Last week I touched on how I found accommodations traveling the Mayan Riviera. In three weeks we averaged $50 a night for very nice rooms. All had booking.com reviews over 9 out of 10. The places were exceptional and a perfect fit for the way we travel.
Why anyone would stay at an all-inclusive is beyond us. We’ve done it, didn’t like it. A few reasons: we felt like we were “trapped” in the same hotel, on the same beach, with the same tourists, with mediocre to lousy food. You see, the food (and drink) doesn’t have to be good. There just needs to be a lot of it. Why not, we’ve already paid for it. And we’re “trapped’ there eating it, looking at the same beach, with the same people, meal after meal.
The Yucatán Peninsula is Mayan country in Mexico. There are the Mayan ruins, the distinctive Mayan culture, and as we sampled all over, authentic Mayan food. Our food budget in Mexico went a long way.
I didn’t keep track of what we spent eating out but with kitchenettes in all of our rooms breakfasts and late leftovers were easy. I’m guessing, without initial groceries, we spent less than $20 a day for the both of us eating in town or at the local cocina (kitchen).
Breakfast was provided at our first stop in PlayaCar. After that it would be fruit, yogurt, granola, coffee, and a pastry. All that can be bought at the local market. Lunch is when we would typically eat out, sometime around 2pm. Lunch menu is the same as dinner menu only less expensive.
We were the only gringos for miles at this small pueblo diner. No menu, you eat what’s on the grill, and they were so happy to serve us.
Mayan soups are excellent: pozole, conchinita pibil, sopa de lima. Street tacos, al pastor, are about a dollar with all the fixin’s. These two tacos with a watermelon smoothie were plenty and only $3.
This is Mexico’s version of fast food. Quesadillas filled with anything from cactus to tongue (lengua). Each cost 13 pesos or 65¢. The Jamaica fresca, (pronounced hama-eeka) became our go-to refreshment. This is made with hibiscus flower tea, pilon sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice. Mmmm. . .
I believe these Las Quekas Grills are all over Mexico. They are a quick, efficient, and cheap way to get some eats when the tourist restaurants are packed and you need something on the go.
El Fogon in Playa del Carmen had great reviews, was filled with tourists, and was our choice for this dinner. I loved the grilled onions and the tomato salad but the Americanized fajitas loaded with cheese and Hali’s pretty enchilada were only average. It was barely good because we hadn’t eaten since 7am but there was way too much food and not anything near authentic. Think El Torito.
This was lunch at the loncheria we were at 20 years ago in Akumal and the menu hasn’t changed. We had a stuffed poblano pepper, the best we had, a bowl of sopa de lima, and pico & chips all for about $10 including the Jamaica frescas.
One day we splurged at our favorite beach bar, Chamico’s, on Soliman Bay. Next time we visit I’m pretty certain this place will be a bustling brick-and-mortar restaurant. Right now it’s a fish shack serving only what they caught that day.
We had a seafood ceviche. This was their special with lobster, shrimp, fish, and conch all marinated with lime juice, cilantro, garlic, a pinch of salt and cumin. We also had the mandatory guacamole and coconut milk.
We each had the catch of the day (the fish above~we actually pointed to the one we wanted) filleted in butter, with rice and beans, salsa, and a stack of tortillas.
After snorkeling with sea turtles just offshore, we tried a few fish tacos. These were the real deal. Washed these down with a couple Dos XX we brought in our cooler.
We were here for four or five hours, were stuffed to the gills, lunch and dinner were taken care of, two coco loco’s, $30.
Evenings when our fridge was full and we wanted to eat on our balcony with our jungle guests, we did our own cooking. Tonight it’s a variety of grilled veggies, Mexican sausage, and marinated mystery meat. It was all delicious. Our coati friend, Timon, helped with the avocado rinds and mystery meat even though he’s a vegetarian. Pumbaa, the warthog, came along after dark.
Asadero el Pollo~Cozumel
So what does 60 pesos buy for dinner in Mexico? 60 pesos is the equivalent of $3. Here’s what we got to-go from this place around the corner from Studio Cocoa in Cozumel for 60 pesos.
- 1/2 of a bbq chicken
- A pint of beans and rice.
- A four inch stack of corn tortillas
- A small bag of onions and an equally small bag of pico de gallo.
This was enough for dinner one night and leftovers for the next night. We did this twice it was so good.
Next week I’ll cover where most of our money went, and no, it wasn’t beer Or Coco Loco’s! Think adventure.
All-inclusive resorts? Nope, not for us. Just not our style of travel.
Thanks for following. . . Postcards are on the way. . .