After a late night at Coco Bongo, this cocina’s menudo may be just the cure you need. This is where the Cancun locals eat. From heads of state to simple folk, they all know this is a kitchen like mama’s. You will be greeted by a dozen steaming pots of Mexican home cooked goodness, just point to what tickles your taste buds and smile real big. Your selection will be brought to you in a giant tortilla with Oaxaca cheese. No English spoken here, but don’t let that deter you! Some say love is the universal language… at La Fonda de las Piñatas it is food. Owner Claudia Torres is often in the house, personally greeting her guests and stirring the pots.
This unassuming, roadside restaurant in Puerto Aventuras makes some of the best gourmet meals on the coast. When we walked through the entrance of the lovely palapa we were immediately transported to a tranquil world of fountains and soft music. We hardly noticed we were on the busy highway. Chef Guillermo personally greets each table to describe the menu and answer any questions. We began our meal with the creative and beautifully presented hearts of palm salad and Oysters Rockefeller. These were the biggest, freshest most delicious oysters of any we had anywhere else. Next, we shared the pork chop stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped in bacon and marinaded in a sweet apricot BBQ sauce – amazing marriage of flavors! We closed this outstanding meal with a chocolate cake drowned in a ganache sauce that was pure heaven. Our bill came to a very reasonable $650 pesos.
When you just cannot eat one more taco or panucho, go to Turtle Bay Cafe in Akumal. You will have a hard time choosing just one menu item. Try the Steak Oscar (petite beef fillets topped with tender crab and rich Béarnaise sauce) or the black & blue salad made with juicy arrachera and crumbled blue cheese. Turtle Bay breakfasts are legendary! Indulge in the rich Eggs Benedict built on crab cakes or the breakfast sandwich that is a local favorite, or dare to tackle the giant ranchero omelette with its sweet, smokey sauce. This charming little palapa cafe also bakes its own cookies, cakes, pies and numerous other sinful sweets. My current favorite is a scoop of the sea salt caramel ice cream on top of a chocolate toffee cake!
Classic Mexican dishes done to perfection. The chiles en nogada here is the best I have ever had. Poblano chili stuffed with minced beef, pineapple and raisins, covered with white nut and cheese sauce, sprinkled with granada (pomegranate) and coriander. Yes, it is expensive… at $290 pesos I suffered a bit of sticker shock, but I did say it was the best I ever had. Chef Claudia Perez is in love with what she does. She personally greeted our table with a smile and opened our bottle of wine herself. My dinner guest ordered the shrimp huitlacoche which was very tasty, but we both agreed the chiles en nogada stole the show! Two gourmet entrés, a bottle of wine and a bread & cheese board with extra little surprises for about $80 USD.
Located on a beautiful stretch of Tulum Beach, this Riviera Maya institution is still one of my favorites. Do not give it a second thought, order the lobster spaghetti. Homemade pasta, plump, tender shrimp, chunks of rich, buttery lobster and seasonal veggies tossed in a light marinara and served in the shell. A meal ample for two at $395 pesos. It also includes a hearty appetizer board of Italian breads, cheese, Mexican salsas, nuts and pickled veggies. This paired with numerous glasses of Montepulciano (about $70 pesos per glass) is almost all you need before you die…but wait! Don’t pass over into the afterlife before indulging in the house tiramisu made with real marscapone cheese. Add espresso and our bill came to about $1300 pesos with tip – not cheap, but worth every centavo.