There’s a certain way you must eat the dishes at Swoon Rooftop Restaurant in Tulum.
Start at the edges of the plate with the specks of pepper. Slide your fork toward the center and take in the Veracruzana sauce. Slice into the moist, white fish filet in beer reduction. If there’s room left on the fork, gather a smidgen of meloso rice.
Open your mouth wide and savor a harmonious mixture of sweet and savory. Allow yourself to be surprised at how one dish can contain an entire culinary story on a fork.
“Our menu is mostly traditional, Mexican cuisine,” said Executive Chef Mauricio Barreto Gonzalez. “We use good ingredients. Our fish is from the Pacific Coast of Mexico, and we use imported Angus beef. The plating is simple, elegant and well-done. Everything has a wood-fire finish, either on the grill or in the oven.”
Gonzalez is a culinary veteran with extensive experience working in top-notch restaurants in Mexico City, San Fernando Valley, San Francisco, and Tulum.
“The menu is made with the team,” Gonzalez said. “Everyone gives an idea. We try it. We cook it. If something isn’t good, we reinvent it.”
Gonzales’ collaborative approach to creating food shows on Swoon’s extensive menu. It is a story of flavors.
Appetizers include Huarache with shrimp chorizo, refried black beans, avocado, and fresh cheese and Angus short rib barbacoa, wood-fired in the oven, and made with coriander, onions, and served with hand-made tortillas.
Our favorite appetizer is the tuna tostadas with the roasted chili, Xcatic mayo (made with a pepper grown in Merida), and served with cucumber and coriander. Chef Gonzalez agrees.
“I like the freshness of the tuna,” he said. “I like the sour, sweet, spicy of the ponzu reduction sauce and the freshness of the cucumber.”
The main dishes offer vegetarian, chicken, pork and fish choices. While it’s hard to choose a favorite, we delighted in the wood-fired, oven-roasted chicken served with green Pipian (a traditional Mexican sauce made with pumpkin seeds) and served with vegetables and a leaf salad.
Gonzales changed our stubborn opposition to octopus with his version – a grilled octopus with roasted bell pepper sauce and crunchy potatoes. The consistency was flavorful without being gummy. Vegetarians can try the roasted cauliflower with carrot hummus, Mexican pesto, and a vegetable jus.
Steak-lovers have a choice of a 16-ounce New York Strip or Ribeye. Sides such as rustic potatoes, house salad and sautéed Brussel sprouts with onion and bacon are available at an extra cost. There’s also a pork-belly dish with fresh bean salad, black bean puree, chiltomate (fruity-spicy, Mexican) sauce and baby vegetables. Sides include rustic potatoes, house salad, sautéed Brussel sprouts with onion and bacon.
Indulge your sweet tooth with a sorbet trilogy or Bayo bean tartlets topped with a bugambilia (bougainvillea) cream. The restaurant’s twist on cheesecake – served with a holly-leaf, white chocolate sauce, almond crumbles, and berries will make you swoon.
Rooftop restaurants and bars have become more popular in the Riviera Maya, especially in Tulum and Playa del Carmen as sargassum seasonally accumulates on affected beaches in Mexico and throughout the Caribbean.
They are also a fun way to watch the sun set over the Rivera Maya’s stunning, natural beauty – with cocktails, good food, and good music.
Swoon brings all that and more. Its cocktail menu is well-thought out and not a slab of tourist favorites like margaritas, mescals, and mojitos. We especially like the “Swoon” cocktail, which includes vodka, ginger, Jamaica, orange, honey, and chocolate mint served in a Tiki glass. It pairs well with the cheesecake.
The restaurant also brings the elegance of Tulum Beach powerhouses like Azulik and Be Tulum to the Pueblo without the congestion and high prices. We hope the opportunity Swoon provides of having a high-end gastronomic experience in the Pueblo will encourage travelers to visit this overlooked treasure.
Sitting high above, in one of Swoon’s signature egg-shaped, domed tables, you can observe the bustle of the pueblo and feel part of Tulum’s thriving community.
Swoon Rooftop Restaurant is located on the main road in Tulum near the corner of Avenida Satelite. The Good Burger Tulum, which shares ownership and a kitchen with Swoon, is on the street level.
Hours are 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily.
The phone number is +52 984 186 3731.
Reservations are recommended as the egg-shaped tables tend to fill up quickly around sunset.
Street parking is available. You can also get there via collectivo and cab.