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Merida - your thoughts?

Geoff Feb 7, 2012 06:27 PM

Greetings all. Will be in Merida (first visit) later this month and could use some advice. Not a lot of current info on this board; there are also some comments from a few years ago. We’re staying in Centro, coming into town on a Sunday, leaving on Wednesday. Looks like we’ll have opportunity for 3 comidas (and maybe one early lunch), 3 dinners. We’re all about “food with flavor,” and would definitely want to focus on local/regional style food.

So, using chowhound and a couple of other sources, I have a somewhat long list I’m trying to cull down. Any comments at all on these, or others I’ve missed, would be much appreciated!

Local 3; Casa Frida; La Chaya Maya; 2012 Espacios Mayas y Algo Mas; El Chili Habanero; El Trapiche; El Principe Tutul Xiu, El Templo; Amaro ; Los Almendros all look good from what I can see. Also making my list were Rosas y Xocolate; Restaurante Kantun; La Flor de Santiago.

Thoughts? What’s missing? Other favorite food ideas? I also read about the Saturday slow food market; is it really only Saturdays (and if not, is it worth it)?

Thanks for your help.

  1. porker Feb 7, 2012 08:04 PM

    Its been a few years since we stayed in Merida...

    I had heard good things about Los Almendros and looked forward to it. I was let down as the food was somewhat lifeless. The food also arrived way too fast - it was all pre-made. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but in this case it was.

    Funny thing, driving the Ruta Puuc a week later, we based ourselves in Ticul, home of the original Los Almendros. I had high hopes for this place, but it let us down as well...

    When in Merida, be sure to set aside at least a coupla hours for their public market. One of my all-time favorite foods came from this market: kastacan cooked fresh - whole deep fried pork belly. Theres also a ton of vendors selling excellent cochinita pibil.

    Depending on your time, maybe consider a cooking class at Los Dos

    http://www.los-dos.com/

    We spent an enjoyable day with these folks, learning some of the finer points of Yucatec cooking.

    Try to check out a botanas bar or two - bars which serve freebie snacks while you're drinking. Certainly not haute cuisine, but great to people watch and see how some locals go out. Ask your hotel staff where the best ones are.

    Off-topic, but if you go to Celestun, bring cash. Unless things changed, there are no banks and no ATMs here. The few hotels will take credit cards, but will not give a cash advance. Restos do not accept credit cards. Its a long drive with an angry, hungry wife....

    1. DiningDiva Feb 7, 2012 11:54 PM

      Yes, the slow food market is only a Saturday morning. If you're a slow food member or really into local, sustainable, etc, it might be of interest, if you're not, then, no, it probably won't be. There is a link to it on the Los Dos web site. It's a tiny market, but it's got heart.

      Not impressed with Casa Frida, over priced and gringo-ized to the max. Great back patio for drinks, tho'

      Other than Local 3, the best food we had in the Yucatan was at Los Frailes in Valladolid and the restaurant at Hacienda de Sotuta.

      1. d
        DCcook Feb 8, 2012 01:06 AM

        Love Merida! We got married near there a couple of years ago.

        I don't think I made it to most of the places on your list. I can't remember if we tried Los Almendros or not, but I guess it was not memorable if we did.

        Here's what we did try:

        Pancho's...just went for drinks. Didn't try the food. The place is probably a bit touristy but it's a nice atmosphere.

        La Recova...if you're in the mood for Argentinean or steaks, this is a nice break. We had our rehearsal dinner here.

        Casa de Piedra (Hacienda Xcanatun) - we had the restaurant to ourselves. Lovely, lovely meal.

        Portico del Peregrino - nice courtyard, good meal.

        My personal not-to-be-missed places are these however:
        The chilaquiles at Hotel Casa San Angel's restaurant...I loved them when I stayed there and many of our guests who stayed at the hotel randomly mentioned them to me. The restaurant also has a very good patisserie. The owner (at the time I went) did much of the baking. This is a great place to stay, too, (as is Luz en Yucatan).

        Make the drive (and stay the night if you can) in Hacienda San Jose Cholul. It can be pricey but there are pretty good deals sometimes. We got married here. It's magical and the food is so good. My favorites are the sopa de frijol, the cochinita pibil, the panuchos, and they make awesome margaritas and micheladas. I was not impressed with their desserts, however.

        For a cup of Mexican hot chocolate and great chocolate gifts, stop by Tienda Ki'Xocolatl
        (Calle 55 Número 513, between 60 y 62) in Centro Merida.

        Also, my friend took a cooking class at Los Dos and loved it! I hope to do it sometime.

        1. m
          MeridaGal Feb 11, 2012 07:50 AM

          We’ve been to many of the “finer dining” establishments in Merida, and we haven’t found anything that’s knocked our socks off. Probably the biggest disappointment was Rosas y Xocolate - beautiful venue on the surface, but not a lot of substance. You will be there for such a short time, I would recommend skipping all of the Trotter’s-type chains and “upscale” dining.

          One of my favorite things about Merida is that there are so many delicious and affordable options available – even foodies can rejoice! Depending on what time you arrive on Sunday, you might be able to sample some of Sabrina’s tacos in Santa Lucia park. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/din...

          Although not Yucatecan cuisine, Sabrina’s northern tacos are very good – the nopales are my favorite – and you’ll be positioned in a great part of Merida’s centro to enjoy bici-ruta and take in Merida’s downtown sights. There are lots of regional street stalls set up at Merida en Domingo in the main square where you can sample panuchos, salbutes, and conchinita – grab a marquesitas, too! However, we prefer the stalls at the Mercado Galvez with some of the best, and certainly the most affordable, tacos al pastor in Merida! We are taco aficionados, and have found Wayan’e to offer some of the best in the city, plus its close enough, but out of the tourist zone, so you'll get to see more of Merida!

          You should also grab a table outside one of the stalls at the Santiago park or Santa Ana park – we love sitting in Christina’s section in front of Mary’s stall for some sopa de lima or great panuchos y salbutes with jamica agua frescas to wash it down.

          If you enjoy a nice drink, I highly recommend after dinner beverages on Piedra de Agua's beautiful patio. You don't have to be a hotel guest to enjoy this serene oasis in the middle of everything - great place sip cocktails and unwind. Resist the urge to order food - I've never been happy with anything from their kitchen, adequate at best.

          Salud y Buen provecho!

          1 Reply
          1. re: MeridaGal
            porker Feb 11, 2012 10:03 AM

            Not quite a worthy destination on its own, we'd like to watch the comings & goings from a 2nd story balcony table (always tried to get the corner) of La Fogoncito corner 61 and 62 kitty corner to Plaza Mayor. We Usually just had drinks, but once in a while, I'd have tacos al pastor. I still dream of the meat from those tacos!

          2. r
            Rheta Feb 13, 2012 02:52 PM

            Try this website: playa.info. A lot of people on the forum go to Merida and might have some suggestions.

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