I have to tell you straight out -- it is not easy being a vegetarian in Yucatan. Most dishes are made with beef, chicken, pork or fish. In several restaurants, maybe only one item was vegetarian, and it was something boring like a cheese quesedilla.
One exception was Amaro Restaurant on Calle 59 near the Plaza Grande. They had more vegetarian items than most restaurants and even promoted themselves as having vegetarian food.
The setting is nice - an outdoor inner courtyard with lots of plants. We ate lunch here and enjoyed it enough to come back for dinner on our last night. Unfortunately, service was terrible on our second visit. It was fine until we got our main course. That came out at 8:00 pm. No wait staff person visited our table to refill our drinks, take away our plates, offer us dessert, give us water, present the bill until 9:30 pm. At that time they gave us the dessert menu but did not come back until 10:00 pm. Instead of ordering dessert, we said we needed to go, and they acted kind of surprised. Perhaps the evening meal is slower in the Yucatan than we are used to in the US.
Favorite Dish: The food was tasty, but don't expect spicy food. I liked the papadzules, which were handmade corn tortillas filled with roasted and ground pumpkin seeds, topped with a pumpkin seed sauce and a tomato sauce and finally a crumbled hard boiled egg. My family like the pollo pibil, and popular Yucatan dish of chicken marinated in achiote paste and baked in banana leaves.
I'd give the restaurant a higher rating if the service had been better.
The Hotel Villa Maria has one of the finest restaurants in Merida. We ate dinner there on New Year's Eve, and they put on a delicious prix fixe dinner. Presentation was superb, and the chef prepares scrumptious continental dishes. The ambiance is beautiful.
Breakfast is not that early here, but if you can wait until 8:00 am to eat, you'll be fine.
Dining is available either in the central outdoor courtyard (which has a retractable cover for inclement weather) or in the air-conditioned dining room.
Favorite Dish: The wine list is varied and good, and Hotel Villa Maria, in my opinion, made the best margaritas in all of Merida.
We also at breakfast here twice. Everything was delicious. On the top of my list was their coffee (yes, their coffee is wonderful), their yogurt, and sweet bread (not sweetbreads, but bread with a sugar topping). They had many other breakfast dishes as well, egg dishes, omelets, and other breakfast dishes. This was a very good way to start the day.
Normally I do not do restaurant reviews, but after spending time in Merida in 2005 and 2006, we enjoyed this restaurant every time we visited. It is just local fare.
For English only speakers like us, eating at this restaurant is a bit of an adventure. None of the staff speak English. But as you can see from the third picture, the specials of the day were 28 pesos (well under $3US). And as you can see from the second picture, the food looks (and tastes) pretty good.
Enjoy their unique cuisine, sitting in the sunny patio watching the stars and listening to excellent romantic live music.
Favorite Dish: Whatever vegetarian dish they offer is a great option!!! I enjoyed their food a lot, as well as the excellent service. They offer a lot of meals with local vegetables. So, vegetarian, but you can get to know the local cuisine though.
A spectacular little Italian restaurant, not far from the zocalo. It offered a range of standard Italian dishes, but the quality of the food was second to none and the staff was simply incredible. Set in a small courtyard away from the streets, at night time, strings of fairy lights lure curious tourists into this well decorated little place. You'll be glad they did, too - you could stuff yourself silly on the food served up.
If there's one thing better than the food, it's the friendly staff. Always willing to help, our waiter even spent time chatting with us about the local Merida scene, offering advice on what to see, what to avoid and how much to pay. He then gave us further travel tips for our next destination - Cancun.
We liked it so much we came back the next night. Shouldn't be missed.
Favorite Dish: The steak was certainly a treat, and if you're after something to quench the thirst, have a go at a jug of sangria. It'll give you the buzz you need for a night on the town in Merida.
We ate at a number of restaurants in Mérida over two or three days, even stopping at the Burger King (something we seldom do) for a quick hamburger when we were on a deadline one day. I am going to mention a couple by name.
We met a friend in Mérida, and decided to meet at the brunch buffet at the Hotel Villa Mercedes. It is an amazing brunch with everything one could desire. There were enough different dishes that I filled a dinner plate by taking one bite-size bit from each of the dishes. The other thing that made it pretty special the day we visited is that the hotel had a "two breakfasts for the price of one deal", so the price for the two of us as 180 pesos. Pretty reasonable – I would recommend the buffet, especially at two-for-one. Villa Mercedes seems to be a pretty elegant hotel (5 star by Mexican standards, probably less by USA standards). The hotel is about 10 long blocks north of the Grand Plaza downtown.
We had a VT meeting with Gatopardo (Zarahi) at the Café Peon Contreras in downtown Mérida. The most outstanding thing about this restaurant was it's location – on the plaza outside Parque de la Madre. They also had a couple of musicians playing in the background. As for the actual food, it was similar to that we had seen in prior restaurants – tasty, but not gourmet. The meal at Peon Contreras was pricey compared to the other places we tried in Mérida. The cost for two meals (including a couple of drinks) was 370 pesos; in most other restaurants we tried, this cost would be under 250 pesos.
