One of the best parts of vacation is the food. Taking your vacation international means experiencing exotic cuisines and discovering tantalizing flavors new to your taste buds, and for foodies on a luxury vacation, the fine dining memories is what you remember most.

What’s different about fine dining in the Riviera Maya? You can get all the flavorful fare without the pretentiousness you sometimes find in other vacation destinations. Here, you can sip champagne and nibble on delectable treats with your toes buried deep in the sand. In the Mayan Riviera, gourmet creations are often served under an open-air palapa with the sound of lapping waves and the Caribbean breezes for ambiance. The setting may be more laid back, but the food is no less spectacular!

Another surprise to diners who visit the Riviera Maya is the diversity of cuisines that can be found here on the coast. “Food artists” from all over the world have made the Riviera Maya their home and have brought with them techniques and recipes that they often fuse with Mexico’s famous gastronomy and the Yucatan’s unique spices, creating delights that can only be found here in the Mexican Caribbean.

So if you are planning a Riviera Maya getaway, you will want to put some of these fine culinary establishments on your foodie bucket list.

Puerto Morelos

This sleepy, little fishing village is a rather unlikely place to find fine dining, but John Gray’s Kitchen is a pleasant surprise for those looking for an epicurean experience in Puerto Morelos. This international bistro is not only delicious, but the reasonable price for such a gourmet meal makes it taste even better. The menu changes with the seasons and availability of fresh ingredients, but try the crab cakes and the fresh fish with mango salsa if you get the chance.

Playa del Carmen

Mexican food has been dubbed by UNESCO as a cultural heritage cuisine, and El Mestizo celebrates this fact like no other restaurant! Delve into the exquisite flavors of classic Mexican dishes like chile relleno or duck in black sauce. The restaurant features a river of fish that winds through the palapa restaurant creating a sexy, tropical setting.

In a tourist town with so many dining options it is not uncommon to see some of them close as quickly as they opened, but Byblos, classic French cuisine, has been a Playa del Carmen fine dining sure thing for over 12 years. Locals simply call it “the French restaurant” because it is our French restaurant and one to be proud of. Duck fois gras, escargot, French onion soup…all the favorites you know and love.

Chef Juan Diego Solombrino at Imprevist serves an ambrosial fusion of Mediterranean and Asian inspired dishes. Ask for the “food tasting” menus beginning at $450 for a four-course tasting adventure you won’t soon forget.

Cozumel

The island has several fine dining options but for something special go to La Cocay. La Cocay, “the firefly” in Maya, is a fusion of Mediterranean and Mexican recipes. Try the very original duck firecrackers (tortilla rolls filled with a honey chipotle duck confit with a tomato, corn, pepper and mango salsa). Once you try the chocolate torte, you know you are home. The al fresco dining is set in a softly lit, tropical garden.

Isla Mujeres

At Casa Louise Ix Chel fresh seafood takes on a Caribbean-Mediterranean fusion with Yucatecan ingredients for incredibly unique creations. Located on the rooftop of the very quaint Casa Ixchel Hotel, the view of the Caribbean from under this artistically thatched roof is all the ambiance one would ever need.

Tulum

Hechizo will cast you under its culinary spell. Located on the Tulum Beach Road in Rancho San Eric, Chef Stefan Schober and his Pastry Chef wife Hui have been creating food memories for over 10 years at this seaside location. These hands-on owners share a love of food that is unparalleled. Try, um, taste the, uh…it’s all amazing!

El Tabano is set in the jungle and features an open kitchen, far from the chandeliers, starched white linens and heavy drapes that come to mind when one thinks of fine dining, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying some of the most savory food in Tulum. Not only is this menu innovative and fresh, this is a restaurant that is into wine and understands the art of pairing.

Find more fabulous food in the Riviera Maya.

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