The gorgeous colonial city of Merida is the cultural capital of the Yucatan region of Mexico. In recent years, it has started emerging massively as an up-and-coming Latin American travel destination. So much so, that the travel bible itself, Lonely Planet recommended it as a top place to travel in 2022.
The Best Places to Eat in Merida, Mexico
While there are plenty of things to see and do in and around Merida, one major draw of visiting is all of the excellent places to eat. From fine dining institutions to taco stands, Merida has something to please every palate. It is a perfect travel destination for the aspiring gourmand. A selection of the best places to eat in Merida are detailed below for your consideration.
Where: Calle 15 X 18A y 20, Itzimná
Ask any Merida local the best place to head for breakfast in Merida and they will answer the same thing: Wayan’E. The restaurant name is in Mayan and means “it’s here”.
This is a fitting name as this is definitely the best place to enjoy breakfast on a Saturday or Sunday morning in Merida. There are two Wayan’E branches in Merida and they are both open until 3pm.
Expect a short wait to be served but know that it is absolutely worth it. Breakfast and traditional Yucatecan tacos are the main things on the menu here.
The papas con chorizo (potatoes with chorizo) tacos are not to be missed. Equally delicious are the egg, ham and vegetable breakfast tacos.
For something traditionally Mayan, you can order poc chuc tacos. Poc chuc is grilled pork that is covered in lemon and lime juices and cooked over a grill.
Wayan’E has been featured in travel publications and shows time and again. This is for good reason. It is one of the best places to eat in Merida.
Where: Av Rómulo Rozo 488, Itzimná
Kuuk is a Merida institution. If there are any contenders for Michelin stars in Merida, Kuuk is one of them.
The restaurant, housed in a grand colonial mansion at the end of Paseo Montejo, serves elevated Mayan cuisine. The dishes utilize locally sourced ingredients and place a contemporary twist on old recipes.
Some of the dishes use a combination of ingredients that seem as though they shouldn’t work, yet somehow, they do. Reservations are highly recommended here, particularly at weekends.
You can order from the Kuuk a la carte menu or you can opt to sample their tasting menu. The latter offers 11 courses for approximately $90 USD per person.
For an additional price, you can also add alcohol pairings to your meal. The flavors are one thing but the aesthetics and presentation are an equally wonderful part of dining at Kuuk.
Every dish looks like a work of art in itself and is almost too pretty to eat! If you have any dietary restrictions and yet you would like to experience the tasting menu, the staff is very accommodating and will make tweaks accordingly.
Gabbos Bar & Grill
Where: C. 20 98a, Itzimná, 97100
The main Merida promenade of Paseo Montejo is lined with restaurants that are crowded with tourists, traveling solo and in groups. However, venture just 5 minutes away from this main strip and you will find an abundance of excellent eateries where the locals hang out.
Gabbos Bar & Grill is one such place. The restaurant menu features the very best of traditional Mexican cuisine.
Think fajitas, burros, tacos, nachos et al. All served with delicious homemade guacamole and salsas.
For something a little different, order up a serving of frijoles charro (aka Mexican cowboy soup). This hearty soup is made with pinto beans stewed with onion, garlic, sausage and bacon.
A generous topping of grated manchego cheese is then sprinkled on the top. The restaurant serves a diverse selection of tacos – favourites along with Yucatan classic dishes.
Live music is hosted every night of the week here and is performed in the courtyard in an intimate setting. Gabbos also boasts a “cinema alternativo” where you can rent out a small cinema room for you and your friends to watch movies in an evening.
Hacienda Santa Cruz
Where: C. 86 S/N, Santa Cruz Palomeque, 97315
As far as most Mexican people are concerned, breakfast (“desuyanos”) is one of the most important meals of the day. However few places offer a more magical breakfast dining experience than Hacienda Santa Cruz.
Not only does dining in this grand Yucatan hacienda make you feel like royalty, but dining here also means eating to the backing of a live trio band. Musicians play out Mexican renditions of popular songs while you eat.
Traditional Mexican and Yucatan dining options grace the menu here. A particularly tasty option are the chilaquiles.
Chilaquiles consist of corn tortillas cut into quarters and lightly fried. They are then topped with local cheese, green or red salsa, and chicken.
Alternatively, consider ordering up a serving of huevos con longaniza (eggs served with a spiced pork sausage from Valladolid) or huevos motuleños (eggs on tortillas with black beans and cheese). Wash it all down with a strong cup of cafe de olla.
It is worth noting that Hacienda Santa Cruz is 22km or a 30 minute drive outside of Merida. This is not an issue if you are renting a car in Mexico. Alternatively, you can take an Uber for just a few pesos.
Casa T´HŌ Concept House
Where: P.º de Montejo 498, Zona Paseo Montejo
Sometimes, you may find that you fancy a change from Mexican food. For those occasions, there is Casa T´HŌ Concept House.
A visit here is as much about the aesthetics as it is about the food. The restaurant is set inside the inner courtyard of a gorgeous colonial mansion.
Stepping inside can feel somewhat intimidating at first, simply because the establishment is so glamorous. However, the service is great and the prices are very reasonable.
Casa T´HŌ serves up international fare from around the world with a focus on Mediterranean dishes. If there are several of you dining together, you may want to consider starting with a charcuterie board and a selection of Italian or Spanish cold cuts and cheeses.
The homemade tzatziki here is to die for. So too are the various pasta dishes with homemade pesto and sauces.
If you happen to stop by here in the evening, you can order a classic or bespoke cocktail prepared by the expert in-house mixologists. During the day, many excellent quintessentially Mexican drinks are served here.
Try the dirty horchata. This is horchata (a cinnamon-infused, no alcoholic sweet rice drink) mixed with cold brew.
Author Bio: Melissa of Mexico Travel Secrets
Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico. She runs the solo female travel blog highheelsandabackpack.com as well as a Mexico-focused travel site called Mexico Travel Secrets.
Her writing work has been featured in a number of high profile publications including Matador Network, Forbes Travel Guide, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post. Follow on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
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