Cancún and Playa del Carmen are among the most-visited spots on the Mexican coast. Sandwiched between the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, Cancún is famous for its stunning panorama and festive holidaymakers who descend annually on Cancún’s Hotel Zone stretch. From Hotel Zone restaurants to downtown gems, haute cuisine to budget eats, we discover the ten best cultural restaurants in Cancún and Playa del Carmen.
Serving an exclusive 12-course tasting meal, Le Chique at the Azul Sensatori Hotel by Karisma, which has a beautiful oceanfront location, offers an intimate and unique dining experience. Headed by El Bulli-trained Chef Jonatan Gomez-Luna, the award winning menu at Le Chique delivers creative flavors and cutting edge presentation, making it one of the top haute cuisine dining destinations in Cancún.
Punta Bonita at the stunning Rosewood Mayakaba resort is the perfect way to relax while enjoying the succulent flavors of a truly refined Mexican meal. Some of their most highly recommended dishes include the fresh soft shell crab sandwich, and the Caribbean lobster tacos with smoked chipotle mayonnaise, avocado and black beans, all of which comes artfully prepared. Pair your selection of Mexican tapas with one of Punta Bonita’s signature margaritas. Don’t miss their taco night, an excellent way to indulge in the extensive taco selection while taking in their sublime oceanfront ambiance and views.
Alux Restaurant takes haute cuisine to its subterranean depths. Diners descend down a flight of stairs to enter into an open chamber which has been described by past patrons as like entering another world. This truly one-of-a-kind Playa del Carmen restaurant makes its home in a cave, where, in addition to superb service, candlelit tables and fine gourmet food, diners are surrounded by stalactites and stalagmites overhead and along the cave walls, making this an unforgettable dining experience.
Puerto Madero Cancun brings the best of the Buenos Aires steakhouse to Cancun, with its decorative aesthetics of dark woods, brick and glass interior. Offering outdoor terrace seating, Puerto Madero Cancun combines a stunning view over the Caribbean with delicious Argentine-style wood grilled steaks. For those who simply can’t decide between Puerto Madero’s meats and seafood options, the best bet is to opt for the Surf and Turf Puerto Madero which comes with Maine lobster and prime tenderloin.
One of Cancun’s most popular restaurants, La Habichuela combines the best of Caribbean seafood with Mexican cuisine. There are now two locations, the original downtown location and a second overlooking the lagoon. Both restaurants pay tribute to Mexico’s Mayan heritage in their décor, with Mayan-inspired artwork and artifacts. Offering expansive outdoor dining at its second location, La Habichuela is a favorite for romantic nights out.
Fonda Argentina is a favorite amongst Cancún residents, with popular outposts in Mexico City, this is an excellent spot to take in the local culture. This Argentinean restaurant specialises in parillada, which is various marinated cuts of meat including beef, chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage), mollejas (sweetbread) and arrachera, grilled over wood charcoal to give the meat a succulent, slightly-blackened smokiness. The flan con dulce de leche is an especially popular dessert option.
Since 1975, La Parrilla in Cancún has offered Cancún locals and visitors a vibrant, lively traditional Mexican dining experience. From the hacienda-styled interior design to the restaurant’s colorful décor and live mariachi band, La Parrilla positively buzzes with life and energy. La Parrilla’s tacos al pastor, with spit-cut chunks of meat, is a much-reviewed favourite, as are its flame grilled meats and selection of desserts.
El Rincón de los Antojos, which translates to ‘Cravings Corner’, specialises in recreating the flavours of the home, with authentic Mexican dishes such as pambazos (Mexican white bread), sopes (tortilla-like, but thicker), tostadas (Mexican fried tortilla), gorditas (savoury filled pastry), empanadas and quesadillas. This decidedly off-the-tourist path restaurant exudes a friendly, comforting Mexican coastal vibe, with photograph-lined walls and simple décor.
El Rincón del Vino debuted the wine bar concept in Cancún, bringing over 140 different wines to the table, with a selection of tapas dishes that draw from Mexican, Caribbean, Spanish and Mediterranean-inspired flavors. Tuesday through Saturday, El Rincón del Vino also offers live music that gives diners a truly immersive cultural experience of fresh, quality food and a fine selection of wines.
Founded in Playa del Carmen in 2003, Ah Cacao Chocolate Café is a chocolate-lovers haven and the perfect spot for a quiet afternoon relaxing over a cup of coffee and any number of wonderful chocolate treats and drinks. Indulge in Mexico’s rich chocolate heritage with a large selection of delightfully rich Mayan criollo chocolate made from Mexican cacao that is bitter and infused with fruity and nutty flavours.