After my brief stint in the Lone Star State, I hopped over to Mexico to explore the wonders of beautiful Tulum. Tulum is beloved by hippies, eco-adventure enthusiasts, and old-fashioned beach bums alike. It’s located on the Caribean coast near a plethora Cenotes, nature preserves, and Mayan ruins, making Tulum an ideal place for eco-tourism. Due to its popularity, Tulum is home to a hopping hotel district, packed with a variety of restaurants, shops, and boutique resorts. But Tulum also has a wild beauty and stillness that could rival your inner happy place. Turquoise water, white sand, amazing wildlife, and a food scene that’s innovative and challenging? Paradise, amirite? Anyway, let me fill you in on everything I ate in this heaven. This is Tulum Eats: Everything I Ate in Tulum, Mexico. Hold on to your hats!
This is where we stayed and we absolutely adored it. We loved it so much, that we booked the exact same room for next year. For a while, I thought about leaving it out of the article because I want this place for myself. But I also really loved the staff and I know they’re up against some stiff competition (a Secrets resort is just a little down the beach), so I will put my selfish tendencies aside and tell you, with every earnest bone in my body, that you should stay here. You should stay here especially if you’re fed up with the all-inclusive experience because Villa Pescadores feels like you have a cottage in flippin’ Mexico. Also, their mascot is an adorable pup named Boxita and she is a goddamn treasure.
Villa Pescadores is quite a ways (in terms of walking) from the Hotel-heavy beach road. We were cool with that because we hate people, and our idea of partying is sipping really good tequila on a deck. But if you want to be in the thick of everything, this is not where you want to be. Villa Pescadores is located in Playa Pescadores, an active hub of the local fishing industry. I considered this to be a plus because I love watching ships, a hangover from my Nova Scotian upbringing. There are also a ton of public access points to Playa Pescadores, so a lot of day trippers and families visit during the day. Again, I liked this because it felt more immersive than a resort, but it’s not for everybody.
We ate at Villa Pescadores quite a few times and it wasn’t solely out of convenience. The food is really good. Villa Pescadores kind of has two restaurants: the beach bar and grill located on the beach and a semi-enclosed restaurant located at the back of the property. The beach bar serves absurdly fresh grilled seafood and spicy margaritas, while the restaurant has a slightly more fleshed out menu. We ate at both and, between the two of us, we had a lot off of the menu, so I will only mention the standouts. The lobster tacos were absolutely out of this world, they might have been the best thing I ate in Tulum. The tuna and chorizo tacos were also spectacular. My boyfriend was all about the pork tacos with salsa verde and we both lost it over the fish ceviche and the tuna serrano. Finally, the chocolate fondant is what you should order for dessert – I can’t say any more about it because it defies description.
Mezzanine is a boutique hotel and restaurant that serves Thai food. Yes, Thai food in Mexico. I was skeptical too. But, in the end, I had no reason to be.
Mezzanine is the first swank property you hit when traveling from Villa Pescadores to the celebrated and, in my opinion, overpopulated hotel strip. It’s still a-little-ways from the action and its location is nothing short of amazing. The dining area is set into a rocky cliff that overlooks the ocean. You have an excellent view of the breakers from the patio and the entire restaurant looks like something out of Dwell Magazine. Mezzanine is a zen minimalists dream – clean lines abound. But the restaurant somehow escapes being too severe. I credit this to a few elements of bohemian styling that Tulum as a whole is known for. In the end, Mezzanine manages to pull off a sophisticated yet beach-bum-friendly environment – who would’ve thought?
To start, we went with an order of chicken tequila dumplings and a spinach & jicama salad. My boyfriend boldly went for the Massaman curry as his main, while opted for the whole fish with pineapple salad. We both ordered them “Truly Thai” in terms of heat level and both were surprisingly good.
One final thing about Mezzanine, the cocktails are fantastic. If you feel like getting boozy while abroad, Mezzanine is a good place to do it. Having said that, Safari also has great cocktails and so does Villa Pescadores (some with fermented sugar cane which is pretty bonkers) AND I have heard nothing but amazing things about Gitano’s drink game. So, in Tulum, there are a lot of great places to get drunk AF without surrendering to screwdrivers.
