When most people think of Cozumel, tourist traps quickly come to mind. While it’s true that Cozumel has its share of such attractions – it is a popular travel destination after all – it’s also true that there are several great restaurants worth checking out that really shine.
The majority of places you’ll come across specialize in Yucatecan cuisine, which mixes Caribbean and Mexican influences for some delicious results. There are other cuisines in the area, but you have to know where to look since local fare takes precedence.
Here are a few places you should visit when you’re in town.
Kinta Mexican Bistro
Kinta serves up some tasty Mexican food in a tropical setting that will definitely make an impression; the outdoor tropical Mexican garden is worth checking out just by itself. Since 2007, the kitchen has been helmed by popular area chef Kris Wallenta, whose style emphasizes fresh, local ingredients.
Wallenta’s innovative flair can be found throughout the menu in everything from the Peskado Koketo (catch of the day, pumpkin seed crust, Poblano pepper emulsion, sweet potato puree and red pepper-chilpotle coulis) to the Porky Pasilla (slow roasted pork tenderloin, Chile Pasilla-Mushroom demiglaze, toasted almonds, prune marmalade and mashed potatos).
Although this restaurant is a little on the pricier side, it’s worth splurging if you have the budget. Even if you don’t, a little menu maneuvering can help you leave without a hole in your wallet.
Take a trip off the main strip and make your way over to this little gem. The family-run El Moro is a local favorite, and you shouldn’t have any problems asking for directions to find it. The menu is full of mouthwatering Mexican and Yucatecan items, so come hungry.
On first glace of the menu, it can seem a little overwhelming; there’s a lot of food – so much so that it puts the Cheesecake Factory to shame. But the restaurant’s staff, known for their superb service, will help guide you through the different offerings. The chicken mole enchiladas are a solid choice as are any of the seafood options (which they specialize in). There’s also a full bar, so you can take advantage of margaritas and other refreshments. If the walk is too much for you, satisfy your Mexican food craving with taco and tequila tour near the port.
Don’t let the size of this venue deter you. Although it’s small with just a handful of tables, the selections are anything but. The café offers a range of appetizing fare that will have you coming back sooner rather than later – locals love this place for its eclectic menu and shareable portions. Whether you’re visiting for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you’ll find something that caters to your palette.
If there’s one dish that’s a must at Le Chef, it’s the lobster BLT sandwich. This sandwich combines all these ingredients on rye bread for something that can be described as “heaven in your mouth.” Other heavy fare at the restaurant includes burgers and pizza. Hungry guests craving something a little lighter can try the soups, salads and daily specials. There’s also a nice wine list if you’re in the mood for some liquid refreshment.
If you’re craving Italian in Cozumel, Guido’s is the go-to spot. Its rustic look and charm really stands out and makes you feel as if you’re dining in Italy. Chef Yvonne Villiger heads the kitchen and took the restaurant over from her father, who opened the place back in the 1970s. Fish is one of her specialties, so if you see anything of the sort on the daily specials, order it.
At Guido’s, many hungry guests stick to the pizzas; the restaurant’s wood-burning oven is put to good use by the kitchen staff. Although the pies are good, we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend the homemade pastas – of which there are many. You can’t go wrong with the lasagna or the tortellini stuffed with spinach and cheese; both items receive a lot of praise. One last bit of advice: Don’t skip the sangria.
Pick a great Cozumel cruise excursion to like snorkeling or hiking to accompany your fantastic day of local cuisine.