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Oct 25, 2011 03:10 PM

Cozumel Trip Report

I did not see much on Cozumel on this board before I left so I thought I'd do a short report on our eats there. We stayed in a condo so only ate out once a day or so. I found drinks to be much more expensive in Cozumel than the rest of Mexico and in general more expensive than what I pay at my local hangout. I'm not sure if this is because of the tourists or because it is an island or both. Our trio decided that in the future that we would stop in a restaurant, have a beer, use the restroom, and look at the menu before we decide if we want to eat there later. In no particular order...

La Mission - Two of us had grouper that was over cooked and dry with cold rice and vegetables. One had a rib eye that was very good, tender, and flavorful.

Kelley's Bar and Grill - Two of us split the daily special. Grouper with peppers, onions, shrimp, and cheese. It was very good and rich. I forget what the third had. Gucamole $6 - one smashed avacado with chips, that's it, no onions, cilantro, jalapeno, tomato, nothing - would not get that again. My guacamole is way better than that was.

Alberto's Beach Bar - Only two went to dinner and we had the seafood platter for two. OMG. Lobster, grouper, shrimp, and conch in garlic butter. I had never eaten conch before except in fritters. What a revelation. So sweet and tender. My new favorite seafood.

Casa Blanca - We ate there twice, dinner first then lunch. The first time it was awesome. Good food and great service. The fish tacos were good and queso con chorizo was a hit. Grouper was also good. Lunch, the food was not as good and neither was the service. Different cook, different waiter, who knows. The bathroom was AWFUL and didn't use it the first time we were there. Dirty, no soap, no paper,etc... If I had used the bathroom at dinner I would not have gone back for lunch.

Abuelo Gerardo - We ate breakfast there. Very good and cheap. The best part, the bathroom was spotless. If I had a few more days in Cozumel I would have gone back there for dinner.

Tako Rock - ROCKED! Four tacos loaded with goodies for $8. So much food I couldn't finish the last one. Would definitely go back there again.

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  1. What? No Casa Denis? No Especias? No Kinte? No Pescarderia San Carlos? No loncherias by the El Mercado? No Playa Bonita or Chen Rio on the east side?

    Which La Mission did you go to, the one in the downtown plaza or the one up on Avenida 30? Was a cruise ship or ships in that day? I think that makes a difference.

    Nice to see Albertos getting some good spin for their food. Their beach is nice too.

    Kelly's has a rep as a sports bar for Americans hungry for their sports fix, not necessarily good food.

    Abuelo is good for breakfast, but I hear dinner is a mixed bag.

    Nice report though. Thanks for sharing.

    1. As crew said, nice report, and it's fun to hear folks enjoying conch for the first time. When you return to the Island, you can find conch grilled with garlic, "caracol al mojo de ajo", right in San Miguel on the square at Plaza Leza, with good guac and 'ritas, too. You should try conch ceviche, at Playa Bonita or the Paradise Cafe (Bobs Marley Bar). On the mainland, a fun spot for conch is El Pelicano in Puerto Morelos, where you can have conch and eggs for breakfast, right on the water as the run rises. The best conch ceviche on earth (IMO) is at Cueva del Pescador in Akumal -nicely tenderized, and a huge portion. Superior 'ritas, also. It's worth the drive from PDC, where conch is surprisingly absent.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Veggo

        I enjoyed the conch during my various diving trips, but I am concerned they are being over-fished so I don't eat them anymore. I liked the ceviche the best.

      2. I would have suggested dinners at Especias, La Choza, and even the Money Bar. Cheap and delicious food with reasonably priced drinks.

        1. This was my first time to Cozumel. I only had a car for one day, the day I drove around the island. Now that I have the lay of the land so to speak, I would definitely get a car for the week and explore the loncherias and places much farther off the beaten path.

          Wish I had tried Casa Denis. As I said most of our meals were in the condo and we only ate one meal out a day - one breafast out, one lunch out, and five dinners.

          La Mission by the plaza on our first night. I believe there was one cruise ship in that day, but we ate later in the evening and not many "cruisers" around.

          Specifically went to Kelley's to watch the game.

          I don't think my two experiences eating conch have contributed too much to conch depletion. That aside, I did enjoy it. I doubt that you can find conch where I live, even at the one and only high end fish market.

          Thanks for the recs if I make it back there some day.

          5 Replies
          1. re: ssioff

            I wouldn't be overly concerned about depleting conch in Cozumel. If they become scarce, the market will be self-correcting as conch divers change careers to a different seafood, and it would become prohibitively expensive. It has a fairly small following at just a few restaurants, and has been very steady in my experiences there, which go back 23 years.
            If you could find conch in the MSP area, it would be from the conch farm in Providenciales- there is no domestic production.
            I'm disappointed to hear of your experience at La Mission. The food at their location in PDC is spot on. I wonder if they get away with slacking off a bit in the cruise ship neighborhood, or maybe because as you said it was late.

            1. re: Veggo

              I don't know what the issue was at La Mission, but the fish was very dry and way over cooked. Also the rice and veg was cold/cool and not the least bit warm. However, the one bite I had of the rib eye was great. La Casa Mission sounds much more up my alley - neighborhood, local places. You couldn't pay me to set foot in Senor Frogs, Margaritaville, etc...

              On my way to the airport the taxi driver took 65 Ave N and I saw a million other places that I would try on my next visit. All mom/pop local places and a few with fairly long lines. Knowing the lay of the land always changes my next visit to a place signficantly.

              Yep, not much conch in MSP-flattered that you bothered to investigate where I was from. I would assume Costal Seafood would carry it. Veggo, a bit off topic, but is conch like calimari or octopus in that it needs to either be cooked very quickly or for a very long time?

              1. re: ssioff

                Conch needs to be cleaned and pounded until it is practically falling apart, and then it is ready for ceviche, grilling with butter and garlic (cooks quickly ), or diced for fritters. A preparation common in the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos, but not Mexico, is cracked conch - pounded and then egg washed and dredged through flour and then pan fried. Conch salad on those islands is similar to ceviche, but includes diced sweet peppers. At Da Conch Shack in Provo, they will make a conch salad to order, from a conch right from the water in their holding pen at the water's edge, and it is pounded but not cooked at all.

            2. re: ssioff

              La Casa Mission (I think) is the Mission restaurant away from the tourist area and smack in the middle of a regular neighborhood. You need to take a taxi there but it is also enough of a hot spot that there are always other taxis outside waiting. In fact, last year, our taxi driver told us that he'd be back in 2 hours and, sure enough, he was.

              This is a gorgeous hacienda in which the owner still lives. The food is good (not amazing)..... but eating in such a beautiful park and house really makes up for any lack in the food. We return year after year because it is such a gorgeous setting.

              1. re: Njchicaa

                The transfer of ownership and the two satellite locations is very confusing. The original owner has either sold his soul or sold his property. I suggest to the Miranda Morales family who now own the business, take care of business. For us old timers, we recall resplendent lawns with polite peacocks, and their outbursts, while enjoying leisurely comidas.