Thursday, January 1, 2015

Seafood Carpacio

After Christmas we wanted something fresh and we were with guests from NY/Paris/Hydra.  We decided to go out on a limb and take them to Muelle 8.  The menu is full of seafood cocktails and ceviches and lots of fish with sauces you'd rather not even read about but there on the first page is a list of carpacios.  We ordered a couple of guacamoles and a grouper ceviche for the table and then 4 of us ordered mixed carpacios and the outliner had a pulpo a la gallega.  Everything was great, but especially the fresh fish which is basically sashimi with some olive oil, capers and habanero on the side. Among us we had tuna, salmon, snapper, octopus and conch, all perfect.  The Pulpo dish was not the best one I've ever had but it was fine.  We were with a 16 year old who had no idea what Gilligan's Island was but now she knows what a restaurant on Gilligan's Island would look like if there were are restaurant on Gilligan's Island.

Update May 2015
This winter and spring I went about once a month for lunch to Muelle 8 and I always had the carpaccio.  I've never yet made it further down the menu but some guests from France went back 3 times over a ten day period and loved everything they tried including the lobster.

Muelle 8
Calle 21 No. 142 x Calle 30 y Calle 32, Buenavista, 97127 Mérida, YUC, Mexico
+52 999 944 5343

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Pardon my French

The trade between France and Merida brought us Marseille Tiles for the roofs and floors in the 19th century.  Now it's more recently brought us the cafe culture that allows us to sit with a coffee for hours or enjoy a light lunch or snack.

Cafe Creme I somehow managed to snub for the past 6 or 8 months or however long they have been off the corner of Calle 41 and 60.  I've had enough bad experiences with french food and pastry in the Yucatan to last me several reincarnations. But as my french god daughter is doing her gap year in the Yucatan and her mere was visiting me this week we dropped by for a cafe (sans creme).  The place was packed at 11 in the morning and we chose a table outside after someone more stealth than us slid into the table we wanted inside.   I had a fluffy yummy quiche with cheese and spinach served on a big plate with a little salad.The French mom had carrot cake and the enfant had a chocolate chip cookie...not too french for a french cafe but the owners and servers were nice and the coffee was very good.  And you can shop at Bodega 41 or El Estudio for gifts and crap for the home.

Bistro Cultural on the corner of 66 and 43 has 3 or 4 daily specials and always one or two are vegetarian though the French chefs specialties are pates and sausages.  You can meet the chef on saturdays at the slow food market and most of the offerings are organic or locally grown.   I was a weekly client before summer vacation.  This winter I've been a couple of times and it's much more popular than before.  In fact it fills up and by 3 there may not be much of a choice in the menu. This is a place that keeps getting better.   It's a bit off the beaten path.

There is a new French Bakery called Escargo on calle 58 between 57 and 59 in the pretty colonial red building...Bea from Coqui Coqui buys her pastries and she is a bread and cake fiend.  I've had a really nice pain au raisin from there that sent me briefly back to the Rue de Seine and for that I am eternally grateful.

Mexican Food in Centro

I grew up in Texas.  I ate Mexican food twice a week in New York and even once in a while in Paris and it's really not that easy to find a good Mexican meal in Merida.  Josh is from San Diego and had Mexican food daily and we agree that Mexican food in Merida is very hard to find.

We go to a filthy dive called Reforma once or twice a week and eat chile relleno or mole but nothing else. This season also the Chile en Nogada is very good according to the carnivores in my life. Christmas decorations are up year round and the chihuahua named Paris Hilton is an excellent and glamorous hostess. $

Frida's chef/owner is from Mexico City and when she's in the kitchen the food is very good. When she's not in the kitchen the food is inconsistent and the service is never up to par. $$$

Pancho's is as close to Tex-Mex as you can get but not close enough for me.  Here the service is the best thing about the place but if you're young enough not to know better you might like loud music and imitation cheddar cheese. $$$

The tacos of Ana Sabrina in the Santa Lucia Park are as close to real Mexican food as you're going to get and I'm there almost every Sunday. $

The new Apoala in Santa Lucia Park is a Mexican restaurant with many of the flavours of Oaxaca updated and it's the place to eat your first dinner in Merida as you may want to eat all your dinners there as there is nothing better to the north, south, east or west.  You can read my review on the other blog but basically my advice is order appetisers and then order more appetisers.  Good Mescal menu.$$$

...and not far from centro off Avenidas Reforma and Colon is one of my favourite lunch spots since I became a vegetarian.  Platos Rotos cook is also from Mexico City and offer and extensive menu that changes daily which makes it easy to go several times a week and not get bored.  It's home made comfort food in a very informal setting.  $

Mayan Meals best with Wheels

You can stand in line and rub shoulders with tourists and some locals at the hottest spots on trip advisor like El Chaya or Chaya Maya but the reports I've had from guests are that it's a 50/50 proposition.  You'll love or hate it.  I like the hand made tortillas and that's about it. The owner of these two restaurants also has a hacienda that has long been a destination for Sunday afternoon meals and events like weddings or 'quinceaneras".  I've had one meal in 11 years at Hacienda Teya that I enjoyed.  