We ate at a number of other restaurants. One of the pluses of this area of Mexico is that prices are quite reasonable. Most meals are well under 100 pesos ($10 US) per person. For the starch portion of our meals, we had to get used to tortillas instead of potatoes but the food was quite tasty.
La Casa De Frida is totally inspired in the famous radical paint-artist Frida Kalho, the colors and decoration reminds you of the gorgeous taste of her art-work, the music is a plus when they have musicians invited for special moments or just enjoying with wonderful mexican singer Lila Down.
The Food, ask for a Chile en Nogada, it's an exotic mexican dish originaly from Puebla, the recipe's history says it was made by nuns with locals ingredients, nowadays it might have few variations. But the flavor is the basicaly the same.
Poblano Pepper, sweet fruits, raisin, nueces, granada, etc...Green, white and red.. They are vegetarian or meat..
There are some other dishes in a prefered menu, just pick any, they are good.
Make your reservation. It opens from Tuesday to Saturday from 7 to ...the last to leave.
Favorite Dish: Roasted Poblano Peppers stuffed with ground meat, chopped fresh fruits, almonds and raising, all covered with pecan sauce and scattered with pomegranate seeds.
Vegetarian Style also...
On Friday in Merida, our 2nd day in the city, we took the double-decker Turisbus city tour and got on and off at various places. In the afternoon we got off in the Hotel Zone and wandered into the Hyatt to take a look. We saw a very attractive bistro called Peregrina that had a seafood buffet with a long line of huge silver pots. We took a peek at some of the delicious foods inside & decided to stay. The food was fabulous and there was an abundant variety of choices. We felt as though maybe we shouldn't be eating in an American Hotel chain, but the chef at this restaurant definitely was an expert at Mexican cooking.
Mayaland Resort offers beautiful outdoor and indoor dining rooms. There are four or five on the grounds. We had breakfast on the terrace before going into Chichen Itza and after touring the ruins, we came back to Mayaland's main dining room for lunch. The food is excellent.
These peahens walked leisurely around the deck to pick up the crumbs that diners dropped.
Merida has a mix of nationalities represented in its population, primarily from the days of trading sisal for ropes and nets. There are several Lebanese restaurants in the city. We had dinner one night at Alberto's. The restaurant's interior decor is fascinating and beautiful. The service was excellent and the food was fair. I would recommend taking a look inside this restaurant some evening if you are strolling around, but I wouldn't say that it is the best choice for flavorful recipes.
Eladio's is in a perfect location on the beach near the malicon. It has plenty of floor-to- ceiling windows that slide open letting in the sea breeze. It's very easy to find, in fact, you can't miss it. The food is good, not great, but good. And when we were there on a Saturday afternoon, they had a live band. It was very enjoyable.
Favorite Dish: Many restaurant have delicious little round "homemade" warm chips for salsa dipping.
We had Yucatecan recipes for almost every lunch and dinner while on vacation. My favorite was "Queso Relleno," a mixture of ground pork, tomato, raisins and olives covered in warm, melted cheese and served with a thick white sauce. In English it is called "stuffed cheese." That's what I had at Los Almendros and it was delicious. Several days later I ordered it at another
restaurant, but it wasn't as good.
Los Almendros is in the Fiesta Americana Hotel &
the food is excellent.
This restaurant LOOKS like a tourist trap, but its not. The food is good in general and not expensive. But the best thing is the Panuchos. For $30 pesos, you get three big panuchos, with chips. With a beer, its the perfect dinner. If you're lucky, you'll get a table on a balcony, and you can watch the world go by on Calle 60 while you eat.
Now this is a real experience. Upstairs and slightly to the left is a white-tiled area full of separate kitchens. A few tables immediately in front of each kitchen dictate the 'restaurant' you are in (and you have to be strong to decide which one you will sit in - you will be harangued by all and sundry in each kitchen to sit at their tables!). Wait for the food (its actually pretty decent) and then try your luck with the pots of chillis and peppers in front of you. We worked out the heat of each pot by the level of interest aimed at us by two local Mayans! (Needless to say they were very disappointed if we chose not to try a pot they were particularly interested in seeing what our reaction would be LOL)
The terrible thing is that this was the best food we had in Merida and the best margaritas, as well as the nicest environment. But I can't remember where it is!
Head north (ie away from the Playa Mayor) along calle 60 (Parque Hidalgo on your right). You will take a left hand turn 2-3 blocks ahead and it will be on the right hand side of the road.....
Its worth finding! Tables on many levels some overlooking (or in) the tiny plant be-decked courtyard. Great food, great margaritas etc.....