Nothing gets me more excited about a trip than planning where (and what) to eat. So, as you can imagine, when we booked a recent trip to Mayakoba in Mexico, I immediately started googling the best food to try while we were there.
There was a lot of information online about eating in Mayakoba, and as we discovered, not all of it is accurate! I knew that as soon as I got home, I would be whipping up this blog post to make life easier for your next trip.
We had plenty of time to dig into the local cuisine and debate our favourites. After much discussion (and a jalapeño margarita), we decided on our must-eats.
After a long day of lounging by the pool, we headed straight to Casa Del Lago for a meal that was nothing short of divine. As the name suggests, this is an elegant Italian restaurant with a Mexican touch. Crisp white table cloths, twinkling tea lights and clinking wine glasses set the tone for what was sure to be a fabulous evening.
The most challenging part of the experience was choosing what to eat, but eventually, we settled on sharing a couple of salad plates before moving on to the main course. I was particularly impressed to see that the Rosewood Mayakoba is the only Seafood Watch partner in Mexico, which meant I just knew I had to give a fish dish a try.
First up, we shared a Ceiba Garden Salad, which hit all the right notes after a long day in the sun. The sweetness of the ripe tomatoes was a real treat among an assortment of fresh greens and herbs. Fresh avocado, cucumber, and red onion added some extra bursts of flavour and bites of texture. It was topped off with a tasty garlic vinaigrette, which almost had us licking the plate.
After that, things got a little more indulgent. Out came Beef Carpaccio with an onion and leek crust, a rich truffle dressing, mushrooms, arugula and generous shavings of aged parmesan cheese. This dish didn’t last long, and I’m relatively sure that Russ ate more than his fair share.
For the main course, we parted ways. Russ had his heart set on the Tuscany Roasted Chicken, which came with tomatoes, fresh asparagus, pickled eggplants and a zingy herb condiment called gremolata, which is a tasty mix of parsley, lemon zest and finely chopped garlic. Served with a black bean reduction (that he still talks about!) and avocado leaf, it was enough to make me wonder if we would need to come back so I could order my own.
I soon forgot all about Russ’s chicken. “Catch of the Day” was a locally caught sea bass, which was cooked to perfection and melted effortlessly in my mouth. Served on a traditional Italian Stew called Scafata made out of fava beans. There was an incredible array of flavours on display, which made each bite memorable. Freshly picked mint, tomatillos, lemon and chile guajillo (a large pod chile with a multi-layered fruity flavour), fennel puree and black garlic all held their own in this remarkable blend of Italian and Mexican cuisines.
Mayakoba is at its most beautiful in the evening when the temperature cools, and the atmosphere heats-up a little. The lighting dims, and the scent of simmering dishes fills the air, and everyone comes out to eat. The sound of the sea mingles with lively conversation, giving the coastal resort a warm atmosphere.
We decided to stay by the Rosewood Pool one evening, and were impressed by how quickly the costal area transformed into a salsa bar with a ’60s vibe. Families and couples gathered around tables, which had a distinctly upscale flair. The menu was dedicated to food from Mexico’s South Coast region, and we knew we were in for a treat.
Our server began by whipping up a salsa by our table in a large stone mortar and pestle (I had a small stab of kitchen envy!), combining freshly roasted vegetables, tomatillos, garlic, salt and pepper. They then served the freshly ground salsa with avocado, black beans and house-made tortillas. Every table was treated to this spectacle, which was as scrumptious as it was entertaining.
Next up was Black Bean’ Tetela’. Tetelas are tasty triangle-shaped corn tortillas stuffed with black beans and cooked on a griddle. Delicious little nuggets that were a definite highlight in what was an unforgettable dining experience.
We freshened up our palates with some green ‘tomatillo’ salad served with arugula, purslane (a leafy green), piloncillo (an unrefined Mexican sugar that pulled the flavour out of the tomatillos) and Oaxaca cheese.
Russ was very excited about the roasted sucking pig cooked “garnachero” style with potato, cabbage, jalapeno chile, pickled carrot and red sauce. And I’m happy to report; it didn’t disappoint.
I went for Duck confit and chicilo negro sauce with a ricj chilhaucle mole sauce, avocado leaf, Aycote beans (a lighter flavour than the kidney bean), herbs chayote and green beans. Each bite felt like I was discovering another layer to the character.
A lovely meal made all the more romantic by the gorgeous setting, laid back atmosphere, and incredible tableside service.
