My picks for Cancun restaurants
Here are my picks for the best restaurants in The Cancun Hotel Zone....these picks take into account value for the money in addition to how good the food, service and surroundings are.
The experience that is Navios is like no other. The restaurant was build entirely over the water of the bay. And the seating area consists of several totally private palapas that are surrounded by water. Imagine being surrounded by water with tasteful romantic lighting to make the water glimmer while enjoying your meal in your own private palapa. You walk to each palapa via a pier over the water. The palapas are usually dedicated to groups of 8-10 people because that's about how many each one seats. The atmosphere is outstanding, particularly at night. The music is gentle and tasteful.
All of this of course would only have meaning if the food could match the surroundings, which I am happy to report that it does resoundingly so. I recommend the fresh grouper, my wife recommends the petite filet. In our experience, the service has always been excellent. That leaves only the price. The fresh grouper runs about $16US. It doesn't get any better than this for an over-all value for an experience folks. And this outstanding restaurant sits directly across the street from Yalmakan resort at kilometer 19.5.
If you'd like to experience the gorgeous sunset over the bay, this is a great way to do it. Get there early if you would like one of the private palapas.
This little restaurant may not look like much at first glance, but don't be fooled by the outside. Las Bravos features a variety of authentic Mexican offerings that are delicious. And more over, you can have lunch for a true bargain. When my manager Abdiel first took me here I was shocked. We both had lunch with good size portions and something to drink and it ran us $10. That's not each, that was for both of us! When you first drive up you see parking is very limited and it looks like you just order your food and have nowhere to go. But around the side is a staircase that takes you up to their dining area that overlooks the beautiful lagoon. When my wife and I were there we were also visited by a friendly stork (one of picture right). They also serve Coronas on ice for a nice value, I think it was $10 for 5 of the smaller bottles of Carona on ice. The dining room is casual to be sure, nothing fancy at all, but clean. You can order for dine in or to go. An outstanding value, which is why you normally see many of the locals here. A diamond in the rough for value and deliciousness. Located at Kilometer 12.5.
Mexican cuisine at its finest. The food is outstanding, the level of service supreme. Anything you order is wonderfully delicious. The menu also includes traditional seafood and steak. It is its obvious by the amazing taste sensations that this restaurant has amazing chefs and knows its business well. Prices vary quite a bit from dish to dish, there is something for most any budget you would expect to pay at a nicer place. At kilometer 13.5.
This is an outstanding American seafood restaurant and oyster bar. The food is excellent, the atmosphere amazing, and the service fantastic and genuinely friendly. You are looking at anywhere from a low of $18 for a meal to a high of around $75. Its a beautiful restaurant with wonderful views of the bay. Located right up the street at kilometer 19.5.
Km 19.5 Restaurant & Bar
For some delicious food at a reasonable price no need to go any further than across the street. Directly across the street from Yalmakan is another gem of sorts. Very casual, great views, friendly service, and excellent food at reasonable prices. Its a heck of a combination. Joe is the owner, terrific guy! If he or his wife Nicolai are there, tell them you are staying with Tim in one of the penthouse units and he/she will typically give you a little something off the price for you. But for that, you have to talk to Joe or Nicolai. They are wonderful people. The service has always been very good and we have tried most of the menu over the years and the food has always been terrific! Not an extensive menu, but what they offer is very tasty, from the 1/2 pound black angus burgers to the shrimp sandwiches and salads.
Champions Sports Bar & Grill
This restaurant did NOT make the list because of its awesomeness as a restaurant. Yes, it does have VERY good food and the menu is pretty diverse offering a wide variety of both American and Mexican favorites from finger food and bar style sides to full on meals. But the MAIN reason Champions made this list is because if you are a big sports fan and you happen to be in Cancun during one of the "big games" this is the place to be for your game. Champions has TV's everywhere. I am a Chicago Bears fan (unfortunately). What I have done in years past is to get there early and ask which TV's are going to have my game on? Sometimes they will let you choose one depending on how busy they are. Its especially nice that you get to watch the game with other people you have never met but are kindred fans that often times are from the same city you are from. For your big game this is the place to be on game day.
This is a fine dining experience located nearby at kilometer 14. The food is exquisite and the service is amazing. Its a surf and turf of taste in a beautiful atmosphere. Price range is $25-$75 for most dinners. If you would like to sit outside and enjoy the view of the lagoon you will need to make a reservation typically. Puerto Madero is very popular. The food is sensational and the portions are good size. So if you would like to treat your family to a special night out with outstanding food and service you will not be disappointed at Puerto Modero. One of the Cancun hotel zone's excellent choices. Dress code required, no shorts, collared shirts.
Savios Bistro by La Dolce Vita
There aren't many Italian restaurants in Cancun. If you are in the mood for Italian, this is a great choice. The prices are reasonable and the food is well known for being consistently excellent. Many options in the $20 range. Savios features a wide variety of Italian dishes and they are all so tasty. The service has always been good. This is a nice night out that wont break the bank either. They do also offer the more traditional steak and seafood, but they are known for their Italian cuisine. Kilometer 15.
Honorable mentions and other thoughts.....
Harry's Steakhouse is awesome!!!....but it will cost you. That's why it didn't make the list, you are looking at about $75 a plate as an AVERAGE. Their outdoor area is superbly lit, and the steaks are so good. But its not so good that few people want to spend $100+ for a steak dinner, a couple drinks and a tip for one person. Kilometer 13
Surf'n Burrito has excellent food at very fair prices. They make excellent Margaritas and have a variety of them. But if you want to go there to relax, you have to be lucky. The seating is so limited its crazy. You have to park across the street at a closed restaurant because otherwise there is no parking. The bench/bar seating can accommodate maybe 15-18 people, that's for the whole restaurant. And because the food is really good and reasonably priced, and close to the big clubs in Cancun, the place is always packed. It would make the list if you could go there and sit down without having to eat your meal on the side walk. But I have not been there in over a year when I was able to get a seat, and I have tried a few times. Kilometer 9.5
Lorenzillos lobster dishes can be excellent. And the service can be amazing at times. But good or great restaurants have to be consistent. I did the homework for you and many reviews on tripadvisor are negative, while others are outstanding. The negative theme seams to be that at times staff is standing around while people wait on drinks for extended periods. Other times customers cannot say enough about how fantastic the restaurant is in every way. If you are a risk taker, this restaurant is surely worth a try. Kilometer 10.5
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse absolutely DESERVES TO BE ON THIS LIST. The only reason it is not is because this is a restaurant that can be experienced in most major US cities. In Cancun, Ruth's Christ maintains their incredible level of quality in every way. If you have never tried this restaurant and you love steaks, then what better place to treat yourself than on your Cancun vacation? Outstanding service, outstanding food, outstanding atmosphere. Very cozy. Love the ribeye and lyonnaise potatoes. If you order any side dish it will be enough for 2 people unless you are a big eater. Steaks are out of this world, plates come to your table searing hot to preserve the heat of the steak all the way through dinner. You are looking at about $50 per person not including drinks and gratuity typically. Worth every penny. Located about 3 miles North of Yalmakan resort, kilometer 13.
Be careful of following tripadvisor for everything...
Las Brasilenas is rated #1 on tripadvisor for ALL Cancun restaurants, including all of Cancun El Centro, a city of over a million people. Yet you will see some people on the reviews that are utterly shocked this restaurant made the best list, let alone THE best. There are cases out there these days where reviews are largely purchased. This might just be the case here. You read the reviews and decide.
Have you been to a Cancun hotel zone restaurant that you think is OUTSTANDING? Please email me about your experience.