• leighmcswan

Where to Eat in Tulum



After a glorious two weeks in sunny Mexico, not cooking or cleaning up after a meal, eating and drinking at some of the best restaurants Tulum has to offer, it’s with absolute giddy, child-like delight that I share some of the meals, the photos and the locations we frequented (some more than once!) I tried to include a variety of beachfront restaurants and hidden gems so that no matter what type of vacation you go on, you can find your way to one of the places I recommend.


If you’ve never been to Tulum, here’s how I would describe it: hip, boho chic, health conscious eco vibe with tons of vibrancy, culture, community, beachfronts and nature-inspired boutique hotels, spas and wellness centres.


Keep in mind we were travelling with our boys (8, 10) and this was our honeymoon…so it was more or less a family vacation with excessive margaritas and tequila, well justified.


I’ll be sharing, in a future blog post all the family oriented adventures we went on and share the highlights then.


But for now, pour yourself a Don Julio and let’s get lost in the serenity and lust of Mexican food*.


The first restaurant we visited is a small beachfront eatery within 10 minutes of the community our condo was in. It’s called Kay Beach Club. Due to its location it was the restaurant we frequented most often and did takeout from here more times than I can keep track of.


You can lounge beachside or in the open concept restaurant, swing on some swings or relax on oversized couches.





We enjoyed the nachos, Kay Oysters, shrimp and tuna tostadas, ceviche and several other dishes.


The food is fresh, flavourful, service is amazing (Carmen is an absolute sweetheart) and you can’t beat the atmosphere. It’s the perfect lunch spot or afternoon beachside happy hour.



If you’re a coffee and/or chocolate lover, stopping at Aho Cacao in Playa del Carmen (near 5th Ave) is a must!


We spent the day shopping and stumbled upon this cafe to grab a quick bite and a coffee. We walked in and quickly filled a shopping cart with fresh orange juice, lemonade, coffee beans, vanilla and the best chocolate bars and cacao powder we’ve had. Our only regret is not buying more to bring home ;)





I had the chocolate maya frappe and it was incredible-rich dark chocolate, bold espresso and a hint of spice. It was the perfect afternoon treat. Although we didn’t order any baked goods, we eyed them! Their gluten-free brownie was very tempting.


While in Playa del Carmen (and twice after that) we stopped by a beachfront restaurant called INTI Beach.


Here you’ll find a Peruvian, Latin grill with a seafood rich menu. This restaurant has a great nighttime vibe- think fire in the sand, romantic intimate seating but with an energizing female DJ spinning beside the bar. The energy here is perfect if you want to go out dancing with your family (the music starts very early, before sunset), but avoid a club, drink the best margaritas and eat some of the best food you can find.


We ate here a few times but for photos sake, I’m only sharing the lunch meal since the lighting was so bad during the dinner hour.


If you’re going for dinner I suggest the Hearts Salad, Peruvian beef tenderloin or the Brazilian steak.


For lighter lunch fare try the Beef Carpaccio (done with white truffle aioli)- we each had one, it was to die for; and my personal favourite the Traditional Achorao Style Octopus which is done in a passionfruit, orange, lemon and caper sauce.





Don’t forget to try their Cadillac Margarita AND although it’s not on the menu, ask for a spicy margarita- your lips will burn but it’s worth it!





A hip little vegan restaurant was the perfect place to stop for green juices, coconut ice cream and smoothies. La Hoja Verde is clearly an in-town favourite, bursting with Tulum residents working from their laptops, sipping elixirs and freshly made juice. It is clearly a frequented hub since you’ll find the servers having long conversations at the tables with friends and customers. It had a lovely, welcoming vibe with nourishing breakfast and lunch options.




The next 2 restaurants were the highlight of the ‘food tour’ while in Tulum. I saved the best for last and have to say these 2 places are MUST visits while in Tulum.


The first is nestled within in a gorgeous luxurious, chic boutique hotel with a cozy bar, sleek pool, beachfront tables and an open fire oven and grill. You feel like you’re entering into a jungle when you enter and then you’re intoxicated by the smell of the grill.


Pandano


Here you’ll find a Mexican-Italian infusion - a combo I never knew I needed so desperately in my life!


My first piece of advice is to try the passionfruit and strawberry margarita- and then try a few items on the tapas menu: the Cucumber Carpaccio but follow it up with the Beef Carpaccio.





Enjoy some mezcal and enjoy as much as you can from the grill. The grill menu changes frequently but the meals we had were both delicious.




I had the fish of the day, which happened to be Grouper. Joel had the steak of the day and we were both reaching across the table, grabbing at each others plates. The boys enjoyed lobster fettuccini and beef tacos- both were delicious.




This was the only restaurant we ate dessert at- most of the time we were too full and satisfied to eat more but the server sold us on the housemate ice cream, strawberry jam (Hot Moon) and chocolate fondant and (!) lemon flan.


Encanto Cantina




We found this place on a whim, after a 20 minute rain shower, we had been walking around Tulum searching for a place to eat and stumbled upon Encanto Cantina. As soon as I saw the greenery, I walked right in without saying a word to the boys- they just knew this was the place we were having a late lunch.


There’s a beautiful bar, hookah lounge, indoor and outdoor dining (I suggest outdoor, the back garden area is stunning).



I don’t think you can go wrong with any selection on this menu (which is extensive) but get some of the refreshers (jicama was my fave) and then go into some of the share plates to get a wide variety of menu items.





The antioxidant salad is perfect if you’re looking for something light but refreshing and obviously nourishing.





But after your salad you’ll want to balance everything out with some chorizo queso- the best appetizer we had during our entire stay in Mexico.





Everything was so flavourful and fresh at Encanto, the hibiscus taco was unique, definitely worth a try if you’re feeling adventurous!





Have you tried any of my recommendations? What are some of your favourite Mexican eateries?


*not all restaurants mentioned are specifically in Tulum, we visited Cozumel, Akumal and Playa del Carmen but the food is always worth the drive in my opinion.



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