With just one glance at the menu, I knew we were in for a treat. We sat overlooking the lagoon facing the mangroves of the Rosewood Mayakoba Resort. It doesn’t get much more idyllic than that.
I am not a margarita drinker, but the menu had a Jalapeno Margarita, and it was begging me to try it! So I did! It was one of those times where it paid to step out of my comfort zone, and it was a deliciously refreshing drink with a little hit of spice that kept things interesting.
We decided to share, as the menu seemed best suited to that, and there were so many things to try that it would have been impossible not to steal from each other’s plates.
This meal has redefined the way I think about cauliflower; lightly cooked a la wok which kept the bite, while still deepening the flavour. Served with Adobo al Pastor, Pineapple, Cilantro and Ginger Guacamole, it was a dish that would be hard to recreate.
Our next plate was a satisfying Chicken Satay that was coated in a spicy serrano peanut sauce (that I may still dream about) served with pickles, and salsa macha.
Next up was a spicy shrimp with avocado, spicy aioli, serrano chile and cucumber. This Kampachi Serrano provided a nice kick of spice to the evening.
Finally, we ordered a plate of Salmon sashimi with extra ginger slices (just the way I like it!).
Everything was beautifully presented and cooked to perfection. The view (and the margarita) combined to make this one of my most memorable meals of the trip.
Russ and I took a 20 minute cab ride from Mayakoba into Playa Del Carmen, what a lovely quaint place! It felt as if we had stepped into another world as we wandered the cobbled streets, admiring the bustling corridor that is “La Quinta Avenida”. It’s 22 blocks long, so we didn’t walk the whole thing, but it was full of cute little clothing stores, local shops, lively bars and restaurants.
We decided on Harry’s upscale beef and seafood restaurant midway along the ‘never-ending strip’! It immediately felt warm and welcoming, with a variety of rustic woods and natural textures setting an upscale but relaxed tone. It was bustling, and it was nice to settle into a restaurant where everyone seemed as if they had just come home.
First up was the meat trolley, which was a fascinating display of all the different options. They explained each cut, and I felt like I received quite an education! Have you ever seen a tomahawk steak? Think Fred Flinstone because that’s how huge it was.
Those who read my blog will know that I don’t often drink and when I do, I’m quite picky. Unfortunately, the only champagne on the menu was Moet Nectar, which is far too sweet for my tastes. Our server was endlessly patient, and I tried four glasses of white wine before finding one that suited me. I decided on a Mexican Chardonnay aged in oak, which was a lovely dry wine with a smokey feel.
Our starters were: salmon served in a large box (very similar to a bento box) with three sauces; cocktail sauce, habanero tartar sauce, ginger mayonnaise, and a zucchini carpaccio that was a game-changer. I couldn’t figure out what they did to make it that flavourful, but I almost ordered a second helping.
Unfortunately, the main course wasn’t up to snuff. Russ ordered the steak, medium rare and I had the local Sea Bass. Everything was a la carte. We ordered a side of grilled mixed veggie and a baked potato. Our dinners came, sans vegetables, which eventually arrived after I had finished my meal. Yep! I ate my sea bass with a couple of garnish veggies. Russ’ steak was overcooked, and after sending it back, the new steak didn’t appear until I had finished eating. Russ and I have a rule – eat, don’t let yours get cold!
We both enjoyed the food, but the service needs improvement. There was no compensation for the mishap with the steak or the veggies. It was an unfortunate end to a strong start. I added this restaurant as we both enjoyed the food, and I would hazard a guess that this was a one of a kind mishap. The meal did start strong before falling flat.
A traditional small Mexican town square, this is a lively place to while away an afternoon. It’s as delightful to people watch and sit out in the sun, as it is to pop in and out of the busy little shops. This ‘el pueblito’ is complete with a candy shop, bakery and even a cooking school. We took a stroll down the cobblestone walkway and decided to grab a quick bite and sit out in the square.
I enjoyed a tostato from La Fondita and because of my excellent margarita experience, I opted to have another one here. This time, I went for traditional and on the rocks.
Russ enjoyed a prime cut burger from the Burger House. What’s nice about this area is that it’s easy to choose food from different restaurants and still share a meal. An upscale food court of sorts!
For anyone planning to stay in the Mayakoba area, it’s important to note that each hotel ‘hosts’ a food venue: Tostados via The Rosewood, burgers via The Banyan Tree, a bakery via The Andaz, and a candy store via The Fairmont.
We hit them all!