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Apr 5, 2010 09:21 PM

Tulum, Tankah, and Playa report

Just back from Tulum. Here's the update:

1. Best new find for location (and fish): Chamica on the beach at Solomon's bay (aka Tankah 4, few minutes north of Tulum pueblo, turn to the beach at the Oscar Y Lalo sign. When you get to the guard shack, tell them you're going to Chamica and they'll let you through. It's at the very end of the road, right on the beach.) They do an excellent fried boquineta (fried pescado entero, 150 pesos). Best I've ever had, not greasy, includes rice and beans and green salad and tortilla. I recommend getting there when it's still daylight to enjoy the beach view. It's just a small wood shack on the sand. Excellent fish and excellent ambiance!

2. Best food for the pork lover: Taqueria Tony (aka the cochinita pibil guy next to the bus station) We just had Easter brunch at Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc restaurant in Yountville, where they were serving pulled pork. Tony beats Keller hands down! Basically, he cooks pork wrapped in banana leaves in the ground early in the morning. The restaurant opens at 6am and he usually runs out at noon-1pm. He also has chicken , but we didn't get any as he was already out. Tacos are 60 pesos, garnished with homemade pickled onions if you want. To find the restaurant, look for the Ado bus station in downtown Tulum on the inland side of the road. Tony is immediately next to the station on the right side. The 'restaurant' is 5 feet wide. Unbelievable! Don't miss it.

3. Los Pepes is still excellent for local style 'Mexican' food. Don't expect enchiladas, that isn't Yucatan style. I usually get the fried boquineta, 150 pesos. Excellent (but not quite as good as Chamica on my visits). However, still highly recommended! Nice guys, no tourists. It's located one block off the main street, heading inland, just past the large panaderia.

4. In Playa: We went to Nativo which is kitty corner to the Mega store on Constitution (it's actually on the street which is perpendicular to Constitution). We had steak tacos with green salad on the side (75-ish pesos) and large smoothies from fresh fruit. Superb! Also locals, no tourists. This place was recommended by one of the local lawyers. It's across the street from a good local market (and the Mega is good for a big-box store).

In Tulum town, we also tried La Nave (Italian/pizza) which was decent and Da Gigi (Italian) which was so-so. Also tried the ice cream shop at the end of the main street on the left which I thought was a bit too sweet and somewhat flavorless, but still good in a pinch. They have flavors like sweet corn and hazelnut! I'm not a big fan of Don Cafeto or Charlie's, but we didn't go this trip. We also didn't go to any 'fancy' places like Cetli, Tabano, Hechizo. It doesn't seem like the place for fancy!


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  1. Nice report. Boquinette are my favorite also, but they are small this spring. I had one last week in Akumal at Cueva del Pescador with their crunchy ajo sauce, and a big plate of conch ceviche, and he would not charge me for the fish. They are vegetarian reef cleaners as you probably know, and they struggled through an unusually cool winter, too. Hopefully they will fatten up this summer.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Veggo


      What's the story on Oasis? Is it out of business? Or did Jaime just leave? Where, which place in Costa Maya/Majahual did he land at?

      1. re: crewsweeper

        Oasis is closed. Jaime sold the restaurant and a very favorable long term lease he held over a year ago, and the restaurant seemed to be doing fine for a good while. I expect there is a more intense real estate project contemplated for that location. The Muralla property nearby just sold for an eye-popping price. Jaime moved to Paamul for a while, which can support only one restaurant even though it seems to burn down every 5 years, then to Majahual after hurricane Wilma destroyed everything there, including the ship dock. I was told his resto is near the rebuilt dock and is only operational while cruise ships are in port (as you know, there really is no local market there.) My friend could not recall the name of Jaime's new place.

