Looking for the best restaurants in Merida Mexico? This local guide has you covered.
Best Restaurants in Merida Mexico
The Yucatan capital has something for every culinary palette and budget. So, whether you are looking to sample traditional Yucatecan cuisine, find a cheap and cheerful local taco spot, or treat yourself to a fine dining experience, you will find what you are looking for in Merida.
Fine Dining in Merida Mexico
Sometimes you want to treat yourself, and there is plenty of opportunity for that in Merida. There aren’t any restaurants here that have been awarded Michelin stars as of yet.
However, that is not to say that there aren’t those places that are deserved such! Merida’s fine dining restaurants are a diverse bunch.
There are places that offer contemporary Yucatecan cuisine, places that specialize in international dining options, and concept restaurants that blend the best of different cuisines. Most restaurants require an advanced reservation that can typically be made online or by phone. This is particularly true on weekends, now more than ever with the ongoing pandemic and with most eateries implementing social distancing.
Rosas & Xocolate
Where: P.º de Montejo 480, Paseo Montejo Zone, Downtown, 97000
Rosas & Xocolate restaurant is situated inside the luxurious hotel of the same name, right on the main stretch of Paseo Montejo. The gorgeous property consists of two spectacular French-style mansions that were restored to their former glory in 2007.
The candy pink properties were renovated and rejuvenated by a team of renowned Mexican architects and designers. Today, the site boasts an award-winning restaurant, and a hotel with 17 rooms, each of which is distinctly different.
The restaurant boasts al fresco seating right beside the Paseo Montejo. This is a great spot for people watching as local vendors sell their wares along Merida’s main boulevard, and locals jog, walk their dogs, and indulge in an afternoon walk with friends.
Live Jazz bands will often perform here as you dine, making the experience even more special. If you prefer to sit inside and escape the intense Mexican sun, the indoor area of the restaurant is every bit as spectacular with its contemporary light installations, water gardens, restored antiques, and unique art pieces.
Acclaimed Chef David Segovia is behind the menu at Rosas & Xocolate restaurant. Stop by for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.
The menu is essentially a combination of Mediterranean-style favorites, and modern, fresh twists on Yucatan food. The duck panuchos with salad, Xnic pec, avocado, and Xoconostle sauce are great. So too, are the Lamb cochinita tacos with pickled onions.
Where: Av Rómulo Rozo 488, Itzimná, 97100 Mérida
Kuuk is a Merida institution. Ask anyone where you should go for an extra special dining experience in Merida and they will all tell you the same thing: Kuuk.
The restaurant, housed in a grand colonial-style mansion, succeeds not only in making its food delicious but in making it so photogenic and gorgeous that it is essentially a work of art in itself. Kuuk is housed within a converted 18th-century mansion just off Paseo Montejo.
The decor is as decadent as the food. The gorgeous rooms, with their high ceilings, glittering golden chandeliers, and regal tables and chairs make diners feel like royalty.
They are reminiscent of an elegant, by-gone area and seemingly transport you back in time. When you dine at Kuuk, you can opt to order a la carte, or you can indulge in the restaurant’s tasting menu.
The latter costs 1800 pesos ($86) per person and consists of 11 phenomenal courses. If you want, you can add an alcohol tasting to this for an additional 900 pesos.
The menu options typically focus on showcasing local ingredients and unique interpretations of traditional dishes that seem like they may not work, yet somehow, they just do. For instance, the delicious underground cooked corn esquite is a modern variation of elotes.
The soursop, sea snail, coconut, and habanero with sea grape, spirulina, bougainvillea, tomato, and shrimp use Yucatecan ingredients to create something completely unlike anything you have had before. An extensive selection of international wines is sold here.
Ask your waiter to recommend the perfect pairing for your chosen dish. One of the best things to do in Merida is to treat yourself to a gourmet dining experience like this one.
Where: Merida – Peto, Hacienda, 97370 Teya, Yuc
Many Yucatan haciendas have been converted into luxury guest accommodations in recent decades. However, Hacienda Teya functions purely as a restaurant and event space.
This isn’t just any restaurant though. The chefs behind the menu at Hacienda Teya have won awards and recognition both within Mexico and internationally for their delicious concoctions.
