Being a very touristy city and receiving BOTH tourism from the United States and Canada, there is no lack of very “gringo” places in Cancun at lunchtime, such as Bubba Gump and the like. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t authentic places. Mexican gastronomy is one of the best in the world and if you like to try local delicacies, you will be delighted. In this post we recommend 10 restaurants where you can eat in Cancun.
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El Galeón del Caribe • $
Authentic, casual, and very much in local style is El Galeón in Hotel Zone. Their seafood dishes are tasty and affordable, their service friendly but not doting. Go inside for their best dish, pescadillas (or fish tacos), but order three to four per person so that everyone gets their fill. Also try their octopus and shrimp mixed ceviche—this one can feed two. Pair any dish with michelada and then have fried sweet bananas for dessert.
When searching for this restaurant, keep your eyes peeled because they can be hard to locate. You should look for picnic tables, a dirt floor, and a palapa roof around the lagoon. The proper itself is hidden among the foliage. In addition, their modest parking lot and sign should be visible near kilometer 19.4. Their hours are carefree; try around noon to sevenish. Cash only.
Surfin’ Burrito • $
Meet the nightlife and find this three-tabled, assorted bar-stooled burrow smack inside the Hotel Zone. You can come in any time of the day or night to gorge their California-style no-frills comfort food, such as fish tacos, ceviche, and coconut shrimp.
But then, their most loved dish is their humongous mahi-shrimp burrito, which was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. It’s filled with rice, beans, and grilled veggies and topped with habanero and tamarind sauce. If what they offer isn’t enough, you can also create your own burrito; try the arrachera beef for something delicious. But no pressure, we aren’t here to judge what you put inside your burrieto. Plus, all burritos are swept onto a grill to add a richer flavor and some crunch.
Fair warning: go light on the alcohol. Their cocktails are ice cold, strong, and larger than a head. Since space is limited, you can order any item on the menu to-go, or have them deliver from eight a.m. to midnight.
La Fonda del Zancudo • $$–$$$
They’re rife with atmosphere from their open-courtyard dining and chalkboard menu to the vines up worn stucco walls and fairy lights strewn through trees. This restaurant considered an old, deserted home downtown the perfect place to set up shop and opened its doors to eager customers.
Though it’s open only at dinnertime, the tantalizing wait leads to mouthwatering servings of dishes inspired by the Mediterranean. They use locally-sourced, fresh, organic ingredients. Several are even grown in their own garden.
Their specialties include refreshing sangria and cucumber martini, empanadas and baked figs, and sumptuous tuna tartare. Meanwhile, their daily specials introduce variety, especially through veggie and seafood dishes.
Customers are not obliged to reserve, though large groups are encouraged to via Facebook. In any case, their replies are prompt.
Les Cepages • $$$$
Enjoy modern French cuisine downtown at Les Cepages. You can visit at lunch or dinner and find yourself welcome. Customers come repeatedly for their chocolate soufflé, lamb chops, and brie salad, but their tasteful and classy menu also changes with the season. As they are inspired by exquisite meat cuts and local produce, the dining experience is pleasantly dynamic.
At the helm of this restaurant is the amiable Chef Sal Luna, popular for welcoming all his guests personally. He is also glad to make suggestions or answer questions, going so far as to sidestep the menu. His servers take after his personal, attentive, and warm demeanor.
Sushi Go • $$–$$$
Try this venue for fantastic Japanese–Mexican fusion. Appetizers include salmon taquitos and fiery tuna tostadas. For orders with a more Oriental slant, go for their super affordable and fresh sashimi and sushi.
Their rolls practically fly off the plates with how popular they are, especially their Dragon Roll (eel sauce, tempura shrimp, and cream cheese). Other favorites are #21 (fiery tuna in avocado) and #4 (mango, salmon, cream cheese). Additional top-notchers are ribeye roll, gyoza, and tempura udon.
