Written by Stephanie Carmon
This town has had a gastronomical boom in the last three or four years and it is hard to keep up with all the great places to dine. We have put together a list of what we consider “must check out” restaurants in town. The list is long, but we have chosen our favorite spots!
Be sure to check their Facebook links for their New Year’s Eve Specials.
Apoala has become a household name among foreigners who live here or are coming to visit. It’s located in Santa Lucia which is a historic park plaza in Centro and has been turned into a trendy restaurant space where you can eat while listening to live music and watch the various cultural activities. It’s a fabulous location and many great restaurants are there. Apoala is Oaxacan food taken to a whole new level of incredible. Chef Sara Arnaud has done a fantastic job with the menu which never disappoints. You find a new Oaxacan cuisine with a touch of Yucatecan flavors in some dishes. Two of my favorites are the tiradito de short ribs and the soft shell crab tacos. They also have a large selection of top-shelf mezcales and their mixology is definitely worth trying. This is one of the first restaurants that all hotel owners recommend to their guests, and every visiting famiy member of an expat has tried it!
A favorite Lebanese restaurant of three generations, Siqueff will definitely not disappoint! It originally started in Motul in the 1930’s and Don Jorge Farid Siqueff Febles created the famous huevos motuleños dish and sauce which he made for governor-elect Felipe Carrillo Puerto. They have earned a spot in all Yucatecan hearts and in many foreigner’s as well. They not only have traditional Lebanese dishes but also some great breakfast and lunch options including some Lebanese breakfast dishes and other Yucatecan and international specials.
One of our favorite spots for quality food and tradition.
They have 3 locations.
Calle 60 between 37 and 35 open from 8-6pm
Paseo 60 open from 1pm-12 midnight
Siqueff Norte-Av. Andres García Lavin No. 349
Plaza Luxury Open 8am-6pm
Plus checkout MID CityBeat’s article here about their rich history: http://midcitybeat.com/siqueff_huevos_motuleos_80_years_tradition.html
K’u’uk Restaurant in Itzimna, Merida. This is a unique fine dining experience that everyone must try if living or coming to Merida. The food is spectacular and the ambiance set in a beautiful 19th Century home that belonged to a prominent Henequen family The Peons. They have top of the line mixology and their food is 100% Yucatecan, but with a twist of vanguardist culinary techniques. Chef Pedro Evia and his business partner Eduardo Rukos are visionaries and creative minds who bring the diner an intriguing dining experience.
Winner of several national and international awards including:
Food & Wine Magazine’s 100 Restaurants in the world worth a pilgrimage
2013 Travel & Leisure Gourmet Awards
2013 – No. 1 New Restaurant in Mexico Travel & Leisure Gourmet Award
2014, it was nominated for Best tasting menu in Mexico Travel & Leisure Gourmet Awards.
2019 winner of Mexico Food & Travel’s Best Restaurant in the Interior of Mexico
To check out MID CityBeat’s video on Kuuk go here: https://www.facebook.com/midcitybeat/videos/2326772287637959/
Tintorera -Bar Marino
This is a great seafood restaurant in San Angelo plaza by City Center. We had a fabulous lunch there not too long ago. We started with a tuna ceviche with beet sauce and then had the sikil pak (traditional Yucatecan squash seed dip) with shrimp! We then tried shrimp and octopus risotto that was so sinfully creamy and flavorful. Then the chef surprised us with cazuela of octopus, shrimp and cheese accompanied by tortillas. For dessert a panna cotta with pineapple, coconut and nuts. Really we enjoyed every minute of our lunch.
They have also great wine menu and a full bar.
If you head up north I would definitely give this restaurant a try.
The original Crabster is in Progreso and was such a hit they decided to move it to Paseo 60 in the heart of the city. Crabster is owned by the same owners of seafood and steakhouse Sanbravo and Restaurant Silverfish and the kitchen is run by Chef Christian Bravo one of Merida’s top chefs (click here for the article about Chef Bravo). All their restaurants are fine dining at its best and are local favorites. You can find many Yucatecans spending hours on a late lunch or dinner at any of these establishments. With Crabster we love to join right in on that tradition!