The property is spectacular too. Hacienda Teya was founded in 1683 by Mrs. Ildefonsa Antonia Marcos Bermejo Calderon y de la Helguera, wife of the Count of Miraflores.
It operated as a place to raise cattle and then became a henequen hacienda before being abandoned in the first half of the 20th century. Fortunately, a new investor saw its beauty and potential and turned it into the spectacular premises it is today.
The hacienda is encompassed by spacious grounds and manicured gardens. You can see the property´s resident deer through the windows as you dine.
The breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus are all fantastic, boasting different highlights. If you stop by for lunch, be sure to order the papadzules for your appetizer.
These hand-rolled tacos are stuffed with finely chopped steamed egg and a mouthwatering sauce made from finely ground pumpkin seeds and tomatoes. The Puntas de Filete al X’catic – beef fillet tips seasoned with achiote, stewed with tomato sauce and X’catic chili, and accompanied by rice and ripe plantains makes a phenomenal choice of a main course.
For dessert, the obvious choice is manjar blanco. This is a delicious creamy rice pudding prepared with coconut and cinnamon.
Where: Calle 60 #471 x 55 Local 2 Portales de Santa Lucía, Centro, 97000 Centro
If you want to indulge in delicious Mexican food, but you want something a little different from traditional Yucatan cuisine, Apoala has you covered. It is the brainchild of the Arnaud brothers who hail from Oaxaca and offer you a menu selection that fuses Yucatecan and Oaxacan ingredients and recipes.
The restaurant, headed up by Chef Sara Maria Arnaud Gómez, offers a thoughtful twist on age-old family recipes passed down through the generations. It is set within the porticoed walkways of Santa Lucia park in central Merida.
A nice way to start is with the flores en amarillo. These are fried zucchini blossoms that are stuffed with Oaxaca cheese and hierba santa over mole amarillo.
Follow it up with an innovative taco, soup, or pasta. A great choice is the tasajo Oaxaqueno – thinly sliced grilled beef, chile de agua, cheese, and mole amarillo chilaquiles.
Hacienda San Jose
Where: KM 30 Carretera, Tixkokob-Tekanto, Tixkokob, Mexico, Yucatan 97470
Nothing says magical dining experience quite like enjoying a candlelit dinner in the gardens of an old hacienda. That is exactly what you can do at the restaurant of Hacienda San Jose, just outside of Merida.
You absolutely need a vehicle to be able to get to the Hacienda. However, it is well worth the effort if you are renting a car in Mexico. Similarly, this is a nice place to stay overnight and enjoy a luxury stay in the Yucatan if your budget allows.
The menu showcases all of the very best dishes that originated in the Yucatan state. For instance, mouthwatering cochinita pibil cooked to perfection. The expert mixologists can prepare you whatever cocktail takes your fancy – delicious Pina Coladas, or homemade lemonade prepared with fresh local herbs.
Hacienda Santa Cruz
One of the best restaurants in Merida is housed inside Hacienda Santa Cruz, just south of the city center. Their Restaurante Valentina specializes in serving the very best of Yucatecan cuisine prepared with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.
Arguably the best time to stop by is for breakfast, even if you are not a guest at the hotel. You can order a breakfast package that comes with warm, crumbling fresh pastries, homemade bread, a fresh Mexican fruit platter, coffee, freshly squeezed fruit juice, and a main.
Better still? Live musicians regularly perform traditional music as you dine.
Where: Calle 47 & Esquina con 54 S/N, Centro, 97000 Mérida, Yucatan
Good, authentic Italian food is difficult to find in the Americas. There are a couple of Italian-inspired eateries in Merida but none stand out as much as Oliva Enoteca.
Reservations are a must here, especially at weekends. Furthermore, the restaurant is so beloved that you really need to make your reservation several days in advance of when you hope to stop by.
Oliva Enoteca is housed within a restored mansion in central Merida. As you wait for your food to be prepared, you can enjoy a signature cocktail at the bar, with a wonderful view of the chefs hard at work inside the open kitchen.
The drinks menu boasts a selection of more than 180 different types of wine from across the globe. Each of these has been personally selected by the chef in order to complement the dishes on the menu.
