ordered the Grilled Chicken with Lobster Satays in Light Honey and Lime Sauce. The chicken breast was extremely tender and sauce, which was similar to terriyaki, was tasty. The lobster was perfectly cooked, which is difficult to do, as grilled lobster can be easily overcooked.
La Madonna (Italian) – Beautiful, dramatic interior that was both modern and gothic! The Caesar salad was tasty and made tableside. I also ordered their Linguini Frutti di Mare, which was not the best but satisfying.
Cenacolo (Italian) – The salmon carpaccio was mediocre but I’ve never had such tender, tasty calamari as I did here! It had a slightly sweet balsamic flavor and broiled, not fried. I also ordered the spinach salad and a seafood pasta dish, both tasty. Overall, I enjoyed the flavors, ambiance and service.
Mikado (Japanese/Thai) – I ordered a Thai fried fish with vegetables and rice. The fish was crispy and moist. The sauce was tasty but extremely spicy.
If you don't mind a half hour ferry ride head to Isla Mujeres before lunch and return after dinner. Do a search for Isla Mujeres restaurants.
My recommendation: lunch a La Lomita for the best chile rellenos and frijole sopa and maybe Olivia, Mediterranean, for dinner. There also a number of super fresh seafood restaurant along the street where the ferry docks.
I'm guessing you might go back to Isla later in the week for a couple of more meals.