Fancy a pizza? Or a plate of jumpingly fresh seafood? On the super-chill island of Isla Holbox, in Mexico‘s Quintana Roo, between swimming and sunbathing, you can pull up a chair and settle in for a feast of flavors. Here they are, the best places to eat on Isla Holbox.
With a palm-thatch awning and a scattering of wooden tables spilling out onto the sandy street, this family-run restaurant – in crab-scuttling distance of the beach – has no barefoot-chic pretensions; but it does serve some of the freshest seafood in town, and at the best prices. Simple grilled fish, fried seafood and avocado-based salads come with slices of lime and optional zingy home-made habanero sauce. In the evenings, there’s live music.
Eating at home? Picnicking on the beach? Make a pit-stop in Holbox’s best bakery, in the center of the village. As the name suggests, Le Jardin tilts its beret to France – serving almost-Parisian pastries, fresh croissants, quiches and baguettes to go or to eat in – in the light, airy, open-sided café space. The in-house menu includes omelettes, smoothies and if you ask, strong European-style coffee. And the bakery is open for breakfast.
Fine dining with an ocean view? It’s at the Mandarina – a Mex-meets-Med restaurant at Las Tortugas, Holbox’s coolest boutique hotel. Begin upstairs at the Ama Bar – with the house Hoja Santa cocktail (Espadín mezcal, Mexican pepperleaf, chili and tonic) and sunset views. Then head to the Mandarin’s dining area – all distressed wood tables under a palapa in cork-popping distance of the waves, and order seafood fresh from the sea.
It’s just a handful of tables under an open-sided palm-roofed awning, but Barba Negra serves the best meat and veggie tacos and aguachiles (Mexican shrimp ceviche) in Holbox. The Yucatán special, taco de campechano, comes with grilled beef, chicharron (pork rinds), and longaniza (red pork sausage with annatto seeds). Have yours with an ice-cold craft beer or one of the excellent house cocktails – they even make the delicious mixers in house.
Roots serves wood-fired pizza on rustic wooden tables in the heart of Holbox village, five minutes’ walk from the beach. There’s hammock space for chilling out with a cocktail, and the restaurant inhabits a traditional Mayan nah thatched cottage. There are myriad pizzas (lobster, oaxaqueña: with grasshoppers) and all kinds of veggie options. Top tip: if you dine here in the evening, wear long sleeves and pants – the mosquitoes are voracious.
Celebrated chef Erik Winckelmann’s bonsai bistro sits curbside under a palm-thatch awning a block from the beach. Erik himself visits your table to tell you what’s available on the ever-changing four-dish-only menu. The emphasis is on quality ingredients. He chooses only the best of what’s available, depending on the season and the catches of the day in the village fish market. Cocktail mixer ingredients are all locally sourced, or prepared in-house.
This place serves traditional Mexican comfort food in the heart of Holbox village, near the main plaza. Ceviche verde (Sinaloan shrimp-based ceviche) is tangy with lime, enchiladas come stuffed with chicken, fresh fish or octopus, and the long, strong watermelon margaritas are a refreshing tonic after a day in the Holbox heat. Rosa’s opens early and serves big breakfasts of Mexican eggs, tostadas, chilaquiles and plates of tropical fruit.
Lunch on the village beach? Head to Raices – a palm-thatch palapa sitting right on the choicest patch of Holbox’s white sand. This is where you can pull up a plastic chair, sit in your wet swimwear and eat wrigglingly fresh fish or shrimp (served in tacos or salads). Or sip a cooling cocktail in a swing seat at the bar or on the shaded sun loungers: diners get all-day access, and the sea’s so close you’re almost in the waves.
If you’re looking for a greater taste of Holbox, why not try one of the best bars in town? There are countless reasons why you should visit this beautiful island, but for some specific ideas for your itinerary, check out our list of the best things to do while you’re here. And look no further for the best places to stay.