Start your dining experience with an antipasti – perhaps some carpaccio, a selection of olives, or bruschetta topped with fresh, marinated tomatoes. The pasta selection here is extensive.
Consider ordering up some gnocchi alla sorrentina – gnocchi potato dumplings that hail from Southern Italy, cooked in fresh tomato sauce with basil, mozzarella, and grana padano. Alternatively, try the classic caccio e pepe (salt and pepper) pasta prepared with a cream sauce made from pecorino romano and parmesan.
Cenote San Ignacio
Where: C. 23 126, Centro, 97816 Chocholá, Yuc
Cenote San Ignacio is a gorgeous restaurant and a cenote all in one. It is located in Chocholá, a small Yucatecan town just 40km and 36 minutes away from central Merida.
You can stop by here for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner during your Merida itinerary. However, perhaps the best experience is to come in the morning, enjoy a fabulous breakfast, let it digest while you enjoy a strong Mexican coffee, and then swim in the cenote.
Gorgeous tiki-style cabanas provide protection from the intense sun as you dine on tables laden with crisp white linen tablecloths. Indulge in traditional Mexican breakfasts or the very best of Yucatecan cuisine.
There is also a large pool surrounded by hammocks and cozy chairs. You could easily dedicate half a day to hanging out here.
The cenote here is arguably one of the most beautiful in the Yucatan and arguably, the whole of Mexico. It measures 30 meters long by 20 meters wide with a maximum depth of 8 meters.
It is a great place to swim or simply enjoy sitting and soaking in the clear waters like a natural jacuzzi. Be advised that entrance to the cenote requires a separate admission fee. Life jackets are available to rent for free if you like.
Micaela, Mar & Leña
Where: Calle 47 458, Centro, 97000 Mérida, Yucatan
Micaela, Mar & Leña is a lively local eatery that specializes in seafood dishes. The hospitality here is second to none, and when you dine at Micaela, Mar & Leña, you have the assurance that any fish or seafood dish you tuck into comes from fish sourced from local waters earlier that same day.
The restaurant aims to create a homely environment that makes you feel as though you are eating at the home of a family member or a close friend, rather than a business. It is run by Chef Vidal Elias Murillo and his partner Alberto Nacif Figueroa.
Micaela, Mar & Leña is situated in a part of the city that is becoming known as Merida’s culinary row (Calle 47 between 56 and 52). This is on account of all of the excellent dining options that can be found in this part of town.
Micaela, Mar & Leña has a fascinating backstory, too. Its owners previously managed a number of restaurants in the United States.
Following the election of Trump, they, along with several other legal Mexicans in the US, decided to relocate back to the motherland. A lot of the recipes here stem from an old cookbook that Vidal Elias Murillo found in an old antique store in Mexico City.
The cookbook was written by a woman of Afro-Mexican-descent, a nanny named Micaela who was the daughter of slaves that escaped a plantation in New Orleans. The restaurant, and its dishes that are twists on Micaela’s recipes, pay homage to her life and the struggles of immigrants.
If you fancy a change from Mexican cuisine while you are in Merida, Casa Tho is a good choice. This gorgeous eatery and concept space focuses on international (predominantly Mediterranean) inspired food.
If you have spent any amount of time living or traveling in Europe, you will be able to note that the Italian and Greek recipes here are not authentic. However, they are the next best thing and they are pretty good for European food found in Southern Mexico!
The restaurant is housed inside a spectacular 19th-century mansion. It centers around a courtyard and features high ceilings, arched walkways, and grand, colonnaded paths.
The homemade tzatziki served with warm pita bread is to die for. Some of the pasta dishes (many of which accommodate vegan and vegetarian travelers) are also very good.
At night, you can stop by here for an aperitivo. In other words, you can order a cocktail and you will be served with small, complimentary tapas-style plates to accompany your drink. Live Jazz and blues musicians often perform to intimate audiences here in the evenings.
Best Specialty Yucatecan Kitchens in Merida
You will find that unless you choose to dine at international eateries, the vast majority of restaurants in Merida and the wider Yucatan serve the region´s specialty cuisine. Generally speaking, there is no such thing as bad Yucatecan food and most of the restaurants in this region are excellent.
