The Best Cheap Eats in Tulum, Mexico
Despite its ever-increasing popularity, there are still plenty of delicious budget options in Tulum | © Kateryna Sednieva / Getty Images
Although Tulum has grown in size and popularity, there are still plenty of delicious budget eats to be found.
Tulum may be the hottest getaway for New York fashion types, but it’s still Mexico, and one of the best things about Mexico is that you can find inexpensive restaurants that serve everything from international dishes, some with a Mexican twist, to, of course, tacos. Read on to see where to find fresh, delicious meals on a budget.
One of the best things about Mexico is the tacos! At Taquería Honorio, located on Avenida Satelite Sur between Calle Andromeda and Calle Sol, you’ll find both authentic tacos and an authentic ambience. The secret behind its delicious food is the fact that everything is prepared in the traditional way. No shortcuts here. It offers tacos, quesadillas and tortas (sandwiches made on home-made baguette-like bread) for cash only. Try a torta de cochinita with the obligatory pink onion and habanero salsa. Arrive early because it closes when the meat is gone, usually between 1pm and 3pm.
Sometimes the simplest meal is the most delicious. At Pollo Bronco, this simple meal consists of a whole, half or quarter chicken, tortillas, rice and salsa. The whole chicken version comes to a total of 165 pesos ($7.50). This is one of the best and most satisfying ways to eat on the cheap in Tulum. There are additional side dishes available as well, and you can eat at one of a few plastic tables or take your order to go. Pollo Bronco is open for lunch or an early dinner. Don’t forget to order a Mexican Coke (made with real sugar, not high fructose corn syrup) to wash it all down.
El Rincon Chiapaneco
El Rincon Chiapaneco is what Mexicans call bueno, bonito y barato (good, nice and cheap). Located just off the main strip on Calle Jupiter, it serves a variety of traditional Mexican food like enchiladas, tacos, fajitas, ceviche and chiles relleno (stuffed peppers) for breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with a front-row view of the street, so it’s great for people-watching. It doesn’t serve alcohol, so try a fresh limonada (lemonade). It’s a little warm at midday, so go for breakfast and order huevos divorciados – two sunny-side up eggs on tortillas with green sauce on one and red on the other – or dinner.
El Camello Jr
Restaurant, Mexican, Seafood, $$$
El Camello, Jr is a Tulum seafood institution. Located on Avenida Tulum, it offers a wide variety of super fresh seafood prepared in different ways – soups, tacos, ceviche, cocktails and tostadas. Standouts include the coconut shrimp or lobster in guajillo chile. Service is efficient and friendly, portions are huge – so pay careful attention to what you are ordering – and, whatever you do, order a chelada, or michelada, (prepared beer cocktails) to go with your meal. The sign actually says El Camello, Jr, but everyone calls the place El Camello, so don’t get confused.
Restaurant, Vegetarian, Vegan
Looking for healthy, vegetarian or vegan options? Tropi-Q, situated just off Avenida Tulum on Calle Orian Sur, is a cozy, brightly colored space that serves lunch and dinner. This is home-made food at its best. Choose from pitas, falafel, hamburgers, tacos, pasta… the menu is large. It also offers a daily 100-peso ($4.50) menu (comida corrida in Spanish) on the ground floor and free Wi-Fi. Tropi-Q also has daily drink specials, like 2 x 50-peso ($2.25) beers and 2 x 150-peso ($6.75) cocktails.
Antojitos La Chiapaneca
If you love tacos, you’ll want to try them in more than one restaurant. Antojitos La Chiapaneca might not be much to look at, but its mouthwatering al pastor, beef or chicken tacos and tortas can’t be beat. Be sure to order the tacos al pastor with everything. It also offers sopes, tostadas, empanadas and vegetarian options – and not only is the food cheap, so is the beer. Bring your pesos with you, because credit and debit cards are not accepted. Antojitos la Chiapaneca is only open for dinner.
Argentina is famous for its empanadas, but you can try them in Tulum. Situated on Calle Satelite off the main road downtown, El Sudaca offers authentic Argentinian empanadas at a great price. The empanadas are stuffed with a delicious combination of ingredients; for instance, the Salteña contains ground beef, potatoes and onions. There are also delicious vegetarian options. El Sudaca also serves sandwiches, cuts of meat and tempting desserts. Have a glass of malbec and enjoy the twinkling lights in the courtyard.
Uno Japanese Noodles
Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
Tired of tacos? Creative Japanese food with a Mexican touch is what’s served up for lunch and dinner at Uno Japanese Noodles. Choose from gyoza, edamame and miso soup, or order something off the Mexican fusion sushi roll menu, all served by a friendly staff in a place with a cool vibe and indoor/outdoor seating. Uno serves refreshing lemonade, but not alcohol, so stop by for a meal and head somewhere else for cocktails.
Food Truck, Restaurant, Italian, Spanish, Mexican, Venezuelan, $$$
If you’re traveling with a group and everyone wants something different, visit Palma Central, Tulum’s first food truck park. Situated right on the main strip downtown, the park is filled with food vans serving tostadas, coffee, juices and crepes, pizza, burgers, churros, ceviche, Spanish food and gluten-free arepas from Venezuela. In other words, something for everyone. The entire place is open-air, beautifully lit at night, and there is even a playground for the kids. It’s open from 3pm to 11pm, so go for dinner and stay for cocktails or craft beer from the bar. Palma Central also holds special events like DJ sets, workshops, live music and an art camp for kids.
A burrito is basically an entire meal wrapped up in a tortilla, and nobody does burritos better than Burrito Amor. Located downtown on the main avenue and open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Burrito Amor was opened by married couple Cameron and Paula, who first fell in love with Mexico in 2010. Clean eating is the idea here, and much of the menu is paleo and vegan-friendly, and/or free of gluten, dairy, grain and egg. Your mouth will water just looking over the menu. Oh, and go ahead and ask for a straw, because Burrito Amor only uses reusable bamboo ones.
These recommendations were updated on May 28, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.