To start off the experience they bring over the mixology cart and my favorite is a gin cocktail with smoked rosemary and lime. It is a great way to start lunch. They also have an extensive list of wines from around the world and you can see all their wines displayed in a wine room with glass walls. I usually start with the seafood tower as our starter, a brilliant display of large prawns, crab legs and Rockefeller oysters with hard Dutch cheese. All delicious and fresh.
Some of my favorite dishes are Tikin Xic fish which is a Yucatecan traditional dish made with achiote and it’s grilled over an open fire with chilis (not too spicy), tomatoes and onions. I.n.c.r.e.d.i.b.l.e! The grilled octopus is moist with a lovely charbroiled taste. The get the local octopus right off the Yucatecan coast.
Oliva Enoteca is an authentic upscale Italian dining experience that boasts an award-winning wine list. The ambiance is cool industrial chic and you can see the kitchen from the first floor. They do an incredible variety of anitpasto, homemade pastas, meat and seafood dishes. My personal favorite is their grilled octopus, it’s absolutely perfect. They have a killer bakery that also supplies their coffee shop across the street Latte Quattro Sette. It’s a restaurant that invites one to stay late into the evening sipping on wine and having great conversation with friends.
Catrin is a fun and colorful restaurant with a Mexican menu from all over the Republic. They are a botanero with means their meals are small and meant to be shared. The menu consist of meats, soups, elaborated vegetables and all hot dishes are served on a cast iron plate. They are smaller portions and the best is to order many plates to be shared among friends and family. There are nine cold appetizers and fourteen hot appetizers to choose from as well as a selection of main dishes, soups and desserts. The variety is impressive and the dining experience in Catrin exposes the patron to a world of Mexican savor.
Catrin also serves as a trendy place to hang out and have some drinks with friends in the patio area. The bar specializes in cocktails and has a variety of spirits and beers to choose from. As mentioned before, there is a stunning mural outside and Marcos has attractive events planned for the outside patio. It’s a festive ambiance and as a group of friends and I discovered the other night, it invites the diner to stay not for just a meal, but for a long evening of great food, cocktails and laughs with friends.
Check out Stephanie Carmon’s article here: http://midcitybeat.com/catrin-restaurant.html
Tatemar belongs to the Apoala family and the kitchen is also run by Chef Sara Arnaud Gómez. This is a trendy restaurant that opened in La Isla shopping mall in the north end of town. It is absolutely worth the drive up north to try their food. The word tatemar comes from Nahuatl and means put out the fire. The kitchen is Oaxacan fusion food and some hints of Yucatan and they have seafood and meat dishes. The ambiance is stylish and you have a view of the man-made lake out the front window. It has a varied menu with some outstanding dishes. My favorites are the lamb tacos and the grilled octopus. Their mixology menu and mezcal mule is a reason to stop by if not only for happy hour! Absolutely a restaurant to visit for an excellent meal and experience.
For more information:
Spasso started in the Hyatt over ten years ago as an Italian restaurant priding itself on maintaining the true essence of Italy. The concept changed when Amuza restaurant replaced Spasso in the same location for several years, but now just last year Spasso is back and so is the Italian kitchen! They import many of the ingredients directly from Italy and they offer a full gourmet menu with salads, soups, antipasti, risottos, seafood and meat dishes, pastas and some fabulous desserts. They also have a stone pizza oven and make fresh focaccia and pizzas.
The dinner was absolutely delicious and we enjoyed our long dinner filled with conversation, wine, and great Italian food. For a special night out Spasso is a great option.
Live music on Thursday and Friday evening 8-10pm Enzo Italian music, English songs, and Big Band.
For their menu check out the link below:
To learn more about Spasso:
Teya –Gastronomia Yucateca Viva
This is the newest addition to the Hacienda Teya brand in Centro, Merida a trendy new plaza called Paseo 60. Teya Viva takes the traditional Yucatecan food from the original hacienda and adds a touch of city life sophistication. They have new additions to the menu from Chef Roberto Solis and there is something for everyone including vegan options. It is a place to find some excellent Yucatecan food. The wine list and mixology is also impressive. They have created a super trendy chic place that has become one of our favorite hangouts.