That being said, there are those places that stand out above the crowd and are designated Comida Yucatecas. In other words, they pride themselves not only on serving Yucatecan recipes but in following the ancient cooking methods down to a tee and using the same ingredients and processes as the Ancient Maya before them.
Where: Calle 20-A Num 302 X 5b Y 5c, Xcumpich, 97204
Habaneros restaurant is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. It is particularly popular at weekends when locals come here to enjoy breakfast or lunch with their extended families.
One of the highlights of dining here is the live-action cooking stations. As you enter, you will see Mayan women in traditional dress hand-preparing fresh tortillas. From within the restaurant, you have a view of the chefs lovingly preparing your food.
Habaneros is decorated in a manner that highlights the best of the Yucatan´s history and culture. Carved, colorful wooden masks and Mayan sculptures adorn the walls.
Come for breakfast for the best experience. For 220 pesos ($10 USD), you can order a breakfast package.
This comes with some bite-sized welcome churros, fresh water, the main dish, and refillable coffee. Consider ordering a café de olla instead of regular coffee.
This is one of the most beloved Mexican drinks. The coffee is prepared with cinnamon and cane sugar (piloncillo) and served in a little earthenware pot.
Where: Calle 21 & 28, N ° 180, Centro, 97470 Tixkokob, Yuc
Pueblo Pibil, like Hacienda San Jose, is located in the little Yucatan town of Tixkokob, some 25km out of Merida, but well worth the 15-minute journey to get to. This is a ¨Comida Yucateca¨.
In other words, they serve only traditional dishes cooked underground pib style. Pueblo Pibil´s chefs follow the same recipes and cooking practices as the Maya have for centuries.
Their recipes take you on a journey of ancient flavors. Better yet, the restaurant is housed inside a breathtaking 18th-century Tixkokobenese mansion that still features a lot of its original paintings and artwork.
The meat dishes here are prepared in a pib style. In other words, they are cooked underground for 15 hours, in fire lit with chukum and catzín wood, oak leaves, and jabín.
Museo de la Gastronomía Yucateca
Where: Calle 62 #466 x 55 y 57, Centro, 97000 Mérida
The Museo de la Gastronomía Yucateca is an interesting concept restaurant in the heart of Merida. It first opened its doors in 2019, with the intention of offering a tribute to one of the most important cuisines of Mexico.
Dishes have been made in traditional ways to honor the legacy of the Ancient Maya. This place is something between a restaurant and a museum, aiming to provide education about local food and Mayan culture as you dine.
You will find all of the Yucatecan favorites served here. For instance, sopa de lima, cochinita pibil, pollo pibil, and rellena negra.
Best Tacos in Merida
Tacos are one of the most integral parts of Mexican food. There are actually countless varieties.
You could easily eat tacos every day of your Mexico trip and neither get bored of them nor try all the variations that exist! Locals too will eat them several times a week – either when they dine out at restaurants or they eat themselves at home.
The best restaurants in Merida below are those places where you can enjoy some of the very best tacos in town. They range from sit-down eateries to simple grab-and-go spots.
Where: Calle 15 X 18A y 20, Itzimná, 97100 Mérida, Yuc.
Wayan´E is without hesitation, the best place to eat tacos in Merida. Although there are several taquerias scattered throughout the city and many of them are indeed very good, none of them are able to hold a candle to Wayan´E.
Wayan´E is a Mayan word meaning “here it is¨. Whichever day of the week you stop by this bustling little place, you will be met with locals queuing to be served.
The modest eatery has been designed like a simple taco truck and you can sit on stools at the counter as you watch your tacos being prepared. Wayan´E is open from 7 am until 2.30 daily and is best known for its breakfast tacos.
While breakfast tacos may seem an obscure concept if you are coming from a western country, once you have tried them, you will probably become a major advocate for having tacos for breakfast on the regular! Try the eggs with spinach tacos or the papas con chorizo (potato tacos with longaniza chorizo from Valladolid).
Was it all down with some homemade lemonade or some pineapple juice with chaya (Mayan spinach). The tacos are only around 17 pesos each (circa 82 cents). 3-4 is plenty enough to be full.
Gabbos Bar & Grill
Where: C. 20 98a, Itzimná, 97100 Mérida, Yuc.
