Dining in

Dine and Dance
Yucatan cooking has gained a reputation as one of the finest in all Mexico. A combination of Mayan and European ingredients, a tasty byproduct of the Spanish Conquest. Dishes include the famous cochinita pibil (suckling pig baked in banana leaves with a rich annatto sauce) turkey, papadzules (tortillas stuffed with boiled eggs in a pumpkin seed sauce) and panuchos, tortillas with fried black beans, chicken and pickled onions.

Cancún features fine seafood, some American franchises and internationally trained chefs and European recipes mingled with local spices.
Also look for dinner cruises.

How important is food on a vacation? Very! After a long day of soaking up Cancun’s sun and sights, an excellent meal is on the traveler’s menu.

Cancun has everything, from casual outdoor eateries by the sea to traditional Mexican cuisine enjoyed in the lush setting of a colonial mansion.. If it’s American food you crave, Cancun is replete with the biggest and best of the American chains. Foreign tastes abound as well, with virtually all nationalities represented..

Let’s start with the native fare: Mexican cuisine can mean very different things, depending on the region from which the food hails. Traditional Mexican food can be spicy, but is usually only flaming hot when the hot sauces and spices from the table are added by the diner. Yucatecan food is actually quite mild, and some of the most delicious in the country.

MEXICAN
For authentic Yucatecan dining, hit Los Almendros, located downtown (Av. Bonampak and Sayil). It is a large, colorful, airy place with pictures on the menu to make ordering easy. All the regional specialties are represented: lime soup (chicken soup flavored with lime), poc chuc (slices of pork with onion marinated in a tangy sour orange sauce and charcoal broiled) and chicken or pork pibil (pit-baked in a sauce of tomato, onion, mild red pepper, cilantro and vinegar).

Excellent Mexican cooking (and live music and dance) can be found at El Mexicano (Centro Comercial Costa Blanca, Hotel Zone, tel. 83-2220) is a stunning reproduction of a 19th century hacienda (reservations are recommended). Live Mariachi music (10:30 to midnight) livens up any meal at Perico’s (Downtown, at Yaxchilan 61, tel. 84-3152), a festive environment complete with saddles for bar stools! Expect a wild time at this popular restaurant/bar, and an extensive menu including steaks, seafood and authentic Mexican favorites (arrive by 7 pm to ensure a seat). Maria Bonita, in the Camino Real Hotel (tel. 83-0100) is a lively selection for authentic Mexican fare in a wonderful space filled with colorful handcrafted furniture and decorations (available for sale in a hotel boutique). The margaritas are world-class, as are the tacos de langosta (lobster-filled corn tortillas in a rich brown sauce). Reservations recommended. Zandunga, in the Hotel Zone ((Plaza Forum by the Sea, tel. 83-4496), serves Mexican cuisine as well seafoods, steaks and pizza and features a live band and Mariachi show every night. For a casual Mexican eatery with both local and tourist appeal, go visit La Parrilla, downtown (Av. Yaxchilan, tel. 83-5398). Their specialty is tacos al pastor, a homemade corn tortilla (made on an outdoor range, in full view of customers), lightly fried and topped with pork marinated in adobo chili sauce, skewered on a vertical spit and cooked over a low flame. The meat is carved fresh for each individual order and garnished with chopped onions and cilantro. La Habichuela, also downtown (Calle Margaritas 25, tel. 84-3158), is known for inventive Mexican cuisine-especially the unique "Cocobichuela", or lobster and shrimp in curry sauce served in coconut shell and topped with fruit.

MEXICAN CHAINS
The Carlos ‘N Charlie’s chain of restaurants are represented in Cancun, as in other resort areas of Mexico. Senor Frogs (Blvd. Kukulkan, Km. 5.5, tel. 83-1092), home to the only slide in Cancun, leading you straight from the restaurant to the lagoon - don’t worry, no crocodiles have been seen here in years! (Expect a party atmosphere at this spot.); El Shrimp Bucket (Blvd. Kukulkan Km. 5.5, tel. 83-2710) - don’t miss these succulent, pink camarones in the silver pail; and, of course, Carlos ‘N Charlie’s (Blvd. Kukulkan Km. 5.5, tel. 83-0846), home of the "Mother Margaritas."

