Cancun is separated into two very different areas, the hotel zone, where most tourists stay during their vacations, and the downtown area, known as El Centro. In the hotel zone, foodies will delight in all the culinary offerings found in nearby gourmet restaurants. Harry’s Prime Steakhouse & Raw Bar, Paloma Bonita, and Puerto Madero continually get rave reviews for their upscale fare. Harry’s offers some of the best steaks around, in both quality and flavor (dry-aged beef is offered, as well as Kobe beef and USDA Prime cuts of meat), and their seafood is incredibly fresh and delicious, too. Puerto Madero also offers amazing steak and seafood dishes, but with an Argentinean twist, since the restaurant is named after a famous port in Argentina. Paloma Bonita serves gourmet Mexican cuisine in a beautiful space, decorated in the styles found in three different states of Mexico.
In downtown Cancun, an area mainly populated by locals, there are several top-notch restaurants, as well. L’Escargot, Peter’s Restaurant, and La Dolce Vita Centro. L’Escargot is a small, family-owned French restaurant in a residential area, just a block or two from Yaxchilan Avenue. The food is consistently flavorful and flawless. The Chateaubriand (for two people) is melt-in-your-mouth good and the escargot, for which the venue was named, is also wonderful. Peter’s Restaurant is another small eatery, owned and operated by Chef Peter Houben. The menu features exquisite beef, pork, poultry, and seafood dishes. La Dolce Vita Centro has been serving high-quality Italian food for nearly 30 years, much to the delight of the many locals and tourists that patronize the restaurant.
For authentic and phenomenally good street food, El Parque de las Palapas, in downtown Cancun, is the best place to go. The park has roughly 15 different food vendors in permanent stands on one side of the park, as well as many others that have temporary kiosks set up around the park’s perimeter. Try the salbutes (basically, Mayan tacos, but so much better than a typical taco) and empanadas for your entree and then, for dessert, try marquesitas from one of the carts around the edge of the park. A marquesita is basically a thick crepe-like pastry, filled with chocolate, Nutella, or some other sweet, decadent filling, then rolled up to keep all the sweet, chocolaty (or Nutella-y, etc.) goodness inside. Other dessert options are ice cream and popsicles. Vendors can often be found pushing their carts filled with these icy treats through the park.
Whether you opt for gourmet cuisine or fantastic street food, even the most discerning palates will find Cancun’s culinary offerings to be extraordinary.