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Cancun - Hound worthy suggestions needed

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Boyfriend and I are heading to Cancun for a few days in February. We are staying at the Westin in the hotel zone, but are not all that interested in resort-style dining. We are super adventurous eaters- any recs on small hole in the wall places, taco stands or anything that most American tourists would be afraid to venture to would be most welcome. Happy to bus it into Cancun proper or anywhere else worth the trek for good food.

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  1. I don't have any answers (my partner and i are planning to visit for the first time in about a week), but would like to second that request and add to it as well. We'd also be interested in local hole-in-the wall places, but also the following.

    Anything authentic/local - anything that would give us an idea of regional tastes/regional specialities. doesn't necessarily have to be a dive or adventurous (but totally could be). local seafood would be of particular interest.

    Any novel restaurant settings - i have heard there are some places (geared mostly to tourists) that have mediocre food, but interesting aesthetics, (things like restaurants in caves, etc). Wouldn't want to spend our entire trip in places like this, but would be curious to check out one or two.

    Also, we have the limitation of not speaking spanish and, therefore, we're not renting a car, so it would have to be things we could get to by foot/bus/cab.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Here is where I eat:
      -The Fish Frittanga in the Hotel Zone (on the lagoon side, around kilometer 12, across from the Tourist Police station)
      -the ladies who sell tacos outside of the bus station downtown (I have been eating there for over ten years and the quality is still amazing...there are two carts, go to the one run by the two women)
      -There is a guy right there who also sells fruit plates and freshly squeezed orange juice)
      -for tacos, beers, and people watching at night, there are tons of places with great food on Avenida Yaxchilan...my go-tos are El Asador, El Piemonte, El Poblano, and Los Arcos
      -there is a delicious place in Mercado 28 called Le Bons that only opens at night.
      -Tacos Rigo about three blocks from Mercado 28 is hugely popular with Cancunenses and they have good tacos and carnitas.

      There are also lots of higher-end places that I typically don't frequent, but my friends love. Kinda what yellowbrick might be looking for. Marakame for atmosphere...I've heard uneven reviews of the food, but definitely a pretty and classy place for drinks.

      La Habichuela is a Cancun fixture, and though somewhat touristy, dinner in the garden is beautiful.

      There are also several places for delicious Argentine and Brazilian food. Though you may be more interested in Mexican food, you might like to try one of these places as there is a growing South American population.

      Of course (and this is more for yellowbrick), regional specialties are all about Yucatecan food. The only place I can think of for Yucatecan items is Restaurante Amaro near ercado 28 where you can get panuchos, salbutes, and kibis. I know that there are a couple of places a little further out that do more Yucatecan food, but I have never tried them as it's mostly the type of food eaten in private homes.

      There is also a place in Mercado 23 (right off of Avenida Tulum) that sells killer quesadillas in the morning/early afternoon. Of course, I have no idea what the actual name is, but what I love about them is that they grill the tortillas which are made right there. They've often got things like squash blossom and huitlacoche.

      If you're really feeling adventurous, one place that I have gone for years for seafood is La Bamba Jarocha. It may be further into Cancun proper than you'd like. It's not too scenic as it is directly on Avenida Lopez Portillo but if you went on a Saturday or Sunday, it'd be PACKED with Mexican families and groups eating ceviche and drinking beer. Sometimes there'd be a guy playing marimba, which was a nice offset to the sound of traffic!

      2 Replies
      1. re: GabachaYucateca

        Thanks so much for all the excellent recommendations!

        So far, I think we're most interested in La Bamba Jarocha and the Yucatecan place (Restaurante Amaro).

        Are there any dishes you'd recommend in particular at those places? (Since I don't speak Spanish, it might be important to just memorize the names of recommended dishes instead of browsing the menu)

        For Amaro, do you have an exact address?

        For La Bamba Jarocha, it appears to be an hour outside Cancun. Is there any method of transport you'd recommend, or other things to do out there to make it worth the two hours round trip? (We're going on a tour of Tulum and Coba, but, unfortunately, it's a fixed itinerary.)

        Thanks once again for all your help!

        1. re: GabachaYucateca

          Thank you! That's a lot of options to sort through!

          I went to Cozumel a couple years ago to do some diving and found a couple of places worth eating at- I figure if I can find something there I can find something in Cancun. If all else fails I'll go with my usual method of finding good food in foreign cities: follow the locals.

        2. Thanks Kirs. .
          Looks like were headed to Cancun/PDC for a week in September..
          Anything new and wonderful we need to explore?

          Gracias