The Carlos ‘N Charlie’s chain of restaurants are represented in Cancun, as in other resort areas of Mexico. Senor Frogs (Blvd. Kukulkan, Km. 5.5, tel. 83-1092), home to the only slide in Cancun, leading you straight from the restaurant to the lagoon - don’t worry, no crocodiles have been seen here in years! (Expect a party atmosphere at this spot.); El Shrimp Bucket (Blvd. Kukulkan Km. 5.5, tel. 83-2710) - don’t miss these succulent, pink camarones in the silver pail; and, of course, Carlos ‘N Charlie’s (Blvd. Kukulkan Km. 5.5, tel. 83-0846), home of the "Mother Margaritas."

AMERICAN
Maybe your clients are looking for tastes that hit a little closer to home. If so, they won’t have to look far. Most of the big chains are represented in Cancun, including T.G.I. Friday’s (Plaza Zocalo, tel. 83-3542), Hard Rock Café (Plaza Forum, tel. 81-8120), Planet Hollywood (Plaza Flamingo, tel. 83-0527), Pizza Hut (Plaza Lagunas, tel. 83-3152) and Ruth’s Chris Steak House (Plaza Kukulkan, tel. 85-2702).

Maybe your clients are looking for tastes that hit a little closer to home. If so, they won’t have to look far. Most of the big chains are represented in Cancun, including T.G.I. Friday’s (Plaza Zocalo, tel. 83-3542), Hard Rock Café (Plaza Forum, tel. 81-8120), Planet Hollywood (Plaza Flamingo, tel. 83-0527), Pizza Hut (Plaza Lagunas, tel. 83-3152) and Ruth’s Chris Steak House (Plaza Kukulkan, tel. 85-2702).

Some other local haunts that offer fine American fare: The Outback Steak House (Plaza Flamingo, tel. 83-3350, an Australian theme restaurant; Pat O’Brien’s (Plaza Flamingo, tel. 83-0832), a casual eatery styled after a traditional Irish pub; and the All Star Café (Playa Gaviota Azul, tel. 81-8110), owned by sports greats such as Andre Agassi and Wayne Gretsky, are good alternatives for familiar cuisine in a fun, kid-friendly environment.

INTERNATIONAL
For a culinary adventure, try Blue Bayou, the first Cajun restaurant in Mexico (Hyatt Cancun Caribe, Hotel Zone, tel. 83-0044, ext. 54), offering exciting Cajun cuisine and live jazz nightly(except Sundays). An attractive interior with hanging gardens and waterfalls, makes a lovely setting for crawfish (flown in daily from Louisiana, of course) and Maya blackened seafood (the 12-15 "blackening" spices blended right in the kitchen).

Another fun, multi-ethnic selection is Mango Tango (Blvd. Kukulkan Km. 14.2, Hotel Zone, tel. 85-0303). Situated on the lagoon (where the sun sets in the spring and summer), locals say this is an excellent choice for romantic dining. And the show they put on-an awesome combination of Latin music and dance-is well worth the trip. The Santa Fe Beer Factory in the Hotel Zone’s Plaza Forum by the Sea (tel. 83-4469) is Mexico’s first microbrewery, serving gourmet international cuisine.

SEAFOOD
Because of its geographic locale, Cancun’s restaurants benefit from a bounty of fresh and wonderful seafood. There are a few, however, that stand out as superb choices for the fruit of the sea. La Fisheria (Plaza Caracol Shopping Mall, Hotel Zone, tel. 83-1395) is one of Cancun’s finest seafood restaurants, with floor-to-ceiling windows that make for a light and airy ambience. Competitive prices and ultra-fresh ingredients make La Fisheria’s a favorite with the locals, as well. Another local fave is Faro’s (Plaza Lagunas, Hotel Zone, tel. 83-2080), with one of the most extensive seafood menus in the city. Suggest the Stuffed Fish Fillet (snapper topped with shrimp, calamari and mushrooms dressed with a choice of hollandaise or jalapeno chile sauce).

