In quest of good eats...
Wife & I routinely try to get out of Indiana for a few days in early February, heading for warmer climes. Our ideal destination offers both diverse outdoors opportunities (hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, etc.) and great food.
We've tried Playa del Carmen/Cancun/Cozumel and found that's just not our thing. Went all-inclusive, but still ended up going into town for dinner every night only to find nothing inspiring, or even memorable. Not Mexico, we've spent time on Ambergris Caye - Belize. OK, but not enough to want to go back. Old town Puerto Vallarta's restaurants were much more to our liking, everything from the shrimp huts on the beach to fine dining. Should nothing else evolve, we'll gladly try PV again.
Know it's a rather broad inquiry, but would love to learn of other Mexican destinations we should consider exploring, with good eats being a primary attribute. Not concerned about the size of the villa/town/city. Prefer not to 'rough' it, but don't necessarily want/need upscale stays, either. Also need to consider travel time. We'll likely do five days, and prefer not spending too much time (read: entire day) in transport from an airport to our destination.
Thanks in advance for any/all of your suggestions,
Isla Holbox is laid back and pretty, but not big enough to have a large selection of high end dining options. It is very much a fishing village. Can we assume you mean only some place coastal? If not, San Miguel de Allende would be a great choice, as would be Cuernavaca and Puebla and of course D.F.
Oaxaca has fabulous restaurants and is very beautiful and food in Puebla is very good. We have spent time in Sayulita and San Pancho in Nayarit - a wonderful part of Mexico and Sayulita has lots of restaurants. Zihuatanejo is a nice town and Playa Las Ropas has lots of good eating places. The shrimp in Mazatlan is phenomenal and that is a pretty town with a wonderful malecon. I too like Puerto Vallarta though and it certainly has tons of great places to eat. Also San Miguel de Allende has good food.
Thanks for the info thus far. Gives us several options to study and explore.
Not really concerned about the dining opportunities being 'high end'. Nothing wrong with candle light and an old picnic table, so long as the food's good. Course, waves softly breaking on the near-by beach and a nice cabernet doesn't hurt, either.
We're inclined to stay coastal, for both just hanging out on the beach and the freshest seafood, but will certainly look into the non-coastal towns/villages as well. Do enjoy exploring new things, and our experience thus far is that west-coast snorkeling is not really all that thrilling.
I'm from Mexico and i would definitely recommend Oaxaca for a culinary experience. The whole state has a lot to offer: beaches and archeological sights. If you have enough time I would go to the town of Oaxaca (visit convents, pyramids and markets) and then explore the beaches (puerto escondido, zipolite, etc). Although they are not exactly close by.
- for breakfast in Oaxaca I would go to Camino Real. It's an ex convent turned into hotel and a nice place to stay.
- a typical restaurant there is Los Danzantes
- have lunch at a market, there is a famous one everyone knows about (I forgot the name)
Things you should not miss trying: oaxaca cheese, tamales (completely different from the typical Pueblan), Mole, Mezcal and Chapulines (grasshoppers, I promise they are amazing)
You might want to homebase out of Merida. While it's not quite on the coast it's got easy access to it, as well as to other things. Not only is there Chichen Itza, there are a lot of smaller ruins to check out, as well as Valladolid (day trip), Celestun to visit the pink flamingos, Progresso for some beach time. Merida is a rather charming colonial city, very easy going and laid back. It's got a pretty decent sized ex-pat community but they tend to blend, and it's not overrun with tourists.
ecolnago, you have to give up something you like to have all the rest, or you have to dig harder for good chow in Playa, Cozumel, and San Pedro. I'm a diver from way back and I love the gin clear waters of the Caribbean, 120+ feet visibility, and I eat well, very well, in all 3 of those locations. I am well acquainted with the Pacific coast and Baja venues, where55 feet visibility is good only as the price to pay to be face to face with mantas, turtles, whales,and some sharks, which are not typical snorkel experiences. And some of the landlubber suggestions here are fascinating on their own. From Indianapolis, I suppose you can reach Mexican coasts with equal ease (or difficulty, depending). Tell us more about what counts most. Hiking +kayaking in the Yucatan doesn't reach (it certainly does in Costa Rica), and you can't have both plus clear water elsewhere.
What about Baja California Sur - Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo and the Corridor - lots of great food! They are really becoming known as a dining destination. For local flavour and the freshest seafood around - remember these were once sleepy little fishing villages (not that long ago either).
We travelled to the area three years ago and absolutely fell in love! If you search the internet you should be able to find Trapper's List - a list of all the restaurants in Cabo and how much they cost and type of food served. San Jose takes a little more digging but there are some really awesome places in the whole area.
General guide - Cabo is the party spot, lots of activity; while San Jose is very laid back and quiet in comparison. While a lot of the beaches in the area are unswimmable due to undertow, the sound of the waves crashing (and I mean CRASHING) against the beach is a wonderful serenade over dinner/lunch/breakfast, etc. The snorkeling is not that great, I agree, you can only handle so many "nemo" fish, but there are restaurants/resorts where you can sit on your lounge chair or patio or table and watch the killer whales (and other varieties) not that far off the coast. Just my two cents worth.