Of course, food is an important part of any vacation, that’s why this post is dedicated strictly to the food we had in Tulum.
On our way to Mexico the flight was delayed by an hour so we didn’t get to Tulum until 9 pm. By that point we were pretty tired and HUNGRY. Since our hotel didn’t have electricity, there was nothing we could do in the dark. I only had $30 USD on me, so we asked our gracious host to take us to a nearby restaurant that we could have some food at for both of us. He recommended Shiva. Interesting experience to be eating Indian food on our first night in Mexico. 🙂 We got a plate that we were able to share for about $2, no drinks, we couldn’t afford them. We risked against all warnings and settled for regular water. Luckily enough we did not have any issues later.
The place was extremely charming, and our hostess was extremely friendly (we actually ran into her the next day at the bank and she gave us some great tips on money exchanges).
In the mornings we woke up to a beautiful and light breakfast at our hotel.
Later we headed downtown for some lunch/dinner. We exchanged some money at the Scotia bank and headed straight down Tulum road. There were plenty of restaurants to choose from, but we settled on Caribe Mexico on the corner of Tulum Road and Orion Norte. They were less pushy than other restaurants, super friendly, and the food selection was great and affordable.
Here we discovered agua de fruta, which became Dmitry’s favorite drink of the trip (basically fresh fruit blended with water and a little bit of ice, plus sugar). We also ordered ceviche con camaron y pesca (marinated fish and shrimp in vinegar and lemon juice). We got their “medium” portion, which was about $12. We expected to get a small bowl, but we got a small “boat” instead. We were pleasantly surprised by the size and by the taste, it was by far the best ceviche we’ve had. And we got some tacos, which were equally delicious. I also had 2 mineral waters con gas. The total bill was about $30 with the tip.
The next day we didn’t get to eat until late at night (9:30 pm). Most places downtown were closing up, so we crossed the street and found an open sports bar that served “real” food. We got a grilled seafood platter to share. I’ve never had octopus before that I liked and at this place it took me a while to realize that I was even eating octopus, it was so good! I also had a shot of tequila (Don Julio as was recommended by a taxi driver earlier). At that point I was relaxed and enjoyed watching a futbol (soccer) game on TV with Honduras vs. Mexico.
Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the place, and couldn’t find it on Google Maps, so I think it’s pretty new. Our bill was $47 with tip.
On day 4 in Mexico, we decided to find something less touristy and something cheap to eat. We kept walking down the Tulum Road until we didn’t see any more souvenir shops. I don’t think the place even had a name, it just said “restaurante”. But I did find it on Google Maps. There were no tourists, only locals. They had several pre-made dishes covered with plastic wrap. Some looked completely foreign and unappetizing, so we settles on a couple that seemed more familiar: a beef dish and a shrimp soup-kinda-thing. Our bill was something like $8. Now this is the cheap Mexico we’ve heard so much about :)). The shrimp soup was delicious, but was a lot of work since the shrimp was not pealed prior. The beef was also not bad, reminded me of some home cooking.
The next day, a Thursday, was our lazy day. This was the only day we didn’t leave zona de hoteleria (the hotel zone). So at about 3 pm we decided to walk down to Hartwood to see what all the hype was about. Any Tulum review you will read will tell you to go to Hartwood and getting a table is apparently extremely difficult. Hartwood doesn’t open for service until 6 pm, but the only way to get a table is to find the hostess at 3 pm and put your name on the list. I guess there are benefits to traveling during the off season because the line in front of us was fairly small and we got a table for two at 7:00pm in less than 5 minutes! It was the most expensive meal we’ve had in Tulum. I was also concerned that my expectations might have been set too high with everything I had read about it, BUT..! It was great! Their drinks were light and delicious, and the food portions enormous and unbelievably tasty.
They start by taking your drink orders. Then they put a menu next to you and spend about 6 minutes explaining every single item on the menu!
We started with Ensalada de Pescado Ahumado.
And for main dished we chose Filete Coronado and Filete de Robalo (both fish dishes) with a beet side. It was a truly special meal and the pictures don’t do justice to the size of fish filets we got.
Pro tip: since you will be seating outside surrounded by jungle, bring mosquito spray! Thankfully I never took it out of my bag, and it came very handy at this place.
Day five was another eat downtown at Antojitos Mexicanos slightly off Tulum Road on Jupiter Sur. I don’t remember what we ate and was too hungry to capture it. I believe we went for some ceviche and some sort tortilla thing that I forget the name of, that was handmade (I can’t explain the process, you’d have to watch it) especially for me. It was light and delicious. And although I love me some cheesy Tex Mex, we found that Mexican food is actually very light and easy to digest! They didn’t have any cerveza, but I was able to buy one across the street at the corner store and have it at the restaurant. Mexico is awesome. 🙂 Our bill was less than $15, and our server was awesome. His English was not very strong, which made me happy since I wanted to practice my Spanish, he corrected me a couple of times, and I was able to do the same for him :).
Our last day, day six, was a Saturday. Our shuttle was picking us up at 1pm, so we walked next door from our hotel to Ahau for a quick lunch before departure. We also had some pesos to burn, so we planned it exactly so we would only have enough left to tip our shuttle driver.
We went for our last ceviche and some chicken tacos. A bottle of mineral water here costs $4.50, while identical one is $1.25 in the city of Tulum. But oh well. Our leftover pesos got us a plate of ceviche and some tacos. The meal came with free salsa made fresh at your table. The food was good, but honestly, this was the most underwhelming meal we’ve had during out whole stay. The chicken in the tacos was too dry and ceviche was missing some flavor. The best part of the meal was the salsa, both, the presentation and the taste, everything else was just lacking in comparison. And this meal came out to about $33. Not cheap. But we completed our mission and peacefully parted with our leftover pesos.
In conclusion, my advice would be to eat in the city. The hotel zone is MUCH pricier and is not always that good. And if you’re going to eat at the hotel zone, do your research beforehand to make sure you get your money’s worth.