Because of its geographic locale, Cancun’s restaurants benefit from a bounty of fresh and wonderful seafood. There are a few, however, that stand out as superb choices for the fruit of the sea. La Fisheria (Plaza Caracol Shopping Mall, Hotel Zone, tel. 83-1395) is one of Cancun’s finest seafood restaurants, with floor-to-ceiling windows that make for a light and airy ambience. Competitive prices and ultra-fresh ingredients make La Fisheria’s a favorite with the locals, as well. Another local fave is Faro’s (Plaza Lagunas, Hotel Zone, tel. 83-2080), with one of the most extensive seafood menus in the city. Suggest the Stuffed Fish Fillet (snapper topped with shrimp, calamari and mushrooms dressed with a choice of hollandaise or jalapeno chile sauce).

ITALIAN
La Dolce Vita is the reigning favorite in this category, and another superb choice for romantic meals for honeymooners. You can feel comfortable recommending this tried-and-true eatery (across the street from the Marriott, tel. 85-0150). In addition to breathtaking lagoon views, the restaurant’s secret is the freshest ingredients, and owners who are always on hand to tend to every detail. Specialties include Boquinete Dolce Vita (snapper in puff pastry) and Green Tagliolini with lobster and shrimp in white wine sauce. Buen Gusto! La Dolce Vita is the reigning favorite in this category, and another superb choice for romantic meals for honeymooners. You can feel comfortable recommending this tried-and-true eatery (across the street from the Marriott, tel. 85-0150). In addition to breathtaking lagoon views, the restaurant’s secret is the freshest ingredients, and owners who are always on hand to tend to every detail. Specialties include Boquinete Dolce Vita (snapper in puff pastry) and Green Tagliolini with lobster and shrimp in white wine sauce. Buen Gusto!

For more casual Italian dining, Cancun visitors can try Restaurant Rolandi (Av.Coba #12, tel. 84-4047). (For a more elegant setting, try its sister restaurant, Casa Rolandi, Plaza Caracol, Hotel Zone, tel. 83-1817). Phenomenal, thin-crusted pizzas, fresh pastas and delicious calzones are the order of the day. Save room for coconut ice cream with Kahlua on top!

Wonderful service is a treat - but not the biggest one - at Zuppa, located in the Plaza Flamingo (tel. 83-2966). For starters, warm, homemade bread is served with caramelized onions and olive oil, and for the finale, the cannoli filled with chocolate mousse is sufficiently sinful. In between, expect a mix of traditional and nouveau dishes, all thoughtfully made and beautifully presented.

Locanda Paolo Locanda Paolo (Av. Uxmal 35, SM 3 tel. 87-2627), downtown, and Mama Roma (Plaza Forum by the Sea, tel. 83-2444), in the Hotel Zone, are other excellent Italian selections.

Note: when calling from North America, dial 011-52-98 before the local number.

DINNER CRUISES
A truly beautiful way to spend a warm, sultry evening in Cancun is to dine aboard one of the area’s dinner boats, many complete with first-class entertainment (and out-of-this-world sunsets). Honeymooners will light up at this lovely dining alternative.

A truly beautiful way to spend a warm, sultry evening in Cancun is to dine aboard one of the area’s dinner boats, many complete with first-class entertainment (and out-of-this-world sunsets). Honeymooners will light up at this lovely dining alternative.

There are several options from which to choose. The Columbus Lobster Dinner cruise (tel. 83-3268 or 83-3271) sets sail from the Royal Mayan Marina dock (Hotel Zone) daily at 4 and 7:30pm. Cruisers dine on succulent broiled lobster or steak on this 62-foot motor-sailing vessel - during the sunset or under the starry skies while enjoying the open bar. Dress is casual, reservations are necessary. Cost is US $60 per person.

[Prices and times were accurate at time of printing.
Please re-confirm upon arrival in Mexico]

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