We came upon this place while picking up supplies in Tulum proper (the actual town). And by “supplies” I mean beer, tequila, and chips of any flavor I can’t get at home. We walked the long hot way to town, which was deeply stupid and I paid for it with a mean case of heat stroke. Seriously, if you have to get into town, take a cab. Cabs are plentiful, trustworthy and cheap in Tulum. Don’t be like me and declare your trip to pick up chips “an adventure”. Call it what it is, “an errand.” Anyway, because we were idiots and walked, we were pretty flippin’ hungry when we made it into town. I had done a little digging on places to hit in Tulum town before we left, so we basically wandered the streets until we saw a name we recognized. El Canaston was the first one we spotted and I’m so glad we did.
El Canaston is a small open air restaurant sandwiched between two buildings. It’s covered by a thatched roof that is all too welcome in the midday heat. El Canaston has no visible kitchen, just a small bar outfitted with juicing gear and giant baskets of steamed tacos. You order your tacos at the bar and a nice lady plucks them from the basket and leaves you to dress them yourself with shredded cabbage and a few varieties of salsa. When we visited we had the chicken mole, potato and chorizo, and the al pastor. All of them were fantastic, but I want to single out the potato and chorizo taco as well as the salsa verde because I can’t stop thinking of either of them. We also had a pineapple orange juice with fresh mint that really hit the spot.
Okay, so we already covered Thai food, so are you really surprised that Tulum has Italian? I know, the skepticism is settling in, but stay with me because Italian food in Tulum kind of makes sense.
Tulum is a pretty eco-conscious place. There are solar panels everywhere, most resorts and hotels only offer air condition for a few hours a day (mostly overnight), and a lot of restaurants cook over an open fire (see Safari below), use a wood burning oven, or both. So naturally, being an Italian restaurant, Posada Margherita has one impressive wood-burning oven. And this wood-burning oven turns out some of the best focaccia I’ve ever had. Oh, and the focaccia is on-the-house and comes with pickled cauliflower that is so good it made me respect cauliflower.
We went to Posada Margherita for lunch and I was bit disappointed to not find pizza on the menu. I kept looking at the oven and looking at my pizza-less menu incredulously. It did not compute. Anyway, I went with a linguine with a simple fresh tomato sauce and my boyfriend had an eggplant linguine situation. Both were good but kinda meh. The pasta was obviously handmade and tasted great, but the sauce was over salted and a little, well, lazy. It was kind of a letdown after the tour de force focaccia. We also had a Caprese salad that was sporting some excellent burrata, so that kept me very happy.
Like Mezzanine, Posada Margherita has a spectacular semi-enclosed dining area with a stunning view of the ocean. It has more of a rustic vibe than Mezzanine. Think cozy weather-beaten beach cabin. I really loved this aesthetic and would’ve happily sat there all damn day staring at the water.
We went to Safari on our last day in Tulum and man, was I excited. I had heard a lot about this place and I wanted it to live up to the hype so badly. I sort of fell in love with the concept of Safari. A campfire in the middle of an open-air restaurant with a 1970s Airstream trailer for all the prep? Safari represents everything I love about food. It is a testament to the belief that you don’t need a state-of-the-art kitchen and a giant staff to turn out fantastic food and leave a lasting impression.
Well, I can tell you, Safari not only lived up to the hype, it exceeded it. Everything I had here was amazing. From cocktails to starters to mains, it was all spectacular. I had the best fish taco of my life here and I have eaten A LOT of fish tacos (insert dirty joke here). Even something as simple as rice and beans with plantain chips left us speechless. The technicolor tortillas, the slightly eccentric flavor combinations, everything about Safari is cool but without the bullshit swagger. And there is something so evocative about sitting near a campfire. You instantly feel like you belong here.
I’m going back to Safari when I return to Tulum next year, there is absolutely no question about it. And if you find yourself in Tulum, you should make a B-line for this spot too. It’ll fill you up and make you swoon – everything you could possibly want or need from a restaurant.
Well, that’s it, folks! That’s all the Tulum Eats I scarfed down in five days. So, in closing, you should probably go to Tulum!