Food & drinks
Food in Mexico is full of colour, spice, seasoning, and flavour; kind of like a fiesta on your plate, no joke!
The most prominent components of an authentic Yucatan/Mayan meal typically include: meat (chicken, pork, beef, goat) or a native seafood or fish, vegetables, and chili pepper. Avocados, squash, beans, peppers, onion, corn, cactus, zucchini, and tomatoes are also staples.
Most meals are served with a starter of guacamole, corn chips, and pickled chili peppers and vegetables.
Tropical fruits are also plentiful and a main breakfast component: bananas, pineapple, mango, oranges, passion fruit, and melons just to name a few.
Coffee, beer, wine, tequila, and mixed drinks are the most classic beverages of choice in Mexico.
Sol, Tecate, Dos Equis, Modelo, and Corona seem to dominate when it comes to beer. Tequila, Rum, and Mezcal also seem to always be the liqour of choice. They're the top ingredients in most mixed drinks including Margaritas and Mojitos (in every flavour you can think of), and Palomas.
However, the most impressive beverage for me while in Mexico was the wine. While the popularity of wine there does not surpass that of beer, tequila, or mezcal, the quality was fantastic. I believe that Mexico is one of those wine regions of the world that is incredibly underrated. Some of the main varietals grown are Tempranillo, Nebbiolo, Syrah, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.
On the Resort
There is often a worry when staying at resorts that the food will just be generic buffet quality. While in the past I have experienced this, the Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa far surpassed my expectations. They had several restaurants that were "a la carte" style, in addition to a main buffet style one.
The buffet or cafe were normally where we would go for a quick breakfast before starting our day. Fresh fruit was plentiful and ripe, and coupled with a cappuccino, latte, or mimosa was a perfect amount of food to get us going for the day. I will also add that the buffet was not a "free for all" like most resorts I've seen, rather you would line up at the entrance, give your room number, and wait to be seated. This was a way better set up than fighting for tables. Another place we went for breakfast on resort was the Mexican style a la carte where we were able to get fabulous omlettes and their famous "green juice" which was some kind of delicious smoothie that gave us plenty of energy first thing in the morning.
We were usually in town for lunch time, but the few times we were on the resort relaxing on the beach or by the pool, we had a quick bite at the seaside grill restaurant, where you could enjoy a burger and fries, sandwiches, tacos, or even chicken wings (which were surprisingly fantastic, coming from someone who grew up on genuine Buffalo chicken wings).
Dinner spots at the resort were a highlight for us. We ate at the French restaurant (twice) as well as the Mexican restaurant. The Mexican restaurant was a great spot for more traditional foods including molcajete, tacos, and fajitas. We really enjoyed eating on the patio here and being able to hear the ocean in the evening over dinner and a bottle of wine.
I have to say that the French restaurant was my favourite. We enjoyed it so much the first night, that we returned the next night to eat there again. It was intimate, only accommodating maybe 20 tables. The second night we had dinner there, we were approached by the Sommelier who presented our bottle of wine to us. After talking to her a few times during dinner, she invited us to book a private dinner in the resort's wine cellar with a specially selected menu and wine pairing. We decided to save this for our final night at the resort; and what a special way to celebrate the end of our trip.
The dinner was set up in the cellar, and was also intimate with only 4 or so tables available to sit at. We were greeted by the Sommelier, Silvia Angelica Oritz Barba, who seated us and gave us an amazing amount of information on Mexican wine. We selected a wine from her recommendations, and we were NOT disappointed. The first bottle we had was a 2011 Duetto Tempranillo/Cab blend from Santo Tomás which was big, bold, velvety, deep in tannin with notes of black cherry, leather, raspberry, blackberry, and sandalwood.
The first course she had chosen for us was a carpaccio starter topped with a lemon-mustard sauce and fresh Parmesan cheese.
The main course was out of my comfort zone but I'm so glad I took her recommendation as it was one of my favourite things I've ever eaten. We were treated to a beautifully cooked dish called Ossobuco, which is a cross-cut veal shank, braised until it was so tender that it pulled apart with a fork, and was paired with a queso risotto.
At this point we were through our first bottle of wine, and decided to order her second recommendation which was a 2014 Casa Madero Shiraz from Valle de Parras. It was a beautiful deep colour with fine tannins, and notes of chocolate, mushroom, plum, blackberries, and licorice. A little lighter bodied than our first bottle, but still bold with structure and flavour.
For dessert we were treated to a classic tiramisu which ended the night on the perfect note. Many thanks to restaurant staff, and to our Sommelier, Silvia, for such a romantic last night on the resort.
Tulum Town and Tulum Beach
Tulum Town and Tulum Beach have an amazing selection of cafes, bars, and restaurants. There is literally no way you could ever check them all out in one trip, so picking and choosing the best ones to try is important!
In Tulum Town, there are restaurants along the main road and on the side streets that run across the main street. While I did a ton of research on places to go before heading down, we did rely quite a bit on recommendations from locals at the resort, and on our own instinct when walking by a place. We're into authentic food and drinks, and we were not disappointed with what we found.
One of the first places we checked out was Batey Mojito Bar, which was recommended to us by Dante at our resort. Batey was a good place to tell the cab drivers to drop us off because it's near the top of the main section of shops and restaurants in town; it's located on Calle Centauro Sur. While we didn't eat more than nachos and guac at Batey, it was a fantastic place to stop for mojitos. I enjoyed a passionfruit mojito or two (or five) at the bar, and that made my list of top 5 favourite drinks from the trip.
Happy Hour is a real thing in Tulum, we saw drink specials that were usually in the 2 for 40 - 2 for 80 peso range (roughly $3-$5 CAD). If you are there during happy hour, it is definitely worth hopping from patio to patio to check out as many spots as possible as they each have their own cool vibe to them.
Other bars we enjoyed in town were El Milagrito, Le Bistro, and La Malquerida.
For dinner we loved the food at Don Cafeto, which was also suggested by Dante.
De Cielo was a cafe where we stopped for a cappucino on the way back to our resort, and it was literally one of the smoothest cappucinos I've ever tasted.
Tulum Beach was a little more "beachy boho" style, but worth the cab ride down. It was closer to a 25 minute trip, but the restaurants were amazing. One that was a standout for us was Mateo's. The fajitas and tacos were incredible and authentic, the strawberry-basil mojito was to die for, and the atmosphere and live music were the cherry on top! We stayed much longer than we intended because we couldn't get enough of the band (La Bombonera Tulum) or the energy in the place. It was crazy busy there, and we almost didn't wait for a table, but I promise you it's worth the wait!
To conclude the food and drink blog, I have to mention one of my favourite snacks that you'll find all over Tulum! They're called Paletas and are the perfect cold treat on a day out in the sun. They're essentially a popsicle made with local fruits and ice. They're cute, cold, colourful, and an absolute must have while in Mexico!