image description March 26, 2014

Six Cancun Restaurants That Don’t Suck

Location:
Cancun, Mexico
Six Cancun Restaurants That Don’t Suck

Spring Break Recommendations

By Molly Mogren

This spring breaker’s paradise is known for its foam parties, American chain restaurants and all-inclusive hotels. However, this city is finally growing up, with fantastic dining options to match. If you’re looking to dine on something other than a bloomin’ onion at Outback, hit up any of these excellent restaurants.

Du Mexique

Step into this restaurant near downtown and you’ll ask yourself Are we still in Mexico or are we in France? Filled with stunning original contemporary art, this elegant spot combines the best of Mexico’s fresh ingredients with classic French technique. With only a few tables available each evening, Du Mexique’s service is extremely personal (and reservations are pretty much necessary). Chef Alain Grimond, who hails from Lyon, France, personally takes your order; his charming wife, Sonya, is the perfect hostess—greeting each patron with a genuine hug and kiss (yes, seriously). Think of it as an intimate dinner party with really, really fantastic food.

Av. Bonampak 109, esq. calle Pargo, Sm.3, Centro, 77500, Cancún, Quintana Roo; 998 884 5919

Ramona

Ramona Cancun

Cancun isn’t exactly known for culinary greatness, but as this city continues to mature (it was only founded 40-some years ago!), that’s quickly changing. If you’re craving one special, splurge-y meal, make a reservation at Ramona—the flagship restaurant at new luxury property NIZUC on the south end of town. Chef Bladimir Garcia’s modernist menu perfectly melds Mexican flavors with refined French and Spanish technique. The Tizimin lechon (a riff on tacos al pastor) is a showstopper, and don’t skip the green bean soup infused with vanilla beans. Sounds weird, but it’s insanely delicious.

NIZUC Resort and Spa, Blvd. Kukulkan, Punta Nizuc, 77500 Cancún, Quintana Roo; 998 891 5768

El Fish Fritanga

Located along the Hotel Zone’s main drag, Fish Fritanga’s street presence is nothing special—a fluorescently-lit counter space adjacent to a Domino’s Pizza. However, if you walk alongside the building and head down a flight of stairs, you’ll find Fish Fritanga’s sit-down restaurant. Situated next to a marina on the city’s famed lagoon, this outdoor restaurant offers inexpensive, excellent Mexican food. Kick things off with an order of pescadillas—deep fried pouches of fish served with salsas, then try some ceviches (the octopus is phenomenal) and nurse shark tostadas.

Blvd. Kukulcán Km. 12.6, downstairs marina Paradise Pier, Cancún, Quintana Roo; 998 840 6216

Picus

Picus

Isla Mujeres is just a short ferry ride from Cancun, and worth every second of travel time. It’s a lovely island, offering tranquil beaches, low key restaurants, hotels and, in all honesty, a lot more character than its mainland counterpart. For a quick lunch, you can’t beat Picus—a casual oceanfront spot on the island’s main drag. Dig your toes in the sand while chowing down on mixed ceviche and thick, hot tortilla chips fresh out of the fryer. Order one of their signature mojitos, packed with loads of fresh mint and lime.

Av. Rueda Medina (1 block northwest of ferry docks), Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Terra Nostra

An elegant homage to the cuisine of the Mediterranean, Terra Nostra offers homemade pastas and wood-oven specialties that showcase the freshest seasonal ingredients. Try the warm Mediterranean salad, made with insanely fresh seafood (prawns, mussels, scallops and octopus) and kalamata olives, potatoes, tomato and peppers; one bite of the housemade tagliatelle carbonara served with bacon, parsley, Parmesan and walnuts will make you forget that you’re planning on squeezing into a swimsuit in the morning. Psssht, whatever… you are on vacation. Request a table outside, which boasts an infinity pool that melts into a lush mangrove forest.

NIZUC Resort and Spa, Blvd. Kukulkan, Punta Nizuc, 77500 Cancún, Quintana Roo; 998 891 5768

Hanaichi

Do you really want to eat sushi in Mexico? If you find yourself at Hanaichi, you do. For the past 12 years, Japanese chef Hashimoto is the guy providing the hotel zone with his homeland’s authentic flavors. The exterior might not look like much (it’s housed in a random strip mall), but expect extremely fresh sushi, sashimi and Japanese staples like tempura, teppanyaki and udon. Regulars rave about their thick-cut sake sashimi (Japanese for salmon, one of Cancun’s indigenous fish… just kidding. Regardless, it’s fantastic). The restaurant is fairly small, so call ahead for a reservation.

Blvd Kukulcan Km 9, Mza 48, Lote 1, Local 1, Zona Hotelera, Cancún, Quintana Roo; 998 883 2804

 

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The daughter of a flight attendant and a hippy-turned-real estate developer who toured Europe in a Volkswagen bus, Molly Mogren came into this world with an undeniable sense of adventure. From hiking the Antarctic Peninsula, to outrunning a hyena in South Africa and even driving a street-legal monster truck through Des Moines, Iowa—she never turns down an opportunity to do something crazy. She’s worked as Andrew Zimmern’s right-hand lady since 2007; they’ve co-written three books together and  co-host a weekly podcast called “Go Fork Yourself.” Her latest project, Hey Eleanor!, chronicles her year-long journey of tackling one thing that scares her every day. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her fiancé, dog (Patsy) and kitty, Bogart. She likes to drink coffee, do crossword puzzles and is very good at parallel parking. 

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