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Merida? Worth the trip or not?

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Le wife and I are going to Playa del Carmen on Thursday of this week and are only staying for 3 nights. We are adventurous and are considering taking a trip for one night to Merida to experience the food and cultural offering of Merida but not sure if we want to make the drive? Can anyone offer some advice as to whether or not we should make the trip? recos on food?

We have both been to playa del carmen before and know what to expect when we get there.

Also is it safe to make the drive on our own? We rented a car but can easily change reservations.

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  1. The roads are straight and flat in the Yucatan, you should be good to go on the driving part. As long as you're not trying to do a lot of driving at night, especially late at night, you should be okay to drive.

    My experience in February was that the food was hit or miss. The best meal we had was at Local 3 -http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/772904 orhttp://yucatantoday.com/en/topics/restaurant-month-local-3

    If you haven't been to Merida it is worth a day-trip. It's a charming colonial city.

    6 Replies
    1. re: DiningDiva

      Oh, and do stop by Valladolid if you can. Since it's about at the halfway point it makes a nice break. They have a cenote there, and I still dream of the Caldo Tlalpeno at the restaurant in the El Meson del Marques hotel.

      1. re: PegS

        Agree with Peg S, Valladolid is a nice stop. Los Frailes, one of the restaurants in Valladolid, is wonderful. They've got a grilled watermelon and panela cheese appetizer that is great. Sounds weird and you really have to try it to "get" it. Every fish dish we had at Los Frailes was well done and their passionfruit ice cream is devine. And made from the fruit that comes off their own vines. Valladolid is close to Chichen Itza.Plus Casa de Venados, a love affair to Mexican folk art, and the church located on the outskirts of town are also worth visiting when in the area.

      2. re: DiningDiva

        I am more concerned with drive bc of the press re gangs in Mexico. Any experience with a threatening situation?

        1. re: FoodExpression

          FE, I'm pretty sure you will not be harrassed by, or experience gang or cartel related violencia. It would be unrealistic of me to suggest that the cartels are not present and conducting business in the Yucatan, as they are. But, the Yucatan is one of the Mexican states with the lowest rates of cartel related violence. If you are driving durning the day on main highways you should be okay. You may (or may not depending on your route) pass through a military check point and while those tend to be a bit unsettling to we Americans, you're not the target.

          In Feb. of this year we passed check point on the border between Yucatan and Campeche and then again going into Merida. The Merida check point was temporary as it was the day before Carnival started and they were just taking extra precautions. I understand your reservations about driving and ultimately it's your decision to make but I do know how you feel. I had to drive across the border into Tijuana last Saturday and I had a few moments of apprehension. But once over and driving throught he city, it really was just like driving at home (except with more pot holes and topes ) Good luck and enjoy your visit

          1. re: DiningDiva

            What about the market in Merida? Ive heard great things about the food there so we are planning maybe a lunch there one day.

            1. re: FoodExpression

              I had lunch in the market one day and was totally underwhelmed...your mileage may vary.

              I didn't think the market in Merida was nearly as vibrant as in other cities.

      3. Merida is one of the most lovely towns in Mexico!
        It has become a restaurant destination and worth the trip.
        Good magazine article on the town....Departures and another magazine recently featured Merida.
        If that's not enough.....the 'Father of California Cuisine', Jeremiah Tower, lives there!
        Gordon

        1. It's a long drive from Cancun to Merida on the cuota road, straight as a string and not exciting. Vallodolid is a good spot for a break. If you have not been to Chichen Itza, I would recommend only going that far, and stay at Mayaland. If you go to Merida, it's the best spot for buying sisal hammocks and guayabera cotton wedding shirts. There is a ruin with a mini- pyramid a short, tree-lined drive to the north, called Dzibilchaltun.

          The Yucatan remains the safest part of Mexico, and the road is good, although I would avoid night driving. You could return on the Coba road from Vallodolid to Tulum, then back up 307. Coba is pretty neat, also.

          You might consider heading there right from the airport in Cancun, save a little time. Depends when you arrive. Personally, I wouldn't trade a day/night in Playa for a night in Merida, with all the travel involved. Chichen Itza? Yes. And Coba can be a leisurely day trip from Playa.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Veggo

            Yes. you should definitely go to Merida. It is very popular with Italians and has very good Italian food, funnily enough! They have a lovely museum on Paseo de Montejo and a good market to visit too. The Gran and Caribe Hotels are right off the main Zocolo - I have stayed at both and can recommend same.

            1. re: bronwen

              I LOVE Merida, and the drive with stops in not only Vallodolid, but also Izamal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Izamal which is a yellow city. Follow link, look at pictures, fall in love.

              The slow route is very slow, but you see real Mexican towns. The fast route is fast and pricey (I think 80 bucks for toll road) and apparently it gets so hot and fast you see a lot of blown tires.

              Merida downtown is a cozy, welcoming and lovely as any place on earth. It's also one of the safest cities in mexico. Be sure to go for a day trip to Uxmal... less crowded and significantly more beautiful than Chitzen Itza.

              You can tell I love it.

              My only issue is the local fare varies from awesome to scarey. Because of dutch settlers, there is this dish that is a stuffed gouda cheese with ground beef and raisins... shudder. But there is always Cochinita Pibil to cheer you up!

              I have not found an awesome place to eat in Merida proper though. Frida's was good, but I think it's gone down hill. Ideas?