Eating is one of my favorite things to do, especially when traveling, because I don’t think any trip would be quite the same if there weren’t equally interesting and tasty foods to eat along the way.
I assumed I knew a good bit about what kind of food we’d be getting in the Quintana Roo and Yucatan regions of Mexico, but having never been there before I also knew we’d be able to try some new dishes. It turns out I was correct on both accounts. We ate at least a metric ton of tacos, but we also tried out some new (to us) dishes like cochinita pibil, sopa de lima, and poc-chuc.
Below are some of the places we visited and dishes we tried during this stay in Mexico. (To make it a bit easier to organize things I’m going to include Playa del Carmen and Tulum in the “Cancun region” section.)
El Socio Naiz Taqueria (Cancun) $$
This was right down the street from our Airbnb on our first night after arriving in Cancun. It’s a nice, lively place with a decent menu of tacos and starters. We went with 4 tacos and a guac starter. Everything was pretty good. We liked our “el polludo” taco the best, but the real star of the show was their selection of delicious salsas. Both Lauren and I like having the option of a variety of sauces to use so this place was great for us. We also got a nice citric agua fresca for each of us. Total: $16-$17 USD.
Costco (Cancun) $
Most people know what Costco is, especially if you’re from the United States. I have a strange desire to visit places like McDonald’s and Costco if there are any wherever we’re traveling, so of course we had to come here. I like to see what items they might have that are different than what we would have back in the states. This Costco had a lot of items you could get that would fit a more Mexican style. Items like tres leches cake, chocoflan, and more, which was really exciting for me. The food court was located right outside at the entrance and had a few differences like mango smoothies, cannelloni, and jalapenos as a topping for your hot dog. We got a mango smoothie and some cannelloni. The mango smoothie was awesome. Total: Honestly can’t remember, but it wasn’t a lot. This is Costco, after all.
El Fogon (Playa del Carmen) $
There are a few El Fogon restaurants in Playa del Carmen. One of them was just a couple blocks away from where we were staying so we decided to check it out. It definitely looks nicer than your average taco stand on the street and it was decently busy when we arrived for dinner one evening. We went for some al pastor tacos, a mango drink, and I believe I got a Coke. Everything was up-to-par with what you’d expect for tacos in Mexico. We weren’t amazed, but it was still better than the majority of “Mexican” food we’d find back home. Total: I believe al pastor tacos start at 16 pesos here (December 2018).
Asadero el Pollo (Playa del Carmen) $
I was so happy I stumbled upon this place as I was searching around for places to eat dinner one night. I have some good memories of eating a lot of chicken in the Puerto Vallarta area, but after more than a week in this area I still hadn’t really seen any chicken places. Enter Asadero el Pollo. I found this place, asked Lauren if she wanted chicken for dinner, and then rushed over here in our rental car. I rushed because they close at 6 PM everyday and it was already after 5 at the time. The place was packed full of people (locals, by the looks of it) when I arrived, but my order and pick-up went super quick. They had stacks of grilled chickens waiting to be quartered and to-go bags being put together in rapid fashion. It was a beautiful operation. Also, it was a great meal for a low price. You get a full chicken, rice, salsa, pickled onions, and a stack of tortillas for only 110 pesos. It was more than enough food for us. Total: 110 pesos for a full chicken combo (rice, salsa, pickled onions, tortillas).
Taqueria Honorio (Tulum) $
On our day trip to Tulum we ended up at Taqueria Honorio for a bit of lunch before heading out to explore the ruins. We had eaten a lot of al pastor tacos up to this point, but there were some interesting options at Taqueria Honorio, like cochinita pibil (pork), lechon al horno (baby pork), and relleno negro de pavo (turkey). Unfortunately, they didn’t have any turkey on our visit, but we made due with some of the pork and baby pork variety. Everything was pretty good. Total: Tacos were about 16 pesos each.
So, this is actually a water park. However, the tickets for the park include all-inclusive drinks and food from the different bars and restaurants around the park. We tried out two of the restaurants and got a drink (virgin) from one of the bars and everything was pretty good. The restaurants are set up buffet-style and I don’t remember anything being amazing (it is a buffet, after all), but just the mere thought of being able to eat as much as I want always gets me a little excited. The restaurants aren’t the same so make sure you check out their menus (or ask a worker) to see the different dishes they have. Also, we really regretted not getting more drinks because the virgin pina colada we had was awesome. Total: The basic ticket (which is All-Inclusive) is about $90 online, although you can find automatic discounts just through their website. Right now (12/27/18) the same ticket is $81 on their website.