          1. re: Veggo

            Jaime's new place in Majahual is called Nohoch Kay. It's along the boardwalk, and it's wonderful! It gets very crowded when the cruise ships are in port which is mostly during the week. So go on the weekend if possible. I'll be there next weekend! :)

            1. re: LibbyEnPlaya

              Excellent! He's a good fella, and has been a friend for 15 years, please tell him Hello from Veggo.He is very skillful at developing relationships with local fishermen and I'm sure he is getting the best of the catch.

              1. re: Veggo

                Oops, I just realized this thread is a year old. I saw April and assumed it was recent. Aynway, I will tell Jaime you say hello. When we were there last August, he got some excellent lobster in. It was delish!

                1. re: LibbyEnPlaya

                  Tell him Veggo is buying you a beer and I will straighten out with him when I see him next. I guarantee you will get the beer, along with his signature Cheshire Cat grin.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    Veggo..we're heading down again in June. The place is booming from what I gather. As he books excursions that are somewhat AI. We'll be the only ship in port so should be able to swing by.


      2. Thanks for the report!
        I'm headed to Tulum in June and all of the above are duly noted.
        Especially Taqueria Tony - which sounds amazing!


        13 Replies
        1. re: NellyNel

          Enjoy yourself! Don't forget the sun block! The tequila makes it hard to feel the burn!

          1. re: JojoSF

            This is GREAT!
            Do you know if Chamica serves food all day or if they are closed on any particular day?
            It seems that whenever we'd pull ourselves off the beach in Tulum and drive into town to the Oasis, it was closed. I think we had terrible timing; might have always been on a Wed when they were closed and now they are really closed! So, I don't want this to happen to us when we try Chamica.

            1. re: pepper131

              This is to correct a misunderstanding - the Oasis restaurant discussed above as being closed is the one that was in Playa del Carmen, not Tulum.
              Tulum in June is very slow because of the heat and the general lack of AC there, and some restos will scale back for the lack of tourism through the summer, but I can't speak to the plans of Oasis there, or any other restaurant.

              1. re: Veggo

                Thank you for the correction. We'll keep trying to catch Oasis in Tulum.

              2. re: pepper131

                Sorry for the delay. I just checked back into the thread. I wasn't at Chamica in the middle of the day, it was about 430pm. However, it had the appearance of being open all day and there was one small bare lightbulb hanging over our table for dining after dark. It's a sweet little place on a pretty beach. Just a few tables. It looked like they might have snorkels and kayaks to rent.

              3. re: JojoSF


                I leave in a week and have just printed your report.
                My mouth is already watering for Tony's!

                I am absolutely not going to miss it!!

                Thanks again!

                Oh yeah - looking forward to those shots of Tequlia as well!!

                1. re: NellyNel

                  Jojo - if you see this - can you tell me if I will be able to find Tony's or the Ado bus station easily?
                  I am lloking at a few maps but don't see the bus station...

                  Is the restaurants Charlies near it?
                  I saw something that said Charlies was across from the "bus station"...but who knows how many bus stations there are??

                  Last year I had a nightmare experience trying to find El Folon in Playa with my hubby - i dragged him all over and he was ready to kill me...Which we never did find!! :(..................I can't risk another wild goose chase!!! ..but I have to have the Pibil!!!!....Help........!!!

                  1. re: NellyNel

                    El Fogon has 3 locations: 30th ave. between 4&6 st across from the Mega, 30th ave between 32& 34th st (about 4 blocks north of Constituentes, on the right, and the original), and a newer on Constituentes near 30 ave. If you like lechon, look for the blue tarp in mornings at 30 & 30, SW corner.
                    The Ado bus station in Tulum is about 3 blocks west of 307 in the smallish "downtown" south of the highway to Vallodolid. The streets are not well marked but the blocks are short. Kind of a ratty area.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      Thanks so much Veggo!

