Well, some tacos. Aside from our first meal at the Cancun airport at an overpriced Berryhill that endorsed “Houston Style!” dishes, we were able to sample dishes that were very different from the decadent, cheesy Tex-Mex food from home.
Tulúm in the southern part of the peninsula and Celesún on the western part, are both coastal cities that are known for their seafood. The two big seafood honchos of Tulúm are El Camello and El Barracuda. We found El Barracuda to have more friendly prices, but nothing could beat El Camello’s grilled squid or calamara la plancha, which we returned again to enjoy before we left the beachy town.
In Celestún, fresh seafood is also the food of choice of all the locals vacationing there. The beach is lined with various seafood restaurants that have tables and chairs set up on the sand underneath large tents. A favorite and must-try is the ceviche mixto that is a citrusy fresh mix of fresh seafoods like shrimp, fish and octopus.
Once we arrived in Mérida, we were able to try the Yucateca style of food. The dishes are evidence of the influence that lingers from the Ancient Mayans. Most of the meats are marinated in citruses and peppery paste made from the local annatto plant.
One of my favorites was the simple yet delicious sopa de lima, a soup made from chicken stock, lime juice, shredded chicken and pasta.
Pollo a la Plancha
After a morning of touring Chichen Itza, we were ravenous. Luckily, the small town near the site had a row of small shack restaurants offering grilled chickens. It was a delicious and cheap meal. The entire chicken, salad, and soup was 80 pesos for four people.
Tacos Al Pastor
This was definitely my favorite, as well as one of the cheapest and tastiest meals. The meat is grilled on a revolving spit, and when ready with smoky, delicious flavors, it is sliced off, chopped and grilled once more on a sheet grill before being served on tacos. Add pico de gallo, onions, and spicy sauce as desired. We found these stands along the street, and we would just pull over to grab a few tacos. They were usually under a dollar each.
Of course, we had to try this street snack while we were in Mexico. However, be warned that is not quite like the elotes found outside of Fiesta in Houston. We’re not sure if it’s the way the corn is cooked or it is a different type of corn. They had a “potato-y” and undercooked texture and flavor. We tried over three different kinds and were uniformly disappointed each time.
Misc. Food Carts
Any meal was incomplete without an ice-cold Coca-Cola in a glass bottle. I mention this beverage because it was so ubiquitous throughout the country. The popularity and amount consumed can be demonstrated here by this truck I spotted that was being loaded with hundreds of empty bottles. You can order this soda with the simple word coca.