For more information check out their Facebook page here:
Sanbravo presents more than just its trendy sophisticated ambiance. It is a seafood and steakhouse with a mean mixology cart that passes by your table every time they see you have finished your drink. The food is exceptional and Chef Christian Bravo is at the top of his game. He participated in the first season of NBC’s Top Chef Mexico and has worked in several different restaurants in Spain with one, two or three Michelin stars including Coque restaurant in Madrid and Las Golondrinas in Seville. It’s a great place to get top quality meat and a mean steak. The seafood variety is also impressive and you can’t leave there without trying the desserts!
Check out Stephanie Carmon’s article here: http://midcitybeat.com/spotlight_chef_christian_bravo-sanbravo.html
Micaela Mar y Leña
One of the culinary hot spots and is becoming a local favorite. Run by Chef Vidal Elias Murillo and his partner Alberto Nacif Figueroa, it’s a seafood and wood-fired kitchen with a flare of cajun. And it boasts of Merida’s first oyster bar. Michaela is located on what I am now officially calling “Merida’s Culinary Row” (Calle 47 between 56 and 52) because of all the great restaurants on that strip of road. As you walk in you can feel the warmth of the atmosphere; it has a soulful and down-home energy with a hint of urban chic and New Orleans.
A big part of the menu is seafood, ceviches, some meats, and a wood-fired kitchen. In honor of her father, they have included flavors from New Orleans in some dishes. They have dishes named after the people in Micaela’s life such as “Don Anselmo Simon’s Fish”. Simon is an Arabic last name; therefore, they prepare it using Arabic culinary influences such as ginger and tahini. The plates are big so you can share with family and friends. Chef Vidal makes everything in house including the breads, jarred pickled foods, and sauces. Their desserts are well thought out, and very refreshing. Micaela is a nanny who takes care of you, who gives you affection, who spoils you and feeds you. This is the heart and soul of Micaela Mar y Leña.
Check out Stephanie Carmon’s article here: http://midcitybeat.com/micaela_the_story_that_inspired_Meridas_newest_hotspot.html
Just the other day we at at Oliva Patio with a large group of friends and I enjoyed a spaghetti carbonara and a carefree amount of vino tinto. We stayed late into the night, losing ourselves in the light of the flickering candles and absorbed in our animated—and modestly scandalous—conversation. It was a memorable night, one of those where while reminiscing you can hear Dean Martin playing in the background music of your imagination. Oliva Patio belongs to the Oliva Enoteca group as well and has a similar menu of incredible Italian dishes and flavors. They offer antipastos, pastas, gnocchi, plus meat or seafood dishes. Also the desserts are to die for. The ambiance is super chic and they have an outdoor patio. Highly recommended!
Check out Stephanie Carmon’s article here: http://midcitybeat.com/culinary-treat-oliva-patio.html
Chef Solis has just opened his doors to a new restaurant that I had the delight of visiting just his week. It is called Huniik which means unique spirit in Mayan. It is right across from Santa Ana Park in the heart of the Centro. As you walk in you see the sleek design of a stone wall and pastel-colored chandeliers. The art and decoration are designed by artist and Solis’s partner Jorge Pardo. The woodwork in the tables and chairs are incredible and worth noting the details.
The restaurant is an intimate space with only sixteen seats. It also has an open format where you can see the hustle and bustle of the quite frankly beautiful kitchen. For now, they have a set seven-course menu. It is not a pretentious menu, but a very original and well thought-out burst of flavors. They order all ingredients from the direct source ensuring that products are fresh or straight out of the garden. They make everything from scratch on the same day. That is why it is reservation only. If 10 people reserve, then they cook for 10.
As I savored every course, I sipped on a glass of wine looking out the window at the lovely Parque Santa Ana. The wait staff was very knowledgeable and attentive. Chef Solis has a full staff in the kitchen, but on many occasions, he personally cooks for his guests and will visit your table, or maybe sit down to chat. It’s a unique and special dining experience.
Nectar restaurant is a pioneer in the fine dining restaurants in Yucatan and opened his doors 16 years ago. It is definitely a place to put on your list for must-visit fine dining. Chef Roberto Solis is one of the precursors of the modern Yucatecan cuisine and has made his mark on the culinary scene as a vanguardist combining traditional flavors with contemporary techniques. He is one of the most celebrated chefs in Yucatan as well as abroad.