                      I can't tell you how many different directions we were getting from everyone, and I think that was the problem - people were giving us conflicting directions because they were each thinking of different locations.
                      It was a disaster and hubby wanted to kill me. We ended up having a less than stellar meal at Yaxche.
                      (but nothing else was going to do for me at that point. all I wanted was Al Pastor...)
                      Lechon sounds wonderful!
                      When you say "blue tarp" - what on earth do you mean?!
                      Does the guy set up a blue tarp where he sells pork?

                      I'm sorry to be a pain - but - would you know if either of these is closes to Don Cafeto's?
                      I ask because we want to go watch Mexico play in the World Cup in Tulum, and someone suggested DC's to see the games because they are open for B'fast & will def have the game on.
                      The game starts at 9:00 so we will be done and ready to roam the town a bit by 11:30. Do you think it's feasible for us to get to Tony's and/or the lechon guy?

                      Any thoughts or other suggestions for the game would be ever so appreciated!!
                      We are actually stayin in Xpuha, not Tulum and I reckon this will be the only morning that will be spent in Tulum.

                      1. re: NellyNel

                        The lechon guy sets up his roast piglet under a blue tarp most days on the vacant lot about 7:00 AM and stays only until it's gone - usually by 11. Tortas with lechon, chicharron and habanero sauce are 15 pesos- such a deal and so delicious. One of the El Fogon's is just 2 blocks further north, on the east side of 30 ave. Pastorcito, across from that El Fogon, serves my favorite al pastor. It comes with a bit of pineapple and there is an option with cheese that is very rich and delicious. Their frijoles charros are excellent but it is too hot now to be eating hot food.
                        Speaking of hot, a sports bar in Playa that should have the game and is air conditioned is La Taberna at 10th ave and 4th st. They do a great shrimp dish in a molcajete with green onions draped over the sides. I assume numerous places with TV's will open early to show the game. Very few are air conditioned.
                        Xpu-Ha is about 20 minutes south of PDC, about 15 minutes north of Tulum. It's a lovely bay, and surely the hotels and all-inclusives there will air the game.

                        1. re: Veggo

                          Gosh Veggo - and thanks so much!

                          Sorry I am confused - so the lechon guy is in PDC? Not Tulum - correct?

                          Pastorcito sounds great, lechon sounds great - AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!

                          I assume our hotel will have the games on, but we thought we'd get more atmosphere (especially for the Mexico game and the England game) if we went to Tulum or PDC.
                          I do like the idea of watching the game in AC - so thanks for that suggestion !!!

                          I appreciate all of your advice actually and am printing this out now!


                          1. re: NellyNel

                            To confirm, lechon guy is PDC, 30& 30. His summer schedule may be Thurs. through Sun. mornings.
                            Let's hope that by game time those in the stadium will have tired of blowing those freakin' vuvuzela horns!

                            1. re: Veggo


                              I couldnt stand it and had to turn off the US/England game!
                              Hopefully in a crowded bar it won't be noticible!!

                              Thank you!
                              UGH - we qwere going to go to Tulum for Mexico's game (Tues) and PDC for Englands game (Wed)
                              So most likely won't be in PDC for lechon! DRATS!!!!!

                              But I will be damned if I don't get to Pastorcito for some Al Pastor!!!

            2. We just returned from a 6 day visit to Tulum and I want to thank the original poster for the number one tip...Chamica (or was it Chamico?) was one of our best experiences there. We followed the directions and thought we had made a mistake when we reached the end of the road, but thankfully we kept going and pulled into the parking "lot", Wow Jojo, you were spot on...what ambiance! We lucked out with a beautiful sunny day that was perfect for a couple of sols in the sun. We were the only people on the beach (and the only customers there). We had the fried boquineta as you recommended - it was just as described - and the BEST Ceviche we've EVER had - lobster, conch (and some other shellfish that we couldn't figure out, some kind of fish (ditto), tomatoes, cilantro...and magic. What a find! Gracias - we never would have found such a gem on our own. Just perfect!

              1 Reply
              1. re: sistereurope

                The photo says it all. What a great one!