Gabbos Bar & Grill is a cozy grill house situated in the Itzimna district of Merida, just a short walk away from the main stretch of Paseo Montejo. Despite its relatively central location, Gabbos escapes the eyes of most tourists and is only frequented by locals that live within the nearby residential area.
Every night of the week, Gabbos houses live musicians who perform acoustic covers of classic songs, or who play jazz and blues music. There is also an alternative cinema “cinema alternativo” on the second floor of the property.
Here, you can rent out the entire movie theater for yourself and some friends and choose from a wide selection of movies in both English and Spanish. The tacos at Gabbos are some of the best in town, and the options available are vast.
A local tip? Order the tacos arrachera or the sirloin tacos. You can enjoy three sumptuous tacos made with flour or maize, for around 100 pesos. The ambiance is second to none.
Where: Jesus Carrazana, Av. Aleman X 40 #381
If you want to find a real local place where you are the only international visitor in sight, grab tacos at El Payaso. The diner-style eatery boasts both indoor and outdoor seating where you can watch sports while old Mexican banda music plays out over loudspeakers.
The eatery serves everything from bistec sandwiches to quesadillas and burros. However, it is the tacos here that are most people’s raison d’être for visiting.
The tacos con asado are a nice choice – tasty taquitos made with marinated pork in achiote sauce. Alternatively, try the bistec de queso – marinated beef tacos with melted manchego cheese.
Whenever you head out for tacos in Mexico, you will be presented with a selection of sauces and toppings to sprinkle on the top, and El Payaso is no different. Typically, this is fried onion and a selection of salsa (roja and verde) and habanero sauce.
If you are completely spice-averse, El Payaso also always has a delicious garlic Mexican ranch dressing at the table. Wash it all down with an ice-cold homemade horchata.
The food here is great, but among the best parts of dining here is the interactive dining experience. The taco meat is carved from large rotisserie spits – a part of the local culture that was introduced by immigrants from Lebanon. In the kitchen, you can see the chefs hard at work making everything from fresh tortillas to nachos.
Surf & Turf Tacos
Where: Calle 41 num 285 x 40 Fraccionamiento, Francisco de Montejo, 97203 Mérida, Yuc.
Surf & Turf is one of the best restaurants in Merida as far as tacos are concerned. The hippy-esque decor here makes the eatery reminiscent of dining at a beachfront surf shack in a hippy commune, rather than a taco restaurant in the Yucatan capital.
Choose from a variety of taquitos, tortas, burros, and burgers. The meat is cooked to perfection in the open courtyard kitchen and everything comes with a side of crunchy home-cut fries.
Surf & Turf often has a lot of dining deals on offer. For instance, you can usually get 3 tacos for 89 pesos ($4.27 USD).
Taqueria de la Unión
Where: C. 55 488, Parque Santa Lucia, Centro, 97000 Centro, Yucatan
Taqueria de la Union is one of the most famous taco restaurants in Merida. This is a no-frills takeout style eatery where you can opt to order your food to go or sit on the simple plastic tables and chairs in a small restaurant the size of someone’s living room.
You will find a lot of tourists meandering in and out of here, mostly because Taqueria de la Union has been written about and recommended everywhere from Lonely Planet to Tripadvisor. That is not to say that this is a tourist trap, however.
Some places are popular for a reason, and the food here is second to none. The tacos served at Taqueria de la Union feature the best of traditional Yucatan ingredients.
As you wait for your food, you will be presented with a complimentary serving of guacamole and homemade nachos. The cochinita pibil (suckling pig) tacos are not to be missed.
This is tender, juicy pork that is slow-cooked to perfection using achiote and an array of local herbs and spices. Think of it as the original pulled pork if you like.
Another great thing about dining at Taqueria de la Union is its central location. From here, you are within walking distance of Merida’s main attractions and can easily continue with your day’s sightseeing.
Best Breakfast in Merida
Going out for breakfast or ¨desayunos¨ in Mexico is a wonderful experience. Not only are there plenty of places where you can grab a coffee and international breakfast favorites like pancakes and eggs benedict, but there are plenty of places where you can try local breakfast dishes too.