My canteen when I moved here was the stand at the corner of Santiago market, El Reina de Itzlana 
for paunches and tamales.  The freshly made fruit shakes are great too.  The open around 8 but it's really best to go around ten when the place fills up with locals.  It's not open for lunch.

La Tradicion and Los Alemendros are popular with locals but that doesn't make them good.  They both have locations in centro.

I get out of town pretty often for my Sunday bike rides and when guests are in town we get in the car and do the hacienda, cenote, ruin and church tour.  Some of the best meals are at roadside stands like the goat beside the road in Motul or the grilled quail in Oxkutzcab.  Constantly good are El Principe Tutul Xui in Mani and Kinich in Izamal.  If I were going to one of the Starwood haciendas I almost surely order the Yucatecan dishes as chances are the chef has recently left and someone from the villages is filling in.  I think the best dishes at Hacienda Xcanatun are also the local fare.

It's worth reading the reviews at Los Dos Cooking School before you head out on your own.   Here is a link to his list of recipes...good to know what your in for.

I have been to El Chaya as of March 9, 2013 and I can promise you I will never go back it was absolutely revolting bordering on vomitus with a capitol V.   Someday I will elaborate but for now the rotten lettuce and clamless clam shells in my overcooked fish dish are too fresh in my memory.... I've had tastier acid reflux.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Best Choices in Centro updated November 2013

As I have many guests coming and the blogs have become congested with restaurants that have bitten the dust I will just list here some places you might enjoy.  I eat almost exclusively at home.  Last year my chickens convinced me to stop eating chickens and this year my yoga convinced me to stop eating meat and I suspect if I go anywhere near the sea or an aquarium I'll stop eating fish as well.

You'll find the addresses for the places I mention in my blog or from Mr. Google.

I go to Marlin Azul very often and Cangrejito sometimes.  Both are good and inexpensive options for lunch in centro.  I go to Miyabi when I want fish but a tourist doesn't crave Japanese in Mexico and you should go to Mulle Ocho or La Pigua for lunch or dinner and ignore the decor and atmosphere of both. El Pez Gordo has several locations but the one in centro closed this fall.  They had decent baja style tacos.

For something special (and I mean that literally and cynically) try Hacienda Xcanatun's Casa de Piedra or Rosas y Xocolate or the newly reopened Nectar.  I hear good things this year about all of these places.  When I want a special meal I get on a plane to New York or Paris.  I don't do special in Merida but you might not have a choice. If you're out of your mind you can go to this years Newest and Most Special place Ku'uk which is spectacular molecular smoking spinning and bell ringing with never ending tasting menu's.... UPDATE: Jan. 9, 2013 had dinner last night at Rosas y Xocolate and it was very good...still I'd order with caution...

La Rueda is the local steak house where the locals have long lunches in front of televisions and an astroturf playground but don't let that scare you.  LaRecova has survived the popular crowd and has settled down into a pleasant place to dine I hear.  The ""trendies" sent me running 3 years ago. Trotters is where everyone goes (except me). None of those are in centro so in centro if you want a steak go to Pancho's which is owned by Trotters.  Update September 2013 Trotters has opened a new location of El Tratto in Santa Lucia park.

Casa San Angel has a good breakfast and lunch menu and is a pleasant place to hang out for coffee and dessert.  The newest hotel is Mansion Merida on the Park and I gave this place a walkthrough but could not give it a sit down and neither should you.  Rosas y Xocolate is a place you might want to try the bar on the roof terrace or the informal dining room in the courtyard before plunging into the Dining Room Xperience. Casa Balam is very very old school but safe for grandma and private bankers.

Chaya Maya is a place you're going to go but I can't...The new La Chaya is even worse albeit prettier. La Reina de Itzlana is a market stall with good food after 8pm in Santiago.  La Tradicion has a new central location on calle 60 and also safe for granny as is the Los Alemendros in the Fiesta American Hotel or Mejorada park.  I'd just go to the market and eat if I were you and if that scares you then drive out to Hacienda Teya or go to Mani and to El Principe de Tutul Xui which is what I would do.

