Not being able to eat red meat or cheese, my expectations for food in Tulum weren't sky-high. So I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food, and the selection for my limited diet. Not everything was great, but several meals were spectacular. Here's a rundown:
Las Estrellas: Interesting to find Moroccan-influenced food in Mexico. I had a vegetable tagine that was quite good, if a little plain. My husband had the butter bean tagine, which I didn't like at all - some weird flavor that I cannot figure out. The food is very good, but the setting and atmosphere is magical, I loved it. The service was outstanding, and they brought us several plates of free hummus, which was super creamy and delicious.
Mateo's: we went here for lunch for convenience sake. The food was very basic and gring-ized, nothing to write home about at all. Chicken tacos were a bit on the greasy side. The margaritas were excellent, but caused me to have to go home and take a nap!
El Camello, Jr.: Great to get off the tourist route and go to a place bustling with locals. Loud hip hop music playing. My fish tacos were yummy, and I appreciated that the fish wasn't fried. The best thing was the fish salsa stuff that's free on the table. Wow.
Oscar y Lalo: This place was totally empty, which was surprising considering the press it gets. The food was pretty great - a trio of ceviches to start, then shrimp a la diablo - sooo spicy! The highlight of the experience was the baby spider monkey the owner was fostering after it was abandoned by its mother. I got to hold it! The downside was the hardcore sales pitch for the tours that they run.
Mezzanine: This Thai place, while quite sleek, had a remarkable location and was amazing at sundown. The steamed dumplings were incredible and my steamed fish with thai spices was light but flavorful. My husband's green curry with tofu was great but didn't have much tofu in it.
El Tabano: The clear highlight of our trip. I just cannot say enough about the food at this place. Watermelon and tomato gazpacho to start - perfection. My fish in pasilla chile sauce was one of the best fish dishes ever, and my father-in-law's fish with pipian sauce was really good, too. The vegetarian chile relleno stuffed with squash and other stuff was yummy. The menu is so interesting, you can spend twenty minutes gazing at it.
Posada Margherita: This place wasn't quite as amazing as people say, but we did eat there twice so I guess we liked it! The pastas are kind of plain but flavorful. I had spaghetti with mushrooms and tomatoes, which had both fresh and dried mushrooms. Loved it. The pasta with shrimp and zucchini was good but seemed to lack zip. The complementary appetizer plate is excellent, if too bread heavy. It would be nice to be able to order a salad, but there is no such option. I loved seeing the owners ADORABLE Italian-speaking kids running around the restaurant, and their dog is super sweet, too!
Hechizo: I had emailed them in advance to see if they could accomodate our annoying dietary restrictions, and they were incredibly nice about it. When we got there, the chef came out and talked to us about what we wanted, and made our dishes to order. I had a beet salad that was pretty remarkable, and a local fish that I can't recall the name of. The chef is from Mexico via Austria, and his wife is from Singapore. The food reflected their cosmopolitan nature, and was beautifully composed and executed. The setting is so unique and romantic – well, at least it was romantic until a party of Mexican supermodels and their off-putting male companions walked in, complete with armed bodyguard. Crazy scene. End of the romance, but quite a show nonetheless.
Maya Tulum: We had breakfast and lunch at this hotel a few times. The food is nice but not outstanding. It was a good place to grab a healthy meal. Their house salad, with tuna, potatoes and lots of other stuff, is really enjoyable, and their guacamole is especially good, as are their unusual juice combinations. I liked the juice with chaya.