The Best of the Yucatan is Marinated, Sauteed, Smoked Then Devoured

Manjar Blanco Restaurant, Merida Yucatan

Manjar Blanco Restaurant opened in Merida, Yucatan in November 2011. It was a dream come true for Miriam Peraza Rivero, owner, founder, and a real “Cocinera Tradicional Yucateca.” She is full of energy and very proud of her gastronomical heritage. Doña Miriam who is 63,  personally greets her guests and tries at least to stop by the table to welcome them.

Cooking up a dream

Doña Miriam’s project came alive when her son of her graduated in Gastronomy.  Doña Miriam’s vision to open a restaurant to serve up all that knowledge and treasures from her traditional “cuisine” became a reality.  Chef Jorge Rivero Peraza has since taken over the kitchen with delicious results. 

The restaurant is in an old colonial building right across the street from one of the most famous parks in Mérida, making it very convenient for tourists attraction, many locals who knows about this jewel visit this park’s church for the Sunday mass and having either breakfast, brunch or lunch at Manjar Blanco

Manjar Blanco offers Yucatecan traditional food. You can find mouth-watering of dishes, perfectly made, attractive to the eye and delicious for the “Palais”. You can also find “aguas frescas” and alcoholic beverages at lunch. One of the main reasons why I like this place is their commitment and way to maintain the quality and flavor of their dishes. I visited for the first time in 2011, and since then, every single time is a confirmation of their flavors, friendly service, and it’s unique Yucatecan ambiance.

Decisions, decisions.

I had a hard time choosing from the menu, so I tried some of their best dishes. 
Entrée: Tortillitas de Platano con Carne ahumada de Temozón
Soup: Sopa de Lima
Main: Queso relleno en recado negro, Pavo en escabeche oriental.

“Tortillitas de Platano con carne ahumada de Temozón.”

Plantain patties fried top with Pork Smoked meat
Tortillitas de Platano con Carne Ahumada Queso Relleno Negro at Manjar Blanco Restaurant, Merida Yucatan

This fantastic entrée is one of the many examples of Cuban influence in Yucatan’s cuisine. It is big fried plantain chunks, smashed and form into patties to be fried, topped with a “guisado” of shredded smoked pork meat cooked in a tomato, onion, garlic and spices sauce. The great fusion between the plantain sweetness with the salty and acid from the tomato sauce makes it one their treasures; the flavors are exquisite.

“Sopa de Lima.”

Turkey Soup with Sweet Lime Essence

Sopa de Lima at Manjar Blanco Restaurant, Merida Yucatan

I have had many “sopas de limas” during my life and learned that original recipe is based on the leftovers of another Yucatecan dish “Salpimentado.” Unfortunately, this method is losing popularity among the new generations. Meats are removed from the stock, and the stock is the base of Sopa de Lima.  Then adding a sofrito of tomatoes, white onion, & “chile dulce” as well as a special recado, bell pepper to the liquid, finishing it with shredded turkey and some “Lima” juice, turns out to be a delicious soup. The limmeta gives to it a floral a very particular fragrance and flavor to it.  At Manjar Blanco, they do it correctly, like in all its recipes they have a particular respect for methods and ingredients, and that’s the consistency of their fantastic flavor.

“Pavo en Escabeche Oriental.”

Soused Turkey Stewed in Onion and Chiles

As a result of the Spaniards arriving in the new world, vinegar foods start to happen to preserve from chiles to turkey. This recipe is the perfect example to mention, and one of the local’s favorites. Although the recipe calls for turkey, some people use chicken instead. The turkey marinates in a special blend local ingredients for several hours, then roasted. The final product is an incredible stew.

Manjar Blanco presents this dish in a bowl with this dark stew, topped with shredded roasted turkey, swimming in pickle onions and garnish with “Cebollas encurtidas” and the local blonde chile x’catic. Its flavor is just amazing, is a heavy spice flavor, modestly heat, smoky flavor is all over the place.  If you are brave enough to cut into the blonde chile, the stew will absorb its flavor of the chile, and you will experience a burst of flavor and amazing zing at the end of your “palais”. 

“Queso Relleno en Recado Negro”

Stuffed Edam cheese with Mincemeat Stuffing in Charred Chile Sauce

Queso Relleno en Recado Negro at Manjar Blanco Restaurant, Merida Yucatan

This dish is the jewel of this restaurant. Creative Chef Jorge Rivero Peraza adds a twist to the already famous and delicious Queso Relleno recipe, including his recipe the infamous and spicy recado negro. This recado features charring chiles literally to ashes. According to Doña Miriam, it was a difficult task balancing the saltiness of the recado itself to the cheese. It is a thick maize mixture that gets its dark color from the recado, the Edam cheese is stuffed with mincemeat already marinated and cooked in black recado sauce ahead of time. The dish is served with a half boiled egg on top of a wrapped Edam cheese stuffed with the mincemeat stuffing also called “but”.  Queso Relleno en Recado Negro is my most favorite dish on the menu, I highly recommend you try it. 

Manjar Blanco Restaurant is on 47 St. Between 60 and 58, across Park Santa Ana, Merida Yucatan Mexico
Hours: 8:30 am – 5 pm

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