All of the Mexican cooks have moved to America or Europe except Ana Sabrina who makes tacos in Santa Lucia park on Sunday til 2pm.  La Reforma has good Mole and Chile Rellenos and I suppose Frida's does too. Those are the places to have Chiles en Nogades this season.  Pancho's is the most TexMex option if you like that cruise ship atmosphere with load music and costumed waiters.  My first choice is Apoala a Oaxacan restaurant that just opened this fall in Santa Lucia park.

There are some decent Italian places opened by real live Italians in Centro you're only options are Rafaellos Pizza and Oliva which just opened in November 2013.

I would recommend that you really try the food of the local women who cook in their homes mostly and offer a table or three and take out.  These are called cocina economica and you can take your Tupperwear there at lunch time and walk away with the special of the day.  I wouldn't be afraid to eat in the market stalls if you see others doing it.  I've been sick once from food in 12years.  The odds are in your favor.

** my gold plated rule is if you have a doubt then order appetizers to start and then if they are good order something else.  If it's bad get the check and go somewhere else.  Life is too short to eat shitty food.

Happy New Baktun and Happy New Year

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

2012 Doom & Gloom

The worst new restaurant in Centro award of 2012 goes to 2012. Congratulations. I and four friends recently broke out of our mold and tried a new place that was recommended by our yoga teacher. A new vegetarian restaurant in centro in a nice clean almost pretty setting. Despite the fact that there were 5 waiters for our table and only one other couple in the restaurant at the lunch hour our meal was a total disaster from beginning to end. There was not one tasty dish. As we had a chance to glance at the trash as it was carried through the dining room we understood why. All of the sauces came out of a box or can and even the "fresh" chaya juice was made with boxed pineapple juice. After a year of raising chickens and rabbits I'm on the edge of becoming a vegetarian but this experience does not advance the cause!

2012 Espacios Mayas y Algo Mas
Calle 62 x 55 & 57
Centro Historico

I've seen Wurst

I noticed a couple of weeks a go that a beer hall has opened across the street from Marlin Azul on Calle 62 x 57 & 59 called La Bierhaus. This is the second location opened by Jurgen in Merida but the other is el norte the area of town one only need visit to go to the cinema or for Sushi at Miyabi. I'm going to go to happy hour from 5-9 and see just how happy they can make me one day this week (or next).


My young friend Dagmar told me that the new owners of Mayan Pub are French and they have upgraded the menu and serve decent food. I doubt I'll ever experience that but it's good to know. Update: I went to La Bierhaus stand at the Polo Club and had a delicious bratwurst and beer. With that introduction I ventured into La Bierhaus after church hopping on Good Friday. I was with my friends from Paris one of whom was Austrian. We all enjoyed it and the old house is really beautiful. I'm not rushing back but I'll go again. The list of beers is pretty impressive for the Yucatan.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Marlin Azul
El Cangrejito - tacos

Hotel Zone
La Pigua
Muelle Ocho

Pez Gordo- tacos
Silver Fish

There once was an "American" restaurant in centro called Claps and the owners didn't understand why there were never any North Americans eating there...I've never been to the restaurant called Silverfish....but I've heard it's good.

It's been over a year since I've been to La Pigua or Muelle Ocho.  I get my fish fix at Marlin Azul and Miyabi every week.  I've said enough about these places elsewhere on my blogs.  You can try anywhere out on the's all the same rancid oil as far as I can tell.

Mediterranean Diet in Centro

If you care about pizza then you should head over to Rafaello's off the corner of 60 x 51 sometimes surly service which you can just overlook because the pizza is real southern Italian made in a wood burning oven by a real southern Italian...they deliver too if you just can take abusive service.

If you care less about pizza then you should try the new Oliva on the corner of 56 x 49.  Everyone raving about the home made pasta from a Roman chef.  Informal small dining room and take out dishes for groups of 4 or 6 are a great option for eating at home.

If you need pizza and pasta you can try the newest location of La Tratto on the corner of calle 55 x 60.  Here the service is friendly and you can dine under the stars and giant trees in Santa Lucia park. Go on Thursday if you want to see the Serenata Yucateca.  It's basically south beach Miami atmosphere with american style food for the richie rich locals.  Happy Hour at the bar is the place to get your feet wet.

