Cancun dining - both upscale & cheap

Discussion in 'Other North America/non U.S.' started by Sweet Willie, Jan 2, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Sweet Willie
    Original Member

    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    I'm a cheap frugal guy, so searched out some ways to save us some $ on our stay while in Cancun. Across the street & 1 block to the right from the InterContinental is a strip mall with a grocery store (for cheap booze & water). This strip also has some food stalls that are well worth visiting: 1) a pork tacqueria, all different cuts of pork offered, for only 15 pesos a taco, they have two types of salsa to choose from & onions & cilatro if you wish. 2) a seafood stall serving fresh made ceviche & fish or shrimp tacos, 23 pesos a taco, 4 different types of sauces (tamarindo, spicy red mayo, spicy tartar, reg mayo). Ceviche is made fresh. 3) a sandwich place called ty-coz which serves DELICIOUS fresh & some hot sandwiches (most in the 55-80 peso range).
    You will have a very tasty & cheap lunch or dinner!! These places are always open for lunch but seemed to close in late afternoon/early evening. Grocery store had some late hours.

    On our recent trip to Cancun in Dec 2011, we did go downtown twice to dine at both La Habichuela and Labná.

    While I have few doubts that La Habichuela is one of the most beautiful & romantic restaurants in all of the Cancun area (hotel zone included), the food is far from memorable.

    Our meal at La Habichuela:
    Normally we would have tried at least one ceviche dish but seeing as we had enjoyed fresh made ceviche each day of our trip to this date (sometimes more than once per day) we steered clear of the ceviche offerings at La Habichuela.
    We started with the Soft shell Crabs (Deep fried served with avocado and tortilla for a fine taco) and the Cuitlacoche Crepes (An authentic Mexican delicacy in Hollandaise sauce). The soft shell crab tacos were ok, nothing special. I adore Cuitlacoche or Huitlacoche (a fungus that grows on corn) and have had numerous delicious dishes with it, but I knew the Hollandaise sauce would be too rich/much for the crepes so asked for it on the side, of course my crepes came drenched in the sauce.:( After scraping the sauce off as much as possible, the crepes were tasty. I believe the cuitlachoche could have been used in a better menu item.

    For our mains we had the GROUPER SUPREME (Fish Fillet Stuffed with Lobster in Guava Sauce) and the Giant Shrimp in a Tamrind sauce. Grouper was overcooked and the sauce was overwhelming, good fresh fish does not need heavy sauces, the fish should be able to shine through. The 'Giant' shrimp (not really, perhaps large shrimp, were meh, nothing special & were overcooked.

    After our meal I'd recommend if one is set on going to La Habichuela, I'd stick with fresh grilled/simple preparations, you'll pay through the nose for items you can get just as well prepared/high quality at local eateries elsewhere (for a fraction of the price) but I can certanly understand the bonus/romantic points awarded for taking one's sig other to this location.

    Our meal at Labná:
    Started with Beef Tostadas (Marinated shreded beef, on crisp corn tortillas, with guacamole sauce) and Lime Soup (Chicken broth with aromatic local limes), both were delicious !! The beef tostadas were a surprise as they were served cool, we had expected a warm preparation. The lime soup was wonderful, very aromatic with lots of citrus.

    For our mains we had the Turkey in Escabeche (Turkey, roasted and then grilled , seasoned with traditional condiments, and covered with onions pickled in vinegar with laurel, oregano and mild chili x’catic) and a 'tour of mayan cuisine' dish (sorry I forget the name). The turkey was very good/excellent, perhaps slightly overcooked (at least the shredded breast pieces were) but because they were served in a delicious broth, all was ok.

    Again sorry I forget the name but my "tour of Mayan cusine" included one large piece of Poc Chuc (Grilled marinated strip of pork with local condiments and served with sour Yucatecan orange, chili/tomato sauce), two Papadzules (Corn tortillas stuffed with boiled eggs bathed in pumpking seed sauce) and a single Longaniza de Valladolid (Yucatecan smoked pork sausage, seasoned with mayan spices). The Poc Chuc was delicious, the Papadzules were savory good and the Longaniza de Valladolid was meh (would probably have been much better if they had not overgrilled/burnt it).

    Labná was far more the style/cuisine of restaurant we prefer. I wish we had tried Labná two nights and skipped La Habichuela.

    This trip we stayed at the Hyatt Cancun, nearby was the restaurant Calenda Oaxaca, this restaurant serves 7 different types of mole and most do NOT contain chocolate which I was under the mistaken belief that all moles contained Mexican chocolate. The chicken leg in the mole I chose was only 160 pesos and worth every one of those pesos. My wife had a mixed grill that was ok, I'd only go to this restaurant if a mole fan like myself. DRINKS ARE EXPENSIVE here, I think that is where they really make their money, so only order one or none.
    LarryInNYC likes this.
  2. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    Enjoyed a row of fonditas in the Parque de la Palapas when we were there over the summer. Great scene in the evening. You could almost think you were in Mexico! A few blocks from the ADO station.
    Sweet Willie likes this.
  3. nolamom

    nolamom Silver Member

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    Thanks for these great tips. Staying at Cancun Hyatt next month. (Chase UR points.) Am also a cheapster!

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