The ambience is clean and casual, their staff friendly, their bar full, and their fried tempura ice cream absolutely killer. Visitors within Hotel Zone have more reason to rejoice because they deliver. Open every day of the week from one in the afternoon to eleven in the evening.
La Habichuela • $$$$
What is the answer to a Jeopardy! question worth $600? Rice and curried fish and lobster served in a coconut, capped with a ring of grilled pineapple. That is the cocobichuele, this restaurant’s top seller.
Visit for Mexican–Caribbean fusion dishes famous for their exotic garden vibe and delicious beef and seafood. But make sure you have space for dessert so you can ask for Mayan coffee—it arrives with a spectacular fire show.
Their garden patio is decorated with fairy lights, palm fronds, and Mayan statues to help emulate the true Cancun vibe. They have two locations, yet the must-go place is the original site downtown, established in 1977.
Restaurante Margely • $$–$$$
Embrace popular Mexican fare and local Yucatecan dishes al fresco or with picnic-table seating in Downtown Market 28. They have a standout selection of dishes particular to the region, such as lime soup (sopa de lima), barbecued meat served with fried stuffed tortillas plus puffed tortillas in citrus marinade (parrillada yucateca), and pork slow-cooked stew (conchinita pibil). On top of that, slake your thirst with margaritas, aguas frescas, and micheladas!
This casual restaurant is inside a popular market, yet it draws attention because of musicians who play just outside. Their acoustic songs are upbeat and lighthearted, and they can be found beside an ice-cream kiosk. Make sure to order coconut-flavored ice cream as you leave! Opens daily, seven-thirty a.m. to six p.m.
Casitas • $$$$
The Ritz invites you to dip your toes in cool ocean water when you dine at Casitas. Their perfectly prepared steaks, whole fish cooked in banana leaf and coated with citrus and spices, and transcendental adaptation of the Ycatecan tikin xic are their specialties. They boast a wide selection of Mexican and international wines, which is a true delight as Mexico is famed for their tempranillos, cabernets, and other reds.
To add to this is the heady air of romance that greets you when you step inside. You will be greeted by servers who are friendly, attentive, and impeccable. They may bring you to their beachside casitas, softly lit and enveloped by sheer veils. But Casitas also provides a more economical dining area at the terrace.
Reservations are necessary to be able to dine at the beachfront. There is also additional charge, but that is well worth the ocean experience, especially for major occasions. While reservations are not required for seats at the terrace, they are highly recommended.
Los Aguachiles • $$–$$$
Another contender for most casual and authentic is this warm and welcoming family restaurant. They serve icy cold drinks and uber fresh seafood, but customers stay for the house ceviche: octopus, shrimp, or a combination paired with freshly made salsa blends. You may also opt to savor their grilled octopus or tuna tostada. For those who eat only land-dwelling animals, order their spicy pork (chilorio tacos).
And of course, the drinks. Heavily Mezcal-inspired and mixed with a variety of aguas frescas, the most popular being passion fruit (maracuyá) and cucumber lime (pepino fresco). They open from one in the afternoon to seven-thirty in the evening, in time for lunch to early dinner.
Porfirio’s • $$$$
To wrap things up, we have another Mexican restaurant, upscale and lively. As if to underscore that point, they play mariachi music with live, actual performers. They dance amidst the tables and mime along with the melodies played through the speakers. Cheesy? Yes. Way fun? Yes!
Which is not to say that all they have going for them is their music. They serve a variety of Mexican must-tries, such as chicharones, tamales, and elote (grilled corn served with mayo, chili powder, and cheese served street style). They also offer traditional yet more adventurous fare, such as fried grasshopper-topped guacamole and chapulines.
Meanwhile, their cocktail menu showcases house specialties, like a wide range of Josefinas, chilimango with vodka, peach liqueur, chili, and mango, fiery mezcal cocktails dashed with lemon made sweet, and local fresh fruits. They open from lunch until dinner, one in the afternoon to one in the morning.