If your thinking of buying or renting a house then you should try Rescoldos a "Mediterranean Bistro"
on Calle 62 x 41 & 43.  The owners are Greek/Canadian and it's a popular hangout for the expat community.  The food is heavier here than with the Italians at Rafaello or Oliva but more home made than the factory line food served at La Tratto.

Some people have enjoyed their pasta at Trattoria La Pasta but I've not had the pleasure.  It's on Paseo Montejo x 39 & 41.  I just never eat Pasta in restaurants unless I'm given no choice...

Now if you only care about eating Italian food and you want to do the Yucatecan tour of Italian restaurants owned by Italian I will give you the list of the most popular places where you have the best chances of authentic cuisine...

Osteria Picolli is the newest and maybe the best place to start on the Prolongacion Montejo.
Villa Italia is well established and has it's loyal followers on the weekends it may be hard to book.
Piola is far out near City Center
Vite Da Bruno in the nearby suburb of colonia Mexico

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Seafood in Centro

El Cangrejito
57 x 64 y 66

The little crab is the name of this, the best, seafood taco stand in the world. Well maybe. The owner can be a crab too but lately he has been awfully friendly. Don't let him scare you. Sit down order a beer and ask for one or two of everything. That will make him happy and then you can decide what you like. Don't be offended if he serves his loyal clientel before he sneers at you. I never sat in the back room until a couple of weeks ago. It is a treasure trove of kitsch and it takes the edge off the wait for your food. The best things to order are cherna, langousta, venado, pulpo, camarones and of course cangrejito. I don't so much like the empanzidao or the stuffed pepper that is breaded too.

June 2008 Update: I still go most weeks to El Cangrejito. It's always great. A lot of our guests who are only around for a few days can't get enough of El Cangrejito either. Save room for dessert or take some home the meringues. I love the coconut and squash seed patties as well.

June 2011 Update: Still Great!!!

Marlin Azul
62 x 57 y 59

Fish soup superb. Outstanding ceviche of octopus or shrimp or fish or mixed. I like all the tacos. Fried breaded grouper is 3 dollars and enough for 2, crispy and fresh. I like the bar on the side where you can make eye contact with the servers. The room next door has AC but the waiter is less attentive and there is a mirrored wall. I'm just beyond the point of wanting to look at myself having lunch!

June 2008 Update: I've changed my mind. They have renovated and now I love sitting in the new room with big booths and AC! I'm addicted to the ceviche. I go every week!

September 2011 Update: I still go to Marlin Azul at least once a week. Now I get flawless service after all these years and the waiters bring me my lemonade with soda (no sugar) as soon as I sit down. Still loving the friend grouper and everyone who orders it a la plancha is always jealous of mine. It's also good in the garlic sauce. A new discovery that is not on the menu is the Octopus in it's ink. It's Octopus season now and very good.

Here are two popular Seafood restaurants near centro.

La Pigua
Calle 33 no. 505 a x Avenida Cupules y 62
(near the hotel districts)

A business man's luncheon restaurant that is open from 12-6. It's pricey, it's stuffy but it's not all bad. La Pigua is reputed to be the best seafood restaurant in the Yucatan. If that is true then it is a sad state of affairs for seafood.

Is it the aquariums or the decor alone that reminds me of a shopping mall in Waco,Texas circa 1975? Don't think that the grilled items on the menu will be grilled. A la plancha means griddled to death not grilled. Go for the fried anything. Fried is always good! If you are not going out to the beach this could be as close as you'll get to the real deal. Huachinago/Snapper, Robalo/Snook,Dorado/Dolphin Fish, Boquinete/Hog Fish, Pamapno, Cazon/Baby Shark, Rubia/Yellow Tail. I've warned you about the decor and ambiance, enjoy the food....

June 2008 update: I've lowered my standards. After almost 7 years in Merida I have a higher tolerance for bad decor. I've been 4 or 5 times to La Pigua in the past month. Part of the reason is the coconut cake which is a world class dessert and should not be missed. The other reason is I discovered the Sir Frances Drake. It is a huge plate of giant chunks of seafood. It's a pile of squid, conch, octopus, fish and shrimp! I'm less impressed with the other dishes I've tried but a couple of beers, ceviche and coconut cake is enough to keep me going back week after week.

Muelle 8
Calle 21 No. 141 Col. Buenavista, tel. 944 5343

The shock of the horrid Gilligan Island decor kept me away from this seafood instituion for the past 7 years. Some Xmeridianos who now live in Oaxaca took me there last week. We had a scallop carpacio and a octopus carpacio that were better than anything I've ever been served in this town. We had a fish ceviche and a second order of scallops. Yummy.