In the early 1990s, Tulum was a sleepy pueblo on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, a day trip from a hotel in Playa del Carmen or Cancún to see ruins and stroll downtown. But by the turn of the 20th century, Tulum was well on its way to becoming a global destination, first for hippies seeking yoga and meditation retreats, then for celebrities, and then for developers. International investors, hoteliers, Mexico City restaurant groups, and chefs from around the world have flocked there, eventually creating an expensive tropical playground by the sea. Today we will take you to discover the best places to eat absolutely in Tulum!
Chefs Maya Scales, veterans Arca and Izote of Mexico City and Benjamin Coe of Morimoto Napa, Commis and Box and Bells of the Bay Area, contributed to this waste-free and environmentally friendly space in Tulum.
Options may include beautiful Caribbean shrimp cooked in seawater or a local grouper with nixtamalized tomatoes, which pays homage to pre-Hispanic cooking methods. The tasting menu changes regularly, but there’s always a vegetarian menu with dishes like grilled Bacalar cabbage in a spiced Trinidadian curry, made from herbs and vegetables grown in the roof garden.
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Couples staying at this sexy beachfront boutique hotel want to enjoy Chef Paul Bentley’s Mediterreanean a la Mexicana, which offers stunning ocean views. A veteran of the new Guadalajara scene, Bentley serves up fresh shrimp noodles, tacos and juicy burgers for lunch.
Dinner features braised beef, tender octopus on squid ink garganelli, raw tuna and thick New York steak, all paired with an excellent gin and tonic menu.
The atmosphere is the draw of this sophisticated jungle paradise, which offers a mix of 17th-century Mexican architecture, candlelit dinners and overgrown palm trees and vines. The food is a mix of Mediterranean mezze, Mexican-American tacos, and appetizers like quesadillas cut into pointy triangles familiar from American chain restaurants. Order a smoky, citrusy Gitano Swizzle or one of the delicious tropical mezcal cocktails and nosh in this irresistibly hip environment.
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If you crave a clubby rainforest patio, head to Rosanegra, an affluent playpen touted as a tribute to Latin America (and so popular with chilangos that another spot has opened in Mexico City’s upscale Polanco neighbourhood).
Soft light streams from hanging bamboo choche lampshades while beautiful diners wave sparklers and are served ceviche in terrariums, A5 wagyu tacos with excessively dotted plates, and giant churro hoops shooting from martini glasses. Order the Millionaire, a surf-and-turf combo of an 8-ounce New York Kobe from Hyogo Prefecture paired with a lobster tail imported from the Mediterranean or a Nigerian U2 tiger crab. You have booked a Sea Villa at Azulik. You can afford it.
Maintaining respect for the community and the environment, Chef Eric Werner leads the team of one of Tulum’s most renowned restaurants, foraging in the surrounding area, sourcing ingredients from local markets and preparing freshly caught seafood over the fire. The chef leaves the local Mexican food culture to the traditional cooks of Tulum; he focuses on cooking in Mexico rather than Mexican cuisine.
In reality, that means sea bream fillets, Caribbean lobster and Angus beef arrachera cuts cooked on a charcoal grill and served simply with bitter greens and roasted vegetables. Set under simple white awnings on a gravel floor, the restaurant is reminiscent of a pre-hype Tulum.
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With its camp kitchen and cozy picnic atmosphere in the evening, Arca should be at the top of your list for refined, micro-seasonal cuisine with ingredients that taste like they were picked right behind the fan palms that surround the outdoor patio.
It’s the flagship restaurant of Mexican-American chef Jose Luis Hinostroza, whose resume also includes Alinea, El Celler de Can Roca, De Kromme Watergang and Noma. Crisp, spinach-like chaya highlights the grassy flavors of grilled avocado and buffets soft-shell crab in amaranth tempura. Don’t miss Hinostroza’s grilled octopus in recaudo-negro marinade, now part of the Tulum canon.
This luxury steakhouse and raw bar from Grupo Anderson’s sources seafood and steaks from around the world. Oysters come from the U.S. East Coast, crab legs from Alaska, Kobe ribs from Hyogo Prefecture and corn-fed tomahawks from the U.S. Midwest. Enjoy fresh Caribbean lobster tails and USDA prime cuts braised in intense smoke from the restaurant’s Josper charcoal oven, and sip refreshing mezcal and tequila cocktails on the stylish wooden patio.
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