This was our go-to taqueria for a couple nights in Merida. Their specialty is al pastor tacos (you can see the giant spit and the worker tending it from the street), but they have a variety of other items, like nachos, tortas, etc. Our favorites were just the plain (no cheese) al pastor tacos on corn tortillas. It’s what they’re known for and you should definitely order some. We also tried an al pastor torta and some suadero tacos, which were also good. Total: An al pastor on corn tortilla starts at 10 pesos. So cheap!
Sunday Market Stalls - Plaza Grande $
I can’t say anything specific about where you should eat because I’m not even sure where we ate. There are stalls everywhere when the Sunday Market is going on in Plaza Grande. There are big banners showing you each place’s menu so find something that looks good and grab a plastic table and some chairs and you’ll have a server come up to you pretty quick. Total: It’s street food so it’s cheap.
This place had my favorite taco of the whole trip. They serve pork belly (castakan) tacos and they’re really great. I’ve always liked pork belly because it’s usually pretty juicy and tasty and here was no different. They do have some other great signature tacos (just ask what’s popular), but if I were to go back I’d probably just get a bunch of castakan tacos. Make sure you get them with cheese. Grab a tasty drink (chaya, pina, etc.) or two as well. They close at 2:30 PM and look to be completely closed on Sundays. Total: I think a castakan con queso taco is 17 pesos.
I specifically wanted to try some classic Yucatecan food, which is why we headed to Las Vigas. I’ve heard good things about a few other restaurants in the area, but Las Vigas seemed like a cheaper, but still good, option. We ended up getting some poc-chuc (pork version), sopa de lima (lime soup), and a pechuga de pollo con mole (chicken breast with mole sauce). We thought everything was pretty tasty, although I don’t think either of us would order anything with mole again. It’s good and so intriguing, but the taste is just too much for me after a while. I think we liked the sopa de lima the best. Also, if there’s a random little pepper somewhere on one of the dishes, don’t just take a giant bite out of it. I heard someone did that and it was really spicy and made the rest of the meal slightly unbearable… Total: It’s an actual bar and restaurant so prices will be a bit higher than a taco stand, but it’s still pretty cheap.
Central Plaza & Park $
We wandered down to the central park/plaza one night and found a bunch of street vendors in the area. There were elotes, tostilocos, churros, and more. It’s really a nice way to spend your evening, just relaxing with some snacks in the park. We had some churros and a version of tostilocos. I wanted to get an elote, but I was just too full. Total: Cheap street food.
Tacos & Consomme (Santa Ana Valladolid Park) $
I don’t know what the name of this place is, but it was located right next to the park mentioned above. We were staying close by so we stopped here for breakfast one morning and we were really glad we did. They seem to only serve one thing, which is a combo of 3 tacos + 1 bowl of consomme. For two orders, which also includes some chips and salsa, it came to 78 pesos. It was so much good food for dirt cheap. Total: 78 pesos for 6 tacos and 2 bowls of consomme.
If you’re around the central park/plaza and want a little, cold treat then I think you should check out Wabi Gelato. The “storefront” is basically just the front room of someone’s house. It seems like they have different gelatos at different times, but there should be around 6 options. I got some sort of hazelnut, I believe, and it was delicious. The two gentlemen we chatted with were extremely nice and personable. Total: Probably more than your average taco, but still not much.
So, this is a cenote, but there is also an hacienda with a restaurant on the property, which is where we ate after having fun at the cenote. They have a nice deal where you can get cenote access for a certain price, but then whatever you paid can then be used as credit at the restaurant. There are also two other options, but I think the third option of paying a higher amount and getting more restaurant credit is the best because you’ll be hungry and thirsty after some time in the cenote and it’s still not a lot of money. We had two drinks, nachos, and a longaniza (sausage) plate. It was sooo much food for just two people! I did my best to eat it all, though, and almost succeeded. Total: 300 pesos for cenote access and restaurant credit (you get the full 300 pesos to use at the restaurant).