From classy to casual, here's where to eat & drink
One of my favorite things to plan for a trip is where and what to eat. That's normal right? To plan a trip around food? Tulum offers no shortage of fabulous options for places to eat and drink. Some keep it simple (tacos on tacos on tacos) and others make you feel fancy (hello Hartwood). All of them bring the delicious. Enjoy!
Let's start with the big kahuna. If you go to Tulum and don't eat at Hartwood, foodies of the world will scorn you. The restaurant is set in the jungle along the beach strip. The seafood is freshly caught, the produce is harvested from local markets, everything is cooked in a wood fire oven, and solar panels power the place. It's a little slice of sustainable heaven, and is absolutely worth the hype.
Due to its divine reputation, we read a lot of reviews saying it's nearly impossible to get a table at Hartwood if you don't arrive at 5pm to stand in line (the restaurant opens at 6:00). We did just that and were actually seated right when they opened — a miracle! If you get there closer to 6:00 or after, you will probably have to put your name on a list and come back later.
Point is, yes, it's worth it to arrive as close to 5:00 as you can. They do eventually cap the number of reservations for the night, and the restaurant closes at 10pm — so if you snooze you lose. Also note that Hartwood is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
But on to the food! To quote the Hartwood website, the menu "changes daily based on the sea and land that offer us new harvests each day." How's that for poetic jungle-hipster magic? Some of the highlights of our Hartwood eats include fresh ceviche, colorful salads, grilled calamari (our favorite!), and a couple scrumptious fish dishes. I highly recommend ordering a slew of plates to share. At a place this renowned, why not taste as much as possible?
To stick with the classy, jungle-side spots, you gotta go to Gitano! It's within walking distance from Hartwood, so it's perfect for a post-dinner drink — or while you wait for your Hartwood table. I'm more than a little obsessed with Gitano. While Hartwood is full-on rustic, Gitano brings the jungled glam.
Taquería El Ñero
Now to take it down a notch on the glam scale, but up a hundred notches on the taco-taco-taco scale. We went to two taco joints while in Tulum, both bomb.com and both located right downtown on the main drag. We sat and ate at El Ñero and had a blast hanging out, ordering five of everything, and loving every face-stuffing minute of it. Here the beef taco was our favorite. But they're small — get yourself one of each type of meat. You'll be glad you did.
Antojitos la Chiapaneca
We went to Antojitos la Chiapaneca to grab tacos to go on our first night in Tulum. You can eat there, but when you have a pool and five bottles of wine waiting at your spacious airbnb, well, do the math. The al pastor was our favorite taco here, and we would all advise against the steak (too chewy). A note about sauces: They are HOT. They're hot at El Ñero, too. Just assume any sauce anywhere in Tulum is going to be hot. Better safe than sorry.
On the morning of our cenote swim, we had breakfast at Burrito Amor. We drove past it daily on our way to and from our airbnb, as it's located on the far end of Tulum's main street. Burrito Amor is an inviting, open-air café — definitely more trendy and new than the historic Mexico vibe found throughout the rest of downtown.
Yes they serve breakfast burritos, but Burrito Amor is actually very much geared toward health-conscious, produce-loving, juicing types. They sell fresh juices, for one, as well as smoothies, burritos, and burrito bowls filled with fresh deliciousness.
Two things: The cinnamon roll smoothie is a drink I will always cherish. Vanilla almond milk, banana, cinnamon — yum! The vegetarian burrito is fresh as all get out — but to be honest, the insides could use some salt. For how pretty it is, it was a little bland. However, there's a bunch of house-made sauces at your service to pump up the flavor — the creamy chipotle sauce was our favorite.
My friends and I definitely fell for this place, so much so we went twice. Just off of the main drag in downtown Tulum, you'll find Batey's rustic charm and its signature mojitos and guarapos — a drink I'd never heard of. It's a delightful mix of fresh sugar cane and lime juice that's even better with a sprinkling of chili powder. Mmmm. That was our first trip to Batey.
Our second trip was for breakfast on our last day in Tulum, where each meal comes with coffee and fresh orange or lime juice. If you're lucky, you'll catch some live music! Yep, live music on a Tuesday at 10am. Can we do this every day?
Hotel Tiki Tiki
Hotel Tiki Tiki was located just a couple blocks from our airbnb, so we stopped there one night for pre-dinner drinks. The bar and pool area are crisp, mod, and unlike any other spot we visited in Tulum. It was like we stepped back in time to 1960s Miami Beach. Now, if you're staying on the beach strip, would it be worth the trek to Tiki Tiki? Probably not. It's out of the way. But if you're close enough to stop for a quick drink, it's certainly worth it.
In case that's not enough, here are more ideas for eating and drinking! There were lots of places we had on our list that we just couldn't get around to. Here they are so you can check 'em out for yourself: Cetli, Ki'Bok (coffee shop next to Batey), Zamas (beachside bar), Taqueria Honorio, Restaurare, El Tabano, and Posada Margherita (fresh seafood and Italian dishes).
A couple other shout-outs that didn't warrant a full description: Casa Jaguar, Las Estrellas, and Ziggy's — all on the beach strip. Casa Jaguar is on the Hartwood/Gitano level and within walking distance from both. It's smokey, rustic chic, and nestled in the jungle. We had some after-Gitano drinks here and it was muy bien, but pricey for Tulum. This is definitely a spot catered to tourists.
Las Estrellas is a beachside hotel restaurant, where we shared some apps and a bottle of wine before capping off the night with dinner and more wine at Ziggy's — another beachside restaurant. Honestly, I bet you could pick almost any hotel restaurant on the beach strip and you'd end up having a nice, fresh dinner in a relaxing, beachy setting. You can't really go wrong with thatch over your head and sand beneath your feet.
Obsessive planners, check out the logistics & itinerary of our Tulum trip for tips on car rental, where to stay & budgeting your time.