The Yucatan region of Mexico (i.e. where Merida is located) is home to a lot of delicious native breakfast dishes. This is particularly true if you like eggs.
Try the huevos con longaniza – eggs prepared with spiced chorizo from Valladolid. Alternatively, order up a plate of huevos Motulenos – eggs on tortillas with black beans and cheese.
Where: Calle 57 501x 62 y 60, Centro, 97000 Mérida
Cafeteria Pop is a beloved Merida breakfast spot that is widely known both across Mexico and across the world. 2022 marks its 50th year in operation, having served thousands of delighted patrons from dozens of countries worldwide.
You can order all of your favorite Mexican breakfast dishes here and the prices are very affordable. Huevos divorciados is a good choice (translation: ¨divorced eggs¨!)
The dish consists of two fried eggs that are placed in the center of the plate. One is bathed in salsa roja and the other in salsa verde.
They are separated by some black beans from the pot. Omelets, croissants, pastries, and other light options are also available
Cafeteria Pop does also serve some lunch and dinner options. However, the atmosphere is at its most lively in the mornings.
The cafeteria is owned by Merida residents Lizbeth Castilla Povedano and Amira Peniche Gonzalez. Its walls are laden with vibrant graffiti murals and pop art designs.
The inspiration? The owners trip to London, England where they witnessed wonderful, hip hangout spots in 1970s London and decided to follow a similar design.
Where: C. 63 214, Sin Nombre de Col 24, 97115 Mérida, Yuc
Vida Mia is a gourmet paradise. The little eatery in the northern suburbs of Merida offers mouthwatering dishes from across the globe, with a special focus on eating charcuterie or meze style.
The restaurant is open from 8 am until 3 pm daily, making it the perfect spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Broken eggs, omelets, and pastries are great breakfast choices.
Alternatively, share a selection of meze plates and treats with your dining companions in the early afternoon. The imported cheese and ham platters are not to be missed.
They are relatively large but easily consumed if there are a few of you. The meat platter is an assortment of acorn-fed Iberian ham and Iberian pork cold meats (pork ham, pork loin, pork sausage, and pork chorizo).
The latter is an assortment of imported cheeses hailing from Europe. For instance, manchego sheep milk, goat cheese, Iberian sheep, goat, and cow milk, Spanish semi-cured manchego, and camembert.
The decor here is shabby chic and charming. You can opt to dine indoors, or in the small courtyard with the little wooden colorful chairs.
La Case de los Abuelos
Where: Plaza Uptown Merida, Av. Correa Rachó 104, Sin Nombre de Col 3, 97133 Mérida,
La Casa de Los Abuelos is a Mexican chain restaurant that specializes in serving traditional recipes from different parts of Mexico. But don’t let the fact that this is a chain restaurant put you off, it holds no reflection of the quality of the food here.
La Casa de Los Abuelos means ¨the grandparents’ house¨ and the eatery aims to provide an atmosphere and experience of eating good, hearty home-cooked meals prepared by your family. You won’t see any tourists here, only locals having dinner with their parents and grandparents.
Breakfast is a good time to stop by and the chilaquiles rojo here are some of the best in town. La Casa de Los Abuelos also has an extensive menu of pan dulces (Mexican sweet breads and cakes).
You will see them behind glass counters as you enter and they make a great breakfast accompaniment or a sweet snack to take home and enjoy later. If you stop by later in the day, their pozole soup is pretty good. This is a traditional stew cooked in a tomato-based sauce and prepared with pork, tortillas, cabbage, chile peppers, onion, garlic, radishes, avocado, and lime.
Where: Calle 39 numero 140 por 26 y 28, Montes de Amé, 97115 Mérida, Yucatán
Artemia restaurant is a chic, bohemian breakfast spot in the northern suburbs of Merida. Reservations here are absolutely imperative, particularly on weekends when well-heeled ex-pats and locals stop here for brunch with friends.
Artemias’ menu offering is extensive. They also serve excellent homemade smoothies and fruit juices if you want something a little lighter. Breakfast options range from Mediterranean-style concoctions to Mexican classics.
Do you have any additional questions about the best restaurants in Merida Mexico or about planning a trip to Mexico in general?
Safe travels! Melissa xo