Many travelers to Cancun limit their gastronomic experience to the all-inclusive hotel buffet. Don't make that mistake! There are many restaurants to try, whether you're looking for upscale international dining or a casual, authentic Mexican experience. If you'd rather sample some tacos at one of Cancun's taco joints, that's a good option too.
Here are some of the best restaurants in Cancun so you know where to go when you leave the resort.
An elegant restaurant in the Paradisus Cancun resort complex, Tempo is 10-time Michelin starred, Spanish chef Martin Berasategui’s foray into Mexico. The menu is Basque-inspired and includes gems such as Iberian Pork Tenderloin Roasted Over Apple and Fennel Compote Accompanied by Tamarind Sauce. Order a la carte or try the 10 course degustation menu with or without paired wines for a gastronomic experience combining unexpected but delightful flavors and textures. This is the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion in Cancun.
You'll feel like a guest at an exclusive private dinner party as owner Sonya Grimond and chef Benjamin Ferra y Castell welcome you into their intimate restaurant and lead you through a unique culinary experience. Starting with the freshest Mexican ingredients, classically-trained Chef Benjamin creates stunning and delectable dishes that are a fusion of Mexican and French cuisines. The owner and chef offer warm, personalized service and explain every dish and answer any questions. Be sure to make a reservation for this one-of-a-kind meal.
Located on a quiet street in Downtown Cancun, this romantic restaurant has been a mainstay of the Cancun dining scene for over four decades. Sit outside in the lovely garden surrounded by fairy lights, or in the air-conditioned lounge. The cuisine is a unique blend of Caribbean and Mexican with an emphasis on seafood and grilled meats, but you’ll also find some traditional Mexican dishes like mole. Their signature dish is the Cocobichuela, a seafood curry with shrimp and lobster served in a coconut. Finish off your meal with a chocolate Chichen Itza pyramid and a fiery presentation of Mayan coffee prepared tableside.
At this French restaurant within the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun resort, tuxedoed waiters serve guests who enjoy the tinkling of piano music and original art on the walls. In the kitchen, Chef de Cuisine Mariana Alegría Gárate is at the helm. Her signature dish, Suckling Pig Confit With Jus de Antique Mustard and Sweet Potato Layers is a must-try, but it’s hard to go wrong with any of the menu selections at this AAA Five Diamond restaurant.
Located in the Hotel Zone looking over the Nichupté Lagoon, Porfirio’s is a perfect place to enjoy a cocktail while watching the sunset (try a Chilimango with vodka, mango and chamoy; or maybe a Josefina, a fruity mezcal margarita), but you can also enjoy Mexican haute cuisine and a few popular favorites such as elote (Mexican corn on the cob prepared like it is served in street stands) and chapulines (grasshoppers) in guacamole. Open lunch and dinner from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily, they have live mariachis entertaining guests during peak hours.
Named after a Maya archaeological site, Labná restaurant has Maya inspired decor and offers traditional Yucatecan specialties such as Sopa de Lima: lime soup with fried tortilla strips and shredded chicken, served with a plate of fresh onion, cilantro, habanero peppers, and lime zest for garnish. Other dishes to sample include Pavo Negro, Poc Chuc (marinated barbecue-style pork), and Chicken or Pork Pibil (shredded meat seasoned with achiote and other local spices, wrapped in banana leaves and slow cooked).
At his eponymous cozy, family-run restaurant in Downtown Cancun, Dutch-born Chef Peter Houben, along with his wife and son, attend to diners themselves and ensure their guests' satisfaction. The comprehensive menu gives a Mexican twist to international dishes, such as tamarind-glazed pork ribs or Poblano chicken breast stuffed with shrimp. The mushroom ravioli appetizer gets rave reviews. Be sure to leave room for a delectable key lime pie or chocolate mousse. Peter's is open for dinner five days a week, and has limited seating, so reservations are essential.
An Argentinian steakhouse on the Nichupté Lagoon in the Hotel Zone, Puerto Madero is named after the trendy Buenos Aires port district. The decor here is industrial chic, but you can choose between indoor and outdoor seating (choose to sit outdoors if you come around sunset). Of course, steaks are the specialty, and they have an extensive wine list, but they also serve fresh seafood, and artisanal pasta made on the premises, as well as salads. The surf and turf won't disappoint.
La Dolce Vita
A cozy and romantic spot in Downtown Cancun close to the main road that goes through the Hotel Zone, the exterior of La Dolce Vita is unassuming. But once inside the restaurant, you'll find a warm and inviting ambience. La Dolce Vita serves Italian classics with a Mexican flair, such as Margherita pizza with habanero lime salsa on the side. The menu offers homemade pasta, fresh thin crust pizza, and delicious seafood dishes made with the freshest ingredients and lots of loving care. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and are open daily from 8 am.
This Japanese robata grill restaurant serves contemporary Japanese cuisine in a beautiful setting. Start with a refreshing infusion globe drink and then order anything on the menu that catches your eye. You’ll find sushi, maki, nigiri, and sashimi as well as Kobe beef. The menu is izakaya style with no ordering protocol and dishes may be shared among the group at the center of the table, or enjoyed individually. Be sure to sit out on the deck for beautiful lagoon views.
If you’re looking for a fun, casual, and festive atmosphere with authentic Mexican food, look no farther than La Parrilla. They have live mariachi music from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily and the decor recalls a Mexican hacienda with arches, balconies, tiles, and papel picado strung up overhead. Many of the dishes are served on traditional Mexican flatware. You can try tacos, mole, or the traditional Yucatecan pork dish, Cochinita Pibil. Enjoy it with a mezcal, tequila, or Mexican beer. You can even have a lemonade or cocktails brought to your table atop the waiter’s head!
Marakame Cafe's setting around a giant tree makes you feel as though you're dining in a tree house, making every meal here memorable. It's a casual place located in Downtown Cancun and is a favorite among locals. Especially popular for weekend brunches, the ambiance in the evenings is also special, with lights strung around the tree, and live music. The food is Mexican and international, and they serve cocktails and also have a variety of specialty juices.